What can you do about your shyness?

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In a nutshell, shyness indicates that a person has problems showing up to the outside world. And of course, the root cause of shyness is in their childhood. 

Psychologists often talk about shyness as a fear of being noticed.  

Ideally, you should regularly work on this problem during therapy (group or individual). But there are things that you can do on your own. Shall we begin? 

Here are a few exercises that will help you to strengthen a little bit your confidence in how you show up in the world. 

The tree of confidence 

This technique is practiced in art therapy. Let’s imagine that self-confidence (which is the best cure for shyness) is a tree.  

So, draw a tree. Big and sturdy! With strong roots and long branches. 

Every branch is a component of your self-confidence. Label each branch. Now draw on the branch leaves (qualities) that you already have. If there are branches without leaves – take a closer look and analyze them. 

How can you develop each quality or skill that doesn’t have leaves yet? What do you begin with to get the first leaf to show up? Try to recall, where did your qualities that are already “leafing” come from? Maybe this experience will help you to develop the new, bare for now, qualities. 

If you approach the task this way, you will get a holistic and systematic view of your qualities, and you will get a solid understanding of yourself. 

You can keep this drawing and modify it as you develop new qualities.  

Straight in the eye 

Usually, because of shyness, we experience discomfort when communicating with other people.  

This exercise will require some effort from you. You would need to leave your habitual comfort zone a little bit. But we will try to make the transition from one exercise to another as smooth as possible. 

So… 

Your task for the first week is to look people in the eye, keeping their gaze for no less than three seconds. Three seconds is not a lot, really. Maybe you can start with just two people per day, then three, then five, and finally a whole ten people. 

During the second week, let’s make your task a little more difficult – now you need to smile. Just smile at people. First, smile at one person per day, then at two, etc., until you reach ten people. You must keep records: create a table in a notebook and put check-marks to note your achievements.  

During the third week, you can carefully start chatting – in suitable situations. For example, inline, or at a gym, or in a cafeteria at work. No, you don’t need to have long conversations. It is enough if you ask simple easy-going questions. For example, “do you think it will take long?” or “do you think this salad tastes good?”, “what can you recommend?”, “have you tried it before?”. When asking such questions, it is best to appeal to the person’s experience. You can ask for their opinion, their understanding of the situation. It is best not to ask “where” and “when” questions. 

The “good enough” mantra 

Shyness is often linked with the person’s fantasy of some “ideal self”. But we know very well that perfection is unattainable. Therefore, it is important to realize that you are not perfect, and you never will be. But you are GOOD ENOUGH. 

Try this exercise: at least five times a day for a period of one week tell yourself “I am a good enough person”. 

After seven days see if your shyness changes. This is the best way to do it: on day one of the week, rate your shyness on the scale from 1 to 10. At the end of the week, rate it again. Is there a change? Even if it changed by 0.5 points – this is already great progress!