“Shyness is a curious thing. It can be seen as an endearing quality, but it can also be a crippling condition.” – Susan Jeffers
Shyness is a common experience that many people struggle with. It can be a crippling feeling that makes it difficult to connect with others, form relationships, and achieve personal and professional goals. The fear of being judged or rejected can be overwhelming, leading to feelings of isolation and loneliness. However, there are ways to deal with and even overcome shyness and live a life less held back by it. Being self-compassionate, challenging negative thoughts, setting small goals, practising social skills, and seeking support, you can start to build confidence and overcome shyness. In this article, we will explore these strategies and more in detail so that if shyness is causing you challenges you wish to overcome, you may feel more capable, inspired and motivated to make some changes. Shyness is not a problem for some who have it.
However, if you feel it is a problem and you are seeking to overcome shyness and take control of your life, then this article is here to help.
1. Practice Self-Compassion
Self-compassion is an essential tool for overcoming shyness. When we feel shy, it is often accompanied by feelings of self-doubt, self-criticism, and negative self-talk. These feelings can be overwhelming and can lead to a vicious cycle of anxiety and shyness. By being compassionate with ourselves, we can learn to be kind and gentle with ourselves, especially in moments of vulnerability. To practice self-compassion, we can start by being mindful of our self-talk and challenging negative thoughts. We can then replace negative self-talk with kind, empowering language that acknowledges our strengths and capabilities.
Self-care can also be done by taking time for ourselves, doing things that bring us joy and happiness, and practising self-compassion meditations. This allows us to learn to be kinder and more accepting of ourselves, which can lead to increased self-confidence and decreased shyness. It can also help us build stronger, more authentic relationships with others, as we learn to accept and embrace our vulnerabilities. Ultimately, self-compassion can help us live a more fulfilling and joyful life, free from the constraints of shyness and self-doubt.
2. Challenge Negative Thoughts
“Shyness is just an obstacle to be overcome, and I have never been someone to back down from a challenge.” – Emma Watson
This is a cognitive behavioural technique that can help us overcome shyness by changing the way we think. Negative thoughts and beliefs about ourselves can be a major contributor to shyness, leading us to doubt our abilities, feel self-conscious, and avoid social situations. To challenge negative thoughts, we must first become aware of them. This involves paying attention to our internal dialogue and noticing when we are having negative or critical thoughts about ourselves. Once we are aware of these thoughts, we can start to challenge them by examining the evidence for and against them.
For example, if we are having the thought, “I’m not good at socialising,” we can ask ourselves, “Is this true?” We can then look for evidence that supports this belief (such as a time when we felt uncomfortable in a social situation) and evidence that contradicts it (such as a time when we had a good conversation with someone). By weighing the evidence objectively, we can start to see that our negative beliefs may not be entirely accurate. With time and persistence, we can start to retrain our thought patterns and build a more positive self-image, which can help us overcome shyness and thrive in social situations.
3. Set Small Goals
Setting small goals is an effective way to overcome shyness by gradually building up our confidence and social skills. When we have low self-esteem or lack confidence, it can be overwhelming to dive into social situations that feel intimidating or uncomfortable. By setting small, achievable goals, we can build our confidence and gradually expand our comfort zone. To set small goals, start by identifying a social situation that you find challenging but not overwhelming. This could be something as simple as saying hello to a stranger, making small talk with a colleague, or joining a new club or group. Once you have identified a goal, break it down into smaller, achievable steps.
For example, if your goal is to start a conversation with a stranger, you could break it down into the following steps:
Smile and make eye contact with the person.
Say hello and introduce yourself.
Make a statement that relates to their current situation “I see that you’re enjoying XYZ, I have never managed to get the hang of that myself.” The ask a simple question, such as “How do you do that?” or any other open question.
By breaking down your goal into smaller steps, you can build your confidence and gain momentum as you achieve each step. It’s important to celebrate your successes, no matter how small, and use them as motivation to keep going.
