Does the thought of doing certain things hold you back, be it in social situations, work, public performances, or relationships? Like most things, a little shyness is normal and even helpful in small doses – it can be quite an endearing trait – but shyness can also be debilitating. But, as with many things, a little refocusing can turn things around. If shyness is more your enemy than your friend, here are some ideas on how to turn your shyness into a strength.
Own your shyness
Sometimes, we may be ashamed of shyness – we might think it is a sign that something is wrong with us. Despite what culture dictates, being a little shy and a little self conscious is normal, natural, and nothing to be ashamed of. Start making shyness work for you by taking responsibility for yours.
When you own something, you assert control over it. If you fail to asset control over your shyness, it will control you. If you acknowledge ownership over it, you will realize that shyness is something which, to some extent, you have created it. And if you created it, you can change it. You might not be able to eliminate it – fighting your natural tendencies is rarely helpful – but you can gently make changes.
Max out the advantages of being shy
Shyness is regarded as a virtue in some cultures. It is equated to being more thoughtful, intelligent, a better listener, and being more likely to think before speaking. Use your shyness to your advantage by playing the role of captivating audience: listen to others and ask thoughtful questions. Most people love to do the talking anyway. You have a silent power over the conversation by taking or giving attention to the talker as you please.
Communicate more with your eyes and body. Nod to acknowledge them, silently cast your gaze elsewhere when you don’t. Include a smile in your ‘hellos’ and ‘thankyous.’ Ignore an annoying comment; walk away from malicious or rude comments.You’ll also seem more mature and confident this way.
If you like getting to know people one at a time and warm up to new folks rather slowly, cultivate friendships with the handful you enjoy. There’s nothing wrong with being reserved. You can still be who you are and enjoy deep, meaningful relationships with others.
Experience it completely, then let it go
Owning up to your shyness will give you control over the only obstacle that is getting in your way: yourself.
The apprehension, lack of confidence, and the awkwardness that comes with reaching out to others comes from thinking of yourself from other people’s point of view, which is almost certainly misconceived – how can you know what others are thinking? Why even try? If anything, they are more worried about themselves.
Remember what you did as a kid when some adult gave you a lecture about something? Most of it probably went in and out without leaving much lasting impression – nobody likes to be lectured, so why put up with your own negative self-talk? Deal with your self-consciousness and negative self talk that way: once it begins happening, become aware of it, let it be, and then let it go – let it drift away just as you did as a child.
If you fail or make a mistake, allow any sense of negativity to pass on. We all make mistakes and we make them all the time. Move on. Be kind to yourself. Forgive yourself. Life does go on.
Many years ago, someone told me that ‘shyness is pride,’ and this makes a lot of sense to me – caring how other people see you reveals a certain self importance, perhaps even a kind of narcissism. Perhaps the most important and helpful thing to do would be to ask yourself, ‘why do I care?’
Photo by Dannerzz