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I know how painful and limiting shyness can be because I was extremely shy for many years until I was in my late twenties and early thirties. According to Psychcentral the number of adults that believe they are suffering from shyness is between 40-60%. We need to look at this a little closer to see how accurate this is.
The good news is that it is possible to overcome shyness and have more confidence in social situations. I have done it.
Shyness is said to be quite common. Zimbardo, in his book Shyness (1977), claimed that 10% of those in his study claimed to have never felt shy. Overcoming shyness involves building self-confidence in social situations such as job interviews, meeting strangers or interacting with the opposite sex.
Is shyness threatening to destroy your social life? Want to learn how to overcome shyness?
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Why is shyness a problem for so many people?
According to this article, published in Personality and Individual Differences in 2017, it is possible for some people to be both shy and sociable, (meaning that they still want and need to socialise with others). This creates a conflict between the desire to interact with others and the pain of shyness stopping them doing so. Someone in this position will need to find a way to overcome their shyness, or face a lifetime of stress, anxiety and probably many missed social opportunities.
Others who suffer from shyness, but who are not so inclined to be sociable, will most likely give in to the fear and avoid social contact as much as possible. This can lead to all sorts of problems because social interaction and communication is so important, not only in daily life but also at work.
The serious effects of suffering from shyness include depression and loneliness (Dill and Anderson, 1999). It is also likely that unless one overcomes shyness, it will have a negative effect on relationships and career. Shyness may cause you to communicate less confidently and you may tend to stay quiet when you should speak up.
At work the importance of overcoming shyness largely depends on the type of job a person does. I used to be an electronics engineer many years ago and often found myself working alone for days. I felt that I was losing my ability to communicate confidently and noticed my shyness becoming worse. Later, I moved towards sales and eventually teaching, two jobs which require social confidence and the ability to communicate clearly. How important is confident speaking to you in your job?
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Those who suffer from shyness, according to Henderson and Zimbardo (2001), also experience negative thinking and often blame themselves for their social failure. This could damage self esteem which feeds off regret and self-blame.
The good news about overcoming shyness
Overcoming shyness is possible, and you can make it less and less of an obstacle in your path. According to this article by Henderson and Zimbardo (2001), overcoming shyness is a matter of improving social fitness. This is a term they have created to describe how confident and skilled one is in social interactions. By thinking about shyness in terms of social fitness they believe that shyness can be treated by developing and practising social skills.
One of the problems I faced as a result of shyness was blushing. I had a huge lack of confidence and this prevented me from socialising when I was younger. My shyness was a huge problem at school and college. Then I read one very important book and, putting the ideas in it to work, I gradually began to regain new confidence in social situations. The book I read, I cannot remember the title now, helped me take control of my reactions to social stress. This included a lot of stress I faced in my university and college studies. Is this a problem you face? If so, this will help you – boost your confidence in class – click this link for some of the tips I used to help overcome my own shyness issues.
Blushing can be a very painful experience that is based on confidence issues that make shyness worse. After experiencing many painful years of this, I wrote about how you can reduce blushing which contains much of what I have learnt from the amazing relaxation techniques I used. Imagine being more relaxed and confident and not worrying about blushing…or being shy! What would that be worth to you?
Imagine how your life will change when you are no longer shy
What would a life without shyness look like for you? Here are some of the things you will be able to do after eliminating your shyness:
- You can communicate confidently with complete strangers.
- Your self-respect will increase and you’ll be able to stop comparing yourself to others.
- The fear you had of social situations will disappear as you begin to enjoy social interactions more and more.
- You’ll begin to speak up in meetings, or with groups of people.
- You will become more expressive and able to communicate feelings and personal information.
- The pain of embarrassment will fade away to be replaced with confidence.
- Your relationships can become less stressful and much more rewarding and positive.
- You will feel more comfortable about sharing yourself and your thoughts with others.
- Your friendships can become stronger.
- Your career may benefit as you reveal your new-found confidence.
- Social challenges become opportunities to grow rather than fearful events to avoid.
