4 Strategies to Overcome Your Shyness
Shyness; it’s associated with feeling anxious and awkward usually around new people or being in new and unfamiliar situations. If you’ve suffered from shyness, you’ll know just how frustrating it can be. You don’t actively choose to be shy, it’s shyness that latches onto you.
If you’ve suffered from this before, these four points are going to help you overcome your shyness.
Shyness Sucks (The Life Out of You)
If you let shyness get hold of you, it can have real consequences. It can stop you from meeting new people, forming new relationships and advancing in your career. Shyness is like an awkward, embarrassing parasite thing that you just can’t seem to shake off. It haunts you at the most inappropriate of times and you’d do just about anything to get rid of it. The problem is, the more you focus on it, the worse it appears to get. The more you feel shy, the more self-loathing you’ll experience.
From a long-term shyness sufferer, and now a part-time Quiet Confidence Coach I’m going to cover seven steps to help you get over shyness.
1. Remove The Shyness Label
In my book Quiet Confidence, I talk about how my life changed when I made a very clear distinction between shyness and introversion. Essentially, when I was a young child, I owned the definition of what it meant to be shy. For years it plagued me. I hated the ‘shyness’ label but the more I focused on it, the bigger it became. If I heard someone describe me as ‘shy’, that became further proof that it must be so… that I was shy.
The first step in getting over shyness is learning how to disassociate it from your personality.
I’m not shy, shyness is just something that visits me occasionally – Joel Annesley
The way that I look back at my identity has changed. If somebody asks me, or if I ask myself ‘am I a shy person?’, I’d would say no. I would also say that I have my moments of shyness, but shyness is not me. Shyness is separate to me. This might be a subtle distinction, but it’s very powerful.
I call myself an introvert with the occasional visit from shyness, but shyness doesn’t rule me anymore. And trust me, there’s nothing wrong with being an introvert.
So if you’re called yourself ‘shy’. It’s time to stop. Look yourself in the mirror and tell yourself you’re not shy. Sure, you get shy at times but shyness is not you! Let go of the shyness label and embrace your inner introvert.
2. Practise Mindfulness
Just because you might have moments of shyness, doesn’t mean your mind isn’t active. In fact, your mind is working in overdrive busily judging every situation. If you’re new to the concept of mindfulness, it originates from the early teachings of Buddha. But today, research shows there are tremendous benefits to practising regular mindfulness. Mindfulness comes from the concept of increasing your level of awareness without judgement. Mindfulness is a really simple practice that allows you to become the ultimate observer of your own life. When you do this, you gain more control or oversight to how you react to things that happen in life.
Mindfulness comes from the concept of increasing your level of awareness without judgement. Mindfulness is a really simple practice that allows you to become the ultimate observer of your own life. When you do this, you gain more control or oversight in how you react to things that happen in life.
So how does a mindfulness meditation reduce shyness?
As we’ve briefly touched on above, shyness comes from being insanely critical of self. Shyness and constant critical self-judgement are close cousins. When you’re experiencing shyness, you’re beating yourself up for experiencing it.
Practising mindfulness teaches us to observe with curiosity rather than judgement. When you learn mindfulness, you’ll learn to be less judgemental. You’ll approach your shyness with compassion, which will slowly change the way you see yourself. When you do this, shyness simply doesn’t have the same strength and power that it once had.
3. Get Comfortable With Being Vulnerable
Do you know one of the biggest reasons why it is that shyness visits you? Shyness is a form of fear. It’s the fear of being judged, seen as wrong or fear of utter embarrassment. Shyness can be used to put a wall up between being your true yourself and feeling safe. The problem is, too much safety can result in a life unfulfilled.
That’s where I found myself, in a position where I felt that I could barely express myself at all. The result of not being able to express yourself left me feeling numb. Numbness is the evolved version of shyness.
To avoid this, the answer is learning to become vulnerable in a safe environment. A safe environment is made up of people who know you and love you and won’t be judging you. If you haven’t seen it already, check out the popular TED Talk from Brene Brown, on The Power of Vulnerability.
4. Demonstrate Confident Body Language
Moving away from shyness is a journey towards self-acceptance. Developing confidence has nothing to do with how loud you are and how you work the room. In terms of communication, our non-verbal communication (or body language) turns out to be far more important than anything you’ll ever say!
Which means you don’t need to say anything to demonstrate Quite Confidence. If you want to work on building confidence, starting with your body language and physical appearance.
Take a good look at your posture, how you present yourself and the stories you tell yourself because of it. If you need to, go buy a new outfit, change your body language and take another look at yourself. Confidence can be manufactured through your body language and you can do it now. Check out the following TED Talk from Amy Cuddy who talks about demonstrating powerful non-verbal body language.
Be Okay When Shyness Visits
It’s impossible to completely remove shyness from visiting you. It’s never going to disappear forever, but you can control it. You can change the way you see and perceive your shyness.
Have you called yourself shy? How do you get over your shyness? Leave a comment below!