How to Stop Being Shy: Ways to Be Less Timid

How to Stop Being Shy: This is a tough one. I am definitely an introvert. For me, a party consists of four people: Me, my wife, and two guests. I remember when Melissa and I were first engaged. My mother suggested a “small meet and greet.”

Melissa, her mom, and grandmother walked through my parent’s front door to be met by a small army and enough food to rival King Richard’s Fare. Melissa and her family looked terrified.

Are you shy? Does the thought of speaking in a group have you making up excuses not to attend social gatherings? Surveys show about 40 to 60 percent of all adults identify as someone shy. As with most character traits, shyness can be overcome with practice.

However, keep in mind that shyness leads to anxiety which can only be overcome one way – by facing it, feeling it, and letting it happen. You will survive.  

Identify Your Triggers

Okay, my triggers are people. Next!

Nobody is shy all of the time. Identify what makes you shy. It can be speaking in public, or being a new employee in a room full of work colleagues. It can be a smell, a location, or even a sound. Identifying the triggers is the first step toward overcoming your shyness.

Once you identify the triggers for your shyness, you can then formulate a plan to emerge victorious in these situations.

Be Informed

If you're shy and will be attending a particular “theme” event, take time to prepare. Do some homework about what the evening will entail. Is it a work or neighborhood party?  Stay up to date with current or past events. Doing so can help boost your confidence in social situations as you can engage with people - enlightening anyone who isn't in the know.

Set Goals

When starting on this new path, it’s important to set smaller, more attainable goals. You will gain confidence as you reach each goal and be more encouraged to reach new goals.

You can begin by focusing on one trigger and creating an action plan to face it. If you are shy when called to speak in public, start by addressing five of your friends and slowly increase the number until your anxiety level subsides. Notice how I used the word “subsides.” This is because there may always be some degree of anxiety when placed in these situations. The key is to do it enough times so as to gradually reduce it over time. So go ahead and speak. I’ll be hiding in the back row.

Record Your Successes

Keep track of the successes (big or small) you've made in overcoming your shyness. Read it frequently to reenforce your goals - especially if you feel discouraged along the way. Doing so will help keep you motivated. 

I bet you will be surprised by how far you've come, which will further increase your belief that overcoming shyness is possible.  

Be Kind To Yourself And Take Your Time

This is a process. Do not try to rush things. No one gets rid of shyness overnight. As you take steps to become better, acknowledge your progress and reward yourself.

Shyness can lead to us being stuck in our own heads. When this happens, it can distort the way we interpret our surroundings. Things usually aren’t as terrible as they may seem. People aren’t scribbling notes about you. Trust me, they’re probably more worried about their own “performance.”  

Be consistent, be determined, be kind to yourself. Congratulate yourself for having the courage to face and overcome your shyness. It is possible.


Here’s to you and your courage. Now go be a social butterfly. ~Ted

How to Stop Being Shy: 9 Ways to Be Less Timid ~parts adapted via

1. Explore the reasons why you’re shy

It could be any of the major causes of shyness mentioned above. Pondering the root of your shyness can help you become aware and accept who you truly are.

For example, if you are aware of a traumatic event that happened that caused you to be shy, it may be time to get help with overcoming those circumstances and memories. Once you learn to process what happened in the past, you may be able to move on with your life and get over your feelings of shyness.

If you believe it has to do with your upbringing, examine your relationship with your parents now. Are they still domineering? Alternatively, are they shy themselves? Another thing that may have happened in your childhood that affects you as an adult is being labeled as shy by other people. Often, people are shy when they're little, and then grow out of it.

Unfortunately, some people latch onto that label and continue to treat others whom they deem as being “shy” with kid gloves, even if their personality has outgrown it. You have to recognize that shyness is something that you can overcome in life. It doesn't have to be a static feature.

2. Identify the triggers

Is it speaking in front of people that gets you running for cover? Is it asking someone out? By identifying the triggers for your shyness, you can plan ahead and create a course of action for when you're placed in those situations. You can practice what you would do if faced with your triggers and work to overcome them.

Some triggers, like public speaking, are common. However, some triggers are very specific to the individual person. These triggers may be tough to identify, but you can get professional help to figure out what they are for you.

These may be something as small as a smell, a specific location, or even a certain song. Personal triggers are those that either consciously or unconsciously remind you of a bad memory. People who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) often experience triggers from their surrounding environments.