- You’ll start to enjoy your life more and feel more engaged with others.
These are just a few of the many benefits of overcoming shyness. The new social confidence you will experience will be worth all the hard work you put into overcoming your current limits caused by being shy.
Here are the steps you need to follow to overcome shyness
These are the areas you need to work on to make shyness less of a problem in your life:
- Work on small achievements each day.
- Face your shyness, don’t avoid it.
- Work on your self-confidence to eliminate your shyness
- Learn how to use relaxation techniques.
- Try one of the most powerful techniques to overcome shyness and download practical self-hypnosis audios that will help you conquer your fears and help you relax.
Another thing you could try is the powerful technique of self hypnosis:
There are several recommended self hypnosis downloads here and there is another specifically designed for overcoming shyness.
Set yourself small targets to achieve
The key to your success in overcoming shyness and rebuilding your social confidence is to practice every day. Aim to become just a bit more confident in daily situations, step by step. Make a list of difficult situations and events for you and then create some small goals.
Don’t start with anything too challenging. If you are shy, making a speech is too big a jump to start with. Therefore, break it down. For example, ask a question in a small group, speak up in certain situations, talk to a certain person etc.
Confidence is a huge part of the problem of shyness. This study shows how confidence affects the way people communicate and behave in daily conversations. This article goes on to discuss how shyness can change according to the situation, so some people are only shy in certain situations. The study also suggests that shyness is very closely connected with behaviour and that shyness is less confident behaviour.
Lack of confidence becomes worse when you avoid difficult situations. It may reduce the pain, but it doesn’t solve your problem. Inside, your confidence will continue to drop and your shyness may continue to climb, because you know that you are limiting yourself and avoiding doing the challenging things that you find frightening.
The only way to overcome shyness is by confronting it. Build your Self Confidence – (Hypnosis download) can really help you to build your confidence. Prepared by experienced psychologists, I recommend you give it a try!
I was also a fearful and shy person. I discovered there is only one way to overcome your shyness and that is to challenge your fear bit by bit. Set your goals and write about every success you experience daily and start now. I created a diary where I would write about the challenges I faced, such as giving a presentation. Then I wrote about what steps I took and the success I had. I also gave myself a grade out of ten for my interactions with others and confirmed my progress. This builds your confidence and ensures progress towards your goal of overcoming shyness.
Here are some more tips on how to make this process work for you.
Face your shyness head on and never avoid it
If you see a challenge coming that you worry about, especially social challenges, then start to see it as an opportunity to improve rather than something to escapee from or avoid. Set targets to build up to the event and determine to face the task.
Knowing that you have accepted the challenge to grow and take a positive step towards conquering your shyness will fill you with motivation and some confidence. It is very important to acknowledge every small success you have and every small gain you make.
Self Confidence and overcoming shyness
As we have said, confidence is at the heart of the problems that shyness can cause you. Insecurity is the result and you need to deal with this. Facing your problems and overcoming small steps along the way will ensure that you understand there is really nothing to fear and there is no need to run away from difficult social encounters. You can beat this!
Here are some steps you can take now to overcome shyness:
- start a diary and note in it each day’s successes (no matter how small). Each time you manage a situation confidently and with less shyness note it down, record what happened and how you managed the situation.
- motivate yourself – when I was suffering I graded my performances and then made a graph which showed visually the improvement I had made. This help me to feel much better about how I was progressing, and this kept me motivated to take the next step towards my goal.
- look for opportunities to improve and challenge yourself. In the past, experiences of things like chatting to someone I didn’t know at a party, or with a member of the opposite sex, or making a speech etc. were events I often avoided out of fear. Afterwards I felt bad because it seemed like I was missing out on life. Following the steps I am giving you on this page, you will enjoy your successes and overcome these challenges while curing yourself of your shyness and lack of confidence.
- The most important step of all is your decision to confront, face and overcome this obstacle to your social success. Shyness is limiting you in so many ways and you must be committed to taking on the challenge to lessen its negative impact on your life. Decide today that you will do everything possible to become less shy and regain your life. You deserve it!
