“Why are you so shy?” “Why don’t you come out and chat with us?”
“Well, aren’t you a wallflower…”
If you’re anything like me, you’ve heard these questions at least a thousand times in your life. From birthday parties to family gatherings and even just hanging with some new friends, shyness can be debilitating. Us shy people are well aware of what we’re missing out on. Shyness = Lost opportunities. It might be hard for you to accept this fact, your pride may prevent you from seeing it for what it is, but it is the truth.
How many times have you seen a group of friends and wished the conversation would flow so easily for you?
Tomes of research have been published on the topic of overcoming shyness and why some people are shy and why others are social butterflies. I don’t want to go into those right now. Of course, when I was younger and not-so-wiser I thought science could substitute experience and immersed myself in reading self-help books and research articles.
Well, the result was that I knew a lot about my “condition” but nothing about how to solve it.
Fast-forward to now, and I’m a somewhat functioning member of society capable of holding my self in any group environment.
So, what changed. Experience, that’s what changed. I found myself forced to adapt to survive. From my very first job, I had to be social else it was to risk getting left behind.
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I won’t lie. Those first few months were quite traumatizing. Which is why I figure you shouldn’t go through the same experience as I did.
Without further ado, here are some tips I’ve compiled from my experience.
The one biggest mistake I see shy people making and not even realizing it is being controlled by their emotions. Realizing this is the first step to come out of your shell. Write that down and paste it somewhere prominent: “Do Not Be Controlled By Your Emotions!”
Here are some cases where you’re being controlled by your emotions:
- Do not avoid people who make you feel shy. That just gives them power over you and they will take advantage of this. Face them. No matter how little they make you feel. I guarantee you, that soon that feeling of inadequacy and insecurity will drift away without you even realizing it.
- Do not avoid the chance for public speaking. Ok, this one’s a little hard. I have given numerous presentations now, but I still feel nervous every time! Goddammit! If only there was an easy way out it. Well, tough luck. There isn’t. You just have to tough it out. All you need is one good experience and you can use it as an anchor for the rest of your life. Think of an outstanding social experience you had, feel the positive emotions it produces and get out there and say that toast.
- Don’t avoid doing something just because it makes you feel nervous and afraid. Here’s a secret the extroverts don’t tell you. They feel nervous too. So, what makes them extroverts? They act despite it! Mark Twain said it best when he said, “Courage is not the absence of fear. It is acting in spite of it.”
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At the risk of sounding repetitive, to get over your shyness, you have to become less controlled by your emotions. This doesn’t mean to suppress your emotions, it simply means to act in spite of them. In my case, despite my feelings of insecurity, I had to take action or risk performing badly at my job. I was pushed hard to take the initiative.
This is the number one ability you need to develop to overcome shyness. You have to have the ability to act in spite of feeling a certain emotion. This means that if you feel afraid to do something, you do it anyway. Take charge of your emotions.
- Beginner: Asking a question in front of the class? You’ve started to take charge of your emotions. Well, done.
- Intermediate: Talking to people who make you uncomfortable? You’re getting there.
- Expert: Asking a girl/guy out despite shi***ng bricks? Awesome!
I can guarantee you that that feeling of shyness will NEVER go away. It will be there with you till the end. So, why let it ruin your one chance at life?
By doing this, taking charge of your emotions, you will become more relaxed and easygoing. Soon, it will become second nature to you.
In cognitive-behavioral therapy, the “behavioral” part is acting in spite of fear. Of course, a lot of shy people can’t or are not able to simply “face their fears.” This is why there needs to be a shift in your thinking.
That’s the cognitive part of cognitive-behavioral therapy.
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