57 Tips to Overcoming Shyness
1. A Good Teacher or Coach Can Speed Up Progress
Having a coach in your corner can allow you to do the things you’d never do on your own. It’s an extra push, accountability and support to get through tough challenges. When dealing with shyness, coaching can be the edge that gets you past your sticking points.
2. Join a Performing Arts Class
I joined theater in 10th grade and was forced out of my own comfort zone. – Lukas Schwekendiek
Performing arts is a low-pressure way to put yourself out there.
You don’t have to worry about what to say or whether you sound good. Just play the part you’re given. You’ll also learn how to change your emotions for a better performance. If you can change your emotions, you can reduce shyness and be more outgoing.
3. Teach What You’re Good At
When we do something we have experience in it’s easier to feel confident. Pick a skill that you’re confident in then offer to teach some of your friends or family. You can even put an ad in Craigslist or any online classifieds site.
Showing other people a new skill will take your focus off of yourself, and put it on your students.
4. Narrow Your Focus to Specific Skills
Challenge yourself to learn specific social situations. One month you may try dance lessons, another could be business networking, and another month you may try speed dating.
By splitting up each scenario you’ll avoid becoming overwhelmed trying to overcome shyness everywhere. You’ll also be able to focus on the specific skills involved in each scenario.
5. Don’t Be Late
Being late is not only a bad habit, but one that will increase social anxiety. When we’re late, it makes us more self conscious.
Who wants to show up at a class only to have everyone look when we walk in and interrupt? Or what about a date?
When we show up late we’re just adding one more thing (in our minds) for the other person to judge us by. Eliminate some anxiety and self consciousness by making a habit of being on time.
6. Give Yourself Praise
Pause at the end of the day to praise yourself for the good things you’ve done. It can be a small thing, like showing up on time or having complimented someone. By giving yourself praise you’ll send some ‘positive energy’ your own way.
I realized that; I am beautiful and always have been; I was just too blind to see it. My heart opened to the truth that I have intrinsic value as a human being, and I bring something to the world that not a single other person can offer. It’s not about what I’m wearing or how much I weigh or what anyone else thinks about me. I am enough. Just as I am, right in this instant. – Kittie Eubank
7. Never Put Yourself Down
Calling yourself names will never make anything better. Avoid all self-slander and demotivating self talk. Use constructive criticism instead when a self analysis is necessary.
8. Use Positive Self Talk
Talk yourself up when you need a boost. Sometimes we just need a little more time to get through a situation. By using positive self-talk you can push your limits and perform better.
Pro Tip: Use “you” instead of “I”. Some studies show that saying “You can do it” is more effective than saying “I can do it”.
9. Exposure Therapy
Exposure therapy is a technique in behavior therapy used to treat anxiety disorders. It involves the exposure of the patient to the feared object or context without any danger, in order to overcome their anxiety and/or distress. – Wikipedia
By exposing ourselves in small increments (baby steps) to the things we fear, we lose our fear. Sometimes social anxiety will never go away completely but getting it to manageable levels can change our lives.
Don’t worry about going to a therapist to get exposure therapy. You can do it yourself. Go every day into a social situation where you feel shy, chat a little, and then move on. By doing this daily the shyness will slowly decrease.
If you have extreme shyness you might consider a professional therapist too. Confidence coaching can also be effective.
10. Don’t Hang out with Shy People
It’s comfortable to be around people who are similar to us. The problem is when we’re learning how to overcome shyness we don’t get positive examples to change our behavior. It’s too easy to stay the same when our closest influences hold us back.
Find more outgoing friends. You can find them at social events or on recreational sports teams. Watch what they do and you might learn something.
11. Avoid Labelling and Stop Self-Sabotaging
One of the worst traps is negative self labeling. It’s ok to acknowledge certain conditions or a lack of skills in any area. That’s being honest and avoiding self delusion. It allows us to figure out what we need to work on too.
Don’t let shyness become a part of your identity. Once we’ve established that ‘it’ IS US it’s no longer a matter of working on how to be more outgoing. It becomes changing our very identity, which is much harder.
Don’t become your shyness. Identify it for what it is, a set of habits, lack of skills, or an unconscious fear reaction to social situations. Whatever it is, it doesn’t define you.
If you’re already identifying personally with it, begin to detach. Catch yourself in the act of labelling yourself as shy, and gently correct it. You can use self talk such as, “I’m working on becoming more confident.” Focus on the positive traits you’re developing.
