Most people feel shy at one point or another. Still, for some, shyness can be so debilitating that it prevents them from participating in social situations that are important to personal or professional goals. Shy people want to be around others but fear being rejected or criticized, so they avoid even the social events they wish to attend and often feel lonely and isolated, increasing the risk of developing other problems such as depression or anxiety. For many, how to overcome shyness is a difficult task, and sometimes they will try to overcome it through self-medication with alcohol or drugs, which increases the risk of substance use disorders.
Are you a shy person?
Shyness is an awkwardness and apprehension that some people feel when approaching or being approached by other people. They have the desire to be outgoing and connect with other people on a social and emotional level. However, this is impossible for them because they can’t seem to handle the anxiety that human interaction brings.
Before continuing, it is essential to note that shyness is not the same as being an introvert. Since introverts feel energized spending time alone doing their thing, they are not afraid of social situations but prefer to be alone. Social problems drain them emotionally, while solitary activities energize and stimulate their creativity.
In contrast, shy people desperately seek acceptance and approval from others. This makes them extremely shy and fearful of being judged, ridiculed, criticized, humiliated, embarrassed, and rejected. They have negative self-concern and minimally evaluate themselves and their abilities.
When it comes to social situations, they expect them to make mistakes and cannot miserably connect with others on a meaningful level. Their unhelpful thoughts and beliefs about their social interactions make them feel extremely insecure, yet one of their most attractive traits, being an attentive listener, is a vital part of any meaningful social relationship.
The consequences of shyness
Being overcome by shyness is never suitable for your growth and social development. Not only does it cause you to avoid social situations on purpose, but it can also lead to isolation, sadness, loneliness, regret, and depression. Every time you avoid a social situation, you are at that moment depleting your reserves of confidence in yourself, and the less confidence in yourself you have, the less likely you are to give your opinion, make new friends, to take advantage of social opportunities to advance your career or achieve your desired goals.
We all have goals and objectives that we would like to achieve. It is unfortunate for shy individuals that the vast majority of these goals require the help of other people. This means that they must venture out into the world and make social connections to make their dreams come true. If not, They can do it. They will live a life full of regrets and broken promises.
All of these consequences can lead to a very troublesome life. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. If shyness is currently driving your decisions and actions, then it’s not too late to make some fundamental changes starting today. The journey, of course, will not be easy and will take time and effort. However, with a desire to make these changes stick and a commitment to improving your social skills, you can undoubtedly change your life.
Steps on how to overcome shyness
Overcoming shyness is not going to be a walk in the park. This is not an easy process, there are many fears and anxieties in the mix, and as such, you may very well have to work on each of them individually, just like With all that is of value, you will undoubtedly move forward as long as you are diligent and follow the process step by step.
Plan for it to go well
Unlike introversion, which is associated with being calm and reserved, Shyness is characterized by a strong tendency to overestimate negative scrutiny. There is a tremendous fear that others will evaluate you negatively, so you think a lot about how not to do something wrong rather than how to do something right in social settings.
One way to reduce anxiety is to spend more time thinking about what you could do to make the situation a success. If you worry about making small talk, ask yourself some questions that will help generate some interesting topics: What are some of the current events that could bring up? What is going on in my life that I feel comfortable sharing? What do I have in common with other people?
You can also give yourself an exit strategy. Just try not to use it. Exposing yourself to your fear is the best way to overcome it. It is also essential to feel that you are in control. If you know you have an exit strategy in the worst case, no, you will feel trapped.
Being curious about others
In a social setting, try to deviate from yourself. Instead, focus on being curious about others. Who are they, and why are they there? What are your interests and hobbies? This gives you something different to focus on and helps you spark conversations. Everyone has a story to tell. Find out what it is, then sit back and listen. People love to talk about themselves.
Act with confidence
Confidence comes through action, learning, practice, and mastery. Do you remember when you learned to ride a bike? It was scary at first, but you got it and felt safe after you tried it. Social trust works the same way.
Feeling anxious is not the problem. Avoiding social interactions is the problem. Eliminate the avoidance, and you will overcome your anxiety.
Try new things, even if they make you anxious.
Join a club, sports team, or improv class, choose a new project, take on a difficult task at work, or learn a new skill. Do something to get out of your comfort zone.
Part of overcoming shyness is building confidence in various areas of your life and not letting anxiety, fear of failure, rejection, or fear of humiliation get in your way. By practicing new activities, you confront your fear of the unknown and learn to manage that anxiety more effectively.
Start practicing giving speeches or presentations and telling jokes or stories at every opportunity, be more talkative and expressive in all areas of your life. Whether at work, with friends, with strangers, or walking down the street, you can practice speaking more openly and let your voice and ideas be heard.
Confident people don’t care if everyone will like what they have to say. They say what they think because they want to share, participate and connect with others. You can do this too. Anxiety and shyness are not reasons to keep quiet.
Make yourself vulnerable
Fear of being judged contributes to social anxiety and shyness. The only way to overcome this fear is to make yourself vulnerable and practice doing this with people you are close to and who you can trust. You might find that the more you do it, the closer you feel to others and the more pleasure and meaning you get from those relationships. This will lead to greater confidence in yourself and social interactions.
Being vulnerable requires letting others see your true self and being proud of who you are. Being genuine and vulnerable is the quality that others will appreciate the most from you.
Practice showing confident body language
Make eye contact when talking to someone, walk with your head held high, project your voice clearly and effectively, shake hands, give hugs, and stay close to others.
Mindfulness has been defined simply as awareness, awakening this present to all your thoughts, feelings, sensations, and memories at any given moment. There is no part of your experience that you should flee, escape, or avoid. Learn to appreciate yourself and the world around you, including those “panicky” thoughts and feelings, and observe them without judgment.
When you are fully present in the moment, you will realize that social interactions are not something to avoid. You will perform better because you are paying attention to the conversation and cues in your environment. With practice, you can continually incorporate and improve the social skills you learn from the world around you, ultimately making you feel more confident.
It may take you some time to go over the eight steps I shared. You will have a new and clear understanding of your shyness and have practical tools to help you start to be more outgoing and confident.
Every social situation you put yourself in is mini social skills training. The more you do it, the better you will get. If your shyness is more severe, there are effective treatments for social anxiety that include group and individual therapies and, in some cases, medications. Consult a mental health professional if you think you could benefit from these. If you have already managed to understand how to overcome shyness, start with practice and win the fight.
Hello, how are you? My name is Georgia Tarrant, and I am a clinical psychologist. In everyday life, professional obligations seem to predominate over our personal life. It's as if work takes up more and more of the time we'd love to devote to our love life, our family, or even a moment of leisure.