If you want to overcome shyness, and stop being shy, you need to learn what shyness is, why do we feel shy, and the right ways for overcoming shyness.
While some people think that they need to go take meds, I think the best treatment for shyness is the natural one. The natural way to deal with shyness is to make your mind produce fewer and fewer feelings of shyness.
Whether you think you have extreme shyness, or you just find yourself occasionally being shy, there is a lot you can do to gain self-confidence. In our case here, it’s social self-confidence, to be more specific.
Understand What Shyness Is, So You Can Overcome It
Shyness is the fear of social disapproval, rejection, and humiliation. It’s a process of feeling anxiety and inhibition in challenging social situations.
The good news is that it’s a feeling, and you can deal with a feeling. The bad news is that it can go overboard and become a habit, and habits are tricky to stop.
If you consider yourself as a shy person, then you probably feel it more in situations like these…
- With the opposite sex
- With strangers
- With people in positions of power or authority
- When you need to stand up for yourself
- When you’re being evaluated (like job interviews or first dates)
Again, shyness or social anxiety is a feeling of fear that comes over and over… and, as many of my readers have dealt with it, so can you.
Why Do We Feel Shy?
When you find something wrong with yourself, remember that it may benefit you in other contexts.
So, if you hate your laziness, for example, you’d think it’s totally negative. But in some contexts, laziness is good. It helps you manage your energy and not overwork yourself. It helps us choose to do only the most important things.
That’s how humans are; some parts of ourselves are beneficial in some contexts, and not others.
And shyness is no exception.
Shyness helps you…
- Increase your chances of survival: By being wary of strangers that haven’t earned your trust yet, and by being cautious of new and unpredictable situations.
- Meet good social standards: That feeling of anticipation you get before you go socialize actually helps you. It motivates you to bring your best self to the table. It motivates you to be prepared and maybe even rehearse a little for the social occasion.
- Facilitate group living: Shyness makes us inhibit some of our most individual and selfish impulses that are not acceptable by the group. As we evolved, shyness got us to think twice before doing things that the group would disapprove of.
Now, these three reasons why we have shyness might seem unjustified in this day and age. That’s because they deal with how we evolved as a species.
But they’re still relevant, even if we live in a society that often praises the loudest mouth in the room…
- You still need to be wary of strangers that haven’t earned your trust,
- You still need to prepare for important social occasions,
- And you still need to double-check with yourself before doing or saying something that would revolt your peers against you.
Shyness is a useful and natural feeling which facilitates group living and harmony. It is only a problem when it goes too far.
Shyness helps “regulate” your social life. This is why to overcome shyness you need to understand that it’s part of human nature; it’s not an illness.
Is Your Supposedly Useful Shyness Going Too Far?
The problem arises when shyness blocks you from meeting people, talking to them, and building a social life. Shyness is only there to slightly regulate your social life; not kill it.
Shyness becomes a block if it happens more often, more intensely, and in many situations. If you very often feel physical tension, worry, and inhibition, then that’s a worthy challenge to take on.
We can also say that you have an issue and need to overcome shyness if you constantly think you’re being judged, if you often assume that people didn’t like interacting with you, if you blame all social conflicts on yourself, and if you only remember the negative details of social interactions.
So What, If You Are Shy?
So what if you’re shy? Almost anyone you meet has been shy at some point in their lives. 90% of people in every culture feel shyness in some situations. The absolute inability to feel shy is seen as antisocial, it’s often associated with being a psychopath.
It’s just natural to be/feel shy.
Again, the good news is that it’s a feeling. If you feel it more often than necessary, then you can deal with it. You don’t have to feel ashamed about shyness; even Larry King admitted that he was shy at one point.
If you’re going to improve your social life, and you want to feel shy less often, then do it for the right reason: do it to make your life better, to have more/better friendships, and to be happier.
Don’t do it because you think it’s an “inferior quality;” it’s just a habit you need to play with until you change.
The first step is to accept it and notice if you’re going overboard with it. Treat it as a stubborn pet, that you’ll deal with, until you train it to behave. If you see it as a monster, you’ll never get over it.
To Stop Being Shy, Shift Your Focus
The good news about shyness is that you can start making friends right away, without waiting to completely stop being shy.
In order to be successful at overcoming shyness, you need to change the way you look at the situation. It all starts with how you describe it to yourself.