12. Express Your Feelings to a Journal or Someone You Trust
Keeping all of our feelings to ourselves doesn’t allow us to vent. It’s important to relieve the stress that shyness can cause, especially when you’re working on improving your social skills.
Write down your experiences and feelings in a journal. If you trust someone, expressing your thoughts to them can have the same effect.
13. Go Slowly
It’s impossible to change overnight. Sometimes change can be grudgingly slow. Expect your confidence to increase incrementally as you expose yourself to more social situations.
If you’re moderately shy it will be faster than if you are severely shy. Set realistic expectations to work on yourself over the course of months, even years.
As you get better you can add more difficult social challenges to be more confident.
14. Get out of Your Comfort Zone
Don’t hide from difficult social situations. Seek them out.
If something makes you uncomfortable, it’s a good sign that you should work on it. Get out of your shell, and embrace discomfort.
15. Have a Supportive Group
Enlist your family, friends, or spouse to help. They will keep you accountable, and you won’t have to do it alone. A supportive group will increase your odds of success.
I spent years in a poor relationship because I feared rejection. As I achieved some success in my career, I came to understand that people in general respected me and found my contributions worthwhile. Eventually, I came to the realization that this acceptance might extend to romantic partners. – Jim Heaphy
16. Stop Thinking About What Others Think About You. Nobody Cares
Everyone thinks the whole room is watching them, judging them. Here’s the secret– no one is. They’re just as nervous, insecure, shy, and worried as you are.
Instead, focus on what you think of them. When we put our attention on other people and decide what we think of them, we can take the pressure off ourselves.
For me, that is the crux of no longer being shy – taking the focus off what others think of me and placing it on being my best self and surrounding myself with others who make me want to be a better person. – Kittie Eubank
17. Call Your Friend Across the Street (Loudly)
When standing on a street corner, call out loudly to your friends on the other side. This will temporarily force you to deal with a few eyes pointing in your direction. When you face discomfort it can help you be more confident.
18. Write down Your Shyness Goals
It’s important to know what you want. We don’t all have to be James Bond, but you might just want to be comfortable in a small group. Maybe you want to overcome stage fright or learn to approach women.
Goals help you focus. You’ll be able to tackle specific situations instead of worrying about all of them.
Once you know, write them down. By writing them down, we take them out of the idea category and make it a real thing.
19. Learn to Love Yourself
When we don’t love ourselves, how can we believe that anyone else will? Reflect on your successes, and focus on your good attributes. Take care of your health by eating well and sleeping well. All of these little things show self care and appreciation.
20. Take Care of Your Fitness
Anything that helps you build confidence will help you overcome shyness. If you’re self-conscious about your body, it makes it that much harder to get out there.
Most of my life I was a skinny guy. It was a major point of insecurity. When I got older I learned how to workout more effectively, and I added a lot of size. I never became “jacked”, but my new strength made me more confident.
21. Eat Well
When your body feels bad, you get more anxiety and stress, and that makes everything worse. Avoid eating out a lot, watch the junk food, and eat more veggies.
22. Sleep Well
Bad sleep lowers intelligence, increases stress, and can cause anxiety, too. We can minimize the social anxiety we feel by getting better sleep.
23. Stay Away from Negative News Media
Pumping our minds full of media junk is a sure way to increase a general feeling of ‘unease’. When we’re trying to work on our confidence, anything that causes a bad outlook on life has to go! Every little thing counts, so don’t consume the daily bad news that the media uses to get clicks.
24. Consume Positive News Media
While negative news makes you feel bad, positive media can make you feel better. Watch inspirational videos, read uplifting stories, and get your daily dose of personal development.
That slight edge from taking in the good stuff could be the difference between getting into a conversation with a stranger, or keeping to ourselves.
25. Use Breathing Exercises
Breath is a perfect way to use your body to control your emotions. When you start to feel nervous, focus on long deep breaths to eliminate tension. With your anxiety under control, you can focus on learning how to overcome social anxiety.
26. Change Your Body Language
You can use your body to affect your emotions. When people feel anxious, we change our body language. We slouch, cross our arms, or avoid eye contact.
That kind of body language will make you feel even more anxious. It’s a sort of insecurity feedback loop. Check yourself when you talk, because you probably do it habitually without noticing.
Insead, stand up straight, lift your chin up slightly, hands out of your pockets, and unpin your elbows from your ribs. Standing tall and taking up more space will make you feel more confident.
27. Practice Power Poses
Amy Cuddy explains power poses in her 2012 TED Talk. Power poses, just like positive body language, will instantly change the way you feel. Use these before going into a situation where you feel shy.
