Almost fifty percent of people describe themselves as shy. If it didn’t have such dire consequences on ones life, shyness would almost be a fashionable thing. However, it does have bad effects and this is why knowing how to overcome shyness is important.
Finding the Needle in the Haystack
Do a search on the web for ‘how to overcome shyness’ and you’ll discover thousands of articles and ten times more tips on this topic. Try to put them into practice and sadly, you’ll also discover that much of the advice on how to overcome shyness is vague, impractical or just plain wrong.
Doing social confidence coaching with people with shyness, I’ve realized that there’re only a handful of ideas and techniques which provide consistent and powerful results in overcoming shyness. I want to share the most effective ones with you.
Overcoming Shyness Starts with Stretching
No, not physical stretching, but emotional. Here’s the thing: it is common for us human beings to stick to doing what is easy and comfortable for us. Thus, many shy people, because they don’t feel comfortable around other people, will tend to isolate themselves.
They will spend many hours alone, watching TV, playing computer games and secretly fantasizing about a better social life. This only works against them because it reinforces their shyness and makes the people skills they may have atrophy.
Learning how to overcome shyness starts with doing the opposite: gradually getting more out of the house, exposing yourself more to social situations and interacting more with people. Since this may feel uncomfortable at first, it’s a form of emotional stretching.
Stretching yourself and interacting more with people works great because it gets you used to social situations and the social anxiety starts to drop. Also, your people skills steadily improve and that’s how to gain confidence.
Get Some Accurate Feedback
Working with shy people or people with an inferiority complex, I often notice that they have a hugely distorted image of themselves and how they come across to others. They usually think they are weird and that other people realize this in the very first seconds of talking with them.
If you are somewhat shy, getting some accurate feedback about your social persona from other people will be highly valuable for you in overcoming shyness. It will help you get your feet on the ground by realizing you’re an OK person.
What you basically do is ask a number of people who know you and trust about the way they see you. You can ask them a few questions about the qualities and the flaws they see in you, about the first impression you create and so on.
You can ask them all of this in a relaxed conversation, or you can request them to give you feedback using an anonymous feedback form. Feel free to test various methods.
Cut Down Mind-Reading
Mind-reading is the process of trying to figure out what a person thinks or how they feel by reading subtle cues in their behavior, words, voice tone or body language.
However, since these signals are hard to interpret accurately and shy people often exaggerate in their interpretations, this process is a lot like trying to read other peoples’ minds and it provides grossly inaccurate results.
If you want to overcome shyness, you’ve got to realize that you can’t read other peoples’ minds and that whatever interpretations you’re making of each small gesture are probably wrong. As you do so, you can move on to consciously reducing your mind-reading and thus overcoming your shyness.
Learn To Let Go Of Perfectionism
The final part of the answer to the question “How to overcome shyness?” has to do with changing your self-imposed standards.
Make sure to check out my free conversation confidence guide for more details on solving this issues, as well as as how to transform into an authentic and confident person in social settings. Get it here.
Shy people tend to be insanely perfectionist. They ask of themselves to come across as ideal and they have a low tolerance for people not liking them or not approving of them. If you want to enjoy social interactions more, abandoning such absurd standards is a must.
Now, notice that I didn’t say “let go of perfectionism”, I said “learn to let go”. This is because it’s a process. It will call for identifying your perfectionist social expectations as they manifest in your habitual thinking, then addressing them by changing your thinking in a conscious manner.
By the way, I have a free social confidence guide for you that will teach you how to do this and overcome shyness.
A Systemic Approach
Overall, overcoming shyness effectively takes not only the right pieces of advice and techniques, but also applying them in a systemic style. This implies:
- Setting gradual personal development goals for yourself;
- Working on them daily and rewarding yourself;
- Persisting and getting back on track if you quit;
- Mixing the internal cognitive change with the external behavioral change.
As you do so, you will see gradual progress and the occasional leaps forward. You will rewrite your map of the world and your social habits. As a result, you will experience more social freedom and a richer social life. That’s how to overcome shyness the successful way.
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