If you have a lifetime of shyness under your belt, you’ve probably heard of well-intentioned guidance: Overcoming Shyness
- “All you have to do is smile, and say hello!”
- “Just go talk to them. They won’t bite.”
- “Stop overthinking everything.”
This advice, of course, often comes from people who have little (if any) experience with shyness themselves. Chronic shyness goes beyond the brief feelings of uneasiness and nervousness most people experience in certain situations, like the first day of a new job.
Truly shy people tend to feel self-conscious and uncomfortable in most social situations.
Maybe the thought of meeting new people leaves you shaky, sweaty, and nauseous. You doubt other people have any interest in you, and, during conversations, you worry about what the other person thinks about you.
In short, shyness isn’t something you can cast off simply by pasting on a smile.
Shyness usually doesn’t disappear on its own, but the 9 Tips for Overcoming Shyness and Embracing Self-Acceptance below can help you take steps toward feeling more comfortable around others and with yourself.
1. Explore possible sources
Experts generally agree that shyness develops in response to a combination of factors, like:
- childhood environment
- life experiences
Parenting tactics, for example, may drive shyness.
- Over-emphasized potential dangers: You might grow up approaching unknown people and situations with extreme caution and reserve.
- Set strict rules around what you could and couldn’t do: You might feel uncomfortable stepping beyond those limits, even in adulthood.
- Were shy or anxious themselves: You probably observed and eventually began to model this response.
Instability in your environment can also contribute, like:
- moving often
- experiencing bullying
- living in an unsafe neighborhood
- going through major family dynamic changes due to divorce or death
Any of these factors can have an impact on how you handle social interactions.
Shyness can also develop in adolescence and adulthood. If you faced rejection from your peers or teachers and supervisors singled you out for criticism, it’s only natural you might begin to fear the possibility of similarly humiliating experiences in the future.
Working to uncover where shyness comes from can help you find the right tools to reshape your fear.
2. Determine whether it’s shyness or something else
People often think of shyness, social anxiety, and introversion as the same thing.
It’s also possible that people assume you’re shy when you simply prefer your own company.
If you’re introverted, you might not have any trouble socializing — when you’re in the mood to be social, that is.
You don’t avoid other people because you feel self-conscious or worry about what they think about you. You choose to spend time alone because you need a good dose of solitude to feel your best.
3. Explore your strengths
Take a moment to consider shyness from an evolutionary perspective.
If you were outgoing, you might have ventured out to explore new areas, find resources, and interact with other communities. If you were shy, you might have stayed close to home to avoid possible treats Trusted Source.
Both roles are necessary. But, while exploration might help you make new discoveries, it also puts you in the path of potential dangers. Sticking to one place keeps you safe.
Maybe you’re great with animals, a talented artist, or a driven researcher. Perhaps you’re a compassionate listener, and family and friends always seek your advice.
The world needs balance, and what better way to achieve that balance than with different personality types?
Sure, it might take you more time to open up. But you have plenty of valuable traits, like empathy, sensitivity, and caution, to offer when you do.
4. Identify goals
If you know someone who seems to make new friends every time they walk into a room, you might envy their outgoing nature and envision yourself navigating social settings with the same ease.
That’s not impossible, but it’s usually more helpful to take smaller steps first.
Start by exploring the ways in which shyness affects your life:
- “Class participation makes up 5 percent of my grade. But I’m too nervous to share, because I don’t know anyone.”
- “I have a lot of ideas for this new project at work, but what if no one likes them?”
Then, use that list to create simple goals, like starting a conversation with a classmate or using a dating app to find potential partners.
5. Don’t let the spotlight effect get to you
The spotlight effect, in simple terms, refers to the (generally false) assumption that other people notice everything you do and say, almost as if a spotlight were shining on you.
This cognitive bias can easily contribute to feelings of shyness or social anxiety.
When you worry people will notice and judge your mistakes or quirks, you’re more likely to hang back on the edges of a crowd where you can safeguard yourself from possible rejection.
In reality, though, most people tend to be less observant than you imagine — in part because they’re thinking about their own spotlight. You might feel as if all eyes are on you, but that usually isn’t the case.
6. Be genuine:
Some shy people get through social interactions behind a mask of confidence.
But “fake it ’til you make it” doesn’t work for everyone. Putting up a front of boldness you don’t actually feel can even leave you more anxious that everyone will see through you.
It’s fine to admit you’re nervous or let people know you want to ease into a group at your own pace. People might even let you know how much they appreciate the effort you’re making. And their positive reactions can bolster your confidence authentically.
Always skip the white lies, even if you think pretending will keep conversations moving.
It might seem completely harmless to tell your new roommates, “Yoga? That’s my favorite way to unwind.” But imagine how this can backfire. They might invite you to their Sunday yoga practice when, in reality,
Instead, tell the truth: “I’ve never tried yoga, but I’d like to!”
7. Recognize the benefits of shyness
So maybe you have a hard time opening up to new people right away, or you feel a little uneasy before you have to speak to someone new.
While this might mean you don’t make friends or find dates as easily as more outgoing people do, it’s worth noting that a little caution never hurts.
It also creates more space for trust to develop, and trust is always a good thing. A slow start often leads to stronger relationships down the line, after all.
8. Accept yourself
However your shyness came to be, at the end of the day, it’s simply part of your personality.
You can work to become less shy, but, if your shyness doesn’t cause any problems, you probably don’t need to push yourself to overcome it.
For example, maybe you don’t feel any particular urge to meet new people, but you have no trouble greeting someone when introduced. Perhaps you feel nervous before talking to your boss, but you handle conversations successfully when needed — even if your heart beats a little faster.
So you don’t enjoy socializing much. Not everyone does!
If you’re both shy and introverted, you might feel perfectly satisfied with your current level of social interaction, since it leaves you plenty of time to recharge and unwind on your own.
9. Avoidance isn’t the answer
Skipping out on social events entirely often feels a lot safer than trying your best to make friends and failing.
Avoiding people might protect you from rejection, but the downside is that you might face loneliness instead.
Exploring your interests — hiking, crafting, dancing, cooking, etc. — through classes, community events, or even apps, like Meetup, can help you find potential friends and partners who share your interests.
Also Read my article: