Overcoming social anxiety and becoming socially confident is a big challenge for people who are shy.
Fear paralyzes you every time you have to address people.
Your heart starts to beat faster. Your breathing accelerates and you start to sweat and blush.
You feel nervous, anxious and uncomfortable.
You withdraw into your shell. You become reserved and fearful of society.
Most people feel (or have felt) shy and socially anxious in some period of their life.
It is necessary to know that shyness is not a problem. It is a challenge which you have to face.
What is shyness?
Shyness is natural until it becomes a social phobia or anthropophobia (the fear of people).
If you have fear and panic attacks of the outside world and meeting with people, you have to do something about it.
Feelings present in shy people:
- You have difficulties in communicating with others, or you avoid talking to people.
- You worry that you don’t have anything interesting to say.
- You think you’re boring and stupid because you rather remain silent than speak.
- You feel vulnerable.
- You hate being the center of attention, so you rather stay aside.
Avoiding social situations, withdrawing into yourself, staying away from people and from talking – all these things strengthen social anxiety.
It hinders your acceptance of yourself and the overcoming of your social phobia.
Social anxiety and shyness are connected to your childhood traumas or with social happenings.
You once felt humiliated by others and ever since your fear was aroused, and the shyness became unbearable.
Others have taught us that being shy is not normal and not welcome in modern society.
Shy people lose their self-confidence.
They think that communicative people are better than them and that shy people will never be like them. That isn’t true.
You can become less shy and more socially confident.
I did it. And I was an extremely shy person. Here is my story of overcoming social anxiety.
How I accepted my shyness and overcame social anxiety
I was too afraid to speak to people. My heart used to beat really fast, and I felt a lot of pressure in my chest.
I created a rich inner world that was my escape from reality. I felt lonely without any friends, but I didn’t realize then that it was my responsibility to help myself.
I blamed others for my shyness and depression. There were some periods in my past when I didn’t go out at all.
I was frightened of the outside world. So I preferred to stay in my comfort zone until I realized that shyness is my trait.
Even now, I feel shyness from time to time, although with a big difference.
I am not anxious anymore, and I am not afraid to talk to strangers or to go out.
I love to listen to people, and I interact in society when I have a need for it.
I accepted that I am an introvert and that my shyness is natural when I meet new people or when I have to do something unknown to me.
I face my fears now. And I love the fact that I am getting better at social interaction.
Behind your shyness is the fear of critiques, and opinions of other people, negative beliefs that you have about yourself and your insecurity.
It is never about being the center of attention or the fear of public speaking. It is always about what others will say and how they will see you.
You were dependent on others from an early age. That’s why you have a need to be good and perfect in the eyes of other people.
But, where are your feelings and needs hiding?
And if others like you, do you think that’s because of you or because of their own beliefs and current mood?
Think about that.
Your insecurity is giving you trouble. Let’s face that and let’s face your shyness once and for all.
How to gain social confidence being a very shy person
1. Ask questions when people talk about things that are unfamiliar to you.
Asking questions can be tough. You are afraid that you will embarrass yourself and about how stupid your question may sound.
Ask people questions. It is a good way to face your fear of speaking.
That way you stay aside and let them speak. You’ll learn something new, and your insecurity will start to melt a bit.
People love to talk about themselves.
Asking questions can be your starting point in overcoming your shyness and social anxiety.
2. Talk about things that interest you.
If the topic is of interest to you, feel free to give your opinion.
At least a few words at the beginning. They’ll see that you have something in common and they’ll be interested in hearing more from you.
I remember when I gave birth to my son I was still shy to talk to strangers. But after a while, I began to be more open to speaking with other moms.
We started to share our experiences about children. That’s how I gained new friends and in the process, social confidence.
3. Try to laugh with your interlocutor, look him in the eye and give him a firm handshake.
These are characteristics of a strong and confident person. You can become one if you keep practicing them when you meet people.
A firm handshake with a look straight in the eye of an interlocutor, reveals a confident, friendly and honest person.
A confident person knows how to make people laugh. Even laughing at yourself sometimes, can be endearing.
When you once break the ice with a smile, there will be no room for shyness again.
4. Read self-help books about the art of conversation.
Listen to people who are well-versed in public speaking.
Follow the tips and tactics of people who once were shy and withdrawn just like you and are now one of the greatest public speakers in the world.
You’ll learn a lot from them. Use their methods and practice them in your everyday life.
You’ll see positive results in your life very soon.
5. You should do in public, that which makes you feel anxious.
But how? I’m too afraid! I don’t think I can do that! That’s not me at all!
These were probably your thoughts at this moment.
But the truth is, the more you try to run away from your fears and to fight them, the more you’ll feel anxious.
Don’t work against yourself.
If you feel anxious about speaking up, speak up. Even if it’s one simple sentence.
If you feel anxious about voicing your thoughts, make a start by expressing just one of them.
If you feel shy to look your crush in the eye – look him in the eye, at least for two seconds.
Start taking small steps in practicing your conversation and social skills. Soon you’ll be able to speak more than two to three extended sentences.
And you’ll be able to look your crush in the eye without blushing.
There is no magic formula to make your shyness disappear. Only with consistent practice and facing your fears will you become self-confident.
6. Change your negative beliefs about shyness into positive ones.
See the other side of the situation that causes discomfort in you.
Some negative beliefs shy people have about themselves are:
- Others will see me as stupid and weird.
- Others will notice how anxious I am.
- I’ll block in the middle of a sentence.
- They will laugh at me.
- I’ll only embarrass myself.
- My voice will start to shake.
- I don’t have anything interesting to say.
Turned into positive thoughts, they look like this:
- I am smart enough to talk about what I know, and the right person will see that in me.
- I have no problems to laugh at myself with others and actually to feel good doing so.
- I don’t have to worry about being interesting. I only have to be interested enough in the topic that is being discussed.
- People will notice how creative and original my ideas are.
- I am confident enough about my voice and appearance.
7. Face your fears.
Get in touch with your fears. It’s essential if you want to deal with them.
Ask yourself these questions to know what you’re afraid of and why:
- Which situation makes you anxious right now? What feeling does it arouse in you?
- From a scale of 1-10, how would you describe your anxiety and shyness in that particular situation?
- Which negative beliefs come from your subconscious mind?
- Does shyness represent a problem for you in your daily functioning?
- Do you miss chances and regret that you don’t get to do things because of your shyness?
- Do you hate yourself because of your shyness?
- Did you lose your friends or not have any because of your shyness and anxiety?
Answering these questions will bring you closer to your fears and will make it easier for you to release them from your mind.
You can overcome shyness
It is possible to overcome shyness and to be confident in society. You have read my story.
Now it’s your turn to face your social insecurity:
- Ask people questions and look them in the eyes.
- Talk about a topic of your interest.
- Laugh with others; don’t be afraid to say something funny.
- Read books about the art of conversation.
- Start practicing your social skills with small, baby steps.
- Change your mindset about your shyness. Start believing in your abilities.
- Ask yourself questions to get to the core of your fears.
You can do this by yourself. But don’t hesitate to ask for professional help, if needed.
I would like to know if you overcame your shyness and social anxiety.
What were the methods you used to gain social confidence?
Shy no longer Worksheets Coping with Social Anxiety: http://www.cci.health.wa.gov.au/resources/infopax.cfm?Info_ID=40
Moodjuice, Self Help guide for Social Anxiety http://www.moodjuice.scot.nhs.uk/shynesssocialphobia.asp
Body Language, Handshake