Today, I am doing things a little differently for the “Profiles of Perseverance” series. Usually, I interview someone about how they overcame obstacles in their lives. However, when Ryan Rivera reached out to me to share his story about overcoming shyness, I had to feature his guest post as part of this series. He connected with me as he found my blog post about overcoming shyness. Ryan Rivera had severe social anxiety in addition to battling his panic attack and anxiety issues. Now, he writes about overcoming anxiety at www.calmclinic.com. I admire his strength and passion to share his story. He speaks from his heart! On that note, check out his strategies for overcoming shyness. Don’t forget to comment at the end of the post, and let him know what you think.
4 Fun Strategies to Overcome Shyness
I’m someone that suffered from intense anxiety for years. I had panic attacks, I had agoraphobia, but perhaps the issue that caused me the most amount of distress was my shyness. I didn’t want to talk to anyone, and yet I felt very alone because I knew that unless I did talk to others, I wouldn’t get a chance to make friends, fall in love, and have the experiences that I wanted; experiences that would make life fulfilling.
While my anxiety itself was debilitating, it was the social aspect that motivated me to seek treatment. I wanted to be able to have a life and my shyness was holding me back.
Getting Over Shyness
Some degree of anxiety in social situations is normal. Depending on the event, you may need to interact with strangers, develop relationships with businessmen, or possibly flirt with the future love of your life. There are reasons to be a little bit nervous, and a little bit of nervousness is okay as long as it doesn’t hold you back from happiness.
But when that anxiety becomes overwhelming – when you find that you’re too shy to talk to anyone, and that your shyness is preventing you from living the life that you’ve always wanted, you may have some degree of social phobia.
How to Overcome This Anxiety
Social phobia is the type of issue that benefits from exposure and practice. It’s best to speak with an expert that can train you in many of the techniques that allow you to overcome much of this shyness. Yet there are some things you can do on your own that should help you overcome some of this shyness. Examples include:
- Embarrassment Exposure
Those that fear social situations are often afraid of embarrassment. In fact, many severely fear embarrassing themselves in public. But if you no longer fear the feeling of embarrassment, you’ll have less fear over embarrassing yourself in public. One way to do this is to dress up in some ridiculous outfit – dress like a clown. Purposefully embarrass yourself. Then walk around a town for several hours as you get used to others looking at you. Eventually it won’t scare you as much, and you’ll have an easier time with the idea of embarrassment.
- Fake Confidence
Another strategy that is effective for many people is the idea of fake confidence. Combine the idea of acting with mockery – pretend to act like you think confident people act, almost as though you’re making fun of them. This requires a bit of a break from your shyness on its own, simply because you will need to be a bit more outgoing, but if you pretend to be a less shy person, you’ll find that you eventually adapt to many of those behaviors.
- Practice Far Away
Many people fear shyness because they’re worried that they may eventually embarrass themselves in front of those that they may interact with again. You can take part of that out of the equation by practicing socializing in an area that you know you won’t see anyone again. Go on a vacation somewhere far away from home, and do your practice there, where you can get used to socializing without as much worry over how it will affect your future.
- Social Relevancy
Finally, a key aspect of embarrassment is this feeling that you can’t connect with others, or that somehow you’re not equipped to hold a conversation. It’s reinforced when you do try to talk to others and you falter because you don’t know the material. That’s why you should consider giving yourself a training course in pop culture. Get up to date on the latest movies and TV shows. Listen to popular music – educate yourself on what others are talking about. This will ensure that when you do get into a conversation with others, you won’t feel like you’re not equipped to handle it.
Overcoming Social Anxiety is a Long Term Process
You shouldn’t expect to overcome your shyness overnight, and professional assistance can provide a significant amount of anxiety help that is great for reducing the effect that shyness has on your life. But the above strategies can help, especially if you’re committed to finding a way to get out there and be more social with others.
Were they all that I used to overcome my shyness? Not at all. I had to find ways to cure my anxiety in general, because it was very hard to socialize when I was constantly anxious. I sought help from experts, started exercising, and changed my lifestyle completely. Shyness was only one of my problems, and I knew it would continue to be a problem if I didn’t address all of my anxiety issues.
But once I overcame my anxiety, my shyness was soon to follow, and the above tips were ways that I challenged myself to make sure that I was able to drastically change the way I felt and become a social person once and for all.
Thanks, Ryan, for sharing your story with us and for speaking from the heart. I’m happy that you are helping others to overcome their social anxiety. What do you think of Ryan’s strategies? Do you find them helpful?