4. Practice Social Skills
Social skills are the abilities we use to communicate and interact with others, and they can be learned and improved with practice. When we lack social skills or feel uncomfortable in social situations, it can exacerbate shyness and lead to social isolation. To practice social skills, start by identifying specific skills you want to improve, such as making small talk, active listening, or assertiveness. There are many resources available to help you develop and develop social skills, including books, online courses, and social skills groups.
Once you have identified the social skills you want to improve, start utilising them in low-pressure situations. This could be something as simple as striking up a conversation with a cashier or barista or practising active listening with a friend or family member. It’s important to be patient with social skills, as you may make mistakes or experience setbacks along the way. Remember, social skills are just like any other skill – they require practice and effort to improve. Honing your social skills and gradually expanding your comfort zone, you can overcome shyness and build more fulfilling and meaningful social connections.
This article will help further with this topic: The Importance of Being Assertive and How You’ll Benefit From It.
5. Find Common Ground
To find common ground with someone, start by paying attention to their interests and hobbies. This could be something as simple as noticing the book they are reading, the band on their t-shirt, or the sport they are watching on TV. Once you have identified a potential common interest, ask them about it and show genuine interest in what they have to say. This can help to create a sense of connection and rapport. Another way to find common ground is to look for shared experiences or values. For example, if you are at a networking event, you could ask someone about their career or how they got into their field.
It’s important to approach finding common ground with a genuine curiosity and interest in others. This means actively listening to what they have to say and asking follow-up questions to keep the conversation going. It’s also important to be open and flexible, as you may not find common ground with everyone you meet. By finding common ground with others, we can break down barriers and build social connections. This can help to overcome shyness and build confidence in social situations. Remember, everyone has something interesting and unique to share, and finding common ground is a great way to discover it.
6. Take Care of Yourself
When we feel good about ourselves, both physically and mentally, we are more likely to feel comfortable and confident in social situations. There are many ways to take care of yourself, including:
Exercise – Regular exercise is a great way to improve both physical and mental health. It can help to reduce stress and anxiety, improve mood, and increase self-esteem.
Eat well – A healthy and balanced diet can help to improve energy levels, mood, and overall health. It’s important to eat a variety of nutrient-dense foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein.
Get enough sleep – Getting enough sleep is crucial for overall health and well-being. It can help to improve mood, concentration, and cognitive function.
Dress for success – Dressing in a way that makes you feel confident and comfortable can also help to build self-esteem and reduce social anxiety.
Taking care of yourself could also involve managing stress and practicing relaxation techniques. This could include self-hypnosis, deep breathing, meditation, or yoga. Overall, taking care of yourself can be an important part of overcoming shyness, as it helps to build confidence, reduce social anxiety, and improve overall health and well-being. By making self-care a priority, you can improve your social skills and build more meaningful and fulfilling social connections.
7. Seek Support
Research suggests support from others is an important way to overcome shyness, as it can provide encouragement, motivation, and a sense of community. It’s important to remember that shyness is a common experience, and many people struggle with it. Sometimes, simply talking to someone you trust about your struggles with shyness can provide a sense of relief and validation. It can also help to get an outside perspective on your situation and provide ideas for overcoming shyness.
Many mental health charity led groups and support groups are available for people who struggle with social anxiety and shyness. These groups provide a safe and supportive environment to share experiences, learn coping skills, and build social connections. If shyness is causing significant distress or interfering with your daily life, it may be helpful to seek professional help. A mental health professional, such as a therapist or counsellor, can provide individualised support and guidance for overcoming shyness. Hypnotherapists that graduate from my own college help clients with assertiveness training, building psychological skills, reducing stress and anxiety, advancing self-compassion, teaching self-hypnosis and mindful meditation skills.
Keep in mind that seeking support is a sign of strength, not weakness. It takes courage to acknowledge and address personal struggles, and seeking support can be an important step in overcoming shyness.
