Shyness has been something I’ve had to grow through my whole life, or at least when I was old enough to know I was shy. Being raised in a large family of six kids, I thought maybe I didn’t have as much opportunity to talk because there were so many of us.
Well, I decided that wasn’t the reason because I had plenty of time to talk at school and talk with my friends. But I was still shy. So I thought, how can I overcome shyness?
When Does Shyness Affect Me?
In my many years of life, I have learned to recognize that life events can take the ‘wind out of my sails’ and I can become more shy for a period of time. It may take a while for me to regain my confidence. Perhaps it’s because my self-esteem has been affected, but shyness seems to happen when I experience things that have hurt me. I am more shy afterwards and more quiet.
Also, I’ve learned that when the attention is focused on me while in a group of people, I can feel shy. I’ve always been a background person where I don’t feel like I need or want the attention, or the recognition, or the kudos for something.
Have You Ever Felt Shy?
If you’ve ever felt shy, maybe you have experienced similar answers to curb shyness. To counteract shyness during my teen years, I consciously “made” myself do things that required interaction with others that would increase my self-confidence and put me out there with other people. I did things I knew I would enjoy doing, or that I thought I would be good at, like taking taekwondo, a self defense class. I took the class because I liked all the physical rigorous activity at that age, and I felt like I would be good at it.
Then in later years, because I loved dancing, I took ballroom dancing as a way to interact and enjoy people.
Now that I’m much more mature in age, almost retirement age, I am still shy at certain times, and even blush when I least expect it.
Who Experiences Shyness?
“For most people, shyness is learned. But for some, shyness starts in infancy, with about 10 to 15% of newborns born “inhibited” (about as many are born “bold”), but for most shy people shyness is learned at some later time in life with as many as 40 to 60% of adults report being currently shy people,” according to Steve Bressert, Ph.D.
I Ask Myself, What is Shyness?
Is it fear? If so, fear of what? Fear of not being acceptable to someone? Fear of not being liked? Fear of looking stupid? Fear of not living up to someone’s expectations? Fear of disappointing myself?
Well, I conclude that shyness is a fear and it does relate to anxiety, because anxiety is also fear.
So let’s take a look at what Wikipedia says about shyness. Wikipedia defines shyness as a feeling of apprehension, lack of comfort, or awkwardness especially when a person is around other people. This commonly occurs in new situations or with unfamiliar people. Shyness can be a characteristic of people who have low self-esteem.
Is Shyness Permanent?
That’s the good news! Shyness is not permanent. Shyness is really about other people. You worry about how other people perceive you and whether they will approve of you. You become shy in the moment maybe because of the situation you are in, which may be dependent upon who you’re with, one person or several, and your surroundings, or where you’re at.
The reasons you might become shy is when:
- you need the other person’s acceptance or approval, or you want them to like you
- you value the other person more than yourself because perhaps you think they are more attractive for example
- you feel uncomfortable or insecure with yourself
How Can I Overcome Shyness?
I’ve found that the following ways work for me in overcoming shyness and in gaining self-confidence:
Kind of like, fake it ’til you make it. Feeling shy is not the problem. Avoiding social interactions is the problem. Eliminate avoidance and you will overcome your shyness.
Participate in small talk
While you’re in the grocery line, for instance, choose someone you want to talk to like a mom with two kids, or a young man with a sports magazine, or a grandmother who just bought a birthday cake. Put yourself out there to meet and talk to new people.
Try new things
Get out of your comfort zone. Part of overcoming shyness is about developing confidence in several areas of your life and not letting fear of failure, fear of rejection, or fear of humiliation get in your way. By practicing new activities, you are confronting your shyness and learning to handle your fear more effectively.
Practice telling a joke or a story at every opportunity you have. Practice talking more openly while at work, while with friends, while with family. Let your voice and ideas be heard. Confident people are not preoccupied with whether everyone is going to like what they have to say. They speak their mind because they want to share, engage, and connect with others. You can do this too. Shyness is not a reason to stay quiet.
Make yourself vulnerable
Be with other people. Talk with other people. Fear of being judged contributes to your shyness, so practice being with the people you are close to and can trust. You might realize the more you do it, the closer you feel to others, and the more pleasure and meaning you get out of those relationships. This will lead to increased confidence in yourself and in social interactions.
Practice using confident body language
Make eye contact when talking to someone. Walk with your head held high. Project your voice clearly and effectively. Shake hands. Give hugs. Stay in close proximity to others.
Be mindful or aware
Be present to all of your thoughts, feelings, sensations, and memories. There is no part of your experience that you have to run from, or escape, or avoid. Learn to appreciate yourself and the world around you, including those “panicky” thoughts and feelings, and just notice them without judgment. You’ll be okay, you’ll get past those moments of shyness.
Keep practicing. With continual practice, your shyness will show up less and less often, as your self-confidence will become stronger and stronger more often. You will feel happier and feel like this “burden” of shyness has lifted.
Thanks for reading my article. I would love to hear about your experiences and comments below.