28. Practice Gratitude
Gratitude keeps you calm by focusing on what’s good in your life. You can stay focused on the big picture while you work on how to overcome shyness.
Sometimes I still wake up with anxiety. It’s usually when life is extra stressful, or I neglect myself. Gratitude helps me to regain control.
How do I do it? I focus on my breath, and then I think about the good things in my life. This simple strategy has saved many of my days from going down the drain.
29. Learn a Martial Art or Boxing
Martial arts can help you learn how to overcome shyness in two ways. First, it’s a great social experience. You’re together with a bunch of guys learning something manly. It also is a great place to make lasting friendships because training with others creates deep bonds.
At its core, martial arts teaches us the importance of socializing with others and it increases our social circles tenfold.
Second, martial arts will help your confidence. Martial arts teach you to master your body, and mastery builds confidence.
When you’re strong and in control, you act differently, and people will notice.
Imagine being able to walk down a dark alley without fear, or being a woman that has the ability to take control over any situation. Any martial artist will tell you that the confidence they feel knowing that they are able to defend themselves in any compromising situation is incomparable. The self-defense skills you learn in class – from sparring to the techniques, prepare you for real-life situations. – Evolve MMA
30. Learn to Sing
The first time I went on, I got booed off stage as I could not remember the words or chords to the song I could play in my sleep! I felt like crap but it got better and so did my shyness. The instincts that pushed me to overcome stage-fright pushed me to become calm in many of the social and business settings I would placed in the future. – Sae Min Ahn
Singing usually means having an audience. This forces us to deal with insecure thoughts about being judged. Being a bad or good singer. Or even the weird shirt we wore that evening.
The good thing about singing lessons is that you’ll learn with an instructor, and with other beginners. This will take away some self consciousness and allow you to grow.
- It helps to release your inhibitions and it gives you the freedom to be yourself.
- It’s very personal and a way of nurturing yourself as a person.
- It lifts your mood and it’s fun.
- It distracts your mind from negative thoughts.
- It helps with breathing, relaxation and slowing your heart rate.
- It helps to relieve stress and muscle tension.
- It helps with focus and concentration.
- It helps with mindfulness and being in the present moment.
- It can be meditative.
- It’s challenging and rewarding.
- It gives you meaning and purpose.
- It takes you out of your comfort zone and it’s empowering.
- It gives you a sense of achievement.
- It’s a way of expressing yourself and your emotions.
- It’s a way of meeting new people, especially when you join a group.
31. Just Do It
Yeah, Nike got it right. Don’t just “give it a shot.” Do it.
If you “give it a shot,” you aren’t planning to succeed. You’re hoping, wishing that you could do it, but you’re not acting on it.
Commit to a plan of action with real steps and defined goals. Then, follow up on it.
32. Stop Saying “Can’t”
When you tell yourself you can’t do it, you won’t. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Positive self talk can get us through the most difficult challenges. The opposite is true for negative self talk. Telling yourself that you ‘can’t’ will demotivate you and lead to quitting.
How do you know for a fact that you really and truly cannot do something? Have you given it your best, failed, fell, flunked and then attempted at least two more times? Have you pushed yourself outside that awful comfort zone that keeps you trapped to know your true boundaries? Have you explored every which way possible? – Farnoosh Brock
Here’s a great exercise to break the “can’t” habit, from prolificliving.com
Replace every statement of “cannot” with the statement of “choose not”.
I can’t travel => I choose not to travel. I can’t do yoga => I choose not to do yoga.I can’t stand up for myself => I choose not to stand up for myself.
33. Do a Vlog
It may seem strange, but when I started vlogging I was really uncomfortable. You’d think it would be easy, but staring into the camera made my mind go blank.
Worse yet, posting my videos online brought up all sorts of negative thoughts. I felt like I’d be plagued by trolls and negative comments.
Most comments turned out to be positive. Eventually posting online was no biggie.
Start by filming videos which you keep to yourself. Most of the videos I filmed years ago never made it online, and I’ve since deleted some which did because my new videos are better.
When you feel more confident, start posting on YouTube. This will further stretch your comfort zone.
34. Write a Public Blog
Writing a public blog scared me at first, publishing my opinion to random strangers. This caused more than a little anxiety. Just as with vlogging, nothing bad happened when I started posting online.
Eventually I started writing on some publications which have major traffic. That was another anxiety hurdle and another success.
