How to Overcome Shyness

I believe that everyone, at some point, has been shy. It probably prevented you from participating in a class session or hesitating to speak up even though you knew deep down that your opinion was going to be of help.

Everybody at some point in time in their life must have felt shy in front of a particular person/group of people or in an unfamiliar situation. Currently, I perform spoken word poetry in front of fairly large crowds, but it was never that way before.

In primary school, I was so shy that one time I refused to get up in front of my class to go use the restroom, simply because I was afraid of being noticed. At the end of the day, I ended up doing it on myself and got laughed at by my classmates. Receiving the attention I initially didn’t want to have. Today, I look back at that embarrassing moment and I laugh but trust me, it wasn’t funny back then.

The truth is that no one at all is born confident.

Transitioning from being shy to being confident doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a journey

Before I go on any further, there is a slight misconception I would like to clear out and this is the simple equation. All shy people are introverts but not all introverts are shy.

For example, I am an introvert but I could see a couple of people standing in the street and go right up to them and have a conversation comfortably because I can and would if I want to. But a shy person would see a couple of people in the street and want to talk to them but can’t. So you see there is a difference.

Some people are naturally quiet but that doesn’t mean they are shy or insecure about themselves. I consider myself as a quiet person but that doesn’t mean I won’t speak up if someone steps on my toes.

If you are on the quiet side, this article isn’t here to make you change your type of personality. It is instead purposed for shy people who have for too long, allowed the disease called shyness to rid them of useful opportunities and great relationships.

If you are shy, you don’t have to feel bad or awkward. I have been there, so I can relate. It’s a phase you can surely overcome. Below are a few tips that would help you out with that

1. Take the initiative and approach others

Transitioning all starts with making a decision in your mind. Eventually, you need to put your thoughts into action. There is no better way to overcome shyness than to approach people or a specific individual and initiate a conversation. Yeah, it’s easier said than done but you just have to start from somewhere. Just do it.

The next time you attend an event, say no to social anxiety and challenge yourself to socialize and mingle. It doesn’t have to be a dozen people, it could be one person. The important thing is that you continue once you’ve started this challenge. As the old saying goes, practice makes perfect.

2. Know your strengths and embrace them

In my own opinion, one of the greatest feelings one could have is knowing that you have an edge over an individual because you possess a quality or skill they don’t have. You need to know your value. Know that you are capable of bringing something to the table. Reflecting on and reaffirming your strengths would surely elevate you to a place of being confident.

So, you could start by waking up every morning and telling yourself that you are beautiful, multi-talented and awesome. Isn’t that simple?

3. Body language (Fake it till you make it)

In this case, yeah, fake it till you make it. It’s not called hypocrisy, it’s positivity. One significant sign of being confident or shy is based on one’s body language. I could tilt my head, look at a lady walking into a room and instantly categorise her type (confident or shy) based on how she carried her self physically. Sloughing, not keeping your head held high, and excessively avoiding eye contact are not good ways of portraying one’s self.

On your journey, while building your confidence inwardly, you could simultaneously build it outwardly as well by being very intentional about the way you carry yourself, especially in public. Keep your head held high and maintain eye contact when you are talking to someone. You could lead a person into concluding that you are confident simply based on your body language. So, start off from there.

4.It’s a process

As I mentioned earlier, it’s a journey. Don’t just anticipate the goal, enjoy every step towards it. At the end of the day, you would look back and say yeah, I overcame. In the process, learn to give yourself small rewards for small victories. If you initiated a conversation, participated in a class session, or opted for public speaking, give yourself a reward. It would make the process all the more enjoyable.

5.Quieten your inner critic

Being critical of ourselves is good, but doing it excessively isn’t. In your head, you shouldn’t get to the point at which you start hating and beating yourself up too hard. Learn to quieten that inner critic. Tell it ‘I’m not where I want to be but at least, I’m not where I used to be’, ‘I’m worth it in spite of my imperfections’, ‘I have value because I’m the daughter of a king, as such I can be who I am and be comfortable around anybody without an apology’.

I hope these tips have been helpful. Remember to be the best you can be and be mindful to put these tips into practice. You are loved excessively.

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