Overcoming shyness

For some people, hanging out with a big bunch of people at a party is a night well spent. For others, the idea of this makes them want to run and hide. Most people feel shy every now and then, and for different reasons. The good news? There are ways to overcome shyness, and steps to take if you're struggling.

You might find this useful if:

  • You feel shy in social situations
  • You want some tips to help you shake the shy
  • You can’t figure out why you’re so shy in the first place
 

guy with developing moustache

What the shy-zen?

Most people are shy from time to time, and there’s nothing wrong with that. For someone who’s shy, social situations might make them feel:
  • Nervous
  • Quiet
  • Awkward
  • Uncomfortable
  • Tense
  • Worried
If your shyness has started to bug you, or you feel as though it’s holding you back in some way, there are things that you can do to overcome it. The first step is recognising what’s causing it in the first place. It won’t happen overnight, though, so stick at it and seek extra support if you’re really struggling to make your shyness budge. 

Why am I shy?

Why are some people timid in social situations and why do some people thrive? Although it can be hard to know exactly why, there are a few possible explanations, which are:

  • Personality
  • Genetics
  • Fear of stuffing up
  • Relationships
  • Bullying
  • Negative self-image, including body image
  • A lack of experience with social interaction

How to go from shy-guy to fly-guy

Thankfully, if you don’t want to be shy anymore you don’t have to be. There are some trusty tips to help you come out of your shell and show your shyness who’s boss:

  • Baby steps are the way to go. If you challenge yourself straight up to make 15 best mates in a week, you might be setting the bar a bit high.  Your first goal might be to have a chat to someone you don’t know very well for 5 minutes. 

  • Remember the excellent stuff about you. So what if you’re shy? You’ve got heaps of other strengths. If you’re feeling down about your shyness, don’t forget about all the other cool stuff that you’ve got going on.

  • If you’re feeling really nervous about talking to someone just ask yourself – “what have I got to lose?”

  • Why are you shy? If you figure out why you’re shy in the first place it might help you to overcome it. For example, if it’s because of a negative image of yourself you might want to look at some steps for improving self-esteem.

  • They’re not looking at you. When you’re shy, it can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the people you’re with are all looking at you and judging you. The truth is, they might not even be thinking about you at all. For all you know, they could be planning whether to have mac ‘n’ cheese or soup for dinner (mac and cheese wins every time). 

  • Shift your focus. If you find yourself stressing about what other people might be thinking about you, try to shift your focus to the other person. Ask them questions about themselves, and try to learn more about them. Think of some questions you can ask people and try to find out more when they respond. 

  • Self-talk yourself up. Positive self-talk ain’t easy, but if you practice for a while and get better at it, it will work a charm in overcoming your shyness. You’d be surprised by how much of a difference a bit of self-love can make. 

  • Don’t avoid social situations altogether. Even if they make you nervous and uncomfortable. If you continue to face them, you’ll become better equipped with the skills you need to deal with them in a way that you’re happy with.

  • Practice social skillsCommunication skills come in handy in most aspects of life. Get skilled up by checking out some communication tips.

Still having trouble?

Overcoming shyness is possible, but it’s not easy. If you’ve tried out these tips and you’re still having trouble, you might want to talk it over with someone you trust like a family member, teacher or counsellor. If you’re really struggling to beat the shyness, there might be something else going on. Make an appointment with a GP or mental health professional to talk it through with them and come up with a plan.

What can I do now?

Last reviewed: 26 August, 2015
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