10 Practical Tips to Overcome Your Shyness & Social Anxiety
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Some people are super-confident and can speak up in meetings at work and in social situations with no problem at all. But there are fewer of those types of people than you think. And that is the first thing that you need to understand if you believe that your shyness is holding you back. You are not alone in being shy. Most people experience shyness to some degree in certain situations.
Shyness and social anxiety can make it a challenge to get yourself heard at work, and a lack of self-confidence can make social situations uncomfortable. The good news is, though, that shyness can be overcome, and you may not need the help of a therapist to gain some confidence.
So, if you are one of the many people who do struggle with shyness, read on. Here are ten tips to help you overcome your shyness.
- Understand Your Individuality
The first thing to understand is that your shyness does not define who you are. Shyness is not an ingrained personality trait; it is an emotion that you can learn to control. So, stop telling people that you are shy, and stop believing that you are a shy person. There are so many other skills and qualities that you have that are far more important than your shyness.
- Take Small Steps
You are not going to read one self-improvement book, or this article for that matter, and become an instantly confident person. Overcoming your shyness will take time and a little a bit effort. Your shyness will probably have begun in your childhood, so you will have had a lot of practice of avoiding social situations and fading into the background. You are not going to be able to change those habits overnight.
- Set Your Goals
If you are reading this article, then you must have your reasons for wanting to overcome your shyness. Perhaps you want to be able to speak up in meetings or at work, or you want to be able to join in the conversation when you are in social groups. These are the ultimate goals that you are aiming for, but there will be smaller steps that you will need to take along the way. Make a list of the situations that you find difficult, and then prioritize those situations in order of difficulty. Tackle the ones that cause you the least anxiety first.
- Visualize Yourself as a Confident Person
Just as an actor rehearses for a role, you can practice being confident. And the more you practice your new self-confidence, the easier it will be to beat your shyness when it comes to the real thing. If you are about to face a situation that would usually make you anxious, try picturing yourself dealing what that scenario confidently. Imagine how you want to behave and practice what you want to say. Things might not go entirely to plan the first time you do this. But the more you practice that you do, the more often you will find that your visualizations will come true.
- Stop Trying to Second Guess What People Are Thinking
Shy people often overthink what is in other people's minds. Instead of saying whatever you want to say, you hesitate and consider what other people will think about your opinions. Your concern about what people will think of you probably often causes you to miss the opportunity to join in with a conversation. Then, you enter a cycle of overthinking and lose the chance to have your say. You cannot know in advance if people will agree or disagree with you, and it is unlikely that anyone will think any less of you as a person if they do disagree with you. So, try to keep your imagination in check, because it is only your imagination that is telling you that everyone is judging you all the time.
- Step Outside of Your Comfort Zone, One Small Step at A Time
The way that people overcome phobias is that they slowly expose themselves to what they fear. You can take the same approach to defeat your shyness. So, pick a few of the scenarios that would usually cause you mild anxiety, and try to face up to those scenarios, one at a time. If your shyness prevents you from saying hello to a familiar face on the street, for example, try greeting that person the next time you see them. Then, take it up a level by making just one small contribution to a group conversation. Once you have successfully crossed the minor hurdles, you will find that you will be more confident about taking on the larger ones.
- Stop Looking Inward
Try to stop worrying about how you look or what other people think about you. Instead, focus your attention on what is going on around you and what other people are saying. Take a genuine interest is what is being discussed, and people will repay you the favor by being interested in what you have to say. A shy person is also often described as an introverted person, and an introvert is someone who always looks inwards. So, start to look ouward more and try not to dwell so much on yourself.
- Widen Your Circle of Acquaintances
Shy people are often perfectly relaxed and at ease with their family and close friends. But, if someone they do not know enters the room, a shy person will clam up immediately. The fact that you can talk and laugh with close friends proves that you can do the same with other people once you get used to them. As already mentioned, you can overcome shyness by gradually confronting the things that you fear. So, begin by introducing yourself to one new acquaintance a week and slowly widening your circle of friends.
- Ignore the Knockbacks
Your journey to becoming a more outgoing person will not be without its disappointments. But do not let the failures dissuade you from trying. You may go to a meeting at work determined to speak up and then not get an opportunity to say something. You may try to contribute to a conversation and find that no one hears you. You may even say something that you wish you had not. But remember, these things do not only happen to shy people -- they also happen to everyone. So, bounce back from the disappointments and keep on trying.
- Remember That Other People Are Shy
Most people are shy to some extent. The confident person in your group of friends, for example, may well be petrified of speaking to large groups of people. Many people also hide their shyness and only fake confidence. And who does not get nervous on a first date or when attending a job interview? The only thing that makes you different is that you have yet to learn how to control the emotion of shyness, but that will come, one step at a time.
So, in conclusion, the way to overcome shyness is to expose yourself to the things that you fear gradually. Slowly, you will find that people do not judge you in the way that you believe. And, yes, you do have opinions that people want to hear. Remember, there is no such thing as a shy person. There is only a person who has not yet overcome their shyness.