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Shyness can be a major obstacle in life. If you don't learn how to stop being shy, it can effect your career, leadership opportunities, friendships, romantic relationships and overall health. 

You are far from alone in this battle as 4/10 people consider themselves to be shy. This is more normal than you may feel it is. The good news about it is that you can beat your shyness. If you are willing to work at it you can declare victory over it. 

What You Will Learn From This Article

“Don’t underestimate me. I know more than I say, think more than I speak, notice more than you realize.”

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What Does It Mean to Be Shy?

When you are shy, it means that you isolate your self or do everything you can to avoid certain social situations. 

Studies have shown that there are many different levels and types of shyness. But for many people who are shy, they often feel the need to turn to drugs feeling that they are the only way they can get comfortable enough to be social. 

Interacting with other humans is such a large part of being human that shyness can lead to depression due to the nature of isolation that it creates.  

A common mistake that people make is thinking that being introverted and being shy are the same  but they are not. Being introverted simply means that you focus more inward and you recharge by being alone vs spending time with other people. You can be introverted and not be shy at all, but many shy people are introverted. 

  • Shy people avoid and struggle in social situations 
  • Shyness can cause isolation that leads to depression
  • Shy and Introverted are NOT the same

You Must Understand The Cause to Stop Being Shy

Genetics 

There is no doubt that genetics can play a role in being shy. That does not mean that the level of shyness can't be controlled by you. There is hope that you can get better but you have to realize that its not all your fault. 

Upbringing

How you're raised by your parents is one of the biggest factors that contibutes to shyness. If your parents are shy themselves, you can model their behavior. But most of the time you will notice that shy kids have a very overbearing or forceful parent that needs to be in charge at all times. 

When a parent is overbearing and too assertive they often step in for their children and are their voice. This is fine as long as they are around but once the child has to fend for themsleves they often had not had to develope the social skills to navigate many different situations. 

Enviroments where a kid lives in a dangerous neighborhood or experiences different abuses can also sadly contribute to sadness due to a fear that being heard will lead to punishment. 

Healthy children need to be able to go out and make friends and socialize with people of all different ages, races, genders and cultures. The more diversity a child is exposed to the less chance that they will meet social situations that they cannot handle. 

Traumatic Social Situation

Many kids who are shy were teased or bullied early on in school. Imagine being excited to go to school and start a new grade, only to get there and be made fun of. These experiences can be traumatic and cause a kid to turn inward and not want to be seen or heard.

After a traumatic experience you grow believing that you cant trust peopel to be on your side or for you even if they are your friend.It then takes a lot more for someone to open up to others. A lot of this can happen deep in the subsconscious brain, making it hard to pinpoint even as an adult. 

  • Genetics can play a role in being shy
  • Your upbringing is usually the largest contributing factor 
  • Past trauma with relationships or a social situation can create shy behavior 

Quick Ways to Stop Being Shy

These are changes you can make in your day to day approaches to social settings. They will not fix the deep rooted problems but they will provide you with some areas you can focus on changing. Combining these with the long term fixes will give you the results you desire. 

1. Stop Advertising It

One of the best things you can stop doing is telling everyone that you are shy. The reason this is harmful is because it sets that expectation and gives you something to hide behind. 

If you tell everyone right off the bat you are shy then they expect it and you won't ever have to try and overcome it. 

2. Change The Story and Labels 

If you have always told others and yourself that you are shy, its the story you have bought into for your life. Everyone has bought some story, the key is to only buy into the stories that benefit you. You have to work and telling yourself a different story each day, even if you don't believe it at first. 

3. Get Out of Your Head 

When you approach social situations, stop thinking about what to say or what you look like. Instead focus on listening and just responding. If there is an awkward moment or you say something wrong just laugh it off and keep going. 

4. Focus On Your Strengths 

No matter how insecure or shy you could be, everyone knows that they have strengths. You should sit down with someone you trust and write down a list of the things you do really well. When you enter into situations that make you shy, boost your confidence by focusing on the areas you excel as a person.. 

5. Cut Off People Who Take Advantage of You 

The one thing that is really tough about being shy and not speaking up for yourself is that it can attract some horrible people. Every now and then it will attract people into your life that will love your shyness because they can impose their will on you. 

If you have anyone in your life like this, they need to be cut off right away. You don't need to tell them this, but you should hang out with them much less.

6. Go Towards Rejection

It sound scary to even read it but you need to encourage yourself to go towards rejection. What this means is that the only way to get over a fear of rejection is to get rejected as much as possible and realize that life goes on. 

