By Timothy Arends
Shyness can be a debilitating problem that keeps you from making friends, going on dates, and even getting a good job. Here are five ways to beat shyness once and for all.
1) Think Small. Don’t think you’re going to solve your shyness all at once. Not only is that a recipe for frustration, but it will put a lot of pressure on you and only increase your nervousness.
Instead, take your shyness one step at a time. Make a list of all the types of situations in which you find yourself feeling shy.
For some, it will be simply talking to the opposite sex. More severely shy people might have trouble with almost every situation.
However, not all situations are equally difficult. A brief chat is generally easier than a long, soulful Conversation. Talking to someone you know casually is easier than talking to a total stranger. Meeting one person is easier then attending a party.
On a sheet of paper or in your word processor, make a list of every shyness inducing situation you can think of. Next, sort them in the order of difficulty. Easiest might be talking to a family member. However, if that causes you no shyness at all, you should leave it off the list.
For some shy people, simply making brief conversation with a store clerk while making a purchase might cause shyness. For others, talking to the opposite sex might be where shyness begins.
After you have sorted your shyness producing situations, it is time to tackle them one at a time. This means you should look at the first item on your list, and resolve to find a way to enter into that shyness producing situation every day.
If you have trouble talking to anyone, for example, you might resolve to make one small purchase every day from the drugstore or five and ten, being sure to make conversation with the store clerk or cashier each time.
If you’re waiting in line, this is also a good time to practice overcoming shyness. Make conversation with the person standing next to you, either in front or behind you. You might even space your purchases out, so that instead of going to the grocery store every week, you go everyday, with the sole purpose of practicing overcoming your shyness.
If making conversation with a stranger in the cafeteria is too difficult for you, try just making conversation with whoever is waiting in line ahead or behind you.
2) If you are shy around the opposite sex, make a practice to go out with your friends and strike up a brief conversation with someone each time. We are usually more confident when we are with friends. Again, you can build up the difficulty level over time by restricting yourself to very short conversations at first, such as while waiting in line, while gradually building up your difficulty level as time progresses and your confidence increases.
It is important, however, to be sure to take the shyness situations in the order of difficulty. Don’t try to jump too far ahead. The whole point of this process is to gradually build up your skills and self-confidence.
It is extremely important, however, to find a way to attack these shyness producing situations daily. This is the only way you make steady progress in overcoming your shyness. After you feel you have build up your self-confidence adequately for the easiest situation, it is time to progress on to more difficult ones.
After you have tackled each situation for a week or two, you may decide it is time to move on to the next level of difficulty, either a longer conversation or the next item on your list. If you tackle each item on your list progressively, it is guaranteed that you will make significant progress in overcoming your shyness.
3) Practice, practice, practice. Some suggest practising in front of the mirror, but this may make many people feel silly and self conscious. My best advice is to practice mentally. Make yourself comfortable, and then visualize yourself being in the situations that make you nervous. That way, you can mentally “See” in your mind the reactions of the other people, and yourself responding effectively to them.
4) Don’t let others do your talking for you. Shy people may have friends or relatives that talk for them and protect them from the scary situations. Such people may think they’re being helpful, but they may actually be keeping you from getting the practice in of speaking up for yourself.
5) Celebrate your progress. Give yourself credit when you succeed in taking steps to overcome your shyness. Do something nice for yourself. Tell a friend. Shy people tend to engage in negative self talk, and is equally important for them to praise themselves when they do something right.
Follow these steps religiously and you will make steady progress in overcoming your shyness.