Pick a topic you’re really passionate about. If there’s nothing you want to write about, try a public journal.
35. Speak to a Stranger Every Day
Make it a goal to speak to one stranger every day. It can be in a coffee shop line up, a table next to you at a restaurant, or even the girl who just delivered your drink.
Start a conversation by making a simple observation. It could be the crazy heat, some jewelry they’re wearing, or a comment on the book she has.
Speaking to strangers allows us to get outside of our own heads. It helps us to connect with others, and is a great way to overcome shyness.
It seems like a very small thing if I talk to a stranger, and learn something about them… but it stacks up, it’s incremental. – Kio Stark
36. Approach Women (Or Men)
It’s scary to approach someone you like– heart pumping adrenaline and shaking hands. But it’s also a great way to grow a thicker skin by learning to deal with rejection.
The fear of rejection is a big part of shyness. Bringing it out into the open is essential for personal growth.
Not only will you learn how to overcome shyness, you can get some dates too. For many, it can be too much to handle on their own. If that’s you, then you might consider dating coaching.
P.S. This is an old interview I did with Derek Cajun (Love Systems) on overcoming approach anxiety.
37. Observe Other People
What do other people do in social situations? It’s easier to learn from people who are already outgoing. See what they do, and try it yourself.
Pay attention to how people use their voices, their body language, eye contact, and their reactions to certain behaviors.
38. Say Good Morning
Every morning on your way to work, say “good morning” to the people who pass. Simple, right? That’s why it works.
Many shy people will find this simple act to be uncomfortable. A lot of people who don’t consider themselves shy also find it uncomfortable because they’re not used to it. That makes them feel “weird”.
Make this part of your daily routine for social confidence. When you start getting used to it, you’ll know that you’ve already become a more social person.
39. ‘Eye Contact and a Smile’ Game
Here’s how you do it:
Walk down the street and meet each person’s eyes with your own. If they look at you, smile. If they look away, just keep walking.
Avoid aggressively staring by keeping your facial expression inquisitive, like you’re curious about the people you see. If you attempt eye contact and they don’t reciprocate, don’t worry about it. Look away after a couple of seconds to avoid overdoing it.
40. Don’t Be a Perfectionist
Some of my students get deterred when they look at me and talk to women. They realize they’ll probably never be as good as I am. It’s true, I’ve been doing this for 10 years and have devoted a ridiculous amount of time to meeting women and dating.
But here’s the thing: why would anyone have to be as good as a pro to get great results? Can you not enjoy a game of soccer without playing like David Beckham?
Aiming for perfection is the ultimate confidence killer, because if you aim for perfection, you’ll always fall short.
Aim to improve your own personal social skills and confidence. Not to become perfect. Doing that will only cause frustration and end up in quitting.
Perfectionism is also a path to procrastination:
Perfectionists tend to conjure up an immaculate vision of how things should be. So when it’s time to get to work, they become extremely detail oriented, start to obsess about every single thing, get weighed down by every problem, and get caught up by the need to create everything perfectly. Over time, the “pain” of such intricate attention becomes too painful, and this subsequently leads to procrastination — putting off a task to get some relief, but is in actual fact pushing away the pain that they create with each task. – Personal Excellence
41. Dress Better
If you dress better, you feel better. Everyone is self-conscious when we hate the way we look.
Lucky for us, the rules are straightforward for guys. Ditch the cargo pants and the graphic T. Confidence comes from looking better, more formal, from more casual.
You have to remember that you’re a man, and being extravagant isn’t necessary. You don’t need a lot of bells and whistles to look great. – Robert, Restart Your Style
42. Use a “No Effort Conversation Starter”
Use your clothes to start a conversation. Wear something loud or dramatic, and people will notice. Another name for this is “peacocking.”
I know this guy who loves to wear bright colored pants, like teal or lavender. He stands out when he walks into a room, and people comment on it all the time.
It’s a simple way to get people to notice you and to have a natural way to start a conversation.
Don’t think you can pull that off? Here’s the secret: You can pull it off if you act like you can pull it off. That’s what the guy with the lavender pants did.
You can take this principle too far, though. You want your clothes to start positive conversation about you, not a negative one.
Here’s a Tip: choose a dressy piece of clothing and try a color or pattern that is louder than you usually like it.
A lot of shyness comes from fear of the unknown. Learn how to visualize yourself in different scenarios, talking to people. This will give you more confidence to speak since you’ve already ‘been there’ in your mind.