Chances are, you aren't shy in every situation in your life. You're probably okay when you are around your close friends or family, right? Being able to recognize that these people are not so much different than strangers is key. The only thing is, you know these people better.

This will help you realize that it is your situation that makes you shy—it isn't a problem with you. Identifying your personal triggers can take time, but it’s important to do so. Then you can take the necessary steps to overcome them.

3. List down social situations where you feel most anxious,  and then conquer them one by one.

Think of these things as your “shyness bucket list.” Participate in small talk with strangers or work up the nerve to introduce yourself or even ask someone out. The more you avoid social situations, the more your anxiety will fester. Act confidently and tell yourself that you have every reason to feel as confident as you can act.

Join a club or a sports team that gets you out in the community and engaging with other people. This will help you meet new people who share your same interests. Also, by practicing new activities, you will be conquering a fear of the unknown, which often comes along with extreme shyness.

It is ok if you have to skip around your list a bit while you are doing the things on it. Just do whatever you feel comfortable doing—as long as you're pushing yourself.

4. Arm yourself with information

If you are going to a party on the weekend and dread the small talk, use the time leading up to the occasion to look up info about current topics. It could be the latest viral video, an issue in the government, or a worldwide event. Research the topic and get the gist of it.

This way, you will have an arsenal of things to talk about with people whenever one of those moments of silence hits. If you know what is going on in the world, you can be ready to talk about something with the other person that they likely know something about as well.

Doing this will also help boost your confidence in social situations. If you already don't feel confident, it will likely get a lot worse if everyone is talking about a current event that you are unfamiliar with. Make sure that you are up to date with what is going on in the world so you can either engage with people who are talking or enlighten someone who isn't in the know.

Reciting affirmations for self esteem is also a great way to prepare yourself for any social event you feel nervous about. Here are some affirmations to try.

5. Make eye contact

Get out of your shell by making eye contact. When you make eye contact, you are demonstrating your confidence and making a connection with the other person. If you suffer from eye contact anxiety, this can also be interfering with your everyday social interactions.

Having the ability to maintain eye contact is a critical aspect of any social interaction. People who are able to look other people in the eye are seen as friendly and nurturing. But many people who are either shy or socially anxious have trouble with this aspect of communication.

Looking someone in the eye while you're talking to them can be uncomfortable if you haven't practiced doing so, or if you don't like being in the spotlight.

Immediately follow eye contact with Tip #6 to get the full effect.

6. Smile

Most shy people are mislabeled as being standoffish. Give strangers a friendly smile and see them reciprocate—it will probably improve both your day and theirs.

Smiling is a nice way to acknowledge another person, and a great way to start a conversation with anyone. You're showing that you are welcoming, friendly, and willing to engage in conversation.

It is often said that humans are social creatures. Everyone is looking for some kind of interaction with other people. You're not disturbing them—you are actually making their day better by smiling and talking to someone else.

Natural smiles will come as you get more comfortable.

7. Keep a record of your successes

Keep track of your successes, even the small ones, overcoming shyness in a journal, and keep it for future reference. List your triggers in your journal along with any successes that you are able to accomplish.

Being able to watch your progress is a great way to stay motivated and keep going. You will be amazed at your progress, which will help you believe that overcoming shyness is definitely possible.

The timeline for making progress with your shyness may be short or it may be long—it is different for everyone. You just have to believe that you will succeed with this goal if you stick with it.

8. Give yourself a reward for every success

If you’ve just started the habit of becoming more confident, rewarding yourself for every successful outcome, ensures that the habit sticks. This will help teach your brain that whatever you are doing that is challenging is a good thing, and you will get something out of it in addition to the satisfaction of knowing you conquered a fear.

Re-watch your favorite movie that you've seen 100 times, or have a little bit of dessert after dinner. Whatever you find to be truly rewarding, allow yourself that indulgence after you have a success—even if it is a small one.

9. Be kind to yourself

Shyness does not get vanquished overnight. What’s important is that you’re working to make things better for yourself, regardless of your pace. If it seems to be taking a long time, that is certainly okay, because at least you're making progress. Not only are you constantly working toward your goal, you are also being self-aware enough to realize how well you're doing, which is an important trait to have.

Don't beat yourself up if you find this process to be slow. That will only delay your success and possibly tempt you to stop your efforts. Use it as motivation to keep going.

Try at least a couple of these suggestions for a week and see the difference they make in your life.

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