If you struggle with social anxiety and shyness, you know how annoying it is when someone gives you generic advice. “Just get out there and talk to people,” they say. Or, they tell you that you just need to build confidence.
They may be right, but the question remains, how do you confidently talk to people when the very thought of doing so makes you break out into a cold sweat?
What these people don’t understand is that overcoming social anxiety isn’t like flicking a switch. You’ve probably been shy and socially anxious for several years, maybe even decades, and you’re not going to magically overcome your fears because someone told you to ‘just do it’.
When you are socially anxious, everyday conversations can be nerve-racking, and parties can be an absolute nightmare. Public speaking of any kind is also terrifying for most people who struggle with social anxiety and shyness.
The tools and tips I’m going to give you today are designed to help you with the ‘how’ of overcoming social anxiety. I have to be honest, things aren’t going to change overnight, but that’s okay, because here’s the thing.
The supposed experts who tell you to just blast through your biggest fears immediately don’t know the true secret to lasting change. They don’t recognize that a gentler, more gradual approach to overcoming social anxiety and shyness will be more effective. It will also be less stressful.
Let’s dive into those tips, shall we?
7 Tips to Overcome Social Anxiety and Shyness
1. Acknowledge you fear.
If you say hello to the nasty little bugger that is fear, you’ll notice that he’s a lot smaller than you imagined. Take a close look at him, and develop some awareness around your different layers of fear. If you are afraid of socializing, ask yourself what is behind that fear. Are you afraid of being judged, or mocked? Or does the true underlying fear have to do with rejection?
2. Have a bigger why.
If you want to do something really scary and uncomfortable, you’d best give your brain a big juicy carrot to keep it motivated. Oftentimes, especially for introverts, the goal of being likeable or popular simply isn’t enough to get you out of the house and talking to new people.
It’s important to sit down and think about the great big shiny reason why overcoming your social anxiety and shyness is so important.
Perhaps, your bigger why is that you can’t stand the pain of being lonely anymore and you know that you need more connection in your life. It’s important to acknowledge the pain because this will help you to press forward through the discomfort.
3. Shrink your inner critic.
Have you ever talked yourself out of approaching someone new by saying things like …
- She won’t want to talk to me, I’m so boring
- This is silly, I’m never going to change, so why bother?
- How will anyone like me when I don’t even like myself?
Your inner critic can be a real jerk. Here’s a quick visualization to get her to shut up for a while.
The next time the critical voice emerges, imagine it becoming a shrill and high-pitched mouse. Now pick up the annoying little mouse by the tail, and toss him out the door. If the mouse tries to return, remind him that you are much bigger than him, and he’d best keep his tiny mouth shut if he knows what’s good for him.
4. Apply your situational confidence to new situations.
Most people have what is called “situational confidence”. This means that they have confidence in a specific area of their life, like work, or sports, but they lack confidence in other areas. If you are socially anxious and shy than you probably have less confidence in unstructured social settings, such as parties.
However, what you might not realize is that you probably have a moderate level of confidence in another area of your life. Perhaps, you are really good at drawing, dancing, or playing basketball. Or maybe you excel at your job.
Think of ways that you can make that situational confidence work for you in other social contexts. Go to places where you can shine, and connect with others through your talents and strengths.
If you’re looking to boost your self-esteem, join my mailing list and you’ll get my lessons on introvert confidence. You’ll also receive my 50-page Introvert Connection Guide.
5. Read out loud before you leave the house.
If you have trouble speaking to new people, get your conversation muscles warmed up by reading out loud at home. As you do this, focus on projecting your voice and speaking with clarity. Believe it or not, this will make you feel more confident when talking to others.
6. Set achievable goals.
Remember how I said that the best way to overcome social anxiety and shyness is to take a gradual approach? Walking up to the first hot girl or guy you see and trying to strike up a conversation isn’t exactly a gentle way to overcome your fear.
Instead, set small achievable goals to gradually get more comfortable with socializing. Here are some ideas:
- Smile at ten people
- Ask five people for the time
- Make eye contact with someone attractive
- Ask a cashier, bartender, or clerk how their day is going.
- Say hi to three strangers you pass during the day
Remember to reflect on the results after you achieve your micro goals. Write down how it felt and how people responded in your journal.
7. Focus on what you can give.
If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ve heard me talk about the beggar’s mindset. This is the idea that you are taking something away from people when you try to talk to them. Instead, go in with a giver’s mindset, which acknowledges that your presence, and listening ear are gifts. You can also give by showing appreciation, giving sincere compliments, and simply being kind.
Over to you, love
Do you struggle with social anxiety? How do you cope? Please feel free to share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below. 😃