Growing up can be awkward. It’s a point of discovery, adventures, friendships, getting hurt and that perpetual desire to fit in and be liked. There are some children who would rather be alone—not because they don’t like other kids but because they don’t know how to be around them.
Photo credit: Anitalorite via Flickr, Creative Commons
Clinical psychologist John Malouff says all children may experience shyness at some point in their childhood, although in varying degrees. Being shy is normal. Shy children and teenagers like observing others, but are reluctant to join or speak to them. Shy people are socially uncomfortable and are naturally uneasy when being confronted by authority, meeting strangers, speaking in front of a group, trying to make friends and interacting with the opposite sex. They are obsessed with one’s reactions, which is why they sometimes inhibit from social situations and go to great lengths to avoid attention. In short, they care about what others think of them.
Being shy knows no age or gender. Strategies to overcome shyness differ from one person to another. Some need warming up before joining a conversation, while others take forever. What is important is shyness is not a social disease or phobia: It’s a behavior that can be unlearned and conquered. Here are a few ways that can help you overcome shyness.
Start with a smile. Look at yourself in the mirror and try practicing your gaze. Look at a picture and stare at it squarely in the eye. When out in public, try applying this practice with strong eye contact and a firm handshake. Continue building your confidence by learning and offering simple introductions and small talk. Rehearse what you want to say and write it down if necessary. Try saying it out loud. Start with the people you are most comfortable with then branch out when you are ready.
The most difficult and most crucial point of trying to be socially comfortable is getting started. Practice at home and learn how to deliver some tried and tested one-liners like “Hi, I’m ____ and we are in the same class,” “What is your topic for the report?” “That jacket looks good on you,” “How did you find the exams?”
Asking a question seems like an easier way to approach someone. Be ready for a conversation.
Look For Opportunities
Give yourself a chance and find opportunities to be more outgoing. In school, register in a group or club that you’re interested in. When people around you have the same interests as you, it won’t be as hard to strike up a conversation. For adults, you don’t have to force yourself into settings such as bars and clubs. An infographic by PlaygroundEquipment.com shows that 48 percent of American adults are reported to be shy. Practice your social skills at a friend’s party or a family gathering. Talk to your friend’s friend or try being less shy with a cousin that you don’t get to see a lot.
For parents with shy kids, take them to a natural environment such as the playground. Play is fundamental in every childhood. Unfortunately, data collated by PlaygroundEquipment.com shows that only 1 in 3 children engage in physical activities each day. The lack thereof may result in challenges in speech and social skills.
Physical activities don’t only help you overcome obesity (which is a major cause of shyness and social discomfort) but such movements also help you release anxiety. Activities such as walking and jogging help re-channel your energy and refresh your state of mind. Muscle meditation also helps you relax and calm down.
Find Your Strength
Shy people are overly self-conscious. They are always busy looking at themselves and most of the time all they see is everything that is wrong. Look at yourself once more and learn to like what you see. Know what you are good at doing and focus on improving that strength further. Accept your unique qualities and understand that it’s okay to be different.
Excessive negative self-evaluation is usually heightened when you try to compare yourself to the most beautiful or most perfect person in the room. This is usually the case with women who carry with them a vision of another person’s perfection. Shy girls who are already having a problem with confidence often ask: Why can’t I be that girl? Why is my hair or my skin not like hers? This will only make matters worse.
Rejection Is Okay
Confidence is naturally shattered with rejection. But don’t forget: Everyone gets rejected at one point or another. When the person you approached didn’t turn his or her head, or when you weren’t invited to that party, remind yourself that it’s okay. Don’t take it personally, move on, and try again.
You have probably heard this over and over again, and you’ve probably gone through this in your head many times before, but it’s true. You can’t be someone you’re not, so stop trying. Give yourself time, don’t be too hard on yourself, and be patient. Do things that are natural to you in your own time.
Do not force yourself to fit in. Know that being shy is okay and that you will be okay. Breathe, relax, be graceful and you will surely get there.
Aby League is a medical practitioner and an Elite Daily writer. She also writes about business and other topics of great interest. She also writes a blog, About Possibilities. Follow her @abyleague and circle her on Google+.