Can I Overcome Shyness? Tell Me How

Shy young man, fingers over eye
How can I overcome this?

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?

Timid, shy young lady
I don’t want to feel 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?

Teenage boy, shy, looking ahead
I don’t have to feel shy

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?

Shy, timid young lady laughing at herself
How silly of me to feel shy

I’ve found that the following ways work for me in overcoming shyness and in gaining self-confidence:


Act confidently

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

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

Shy, timid young lady
You shyness will become less and less

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.

10 Replies to “Can I Overcome Shyness? Tell Me How”

  1. Interesting article! After reading it, I remember that…
    I once a shy person during my younger years and now it made me think— “How did I overcome my shyness?”

    Well, I was shy ’till on my 4th or 5th grade, (I think)— I started to join different clubs in school, until I got into Drama Club.
    We performed whenever there’s school event.

    I believe that, joining the club helped me overcome my shyness, without me noticing it actually.

    So, you are right. You can overcome shyness with practice and of course by helping yourself as well.

    1. Thanks for your reply, Mina. It’s great that you got through your shyness at a young age, just through putting yourself out there in school clubs. That’s exactly what this site is about is to not avoid audiences, but join in. Thanks, again.

  2. I once volunteered to get trained by my employer for the purpose of giving guided tours to customers of one of our facilities.
    The very idea of me being the focus of attention among a group of strangers, many of whom were high-level decision makers, was a completely foreign and frightening concept for me, and would have been unthinkable had it not been for the training which promised to prepare me for the task.
    I volunteered with the intention of using the opportunity to help me overcome my shyness and lack of self-confidence.
    I learned from the training that being prepared and knowing what I was going to talk about in advance, as well as having a strategy to deal with unexpected questions, gave me the confidence to deliver engaging and convincing presentations.
    This worked wonders for my self-confidence and helped me overcome much of my shyness over the years.
    Self-awareness is an important part of gaining this confidence so maintaining eye contact and speaking clearly, as your article states, are essential things that need to be practiced continuously in order to succeed.
    Thanks for an informative article that I am sure many will find useful.

  3. Thanks for sharing, Frank. It sounds like you had some good experiences and training with your volunteer work. Being prepared in advance helps us to have the confidence to participate in a group, just like you did. And you’ve gained the self-confidence which enables you to overcome future shyness experiences down the road.

  4. I can relate very well to your amazing article, I have been referred to being shy all my life and it has really limited me to have as much fun as I could have.

    I have used many of your suggestions and they do work, but I found out in my 30’s my shyness was actually social anxiety.

    I know this article is going to help many people,
    Jeff

    1. Thank you for your reply Jeff. So you’ve been shy most of your life as well as I have. And yes, I understand shyness is referred to as social anxiety, because when we’re in an environment with other people, that’s when we can become shy becuase we feel like the focus is on us.

      My hope is that you are growing through your anxiety and that shyness becomes a lesser experience as the years pass. The very best to you.

  5. Dear Joanie
    Thank you very much for your fantastic website. It is amazing that you show people where to start and what steps to take towards their healthy living and positive mindset. I hope more people will know about your website and follow your guidance.
    Kind regards,
    Andrey

    1. Thank you for your comment, Andrey. I appreciate your encouragement in helping others towards achieving healthy living and a positive mindset.

      The best to you,
      Joanie

  6. Thank you for this great article! Shyness is a big obstacle for some people, and I am one of them.

    You may not know it if you meet me in person. That is because I teach and I give talks. But it took me a long time to overcome shyness and eventually be able to do this.

    In the past, I was so nervous and shy that I was tongue tied when I had to stand in front of people and speak. There was once I even felt vertigo, and thought I would faint on the stage!

    Today, I have one more shyness obstacle to overcome. Your tips come in useful. But I need to seek your kind advice – How do I overcome shyness to appear on video?

    I do YouTube videos for my travel blog. But I never appear on them. I feel so shy, and I am afraid of people saying bad things about my looks. Or the way I speak.

    Yet, I have viewers request to see my face, and asked me to appear in the videos. How do I overcome my shyness to make this happen? Please help?

    1. Hello Timotheus, I appreciate and understand your comments. Thank you for your heartfelt sharing. You say you struggle with shyness about giving a video presentation, and yet you feel confident giving an audio presentation. What I have to share with you will hopefully be encouraging to you.

      In my personal opinion, since you are already confidently giving audio presentations, “Wow!” you’re over half-way there. You’re prepared in advance for your audio presentation, and your confidence is strong, you’re ready to go live! With the newer generation of folks, they are more familiar with cultural accents, and from the looks of your picture your appearance is very acceptable. So just think, you have awesome information to share with people, you are the expert, go for it! People are more interested in what you have to say than how you look or talk.

      Practice a teaching session, a YouTube video, in front of someone you know and trust, and record it. Practice in front of a family member or a friend, and in no time you will feel much more comfortable. Practice several times. It sounds like your viewers want to see you live because they already trust you. They’re comfortable with your voice and they like what you have to say, and you have already built a camaraderie with them before the end of the presentation.

      So start now. Practice! Know that you are a good presenter! Know that you have awesome information to share with folks! People will like you because of the awesome information you shared!

      I believe in you, and wish you the very best,
      Joanie

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