Being shy can hold you back from pursuing personal goals and meeting new people. A study on shyness by psychologist Ali Moghadam states that this is because shyness often causes you to respond with heightened anxiety and self-consciousness. In such situations, you can be stuck in a state of discomfort or caution, pushing you to refrain from connecting and interacting with others.
Those who’ve struggled with being shy know how crippling it is when they want to step outside of their comfort zone and become more proactive in their life. Fortunately, as an audiobook on social anxiety by Dr. Ellen Hendriksen explains, individuals have the power to rewire their brains to develop confidence and be comfortable in any situation. By understanding the root of your social anxiety and remembering a few crucial mental hacks that can help you contend with feelings of uncertainty, you can surely overcome your shyness. If you’re interested in learning more about how to do so, read on.
(1) Stay curious
Staying curious can be beneficial in your attempt to overcome shyness. In a 2022 Real Simple feature on ‘How Embracing Curiosity Can Help Halt Anxiety,’ life coach Andrea Scher recommends a strategy called “wonder-spotting.” Essentially, this entails cataloging the world around you and identifying something that catches your eye. Firstly, sit back and observe your surroundings for a minute or two. Next, ask yourself, “What’s interesting or beautiful about this moment?” You can even take your phone camera and snap a picture of your chosen object. It may not seem like it, but teaching your brain to stay curious and focus on possibilities (rather than feelings of anxiety) can ground you and make you feel less timid and shy.
(2) Make time for meditation and breathing exercises
Our post ‘How To Reboot During Trying Times’ points out how carving out some quiet time for meditation can be a wonderful way to gain a sense of peace. But in addition to that, meditating can give you a break when you’re caught up in uncertainty, like when you just moved to a different place or took a new job. If you feel that your anxiousness is acting up during these unfamiliar times and is worsening your shyness, consider using deep breaths to refocus your mind. At the end of the day, breathing exercises can release tension from your body and help you feel more at ease and confident.
(3) Lessen thoughts that are rooted in self-criticism
Self-criticizing thoughts can be detrimental in your journey to overcoming shyness. According to an article on self-esteem by researcher Adrianna Bober, self-criticism can substantially lower your self-esteem. And when you stew in unpleasant thoughts and blame yourself for your career or relationship failings, for instance, then it can exacerbate feelings of shyness. One way to reduce this kind of negative thinking is by focusing on your positive attributes. For example, think of the last moment you helped someone or what you achieved in the previous week. With the latter, remember that this accomplishment doesn’t have to be grand—it can be as simple as finishing a good book or caring for a new plant. By recognizing your good attributes, such as having the patience to take on or complete tasks, you can circumvent self-directed criticisms and gain more confidence in yourself.
(4) Adopt a go-getter’s attitude before you speak
Shyness, as discussed in Moghadam’s study, can manifest when you’re afraid of saying the wrong thing. However, that fear of being perceived negatively (or even a fear of rejection) can hinder you from having meaningful conversations. This is why you should learn to adopt a proactive attitude. One way to do this is by asking a few simple questions before initiating a conversation, like “What should I talk about?” or “How do I catch the other person’s attention?” Running down these questions before you speak can help ease the anxiety of a new social interaction.
Written by: Riley James
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About the author:
Riley is a Miami-based health instructor and blogger who dedicates her time to research about the latest health trends. She is passionate about finding ways to promote fitness and activities more accessible for everyone. In her spare time, she volunteers at her local home for the aged and hosts fitness workshops for free.