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3 Easy Ways to Start Overcoming Shyness without Even Talking to Anyone!


How to overcome shyness.  Baby Steps - toddler walking

Shyness comes on a spectrum. Over half the population identify as being either a little shy, somewhat shy or extremely shy meaning that some, whilst perhaps feeling awkward conversing with others are able to do so but for others, just the thought of having to speak to someone feels terrifying. For those of us who can relate to being extremely shy, this blog is for you!


Throughout childhood and into early adulthood I was extremely shy. Just the thought of talking to someone would set my heart pounding, my stomach churning and see my neck reddening - as if I needed that to bring everyone's attention my way! Despite well meaning comments from loved ones trying to reassure me that everything would be fine, talking to people just felt too frightening so baby steps were required in order to gradually expand my comfort zone without feeling completely overwhelmed.


Some of those early steps didn't even involve talking. 'Surely overcoming shyness is about being able to engage in conversation, so how does that work?' I hear you ask. Think of it like building a house, there needs to be strong foundations in place from which the fabric of the building can stand firm and it's no different with the process of overcoming shyness. If we don't take the time and continued practice until we feel more confident and comfortable with each step , then we run the risk of overwhelm and retreating back into ourselves. Remember Aesop’s fable with the Hare and Tortoise - slower and steady is the name of the game.


Below are 3 of my tops tips to start you on your journey to overcoming shyness, and all without having to say a word! Make sure you practice them daily and it will soon become second nature.


Tip #1 - Posture



'If I can't see them, they can't see me'. It may sound ridiculous now but that's kind of how it was for me. I would always have my head bowed and my gaze fixed firmly to the floor in order to avoid eye contact. My shoulders were drooped and I'd never stand tall; I was basically trying doing everything I could to make myself as small as possible to be unnoticeable. When I did have to encounter others, I'd be sat with my arms and legs crossed by way of putting up some kind of protective barrier and all the time, I didn't realise I was even doing it. So to begin with, take a look at your posture; how you stand, the way you sit, how you walk and make a note ( it can be really helpful to ask trusted friends and family to feedback what they observe too). It's only when we're aware of things we're able to change them so this is a really powerful exercise to engage in. Once you have your list, then you can start to practice new ways of being


Action:

Practice standing/sitting tall with your head up and eyes forward (imagine balancing a bucket of water on your head). Make sure your shoulders are back and down (as though you're sliding them into your back pockets) with your legs uncrossed and your arms hanging loosely by your side.


Result:

By simply changing your posture you will present as being more 'open' and with continued practice, become more confident in not hiding away physically.


Tip #2 - Revamp your wardrobe


My wardrobe was another place in which I'd try to hide (not literally, although at times I'd have liked to have been able to!) My go to colour palette was dark and dreary. If it wasn't black I'd wear greys, browns, dark blues..... basically anything that could be described as dull and boring so as not to draw attention to myself. As well as drab colours, I'd also seek to hide in clothes that were either big and baggy or they'd have a particular feature such as a high neck to hide my blushing neck (even in warm weather). Oh and of course, coats always had a hood in which I could hide. I'm not suggesting we need to chuck everything out here but just to change things up a little so as to get comfortable with being more visible.



Action:

Introduce some brighter colours into your outfits - that doesn't mean we need to be totally fluorescent but perhaps start with some accent colours. If say a top feels too much to start with, think accessories such as scarves, belts, bags. Only wear hoods/hats when it's really cold or raining and if you're a high neck addict like I was, practice wearing styles that don't come right up to your chin.


Result:

By introducing these simple changes you are proactively starting to step out of the background.


Tip #3 - Take 2 steps forward


So we've talked about hiding in our physicality and our wardrobe, now let's think about where we position ourselves - literally. For me that was anywhere I couldn't be seen. If I was in the classroom I would always hide away at the back. If I was waiting for a train you'd be sure to find me waiting at the very end of the platform away from everyone else. In a restaurant I'd always be sat in the corner with my back to everyone and if I was at a social gathering (one that I just couldn't avoid obviously) guess where you'd find me? Yep, that's right, stood in a corner watching from afar. For us shy ones, all of this is normal and completely understandable but it doesn't help in the long run.




Action:

Observe where you position yourself and then change it. Stand nearer other people, sit in a different place or perhaps try just walking or sitting somewhere you might normally avoid as you know it's busy, a community park for example. Whatever it is, just practice doing something where you feel slightly uncomfortable and keep doing it until feels ok.


Result:

Our 'safety seeking' behaviours may alleviate our feelings of discomfort in the short term but they also keep us stuck and keep the cycle going. Changing things, up little by little will help to break that cycle so you can expand your comfort zone.


 

So, as we can see, overcoming shyness is not about putting on a brave face, throwing yourself in at the deep end and everything will be ok (as so many people would keep telling me). To overcome shyness in a robust and lasting way, we need to take things step by step and in a considered manner. I hope you've found this blog useful. If you have please do let me know in the comments and share it with others so they can benefit too.


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