Five Guidelines to Overcome Bashfulness

01 May, 2021
Fear, uncertainty, shame, and bashfulness are often paralyzing and must be overcome. Today's article contains five keys to overcome and leave them all behind for good.

Some think shyness is the same as bashfulness but it isn’t. While neither is easy to overcome, anyone can put an end to the feeling of personal unworthiness and need to make themselves invisible. People often talk about overcoming the awkwardness of speaking in public or expressing an opinion in a relaxed, everyday conversation. However, today’s article will go beyond it.

Overcoming the shame rooted in this framework isn’t easy. Its origin is usually a strong experience (or repeated experiences) of devaluation during childhood. It can also be the result of a traumatic experience of abuse or severe childhood maltreatment, of course. The feeling roots deeply into a person, meaning that it isn’t easy to eradicate.

“Bashfulnesse; of all our parts, the eyes expresse; the sweetest kind of bashfulnesse.”

-Robert Herrick-

Bashfulness is a mechanism that allows the child to protect themselves. Especially when the adults, who are usually caregivers, reject either some of the little one’s expressions or their incipient personality. The adult’s affection is everything to a child at these early ages. That’s why they learn to be as the adult wants them to be. They develop an imposed self and any behavior that deviates from this scheme becomes a no-no.

Generally, bashfulness is correlated with depression, and, oddly enough, there’s also fear of the self. Distrust of what one is or may eventually do, that is. There’s also pent-up anger, which they often turn against themselves. All of this makes them cautiously withdraw from others and deprive themselves of their affection. However, it’s possible to overcome bashfulness. Here are five guidelines to help you achieve it.

Five guidelines to overcome bashfulness

1. Deepening self-knowledge to overcome bashfulness

A labyrinth shaped like a head.

It’s necessary to understand the process of bashfulness in order to overcome it. Be observant. If necessary, carry a notebook along to write down your findings. The point is to precisely detect those situations in which you’re bashful.

It’s important that you try to identify what you wish to hide from and what part of yourself is more related to it. Also, pay close attention to your self-criticism. What words or messages come to mind? All this information will be of great help to begin to overcome the problem.

2. Review the past

Try to think about the most important people in your childhood. What were they like in general? How did they behave with you? Why did they act the way they acted? What did they reject from you? Why do you think they did it?

You can gain a new perspective by looking back at your beloved and feared childhood figures. You’ll surely realize that perhaps their problem wasn’t you but them. It’s good to detach from their rejection. In other words, understand there’s nothing rejectable about you and that they just couldn’t give you what you needed because they didn’t have it.

3. Develop a compassionate attitude towards yourself

A man sitting on a rock.

You need to learn to ally with yourself. Be your own good friend, the one who only gives constructive criticism. The one who doesn’t spend all of their time pointing out faults. The one who doesn’t look at others with distrust or emphasize their mistakes. Become your own best friend.

You must learn to see yourself with kindness in order to overcome bashfulness. In other words, you must learn to look at yourself with love. Just give it a try even if you don’t think it effective at first. The results will certainly surprise you.

4. Work on self-acceptance

Accept yourself means that you don’t want to be someone else and that you understand that you’re neither more nor less than others. You’re simply who you are and some parts you either can’t change or can only change over time and patience; it won’t happen in a day.

In any case, any change must begin with self-acceptance, from recognizing you’re in a certain place but have the right to get to another. As you can see, self-honesty is extremely important to evolve.

Thus, knowing yourself better, analyzing the past, and developing an understanding attitude towards yourself should be good for nurturing your self-acceptance. It isn’t easy as your mind has been doing something different for years and your brain may be more or less programmed for it. However, it’s possible to overcome bashfulness little by little.

5. Gradually expose yourself

Bashfulness is like being nude and barefoot but anyone can overcome it.

You must realize that bashfulness comes from inside and goes back in order to overcome it. It’s also good to define the goals you have for moving forward in your endeavor. Expose yourself to that which makes you bashful, starting with those that inspire the least fear. Then, gradually increasing the difficulty.

In short, these five guidelines are effective when applied systematically and only if you persevere. However, these processes often require psychotherapeutic help to be successful. The path will be the same though; you’ll simply have extra help and professional support. Their opinion is definitely worthy of consideration.

  • Calderón, G. (2004). La ambivalência de la bioética: cinco tesis para superar la vergüenza. Orientaciones Universitárias, (35), 107-122.
  • Cyrulnik, B. (2011). Morirse de vergüenza: el miedo a la mirada del otro. Debate.
  • Moreno, P. J. (2002). Superar la ansiedad y el miedo. Desclée de Brouwer.