Social anxiety and shyness go hand in hand. Those who are shy have a very hard time interacting with others because they fear being judged, rejected, and criticized. Shyness causes blindness to one’s actual worth and value. Because of this, people who are shy end up feeling alone, depressed, and even full of regret. I know because I was shy for many years. My shyness prevented me from doing things I was really dying to do, and because of that, I missed many opportunities that I now regret. If you have similar experiences, learn to overcome shyness with these five simple strategies.
1 – Silence Your Inner Critic To Overcome Shyness
Growing up as an extremely shy kid, I just knew in my mind that I would be judged if I put myself out there. If I danced at the school dance or if talked to a girl I had a crush on, people would laugh at me for sure. Those voices in my head would immediately begin criticizing me, “you suck, man; you can’t dance,” “what makes you think she even knows who you are,” as soon as I wanted to do something I really wanted to do. So I never danced at the school dance, and I never talked to the girl because the voice in my head made me feel bad about myself.
I have a secret that I know now that I didn’t know back then, and that is this… your mind can only hold one thought at a time. If you can somehow think of something else positive and something uplifting, you could drown out your inner critic. To do that, repeat out loud or in your mind, over and over again, an opposite affirmation. So back then, I could have said to myself in my mind over and over, “People are going to love my new dance moves,” or “She’d be lucky to know me.” I would have probably carried through on the things I wanted to do. So when that inner critic starts to talk, shut it up with positive, confidence-building affirmations.
2 – Love To Fail
Sounds kind of counter-intuitive, but if you want to be successful and overcome shyness, you have to fail often. You grow and learn when you fail. You get stronger and wiser every time something doesn’t work out right. Try to crave this knowledge that you can only get by failing. You’ll quickly learn that it’s not the end of the world if people laugh at you or if people judge you. In the end, all that doesn’t matter.
3 – Do Something Scary Every Day To Overcome Shyness
Overcoming shyness is not something that happens suddenly. Especially if you’ve dealt with it all of your life. You have to build up confidence slowly, and a great way to do that is to do one small thing every day that scares you. For instance, if you are too shy to talk to someone new, introduce yourself to someone every day. If that is too much for you, just start saying “hi” to people you pass. If there is someone you are interested in, make sure you speak to them every time you see them. It doesn’t matter what it is. Just do something every day that scares you.
4 – Join A Social Group
I know this may sound scary to you but overcoming shyness means you have to do frightening things (see #3). When I was in school, I decided to join a Drama class and try out for school plays. Looking back now, I’m so grateful I took that scary leap. I met tons of new friends, I found a new passion, and I learned how to be more social. My heart pounded every time I went to class or rehearsal, but over time, I became less and less shy. I don’t expect you to do anything that drastic, but you can join a social group and attend activities. Meetup.com is a great place to start. You can find groups in your area with similar interests. Join a movie club or hiking club. Find something that interests you and join.
5 – Learn Some Social Rules
Always be yourself, but there are some social rules to follow when socializing that are important to overcome shyness. Once you know them and are comfortable with them, you won’t have to worry about feeling awkward. Here are some of the major social rules to know.
- Look the person in eye. Don’t stare at the person you are talking to but keep steady eye contact and avoid looking down. This makes you seem uninterested or not confident, and other people will notice this.
- Don’t gossip. Ever. You may want to join the conversation to seem cool and fit in, but this will tag you as a gossiper.
- Actively listen. Show sincere interest in the person you are talking to. When you are shy, you have a tendency to start thinking about how you are coming off. Don’t do this. Instead, focus and pay attention to what is being said to you. Ask questions, and repeat back things that they say.
- Don’t brag. Bragging is not cool. It just makes you look insecure. If you have similar interests, that’s great. Talk about that. But don’t mention the type of car you drive if it adds no value to the conversation.
Overcoming shyness takes time, but it’s possible. Follow these five simple strategies, and over time you will be less shy. Keep your inner critic in check, love to fail, do something scary every day, join a social group, and learn some social rules.
What are your struggles with shyness? Let us know in the comments below.
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