How to Be Yourself

How to Be Yourself: Quiet Your Inner Critic and Rise Above Social Anxiety

Moe could fight injustice like a cornered tiger on one condition: as long as he didn’t have to speak.

A lawyer by training, Moe was whip smart and had a reputation for being genuinely respectful. Despite his mild-mannered appearance—diminutive, skinny, and balding, with two perfect circles of wire-rimmed glasses perched above a trim little mustache—his commitment to social causes like the rights of the elderly or the protection of vulnerable women was fierce. His experience spanned the globe—at this point in his career, he had already worked in three different countries on three different continents.

As part of his idealistic crusade for justice, however, he often found himself in the most unidealistic of settings: meetings. It was at these meetings, in community centers and church basements with folding chairs and a lingering smell of old coffee, where Moe’s story played out. He told it like this: “The other day I was at a meeting and one of the organizers turned to me and said, ‘You know, Moe, when it’s just you and me you talk totally fine, but you’re so quiet at meetings. I don’t think I’ve ever heard you open your mouth.’”

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