You need to stop thinking that…
- You need to overcome shyness, to beat it, to deal with it
- You need to stop being shy
- You need to toughen up
- You need to change
And start thinking that…
- You need to learn social self-confidence.
Whenever you want to solve a problem, convert it into an outcome; it’s easier that way. In order to stop being shy, focus on reaching social self confidence, instead of trying to fight shyness.
The opposite of shyness is social self-confidence; it’s not being tough, and it’s not about being extroverted nor arrogant.
Overcome Shyness By Focusing On Social Self-Confidence
Now that we have our minds in the right place, it’s easier. It’s no longer a “problem.” It’s now a skill to learn, like biking, playing music, or taking better pictures.
Having social self-confidence is knowing that you can deal with social situations appropriately.
It’s about knowing that you’ll be “okay” when you interact with people.
And that confidence can’t come only from internal work. Confidence requires competence.
You need to set your mind right, prepare yourself to deal with those feelings; but you also need the necessary social skills to deal with any social challenge. And if you learn how to make friends and improve your social skills, you’re can get competent enough to socialize despite having had any shyness in the past.
If you “wait” until you completely stop being shy to start making friends, you may wait a long time.
Social self-confidence = learning to get comfortable around people + competence in friendship and social skills
4 Ways To Overcome Shyness
As I said, most of your social confidence comes from your social competence. No matter how much you psych yourself into doing things, if you have no clue how to make friends, then you’re just going to end up with more failure and discouragement.
I recommend you do both; learn the social skills you need, and train yourself to be comfortable around others.
Here are 4 ways to overcome shyness:
1. Stop being shy by exposing yourself to social situations, long enough
You may have heard of it; this is all about expanding your comfort zone more and more. You take a few situations where you feel anxious, and practice going there, until the anxiety is gone.
Each time you get to these situations, stay present and notice the anxiety feelings; don’t judge them or anything just notice them. Observe those feelings as if you were to study them. Keep noticing those feelings, and slightly smile while you’re doing it. Continue observing that anxiety with a curious spirit, until you stop being shy.
It’s like when you were a kid and you experienced putting your hand in hot water – at first, it feels unbearable, but you learned that if you kept your hand a little longer, eventually your hand adapts and you get comfortable.
It’s the same here, when you expose yourself to an intimidating situation, don’t phase off, stay a little and notice how your body starts to learn that you’re going to be okay.
2. Reach the threshold that almost guarantees that you overcome shyness
This technique is about remembering five or more memories where shyness has made you miss out on social situations. You play those memories in your mind one after the other (and see yourself in there). Repeat it a few times and look at yourself being silly and scared for no reason, until you get sick of it.
Notice how that behavior has been ruining your social life, until you get the feeling that you’ve “had enough!” Notice how this charges you up to do something about it. Commit to doing whatever it takes to overcome shyness once and for all.
3. Disassociate feelings of shyness from real social situations
Here, you focus on a specific type of situation that usually makes you anxious. Remember that sort of situation, but imagine yourself sitting in front of the TV, watching yourself having that experience.
So, you’re imagining yourself… looking at yourself… having that experience.
At the end, imagine yourself floating inside the you that is having the experience. Then, experience that same event, but backwards. Imagine everything is happening backwards… (everyone is moving backwards, and talking backwards…)
Repeat it a couple of times and see how that changes your feelings about the whole thing. The aim here is to “shortcut” some of your unconscious, overly anxious emotional reactions to normal social situations.
4. Stop shyness by “laughing it off”
This technique is all about remembering a time when you couldn’t stop yourself from laughing. As you start giggling and laughing, think of the situations that used to scare you. As you laugh, notice how that changes how you respond to these memories. By mixing laughter with a previously “scary” situation, you confuse the fear out of it, and you start feeling just fine about it.
Overcome Shyness Faster, And Improve Your Social Skills
If you work on overcoming shyness, and you stop being shy all the time, you’ll feel a great relief. But, if you don’t learn the social skills you need, you’ll quickly start to feel inadequate in social situations again.
What I suggest is that you take action and learn the right social skills, so your transformation can be smooth.
Once you have the social skills you need, you can not only stop being shy, but also hold great conversations, talk to new people, talk to groups with confidence, find the right friends, build new friendships, and get the social life you want.
To get to that situation ASAP, I recommend that you check out my methodology. I organized all the lessons I learned through the years to help myself be less shy and more social. And now it’s your turn to learn benefit from it as well.
Best of luck,
– Paul Sanders
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