8. Celebrate Your Successes
Celebrating your successes is an important part of overcoming shyness, as it can help to build confidence and provide motivation for future progress. It’s important to recognise and celebrate small achievements, as well as larger ones, as every step forward is a success. Take time to reflect on your progress and the steps you’ve taken to overcome shyness. Acknowledge the effort and courage it has taken to make positive changes in your social interactions.
Treat yourself to something you enjoy, such as a favourite meal, a movie, or a spa day, to celebrate your success or milestone achievement. This can help to reinforce positive behaviours and provide motivation to continue making progress. Sharing your successes with others can provide a sense of validation and support. Use your successes as motivation to set new goals and continue making progress. This can help to maintain momentum and build confidence in social situations.
9. Embrace Discomfort
It’s important to recognise that discomfort and anxiety are natural parts of social interaction and that avoiding them can reinforce shyness. To embrace discomfort, it can be helpful to go through exposure therapy, which involves gradually and systematically exposing yourself to situations that make you feel uncomfortable.
This can help to desensitise you to discomfort and anxiety and build confidence in your ability to handle social situations. For example, if you feel uncomfortable speaking up in groups, you could start by sharing your opinion in a small group of trusted friends, and gradually work your way up to larger groups or more unfamiliar situations. It’s important to set realistic goals and take things at your own pace, as pushing yourself too hard can increase anxiety and reinforce shyness.
10. Be Mindful
To practice mindfulness, you can start by setting aside a few minutes each day to focus on your breath and bring your attention to the present moment. This can be done through meditation, deep breathing, or other relaxation techniques. It’s important to find a quiet and comfortable space where you can focus without distractions. As you’re mindful, you may notice your thoughts drifting to past or future events, or feelings of anxiety or discomfort may arise.
When this happens, try to acknowledge the thoughts or feelings without judgment, and gently bring your focus back to your breath or the present moment. This can help to increase self-awareness and reduce the power of negative thoughts and feelings. As per research, practising mindfulness can be especially helpful in social situations, as it can help to reduce anxiety and promote a sense of calm and relaxation. By being present at the moment and accepting your thoughts and feelings without judgment, you can reduce the power of negative self-talk and increase self-confidence.
Additionally, you can learn and use self-hypnosis with great effect to reduce shyness. Here are some great ways to start your education and journey with self-hypnosis:
a) Visit this page to download and use some free hypnosis audio tracks:
Generic audio are proven to be far less effective than tailored solutions, heater-hypnosis and quality self-hypnosis. With that in mind, here are a couple of free resources for learning self-hypnosis:
b) A free roadmap and guide: we use a similar process to this one within our research programmes at Bournemouth University.
c) A 20 minute crash course: a video guide where I talk through how to use self-hypnosis.
Both (b & c) are basic and founded in very evidenced-based principles grounded in solid science rather than the majority of pseudoscience that is usually inherently taught with the topic of self-hypnosis.
In conclusion, these ten strategies can help you overcome shyness and become more confident and self-assured. Remember, overcoming shyness is a process that takes time and practice. Be patient with yourself and don’t get discouraged if progress feels slow at times. With dedication and persistence, you can overcome shyness and achieve your personal and professional goals. So, take the first step today, and start building your confidence and self-assurance. You deserve to live a fulfilling life free from the constraints of shyness, and with these strategies, you can achieve just that.
Has this piqued your interest in this field? Then have a read of these pages:
1. Would you like a satisfying and meaningful career as a hypnotherapist helping others? Are you a hypnotherapist looking for stimulating and career enhancing continued professional development and advanced studes? Explore the pages of this website.
Adam Eason’s Anglo European training college.
2. Are you a hypnotherapist looking to fulfil your ambitions or advance your career?
Hypnotherapist Mentoring with Adam Eason.
Likewise, if you’d like to learn more about self-hypnosis, understand the evidence based principles of it from a scientific perspective and learn how to apply it to many areas of your life while having fun and in a safe environment and have the opportunity to test everything you learn, then come and join me for my one day seminar which does all that and more, have a read here: The Science of Self-Hypnosis Seminar. Alternatively, go grab a copy of my Science of self-hypnosis book.