“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.
-Francis of Assisi
How To Overcome Shyness
Figuring out how to overcome shyness is one of the hardest things I had to overcome. It held me back from dating, friends, business opportunities, school, work you name it. We live in a society where it is very important to have social connections. We are surrounded by people everywhere and it is extremely limiting, to not only us but everyone around us if you can’t communicate your amazing ideas with other people. Today we’ll talk about how to overcome shyness.
You Aren’t Shy or Quiet
The first thing you have to realize is that you are not shy. You may have been shy in the past but you are only shy because you think you’re shy. So you want to know how to overcome shyness? You already have. A lot of people fall into the trap of “I’ve always been shy that’s just who I am”. Just because you have been shy does not mean that you are shy. Being shy is a personality trait it’s not a personality.
This means that you can change. I was extremely shy throughout most of my life and I’ve consciously overcome that part of me. Now people are surprised that I have been shy before. So there is absolutely still hope for you!
The First Step
At the end of the day its all in your head. Shy people often over-analyze social situations so much that even the slightest social mistake makes them feel as if it’s huge. You tell yourself ‘I looked so stupid there, I didn’t even smile.” or “That person couldn’t even hear me the first time I spoke.” or “I didn’t even look him in the eye!”.
The real cause of the problem is that you care too much about what other people think of you. In fact, you care so much that you actually subconsciously look for ways in which you did something wrong in an interaction and you inevitably find it. It seems like your social interactions need to go perfect or you get upset and you feel stupid. At this point it almost seems better not to talk to people.
I know because I had this. Realize that you are not alone, everyone to a certain extent cares what others think of them. You just do it more than others but fundamentally there is nothing wrong with you as a human being. We all have things to work on and this happens to be yours. The reason why you beat yourself up so much is because we live in such a social society that it seems like everybody knows how to talk to each other but behind the curtains, we all deal with insecurities.
The Only Way to Overcome Shyness
I’m going to tell you what you don’t want to hear and I bet you already know what I’m going to say.
Just do it.
This is the only, foolproof way to permanently overcome shyness – just like anything else in life. I’m not going to tell you to give a speech to a huge audience but what I am going to tell you is do something that you can do right now that is a little uncomfortable but not so uncomfortable that you can’t do it.
Practical Ways to Overcome Shyness
I can hear you say “Oh cool Matt, just do it! Easier said than done”. I know trust me. Overcoming this part of your life can be very hard but you have to believe in yourself. One of the things I found useful was to just force yourself into social events. If your school has a club you like, join it. If your friends are going out, join them. Your brain will always come up with excuses like, “No…I don’t really want to go I have to study, or I have work”. Don’t let it do that – make a commitment that you will change!
At these social events, when you have those moments when you kind of feel out of place in an interaction try to force yourself to say something. If something pops into your head and your not sure if its the right thing to say – say it anyway, see what happens. If something is really bad that you shouldn’t say, you would know, trust me. Even if you say something really bad you can always just apologize and people will forgive you anyway. It’s really never a big deal. You can also check out sites like:
Meetup – This site allows you to find groups of people who meet up to do all sorts of things from sports to programming! They literally have everything. This is great to meet people who you share interests in.
Toastmasters– This is an organization that helps you with public speaking abilities. It’s a very positive environment and this is a great way to push your comfort zone because they are all there to do the same thing.
5 Things You Can Do to Take Action NOW!
You have, to be honest with yourself here. Everybody has different levels and even different types of shyness. At your level walking up to a stranger and asking for the time can be a cause for anxiety. The point is if you feel that anxiety that means your doing it right. Now, keep doing that until it becomes manageable. Don’t wait until it goes away, once your brain begins to go “Okay, I can do this”. Step it up. Here is a small list to get you started on this task. You can start at any step you think will be challenging and move up from there. You can do all this stuff throughout your day or even walk around in a mall to do it. It’s your choice:
- Begin to look at people in the eye. if they look back just smile. If they don’t look just keep moving.
- Smiling releases positive hormones in your brain which puts you in a good mood and it shows your friendly. So always smile!
- Look at people, but after smiling, greet them. It could be “Hey, how are you?” or just “Hey”.
- Most people are conditioned to give quick answers to these questions because it’s said so often. Try to say it slowly and mean it. Try to get a response.
- Compliment people as they walk by. For example “Hey I really like your shirt!”
- This statement is a little less conditioned into people’s brains but people love to be complimented.
- Compliment people again but try to stop them before giving them a compliment.
- For example: “Excuse me, sorry to bother you but I just had to say I really liked your shirt!
- Do step 4 again but try to strike up a conversation! Ask them where they got it. Ask them how much it cost. Tell them what your into. Make a joke. Maybe you’ll meet somebody awesome!
- If it goes well don’t be afraid to ask this person to hang out!
Another thing you can do is talk to cashiers or people in customer service. These people are often bored and will be very open to talking. You can do these steps with them but always try to push it harder. Try to crack a joke, talk about yourself. Tell them what’s on your mind – if you’re having a bad day tell them that! These small things will start to spark small conversations. If you do this the cashier will probably think you’re an extrovert because you talked more than about 80% of all the other customers she met!
If any of these scare you then I think you should do it. Remember you will never see any of these people again! Everybody likes to be talked to and complimented. Nor are you bothering them for stopping them for two seconds. If they have to go you can just say “Okay, nice to meet you!” It’s not about their reactions anyway it’s all about you and your path to this confident being. So get out there and try it out. I promise nothing bad will happen to you!
Have a great day!
Have you ever been shy? What were the things you have done to overcome that part of your life? Let me know in the comments below!