Are you quiet or nervous around new people and intimidated by unfamiliar situations? Do you prefer to listen instead of speak out or stay in rather than attend a party? Many of us are shy; it’s a completely normal personality characteristic. But sometimes you might need to step outside of your comfort zone, take a risk and interact with others in a new setting. In those situations and any others you might encounter, here are a few tips for managing or overcoming your shyness.
1. Recognize Your Strengths
Part of being shy might mean that you’re unsure of what you have to offer in a social situation. Learn to recognize your gifts so that you can feel confident when hanging out with a group of people. If there’s a particular activity that you’re good at, such as a sport, you might want to play off this to meet new people or even lead and help others.
2. Let Go of Perfectionism
Continuing with the idea of self-confidence over self-criticism, when you’re trying to overcome feelings of shyness you need to recognize that it’s ok to make mistakes, even in front of other people. More often than not, others won’t even notice the mistakes you made or they’ll make for an amusing story or a learning opportunity. If you’re looking to challenge yourself, improvised acting classes are a great way to get over perfectionism. In improv, there is no such thing as “perfect” because the scenes (much like life) move too quickly to worry about it.
3. Ask a Friend for Help
Sometimes a little support can go a long way. Let a close friend know that you’re trying to get over your feelings of shyness and that you’re hoping they can help. Perhaps your friend can introduce you to someone new, accompany you to a new activity or help you see your strengths so that you can step out of your comfort zone.
4. Focus on Others (Rather Than Yourself)
In a situation where you feel particularly shy, it’s quite likely that you’re thinking a lot about yourself. Instead, try to focus on those around you to take some of the pressure off yourself. For example, if you’re talking to someone, ask them questions and generate actual interest and compassion in what they are saying. Pretty soon, you’ll be too engaged in the conversation to think about your own shyness.
5. Try Anxiety-Reducing Activities
Even with all of the above considered, you still might feel nervous. That’s ok! To ease some of these feelings, try some anxiety-reducing strategies to make you feel more at ease. You can take lots of deep breaths before and during social events, journal about some of your concerns to take them out of your head and allow your body to de-stress by getting regular exercise. Just remember that overcoming your shyness takes practice and that you don’t have to change yourself, but be confident in who you are already.
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