- Practice relaxing your mind and body so that tension can be removed and you can feel calm even in the most difficult moments.
- Make sure you are well prepared for challenging situations and rehearse them in your mind. If you are prepared for things that can go wrong and if you know what you will say and do in a certain situation you will have the confidence to keep calm and handle the situation well.
How to overcome shyness in certain situations
If you find yourself in a situation you find difficult the first thing you need to do is relax. We’ll learn how to do this in a moment.
Normally, the fear of the situation and the self-consciousness that your shyness can cause you, makes you panic, become tense and flustered. You may feel nervous and stressed and fail to act calmly and confidently. This can quickly spiral out of control, and you start to blush or feel like an idiot and experience the physical pain of embarrassment. Do not panic! You just need to calm yourself down and relax in these moments. Here’s how to do this…
A technique which will help you relax in even the most stressful moments
Let’s say you find yourself in a challenging social situation. Your body will immediately start to react as if it is in a dangerous situation. Your pulse and heart rate will jump, muscles will tense up and you will feel physical signs of tension and possibly start blushing. Your instinct will be to run and you may feel panic. What you want is to reverse this and feel confident, calm and in control. Here’s how you can do that:
- first control your breathing – you should breathe from the stomach not from the chest and slowly. If you can slow your breathing at this point, your self control will return.
- relax your muscles – start with your face muscles and then neck, shoulders, back, arm, chest, buttocks, leg muscles and tell each muscle to relax one by one. This cuts down the adrenalin levels and your instinct to panic will fade.
- relax mentally – breathe in calm and breath out negativity and stress.
Relaxation is so important and it can combat nerves and restore your self-control. You CAN learn how to use it to your advantage, to overcome your shyness and become much more confident in any situation!
How to be Less Shy
One of the most difficult problems about changing your behaviour is to ignore the comments from others who make fun of you. Decide not to listen to them, and if possible spend more time with those who will support you, or seek help from a professional. I too have beaten shyness and understand what a serious problem it is!
Once people think of you as shy, it takes a very long time for them to change their minds. Likewise, you need to change your own image of yourself and learn to see yourself as confident. The only way to beat shyness is to face situations which make you feel shy. So get started today!
If you found this page helpful then please share this page, and I would love to hear from you so do contact me if you have any questions. I advise you to sign up for my newsletter and get weekly tips and inspiration to help you build your self esteem and confidence.
- Dill, J. C., & Anderson, C. A. (1999). Loneliness, shyness, and depression: The etiology and interrelationships of everyday problems in living. In T. Joiner & J. C. Coyne (Eds.), The interactional nature of depression: Advances in interpersonal approaches (p. 93–125). American Psychological Association. https://doi.org/10.1037/10311-004
- Henderson, Lynne & Zimbardo, Philip. (2001). Shyness, Social Anxiety, and Social Phobia. Social Anxiety: Clinical, Developmental, and Social Perspectives: Third Edition. 10.1016/B978-0-12-394427-6.00004-2.
- Manning, P., & Ray, G. (1993). Shyness, self-confidence, and social interaction. Social Psychology Quarterly, 178-192.
- PsychCentral. (2016). Facts About Shyness. https://psychcentral.com/lib/facts-about-shyness#1
- Poole, K. L., Van Lieshout, R. J., & Schmidt, L. A. (2017). Exploring relations between shyness and social anxiety disorder: The role of sociability. Personality and Individual Differences, 110, 55-59.
- Zimbardo, P. G. (1977). Shyness: What it is and what to do about it. New York: Jove.
Website Author and Editor Bio
Karl Perera is a fully qualified Life Coach (DipLC), Teacher (MA) and author of Self Esteem Secrets. He has taught at various universities including Durham, Leicester and Anglia Ruskin, Cambridge. He has run More-SelfEsteem.com since 1997 and is an expert in Self Esteem and Self Confidence.