In this blog post, I won’t be talking about all the complicated and fancy tricks you can use to overcome shyness and become more socially confident. No, that can be found elsewhere, on websites dedicated to psychology or given to you by your psychiatrist. Instead, I want to share with you my own story of how I overcame this problem. Since I have direct experience of transitioning from a very shy and fearful child to a grown up that can easily handle a serious conversation with a stranger, I feel that my words are able to benefit you.
If you are a person that is often nervous, anxious and even afraid of communicating with other people, I have good news for you. When you decide to overcome shyness, it all comes down to one single thing – getting yourself out there and being social. I know I may sound like Captain Obvious here, but it’s really as simple as that. But I’m sure you want to know more than just that, which is why I am going to go deeper into the subject.
It’s not your fault
If you are an extremely shy person, it doesn’t mean that it’s all your fault. I say this because as children we don’t have much control over the ways we are brought up. We are not conscious of ourselves enough to understand that something is wrong and that we should fix it before it’s too late. In this case, I am talking about the behavior that prevents us from becoming socially confident in the future.
While we are children, our brains are like sponges. We absorb absolutely everything that happens around us and to us, and later that is what forms our personality. So if you were extremely shy during your first 10 years of your life and no one taught you to be more confident, chances are that you are going to grow up as a shy and a closed off person. However, even though changing that at a later stage in life is difficult, it definitely is possible. Again, speaking from real experience here.
Apart from being a very shy kid, I grew up in a foreign country. Because I didn’t know the language and had to face issues related to the communication barrier, it had also influenced my interest in socializing with others. And to top it off, I have a brother that is seven years older than me. So as you can imagine, whenever we got into fights, I was pretty much the only one to get hurt. Unfortunately, constantly being beaten up also affected my psyche and as a result influenced my self-confidence.
My situation was getting so bad that I couldn’t even handle small talk because of the awkwardness that it caused for me. I avoided any possible argument or confrontation, even when I felt that I was right.
Of course, the correct thing to do would be to work with my fears already then. But like I said, I was too young to understand this and my parents simply had a different perception of how a child needs to be raised. It was obvious to everyone that I was too shy, but instead of helping me deal with it, I was allowed to stay away from situations that would require me to feel uncomfortable. The results were expected, an introverted teenager with a lot of inner fears.
How to overcome shyness
Because I constantly was living in a state of fear and anxiety towards the world, I knew that it couldn’t go on like that forever. It was ruining my life. I couldn’t really find new friends, I was too scared to raise my hand in university, and I generally tried to avoid others. So what did I do? I changed. My anger at myself grew so strong that one day I decided that I will begin to act differently. I will learn to get outside of my comfort zone as much as possible, and so I did.
Related material to read: Never Give Up – The Power of Positive and Negative Motivation
The change was in no way no easy, nor it happened suddenly. As a matter of fact, I still work hard to overcome shyness up to this day. But don’t worry, even if you can’t reach the desired results instantly, you will enjoy the process of transformation right from the beginning.
What to do?
Basically, if you want to get rid of this negative trait in your character, begin doing the opposite of what you normally would do.
For example, I blush very much. I become red like a tomato when awkward or unexpected things happen to me. I wouldn’t care much about it, but others have always noticed and pointed it out to me. That also has had a big effect on me. Guess how good it feels when others can visually see on your face things that are supposed to be very private? I don’t want others to know that I feel awkward, but they do anyway, and it killed me. As a result, I began to push myself into situations where I normally would blush.
In university, I would try to raise my hand and speak out even when I didn’t have much to say. Nobody was aware that I was doing it just to fight my anxiety and to overcome shyness. At first, it was super difficult, but with time I got used to it, just like we get used to anything else in this life.
To overcome shyness I really had to constantly get outside of my comfort zone. It wasn’t pleasant, but as time passed by and I got better at it, it actually became fun. I was literally laughing at myself for how shy I had previously been in totally harmless situations. It was like a whole new world to me. Even in situations where I wouldn’t need to be seen or heard, I did it anyways just to keep getting better at it. I got into a constant self-improvement competition with myself.
Go, go, go!
So what are some of the things that I can recommend to you? The first thing to understand is that without leaving your comfort zone, changes won’t magically happen to you. You really need to get out there and start working on yourself. Spend more time with friends and just doing things outside of your house. Have you seen the movie “Yes Man” with Jim Carrie? If you haven’t, watch it now! It’s exactly the mindset you need to have. Be ready for anything! 🙂
Another thing that you have to keep in mind is that no one cares really whether you are awkward or not. Even if you do manage to get yourself in a situation where you might look “stupid”, chances are that no one else will notice it. And if they do, they usually forget about it within minutes. Most of the time it’s all in your mind, and others have their own things to worry about. When I realized that no one really cares about how I look or what I say, it became so much easier to live.
Find a mentor
If you feel that you need extra help, go and find someone that is confident and learn from them. Get a dating coach if you need to learn how to speak to women or men, and let them show you how it’s done. You don’t have to battle these problems completely on your own. Talking to friends about this also really helps. Let them know that you are changing certain things about yourself, and that you need their help. You can even tell your friends to give you a call whenever they go out, so that you could come along.
You can even go to a psychiatrist or get a life coach to teach you how to deal with life in general. Psychiatrists have some valuable information, while life coaches are usually very optimistic with a lot of real experience, and can teach you to overcome obstacles. But both are good options to consider. Just don’t keep it all inside of you and don’t run away from your problems. That only makes this worse in the long run.
I always recommend going to meetup.com and finding a group of people in your local area that has similar problems or interests to you. This way you learn to overcome shyness and you get new connections. Meetup is an extremely useful concept. I, for example, have joined Toastmaster through it to help me improve my public speaking skills. Maybe that’s also something you could do.
“I don’t care”
Finally, to overcome shyness, learn to not give a $*%! about what other people think of you. Pardon my French, but this is the best advice that anyone can give you. The sooner you stop caring about others judging you, the quicker you will be able to overcome shyness. You have your own life and you are in control of it. How you want to live it is totally up to you. When other people judge you it’s their problem and not yours. There is no reason to worry about it. I know this may sound like “easier said than done”, but hey, this is something you just have to know and understand.
Half of my life I was too afraid what others may think of me or the things they may say to me. This literally prevented me from ever having rest. I was in the state of constant nervousness and anxiety. As I gradually understood that I don’t need this in my life, living became so much more enjoyable. Again, maybe it’s obvious to some of you, but I need to say it for those that need it.
The goal of this blog post was not to teach you something special that no one else has ever taught you before, but rather to share with you my own experience of overcoming shyness. Maybe by reading this you will get a little more motivated and understand that anything is possible as long as you put a little effort into it. Maybe next time, after reading this, when you come across a situation that you usually would stay away from, you decide to do the opposite and then feel good about it. Remember, it’s also important not to torture yourself, but to enjoy the process of overcoming shyness and becoming more socially confident. Good luck!
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