44. Focus on Them, Not You
Focus on the person in front of you to reduce your social anxiety. A lot of shyness comes down to being self absorbed and only thinking about ourselves. Show interest in the person in front of you; what does she do? Why does she do it?
45. Listen Instead of Thinking What to Say Next
Don’t wait for your opportunity to speak. Far too many people don’t actively listen, they just nod their heads while waiting for a chance to jump in. Instead, be a good listener.
Repeat back to her, in your own words, what she just told you. Then, add an opinion to it and dig deeper by asking another question. I call this the snowball technique, and it’s great for creating deep conversations and making connections.
46. Learn Stoicism
Stoicism is an ancient Greek philosophy that’s making a comeback. It teaches us to see things the way that they are, and not embellish. It also helps us to detach emotionally from things that can stir us up.
47. Give Compliments
It can feel awkward to compliment people when we’re not used to it. Sincere compliments are a great way to charm those around us and make connections. It’s also a good chance for you to practice getting out of your shell.
To make a sincere compliment, look at her and pick a quality like her sense of style, jewelry, hairstyle, or whatever else stands out to you. Keep the compliment low key and don’t repeat it more than once. Just be casual like, “That’s a nice tie. Where did you get it?” or “You have nicely done nails. Good summer colours.”
48. Smile at People
Smiles not only make others happy, but they also make the smiler happy too. When we smile it tells others were friendly and open to being approached. Smile at a stranger every time you go out to spread the good vibe to yourself and others.
Meditation has a calming effect and helps us to sharpen our focus. Doing this on a daily basis will relieve anxiety that agitates shyness.
Anxiety is a cognitive state connected to an inability to regulate your emotional responses to perceived threats. Mindfulness meditation strengthens a person’s cognitive ability to regulate emotions.” – Psychology Today
50. Practice Scenarios
Before going to a social event, rehearse what you’ll say to open conversations.
What will you say and do when someone approaches you? How will you respond? How will you approach other people?
Although scripting an entire conversation isn’t possible or desirable, practicing the opening and exit for a conversation will give you more confidence.
51. Don’t “Socialize” Online
It’s too easy to fool ourselves thinking that by chatting online we’re socializing. In reality, online friends are mostly a distraction and can deprive us of real human interactions. When we don’t have face to face chats shyness will get stronger.
Social support can be a strong predictor of positive mental health. Emotional support has been shown to protect us from a wide array of both psychiatric and physical ailments. But unlike online friendships, real-life relationships take time and effort. They help us learn about others and ultimately ourselves. – Shelly Bonanno
All of these social exercises are going to make you uncomfortable, tense, and use a lot of energy. Whenever we try something new it takes extra effort.
Give yourself time to recharge or you’ll burn out and quit. Leave the city and recharge in nature. You’ll improve your concentration, short term memory and relieve stress.
53. Reward Yourself
James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, says that reward is key to developing a new habit. If you want your social skills to stick, you need to get to that reward, even if you set it up yourself.
It’ll help you develop your social skills. Whether it’s approaching an attractive woman, starting a conversation at a cafe or going to a social event, give yourself a reward for following through.
54. Speed Dating
Maybe you’re not ready to approach an attractive stranger. If that’s so, speed dating will get you in front of some potential dates fast.
It’s a good chance to practice body language, eye contact, and conversational skills. Experiment with different openers so you don’t say the same thing to your dates as every other guy in the room.
55. Meetup.com Groups
Meetup.com has a ton of different social groups for every interest. Join an established group and talk to the people.
Everyone there will be there for the same reasons as you, to meet new people and have fun. In your case, you’ll be able to sharpen your conversational skills and acclimate yourself to being in a group.
56. Join a Beer League
The potential for fun while drinking and playing baseball probably doesn’t have to be explained. One extra benefit is that everyone will be focused on the game and drinking, which will give you breaks to recharge in between conversations.
You’ll probably get introduced by the organizer, so that will take pressure off of having to do it yourself. After that, grab a beer and enjoy the game.
57. Learn Conversation Skills
When you struggle in social situations, it’s probably because you aren’t confident with your social skills. Practice is the only way to get better.
Fortunately, there are whole groups dedicated to teaching conversation skills and public speaking. Toastmasters teaches members social skills and gives them a place to practice.
Best of all, everyone goes to toastmasters to get better. Everyone is there to learn, not just you.
Be present. Be in that moment. Don’t think about your argument you had with your boss. Don’t think about what you’re going to have for dinner. If you want to get out of the conversation, get out of the conversation but don’t be half in it and half out of it. – Celeste Headlee