How to overcome your shyness

For some people, hanging out with a bunch of people at a party is a night well spent. For others, just the idea of it makes them want to run and hide. We identify some causes of shyness and offer you some ideas for overcoming it.

This can help if:

  • you feel shy in social situations

  • you want to make new friends

  • you want to feel more confident in social situations.

Girl smiling

Why am I shy?

Why are some people timid in social situations, while others thrive? Although it’s not always clear why, there are a few possible explanations, including negative self-image, bullying, personality traits, and a lack of experience of social interaction.

Most people are shy from time to time, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But if your shyness has started to bug you, or you feel that it’s holding you back in some way, there are things you can do to overcome it.

From shy to fly

Here 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 five-minute chat with someone you don’t know very well.

  • 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 you’ve got going on.

  • 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 you have a negative image of yourself, you might want to look at some tips for improving your self-esteem.

  • They’re not looking at you. When you feel 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’re probably not thinking about you at all. For all you know, they could be planning whether to have mac ‘n’ cheese or soup for dinner. (Mac ‘n’ 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 practise for a while and get better at it, it will work a charm in boosting your self-confidence. You’d be surprised 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. Each time you face them, you’ll become better equipped to deal with them in a way that you enjoy.

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

If you’re finding it really hard…

Overcoming shyness is possible, but it may not feel easy. If you’ve given these tips a go and you’re still having trouble, you might want to talk it over with someone you trust, such as a family member, teacher or counsellor. If you’re really struggling with your shyness, there might be something else going on. Make an appointment with a GP or mental health professional, who can talk it through with you and help you to come up with a plan.

What can I do now?

  • Learn more about developing great communication skills.

  • Don’t expect your shyness to disappear overnight, but keep working on it.

  • Read about how to build self-confidence.