Overcome Shyness — if I had room on my car for another bumper sticker, that’s what it would say. I’ve struggled with shyness for years, but now that I’m in my late 30s, it’s better — I’m almost assertive! While I still struggle with a little timidity on occasion, I think I’ve really overcome shyness. If you’re still struggling with it, keep reading! Here are 9 easy ways I’ve found to overcome my own shyness.
1. Focus on the Positive
Most of us who have to work to overcome shyness also have a poor or warped self-image. While that’s a whole separate issue to deal with later, it helps to find two or three things that do make you self-confident — your smile, your wit, your knowledge of obscure 17th century literary works — and focus on those in social situations, rather than agonizing over the things you’re not so secure about.
2. Realize You’re Not the Center of Attention
If you’re trying to overcome shyness, it’s important to remember that at most parties and in most other social settings, you’re really not the center of attention. I know it may sound impossible, but truly, no-one’s staring at you or judging you! If anyone is looking at you, chances are, they’re curious about who the cute girl is, or perhaps wondering where you got those gorgeous shoes.
3. Don’t Label Yourself as Shy!
I’ve often met people who, as they introduce themselves, apologize for being shy. What? Why do that? Why set yourself up for failure by labeling yourself to others, or even to yourself, as shy? You’re not shy. You’re struggling with it, but you’re not shy, so stop labeling yourself! It’s destructive!
4. Slow down, and Breathe!
Whenever I start to feel awkward, or tense in a social situation, I concentrate on my breathing (slow down!) and I make sure all of my motions are deliberate, not hurried, rushed, or clumsy. It’s amazing how much this simple “slow it down” technique can help!
5. Don’t Try to Be Perfect
You know what? I’m not perfect. You’re not perfect. No one is perfect! So stop worrying you’re not meeting your, or someone else’s, expectations. If part of your shyness comes from being unsure if you’re going to fail or succeed in a situation, ditch the worry. No one is perfect, and no one expects anyone else to be, either.
6. Don’t Avoid Social Situations
When you’re struggling to overcome shyness, you’ll be tempted to shutter the windows, lock the door, and stay inside. Don’t do it! Get out into the world, where you’ll be around other people, and practice your social and overcoming-shyness skills. It’s not easy, but the only way to overcome shyness (or break or make any other habit) is to practice.
7. Learn to Accept Compliments, and Rejection
I’ve always had a hard time accepting compliments, and handling rejection, and a lot of my shyness comes from that. The best way to accept a compliment is to smile and say thank you. It really is that simple — resist the temptation to wave the compliment away, and accept it for what it is. The rejection? I’m still not sure exactly how to handle that, but now that I’ve accepted that it will happen once in a while, it’s lost a lot of its impact.
8. Keep Track, and Learn from Mistakes
People on diets or struggling to overcome an addiction keep journals to remind them of their progress, to celebrate achievements and milestones, and to record their mistakes so they can learn from them. Why not keep a journal, too? It’s a great learning tool, and it makes for fantastic reading later on (trust me).
9. Surround Yourself with Support!
Chances are, there are a few people in your life who love the idea of you opening up more, and they would do just about anything to help you overcome shyness. Let them I on your plans, and when they offer their support, take them up on it! It’s a lot easier to attend a party or other social function when you know there will be at least one person who already understands and appreciates you.
While it may not seem like the easiest thing in the world to do, you really can overcome shyness, like I did! All of these tips can work on their own, but if you really want to overcome shyness, try doing a few of them at once… you can do it! Which of these tips do you think you’ll try first?
Top Photo Credit: Silvia Abad