WB056 Six ways to overcome shyness

You don't have to let shyness spoil your social life

It’s easy to feel a little uncomfortable meeting lots of new people at a party or a work gathering. Most people can get through it with a bit of effort and a forced smile. However, other people hate these things, and don't go. Do you have a  shyness so strong that it threatens to prevent you functioning at all in social situations? Here are six things you can do to get rid of your chronic shyness.

Find your triggers

A lot of people who say they are shy are in fact only shy in certain situations. For example you might be shy only when about to meet someone you find attractive, or when you have to talk to someone with the power to allow or not allow something you want, like a teacher or an official. Being tongue-tied in some situations and not knowing why makes you worry about doing the same in other situations, which actually makes it more likely that you will.

So learn to recognize exactly what is it that brings on the shyness. No one is shy in every situation, so there always is something recognizable to find. Otherwise, how would you know when to be shy? Knowing what brings on the shyness will help you identify your own strengths. Then you can stop worrying about when the shyness might strike again, and the extra confidence will help get rid of it altogether.

Turn it positive

Our minds are buzzing with thoughts all the time. This is normal and natural. But for some people the thoughts are all negative. Some people spend all day and all night telling themselves that they are too fat, or too stupid, or bad, or inadequate, or nobody likes them – or a thousand other things. This constant verbal battering eventually wears down even the strongest personality, and the mind begins to think it must be true.

If you have been brain washing yourself into believing that you are no good, or look ugly, then you will come to expect that everyone you meet is secretly judging and criticizing you. Your shyness is an attempt to avoid that. The answer is to keep telling yourself the opposite. This is what affirmations do. Saying out loud “I am smart”, “people like me”, or “I have great dress sense” will go a long way towards cancelling the mental noise that keeps you shy.

Reprogram the subconscious

Some shyness is so deep rooted that positive thinking and jolly affirmations will not reach it. In those cases it is worth considering hypnotherapy. Hypnosis can access the inner mind and a skilled therapist can find the cause of the problem and remove it. Once the cause has been eradicated it is gone forever. Another form of remodeling the subconscious uses tapping on your face while thinking about the thing you are trying to avoid. There are many brands of this energy tapping technique and it is often highly effective.

Visualize Success

Sometimes shyness comes from you imagining things going wrong and being made to look like a fool. So the cure is to imagine things going right. There are many visualization techniques. Most involve thinking about the situation, visualizing what you are wearing, who else is there, every detail of the event, and then mentally going through the process, but visualizing everything going exactly the way you want it to be.

That way you build up a replacement image. Your mind now has a memory of a successful outcome, instead of a negative one. If you go over the visualization again and again, it will eventually replace the fear with confidence.

Mirror a Talker

When you are in a gathering, look around and find someone who is confident, engaging, sharing with a small group. Not the guest of honor, but someone who just naturally feels good in company. Mentally imagine what it would be like to be them, put yourself into their body, see the world the way you imagine they see it, and discretely copy their feelings, how they stand, how they use their hands.

Get a feel for what it is like to act confidently. And then act it. By imagining how someone else does it and mirroring their actions you can train yourself to act they same way. By doing that you will naturally pick up a confident way of presenting yourself.

Find somebody worse

In any gathering there are always people who are uncomfortable. They stand on their own, clutching a glass, silent, watching everyone else, waiting for a good time to leave. These people are just as shy are you are, and are longing for someone to talk to them. So make that someone you. If you normally are like that yourself, then challenge yourself to find the most uncomfortable looking person in the room, and go up to them and say ‘Hi, I’m Dave Mason. I find these things really difficult, don’t you think?’.

You don’t need an excuse to introduce yourself, and leaving a hanging question gives them an opening to say something. As soon as you are talking freely, then look around for someone to else to open up. If you are getting on well then invite your new friend to come with you to meet them, or just say ‘Excuse me, I have go and speak to that person over there. Nice meeting you.’