Are you uncomfortable around crowds? Do you find yourself avoiding eye contact, stammering or turning fifty shades of pink when you are in social situations?
So you feel embarrassed when the spotlight hits you. You are not alone. Many people suffer from varying degrees of shyness and are locked into a constant battle with themselves to overcome it
Feeling shy is a normal human reaction, but once you allow it to become the primary driver in your life, it can severely impact the way you deal with people, situations and life in general. You could be losing wonderful opportunities just because you let shyness hold you back.
It is not too late to conquer your social shyness. Of course you don’t just become a social butterfly overnight. It takes effort, practice and the will to break down the protective barriers you have created around yourself.
The first step is to acknowledge your shyness and understand what is causing it. What could be the reason why you are feeling that way?
Do you have a poor self-image? Maybe you always encourage that voice in your head to constantly tell you that you don’t measure up. Stop listening to it. Image is in the mind and if you constantly feed your mind with negativity, you will start to believe what you tell yourself and it will become your default setting.
Are you shy in front of new people or when put in a new situation? Maybe it’s because you’ve already told yourself you can’t possibly have something interesting to say or do anyway. For many of us, we become shy when we think we will embarrass ourselves the minute we speak up or stand out.
Stop focusing on what you might do wrong. Instead, think of what you could do right. Don’t make assumptions that a social situation will be too difficult for you to handle before you’ve even tried. Sweep these self-conscious thoughts aside.
Often, what triggers shyness is simply in the way you think. Thinking is the one thing you can control, so change your mindset and you will start to change the circumstances.
Next, take a step towards correcting your shyness. Start by picking one social skill to practice at a time. By doing this, you are concentrating your energy on mastering that skill before you move on to the next one.
Begin with something you feel comfortable with. An easy thing like smiling. Or being the first person to say “hi”. People will warm up to you if you show them you are open. From here, you will gain the confidence you need to take on greater social challenges.
Identify your social strengths. You may not be the life and soul of the party, but you’re probably a great listener and a keen observer and that’s fine too. Everyone has different social strengths. Identify yours and use them to your advantage.
Don’t have the guts to talk in front of a crowd? Practice with a smaller group of people who you trust. It could be a group of your family, your friends, or your closest work colleagues. Talk to people. Get involved. The more you do it, the more it becomes natural to you. If you need more help, take a course in public speaking or talk to a life coach.
Visualize success. In situations where you might feel shy, think about being confident. You are as good as everyone else and your opinion and presence are just as important. Do this often and confidence will start to come more naturally to you no matter where you are or who you are with.
Don’t forget to practice good posture too. According to research, good posture reduces stress and it really does make you feel confident. Face the world head on and don’t be shy to stand tall!
Finally, be comfortable in your own skin. You don’t have to join crowds at a bar just to prove you’re a social ace, when you really just prefer to have great conversation with friends at a coffee house. Understand what makes you tick and practice your social skills in places and situations that are more applicable in your life. Don’t be afraid to march to the beat of your own drum and shake off shyness for good.