it's obvious when I'm not confident
Hi, I'm new here and hoping for some feedback on a tough problem of mine. First, a bit of background...
I'm Mel, 37YO female. I'm a very easily intimidated person, especially when other people get very angry, upset, or passionate in a discussion. The general advice for people in my situation seems to be along the lines of, "Don't let 'em see ya sweat", "be calm, take a breath", etc. That's great advice, but it doesn't work for me, because when I'm feeling nervous/intimidated/emotional, it is VERY visible to everyone around. My face turns beet red, my hands start to shake and my voice cracks.
This is very embarrassing to me (which in turns makes things worse!) and then the person I'm speaking with assumes I'm not knowledgeable about the subject because I don't seem confident, or I'm not credible, or I'm lying, etc. I get accused of being "too emotional" (when I'm trying my best to stay calm) and at times I have been laughed at for taking a subject "too seriously" ("Lighten up Mel!" is what I'm told, usually by someone who just a moment ago was incredibly passionate about whatever we were discussing).
This doesn't just happen in debates/arguments either. It can be a situation in which someone innocently brings up a subject (or does it on purpose, hoping to "push my buttons") and my discomfort shows, much to my chagrin. I find some subjects uncomfortable or inappropriate to talk about (or it's just none of so-and so's business), and some people, once they see my discomfort, relish the chance to keep digging in. As a child I was encouraged not to let these types of bullies see how it bothered me--if they thought I wasn't bothered, they'd give up. But my blushing and shaking betray me every time!
Is there a way for me appear to be confident and not intimidated in these situations? Or, if there isn't (it's really hard to control blushing!), what can I do when it happens?