Shyness has a strange element of narcissism, a belief that how we look, how we perform, is truly important to other people
– Andre Dubus III
Being shy can be pretty debilitating. And surprisingly, most people have experienced it at least once in their lives. In this part of “How to Overcome Shyness”, I want to share some tips with you on overcoming shyness.
We know from part one that there are three types of shyness: situational shyness (in specific situations), transitional shyness (during transitions or the process of change), and permanent shyness (in most social situations).
In the last post, I covered the four main causes of shyness: need for control, lack of trust, fear of being judged and being critical.
It is OK to allow shyness to rent space in our mind. Never give it permanent residency
– Ronit Baras
Now that we know the what and why behind shyness, I want to share some tips with you on how to overcome it. If you have kids, escort them in this exercise and help them practice the tips. You may have to be their facilitator.
- Identify the exact situations that make you shy. It is much easier to prepare yourself for a specific situation than it is to be constantly on guard.
- Before heading into a situation that makes you shy, try imagining what it will be like. Experience the anxiety in your head beforehand. For example, if you are going to an interview, take some time beforehand to imagine what it is going to be like. Imagine yourself sitting in the interview room and allow the anxiety to pass through. Once you have experienced it in your mind, your brain will deal with it much better when it really happens.
- Practice introducing yourself. Stand in front of the mirror and say, “Hi, my name is ____. What is your name?”. My 4-year-old nephew recently started the school year in a new city. He had to leave all his old kindergarten friends behind. Within a week he had 7 new friends and had already invited some over to play. When I asked him how he did it, he proudly told me that he went up to one of the girls and said “Hi, my name is Or. What is your name?”.
- Watch other people and recognize their shyness. It can be surprising to find out that so many other people have the same fears as you. Up to 98% of people consider themselves shy. Noticing other people’s shyness may help you realize you are not alone.
- Think of situations when you are not shy. You may be able to take some ideas and encouragement from situations when you handled things well. I have a client who freaks out during board meetings. He is perfectly happy to train up to 100 people every day, but he freaks out if someone asks him a question at a board meeting. I suggested he try copying his behavior from training at the board meeting. It worked like magic.
- If you experience shyness during transition, remind yourself that transition is temporary. In a week or two, it will be over. The transition will pass and so will your shyness.
- During transitions and changes, ask yourself, “What are the good things that will come out of this change?”. Do you know the saying, “Seek and ye shall find”? If you focus on looking for the positives, you will find them. When you see lots of good in the change, the fear will dissolve.
- If you think shyness is one of your character traits, consider if it is serving you well or if it is limiting you in life. If it works to your advantage, enjoy it!
- If shyness is one of your character traits but it is not serving you well, try to prepare for social situations in advance. For example, use conversations starter cards, collect jokes, stories, learn about the people you are going to meet and find out what interests them, practice your speech. Preparation is key!
- Find people you feel comfortable with. Hang out with people you share values and interests with. Spend time with people who are warm and accepting.
Join me next time for some extra tips to help overcome shyness.