A Step by Step Guide to Overcome Your Shyness

September 10, 2019
Shyness can keep you from reaching your goals and enjoying the present moment. It's an obstacle you need to defeat to show everybody who you really are.

Trying to overcome your shyness can feel like a real challenge. Far from being a disease or disorder, shyness is an emotional condition that makes you feel ashamed at an emotional level and inhibits your behavior.

A shy person doesn’t shy away from others. Most of the time, they enjoy other people’s company. They aren’t afraid of others either. In reality, they’re afraid of feeling exposed and becoming the center of attention.

To overcome your shyness, you need to understand what it’s all about. Certainly, it’s not about being introverted. Not every introverted person is shy.

A young woman standing out from a crowd.

What’s shyness?

There are three aspects to shyness. First of all, there’s the organic aspect. According to it, shyness could be genetic. It also may be caused by anomalies in our internal secretion glands, specifically the pituitary and adrenal glands.

Second of all, there’s the behavioral aspect that states that shyness is a learned behavior and that it usually starts in childhood. Sometimes, it has to do with how a person was raised or if the child didn’t feel appreciated by their peers or the adults around them. It can also develop after abuse.

Finally, psychoanalysis claims that shyness is a manifestation of internal conflict. It’s associated with the unconscious repression of one or several instincts.

If a shy person feels exposed, they’ll believe they did something wrong and that they can’t defend themselves. They may also feel that their reputation is permanently tainted.

Five people with emoticon masks.

How to overcome shyness step by step

At least 50% of the population classifies themselves as shy. It’s a common issue that may wreak havoc if it leads to discomfort or pain.

Here are some steps to help you overcome your shyness:

  • Identify your shyness. There’s a global shyness and a situation-related one. The former is constantly present. The latter only manifests when you’re facing certain people or situations. Identify which type of shyness you have.
  • Learn what causes your shyness. Try to remember the times you felt the most ashamed. What do these moments have in common? What are the most influential factors that made you feel ashamed or embarrassed? Who made you nervous?

A practical guide

If you feel that your shyness keeps you from enjoying life, going to therapy can be helpful. Nowadays, there are many ways to overcome shyness.

On the other hand, if your shyness isn’t as paralyzing, you can always try to move forward by resorting to the following strategies:

  • Accept your shyness. You need to understand that it’s just a personality trait that even some people find attractive.
  • Define 10 triggering situations. Make a list of 10 social situations that you’re most afraid of. It doesn’t matter if they seem dumb or trivial to you. Try to be specific and concise. For example, telling a joke and nobody laughing at it.
  • Organize your information. Go from the simplest situation to the more complex one. For example, while a simple situation doesn’t scare you too badly, a more complex one paralyzes you.
To overcome your shyness, you need to know what causes it.

After completing those steps, try this:

  • Dominate your situations. Once you’ve defined the stressful situations, start working on them one by one. Try to expose yourself to similar circumstances to face your fears.
  • Detect your embarrassment. When you start feeling ashamed or embarrassed, stop for a minute. Take note of what you’re thinking and feeling. Don’t continue until you understand what you’re feeling at the moment.
  • Cheer yourself up. Keep a correct body posture and appreciate any progress you make. Don’t compare yourself to others and emphasize your best traits.

In itself, shyness isn’t a problem. It becomes a problem when it leads to unpleasant emotions that keep you away from what you want.

  • Martin, M. A. (2012). Como superar la timidez y el miedo a hablar en público. Barcelona: AMAT.