Shyness And Social Anxiety

by Bob Walsh

Shyness and social anxiety can have a debilitating effect on your life. It’s a lot more difficult to make new friends or go on dates with other people.

Depending upon what kind of work you do, it might also prevent you from success in your professional life.

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But the worst thing about being extremely shy is what it does with your emotions and your self-image. To a lot of people, the feeling of inadequacy sets in sooner or later, and they feel that they kind of “not belong” here. This might further worsen into the feeling that “they’re not worth to be here”, and later turn into an inferiority complex.

Plus, when other people notice how shy you are, you might feel embarrassed because of your shyness – that’s kind of like people who are afraid of being afraid.

What’s more is that shy people are in general less attractive to other people as friends or partners, because we human beings want to mingle with people of equal or higher social status. However, shyness and social insecurity generally communicate to other people that you are of lower social status.

I myself used to be a very shy person – I almost always blushed when I had to introduce myself to other people and it was very embarrassing, because people noticed the colorful changes going on in my face.

What Can You Do?

There are several ways to overcoming your shyness and social anxiety.

One way is what I call “the hardcore way”. You desensitize yourself, by simply doing what you fear over and over again, until the feeling of anxiety goes away.

If you’re afraid of talking to strangers, but you force yourself to talk with ten strangers a day, after one year you will be a lot more comfortable about talking to strangers.

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Initially, you can start by just asking a stranger for the time, or for directions – something that it easy to do even for many shy people. But when you do that, purposefully and consciously maintain eye contact and smile at the person you’re asking. It’s essentially a “low-risk conversation”.

If you find even this too hard, you can start by just calling some kind of phone hotline, it could even be the customer support hotline of a yogurth brand, and just ask a question about their products. This might seem kind of silly, but for extremely shy people, this is a good way to start desensitizing themselves to overcome their shyness and social anxiety. It’s essentially a refined way of desensitization that’s been developed by Albert Ellis, founder of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT).

Exercise Against Shyness: Shine and Smile!

Here is one of my favorite exercises to work on your shyness:


Smile more.

Smile more at other people.

One great way to practice this is with the sales clerks and cashiers at your grocery store, especially if they don’t usually carry a bright smile on their face.

When it’s your turn at the cashier, just say “Hi!” in a friendly, joyful manner and smile at them.

Now what is probably going to happen quite often is that they won’t smile back, and the most natural response would be to go back into your shell and take on that dull, indifferent expression that most people carry throughout their lives.

But you’re going to do this differently. That doesn’t mean you’re going to push them happiness in their face no matter what, but the next time you see them, you simply say “Hi!” again to them and give them a genuinely friendly smile, even if you don’t feel like it.

And if you do that with the same person for a couple of days in a row, they will start to slowly open up, and finally they will smile friendly at you too.

Now that’s a small step – but you reach big goals in many small steps. And most people never take action on their goals – so making mini-steps is what can set you apart from the rest of the crowd and help you to overcome your shyness and social anxiety.

The good thing about desensitization is that it works. The bad thing is that it works very slowly, and it can be a really difficult process because you really have to push yourself to your emotional limits time and time again.

Another way to overcome shyness and social anxiety is hypnosis. The advantages of hypnosis are that it’s a lot easier and accelerates the process of overcoming your fears drastically. The disadvantages are that a lot of people are afraid of hypnosis and thus hesitant to give it a try.

Hypnosis is so effective at overcoming social anxiety because you can basically imagine different social situations that cause anxiety, and you can imagine these situations with comfort and confidence that you can’t muster up in real situations. The good thing is that your subconscious mind does not distinguish between real and imagined experiences. So simply imagining being confident in social situations will help you to actually be confident in these situations.

It’s not quiet as easy as I make it out to be here in terms of how exactly this process works – but simply letting your imagination drift while you repeatedly listen to the “Overcome Shyness And Social Anxiety” recording will turn you into a confident person who’s at ease in all kinds of social situations.