Some people who have known me in the past and who have recognized how different I am now, especially regarding my shyness or insecurity, often ask me how I have managed it. Before giving you these 3 secrets, I want to share a little about what it was like in the past so that you understand the context.
I remember how I used to get lost in my thoughts when I went to a social gathering, for example to a party with friends. Only the entrance noise overwhelmed me, but the worst thing was my internal environment, that is, all the thoughts that came in those moments. If someone laughed in my direction, the thoughts that came were that they were probably making fun because I looked stupid. However, if a smile came my way, the first thing I thought was that it was for one of my friends next to me. My internal sabotage was enormous. Then came the comparisons: how easy it was for my friends to be around people and make new friends, or be fun and friendly, while I felt in a separate world, completely isolated, without understanding what the dynamics of socialization were. I was thinking things like: why did I come here? I should be at my house; I don't fit in this place or in this group; everyone is nicer than me; I don't know how to talk to people; I look socially inept, clumsy, etc. Entering this dark world generated anxiety and a certain desperation to leave the place, which sometimes I ended up doing.
Drinking alcohol socially I found a momentary escape for this. Through this, I managed to silence those thoughts a bit and bring out my pleasant, sociable side that made me look more "normal" according to me. In fact, people who knew me only after a few drinks used to remember me as super nice and funny, and people who got to know me sober usually described me as shy and quiet. I tended to ask myself: how could two people live in the same body? However, the side effects of alcohol made it an unsustainable and indeed counterproductive solution. After applying the secrets that I will give you below, I have managed to free myself of the vast majority of the burden that I was carrying in almost any type of social interaction, and on top of this, they have helped me to be alcohol-free for almost two years.
1) Don't take anything personally:
Most of the shyness comes from the fear of not being accepted, or the feeling of shame that there may be because of the judgment or criticism of others. For this reason, it has helped me a lot to understand that each person sees the world through their own lenses, that is, from their own perspective that has resulted from their experiences and learnings in life. So what others think is their reality, and it has nothing to do with you. Moreover, criticizing or judging others is nothing more than an ego mechanism to feel better about one's own insecurities, and it is something that all humans do at some point. However, how you react is your reality, and that is the only place where you have control. So trying to change how others think to please them is to force something that is completely outside of our control. In the same way, what others may think, say, or do cannot have any direct effect on us, unless we allow it.
With the example that I put above some group laughing in my direction, that before I would interpret that it was for me, first of all, I could remember that this is only an interpretation and that it is not necessarily true. And if it were really the case that they make fun of me for x and y reasons, I could now see them with compassion, because I would understand that their egos are simply trying to feel better about their own insecurities by making me look smaller and that in reality, it has nothing to do with me.
2) Stay Present and Breathe:
As I have shown by my example, much of the reason we sink into shyness is that we get inside our heads and believe what we think about ourselves, or what others might be thinking about us. Catch yourself the moment you find yourself rambling internally, not believing or chasing your thoughts, take a couple of deep breaths (it doesn't have to be obvious!) and direct them wherever you feel that shyness, and with compassion, Without feeling guilty, return your attention to what you are doing. You are safe! It can help you understand at that moment that shyness is simply trying to protect you from embarrassment, trying to prevent a situation that you lived in the past or that you interpreted as bad or painful from repeating itself. By returning to the present with compassion, you are taking shyness by the hand, thanking it for trying to protect you, and taking control of your life again.
3) Expose Yourself to your Fears:
Finally, without some practice, the theory would stay only in our heads. It is important to expose yourself to these fears even if gradually, remembering not to take anything personally and to be present in the process, as I described above. You can make a list of mini-challenges that you can gradually take, from the one that makes you the least insecure to the most insecure. Then you can take the chance of situations that arise on your day-to-day to test your new mentality and practice, or you can simply create the situations yourself, e.g., organizing social gatherings either virtually or in person.
What has helped me most personally while exposing myself to such situations is to take action before the mind intervenes with thoughts of insecurity. For example, if you have a desire to ask a question in a seminar or meeting, and your thoughts start as to why you shouldn't do it, raise your hand and do it. This is how you show your head who's in charge. Or if in a social gathering you doubt to tell an experience, before the mind intercepts you, begin to tell it. You will see how you gain confidence and it comes out more and more naturally. You can train yourself to do this kind of thing without alcohol, so you will see gradually how the power to change is within you, and no one else. You will also discover in this way that things almost never happen as we fear them in the head.
Using these points, whether in a physical meeting with people I do not know, meeting my girlfriend's friends or family, or in a seminar where before I would not dare to raise my hand, I feel freer and with much less pressure or fear. Remember finally that this is all a process, the more you practice the steps above, the easier it will be for you to overcome shyness. I wish you luck! And if you want personalized help, you can always write me a message on my social media at the bottom of the page, or write me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.