When I was a teenager, I used to dread being in public.
I hated it.
Now, I’m constantly looking for ways to put myself on the spot and face people.
What changed? A lot.
I read books. I experienced new and scary things. I got married. Basically, I went through all kinds of crazy experiences, both good and bad.
From then on, my whole mentality shifted; I no longer wanted to be safe and isolated. I wanted to thrive and do things I knew were within my potential, and I was determined not to let my shyness hold me back.
If you can relate to any of this, you chose the right post to read.
Here are five steps we should take to overcome shyness:
1. Doing scary things
Our comfort zone is our enemy. It could be the biggest liability we have and the main reason why many of us do not achieve our goals.
Stepping out of it will make anyone feel uneasy and distressed, but you know what, it is totally worth it—because it is precisely this discomfort that makes us grow and change.
Growing up, I was a shy boy, and everyone I knew made sure to express it to me. I wanted to be a teacher but, with my shyness, I didn’t know how I was going to do it, or if I was cut out for it.
Long story short, I pushed myself through all the negative emotions, thoughts, and people’s judgments, and I just let myself embrace and accept the hardships that heavily weighed on me in the beginning.
But, in the course of time, poof! Everything fell into place.
I did things that scared me and that boosted my confidence and made me ready to face any crowd.
2. Having the right friends
The crowd we hang out with matters a lot because it influences our self-confidence, our self-esteem, and how we generally see ourselves. Toxic friends—and by that I mean those who do not accept you nor support you—yield toxic energy; you don’t want to be around that.
I remember a while ago, I realized my best friend, who I had to cut out of my life, was toxic. I figured it out after realizing that he was competing against me, rather than being supportive, and would only reach out when he wanted something from me.
Our friendship wasn’t as genuine as I thought, and sometimes we just have to let go of people that do us more harm than good.
3. Being numb to people’s judgments
Let’s face it, whether we like it or not, we’re bound to meet or know friends, relatives, or strangers who are going to judge us.
We need to accept that. Heck! We need to switch on the “I don’t give a f*ck” button, because, truth be told, there are certain people who you just can’t cut from your life. Just when you think they’re out, they somehow find their way back in.
People are going to say you’re shy. They are going to judge you. They’re going to say all sorts of things about you.
The best thing to do in this case is to not care about people’s opinions of you.
4. Teaching and public speaking
I am a teacher, and I tell my students so much about how I overcame my shyness they must be sick of it.
When I was extremely shy, the idea of being in the spotlight freaked me out. In retrospect, I still can’t believe I went through it all, which is why I now realize that anything that makes us uncomfortable could be the next opportunity for growth.
I can genuinely confirm that teaching and public speaking really helped me with my shyness.
5. Fake it till you make it
Many people we know look confident until they express otherwise. In reality, they are insecure, but they’re working on themselves and pushing through the obstacles that are mostly in their heads. I know, because I used to look cool and confident when really I wasn’t. It was all an act!
Sometimes our biggest enemy is ourselves and our thoughts. Be it voluntary or not, the things we tell our brains can be messed up. What is more important is to be aware of those thoughts so that we can shut them down.
The cooler and more confident we fake it, the easier it’ll be to overcome shyness.