Thursday, 12 March 2015

6 Tips for Overcoming Shyness

Curtesy of Rainy Day Fun 
Believe it or not, I grew up being a shy, reserved person.  Any shy individual will understand how hard it is to express themselves to people, to speak in public, and to do anything unfamiliar.  Think back to your high school days.  Remember that girl who sat in the back of the class and never spoke?  You probably already forgot about her or didn't know she even existed.  Well, I was that girl.  Some of you reading this can probably relate.

Let me tell you a little secret.  Shyness can hinder your performance in life.  It can be so restricting that you can remain trapped in your own little cage for the rest of your life.  It doesn't have to be that way.  You can break out of your box.  It's not easy, but it certainly isn't impossible, either.  Here are a few ways you can break out of your shy shell.

1.     Be Confident!

Breaking out of your reserved box all depends on self confidence.  If you have low confidence, you're not going to get out there.  Here's an easy task you can try.  Sit down, and instead of thinking all the things you can't do, think of what you can do.  For example, I can play soccer; I can write a mean essay that's sure to get a mark over 80%; I can draw manga-style and that's not something to be embarrassed about; and I can make the best chicken katsu Japan has ever seen.  Thinking positive thoughts like this can boost your esteem, and it helps change your manner of thinking.

Be the kind of person you want to hang around.  People who complain a lot (I fell into that category) aren't fun to be around.  Funny, kind, generous, hospitable, and positive people are.  That doesn't mean you should try and be someone else, but be a better you.

2.     Speak out!

I had the hardest time finding my voice in high school, and even into my young adult years.  Those were stressing times because I was afraid that I was going to get shut down if I said something wrong.  However, if you're going to break out of your shell, you're going to have to speak out.  Let me tell you, it's really nerve-wracking, but the more you do it, the more confident you'll become.  I used to shake and quiver when giving a presentation in university, but now I can confidently stand in front of grown adults and run a workshop on team teaching.  I admit, I still get butterflies in my stomach, but I'm much better than how I was, and I'm still improving.  It just takes practice.

So what are some ways you can do this?  If you're painfully shy like I was, just raising your hand to give an answer in class or ask a question at a meeting is a huge accomplishment.  Doing presentations and giving speeches will help considerably with public speaking.  Teaching is a great way to build your confidence in front of a class of students.  And if all else fails, you could always just meet new people.  I'm not just talking about online where you can hide behind a computer screen and blab away on forums.  I'm talking about real life conversations.  Talk to people.  Get to know people.  But most importantly, don't be afraid to do it.

3.     Don't Be Afraid of Failure

I hate to break it to you, but in some point in your life, you're going to fail.  You might even fail several times.  You'll get a crumbling feeling when it happens.  It hurts.  I know because I've been there.  I failed nearly my entire first semester of university in the nursing program.  I was laid off from my job as a log peeler because I wasn't working hard enough.  While I was an au pair in France, I was messing up at child care almost every single day, and getting reprimanded for it.

Those were difficult times, but hear this:  just because you failed once, twice or even a thousand times, doesn't mean you're a failure.  I'll say it again:  you are not a failure!  I can't stress this enough.  I kept digging my own grave because I thought I would never amount to anything.  I was a dependent, failing young adult while others were succeeding.  But you shouldn't give up.

Many famous people failed several times before becoming great.  Just take a look at this long list.  Thomas Edison failed 1000 times before he made a successful run of the light bulb.  Albert Einstein couldn't speak until he was four.  Even Walt Disney was fired once!  Failing isn't the end of your life.  In fact, it's not even failing.  It's finding out was doesn't work and looking at a problem from a new angle.

4.     Don't Compare Yourself to Others

Growing up, I had little self confidence.  I have two attractive, successful older brothers and for years I walked in their shadows, unable to attain their level of success.  I'm sure many of you come from this situation.  I know I'm not the only one.  It's a pain to be known as so-and-so's little sister or brother.

You are not your successful older sibling.  You are yourself, and you should only be yourself.  As Bible teacher Joyce Meyer said once, "Stop trying to be somebody else because everybody else is already taken."  You can be inspired by people, but don't try to be just like them.  That will set you up for misery.  If you stop seeing yourself as being inferior to other people, you'll build self confidence, which will counter your shyness.

5.     Try New Things

"But it's scary!" I hear you say.  Remember what I said about failure?  Well, get out there and go try something new.  My mother had a hard time getting me out and about.  I whined and complained the entire way.  Well, now I'm telling you to stop whining and complaining.  No one likes to hear it and you're actually doing more damage to yourself by fussing about doing something that doesn't fit into your routine.  Trying new things builds character.  It gives you new perspectives on things that you never would have seen if you just stayed in your room all day.

It's not always easy.  I hated every moment in the Canadian Reserve Forces, but it taught me how to keep fit and take care of my body.  I had a hard time living in France, but it taught me how to find my voice and learn how to speak up.  I stomped my feet through university because I was less than broke, wondering if I'd be able to make the next payment, but I learned how to save money and set a budget.  I still have to remind myself when hurdles come my way that they're going to help me in some way.  It's a constant struggle to find the courage to burst your comfort bubble.

Also, make sure you travel.  Better yet, try living in a different country if you can, or get involved in a charity, or a service where you're helping other people.  It'll help you become more aware of yourself and how you live, as well as challenge you to interact with people of different backgrounds.

6.     Be an Initiator

Last but not least, be the kind of person who acts first.  Don't let the world come to you.  You get up and get out into the world.  This is something I have to force myself to do because all too often, I get caught up in my own little world, which makes me regress into that antisocial, shy young adult I once was.  It's an ongoing process and one that takes a lot of work, but it's doable.  Being an initiator will help boost your confidence the more you do it.

Well, are you shy individuals ready to take a step out into the unknown?  Don't worry.  You can do it in baby steps like I did.  For those who were once shy and are now engaging, confident people, how did you do it?  Did it take some growing up?  Is there anything I missed?  Please let me know and leave a comment.  I'd love to hear your stories.

If you enjoyed reading this, check out some of my other blog posts.  I strive to find solutions to problems, such as the ill preparation for cold herein Japan, discuss aspects of English grammar, and pretty much anything else that comes to mind.  I also started up a weekly showcase where I feature people or blogs related to a certain topic.  To stay updated on my posts, you can subscribe by email at the top left-hand corner of this blog.  I would really appreciate the support.


  1. Learning not to compare yourself to others is hard hard hard, but in it will help you in so many aspects of your life!

    1. I agree. It's better to be inspired by other people to be a better you.