A lot of people do this by getting cold calling sales jobs where people hang up on you a lot. You become numb to rejection and build the confidence to ask or talk to anyone.  For you, just go for small wins by asking someone for something small that you usually would not ask for. 

7. Help Others With Their Shyness 

One of the best ways to overcome any issue is to help others with their problems. You may know someone who struggles with shyness to a worst degree than you, come along side them. They will look up to you as a mentor and that will give you the courage to keep making progress. 

The last thing you ant to have to do is tell someone that looks up to you that you have let them down. Just knowing how hard that conversation would be is enough to keep you moving in the right direction. 

Long-Term Solutions to Stop Being Shy

Long-Term solutions require much more patience and work on your end. These will make sure that you continue to improve at the quick fixes. If you don't work on these things you will find that you will plateau with the quick fixes. 

Whenever you have any problem in life you always want to dig deep and fix the root problem. Shyness is the result of a bad root issue. For example, if your bath tub has a whole you can cover it up and that will slow the leak but the root cause is the whole in the tub. The long -term solutions will plug the hole. 

8. Dig Into the Root Cause of Your Shyness

The most important thing you can do here is be honest and go back into your life and figure out where this issue has stemmed from. The reason doing this can be hard is because you may have to relive an event that you don't want to think about. 

Thinking back on things could even reveal that someone you love a lot has been the cause of your problem. It may suck to realize the truth but it will also give you a place to start. You will never be able conquer this issue fully until you understand where it started. 

9. Know Your Triggers 

Once you dig deeply into the cause of your shyness, you can begin to pick out the triggers you have in your life. These are the events that set up your shyness. For example, you may be fine talking with someone one on one but become really shy in groups. Or maybe you get really shy when you're eating and trying to talk.

You have to figure out what all of your triggers are and then one by one come up with solutions for them. For example, maybe when you were 10 you got laughed at for having spinach in your teeth and it hurt your feelings. That is the root so a trigger is being shy when you are eating so you don't show your teeth. Its your job to come up with a strategy you are comfortable with so you can eat and talk. 

10. Conquer Tough Environments

You may also notice that you have your worst shy moments in certain environments when you wish you didn't. This could include but is not limited to places like a party where there are a lot of people. You could feel so award in these settings that you feel that drugs are the only way to power through. 

The key here is to start small and get small victories. At this point you know the deep issue, you know the triggers, and now you have the environments. You just need to push yourself to do one thing at a time. It may be a win to just go to a party say hi to someone and then leave. Then you keep building on things from there. 

11. Study It

Knowledge can be power. You can also consume too much knowledge if you are not taking action but we will worry about that later. Learn everything you can about being shy and on the quiet side. The better you are able to understand yourself and what it means, the more ok you will be with who you are. You don't need to be a party animal or be the life of every social scene. 

12. Focus On Not Breaking Eye Contact 

If you didn't have parents that forced eye contact this one could be tough because you have to rewire a bad habit. When someone talks to you if you look away and can't look them it tells others that you are not confident. 

Even worse though is the fact that it tells you that you're shy and reinforces that old story. No matter how awkward you feel you have to force more eye contact. When people talk or when you talk look others straight in the eye. 

13. Focus On Your Posture 

When you're feeling shy your body language tends to tell the story. What is amazing is how much your body language can control how you feel. Stand with good posture and your chest out a bit and you feel more confident then when you have slouchy shoulders and you stare at the ground. Walk like a proud peacock and you will begin to feel less shy. 

14. Celebrate Your Wins With a Friend 

If you have a friend that you trust and knows you well, let them in on the fact that you're trying to improve in this area. Here is what it will do. It will give you someone in your corner to cheer you on. 

Once you have that person, make sure you celebrate the wins you have no matter how small they may seem. That will give you the motivation and joy in the process to go and get more wins. When you have set backs also don't be too harsh on yourself. Lean on your friend for support as much as possible. 

Conclusion - How to Stop Being Shy 

No success happens overnight and the same is try when you want to overcome your shy issues. What you can focus on in the mean time is learning as much as you can and trying to get as many small victories with this process. 

Don't expect it to be easy. There will be some good days and bad days as you work at this. Find the joy on the good days and on the bad days, remember the good days and the joyful moments. Have resolve and you will get through this! 

Stop Being Shy

Ian Warner

About the author

I went from a broken leg to a 2012 Olympian. I have spent the last 15 years building positive habits as a track athlete and entrepreneur. I founded Habit Stacker and dedicated my life to helping people to develop winning habits. I have helped over 5,000 people...

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