Everyone Can Relate to Feeling Shy

It doesn’t matter if you’re an introverted type or an extroverted type, everyone can relate to feeling shy because nobody wants to feel poorly judged or rejected.  We all want to be accepted.  We tend to think only introverts are shy, but that’s not true.  Shyness has more than just to do with being uncomfortable around other people – it largely comes from being worried about rejection.

Shyness is all about the self: self-consciousness, self-evaluation, self-preoccupation…self, self, self. 

  • You are overly aware of yourself.
  • You tend to see yourself negatively.
  • You tend to pay too much attention to all the things you might be doing wrong when there are other people around.

Everyone can relate to this, and it’s actually kind of normal.  However, the problem is when people take it to the nth degree.  Their hypersensitivity causes a lot of anxiety – e.g. they become preoccupied with someone raising an eyebrow because they assume it must mean something about them.  And if you’ve decided you’re shy, then you will often play that role.  You psychologically feel inclined to live up to those expectations

The first thing you need to consider in getting over your shyness is what situations trigger your feelings:  Are they work situations?  Social situations?  Do they involve all males?  All females?  People you don’t know?  Some people you know but have a hard time getting along with?  It’s really important to sit there and think, “Is this situational in some way?  What is triggering this feeling?“ 

In addition, you basically need to understand that the world is not paying that much attention to you.  Sorry.  Most people are too busy looking at themselves.  If you’ve got a whole room full of shy people, nobody really cares about anybody else because they’re only concerned with how they’re being registered.

Here’s another tip: stop trying to be perfect.  A woman called into my show the other day who was SERIOUS about trying to be perfect.  I just laughed and said, “Well I can’t help you with that because I don’t understand perfect.  I never got to be there.  I don’t think there is such a place.”  If you’re completely arrogant, you can think you’re perfect, but nobody is actually perfect.  And even if you could be perfect, a lot of people would hate you for being perfect, and therefore, you still wouldn’t be liked by everybody.  You have to accept that some people are just not going to judge you positively or want to have anything to do with you. 

At some point, you have to accept rejection and not take it personally.  That’s why in my book, 10 Stupid Things Couples Do to Mess Up Their Relationships, I say that if you get rejected by another person, then it’s “not a match,” not that the “other person is horrible.” 

If you’re shy, there are some simple things you can do when you start feeling uncomfortable: 

First of all, it’s helpful to recognize that you’re good at something and that you have something to offer.  But do you know what’s the number one thing you can offer? 
An interest in somebody else. 

When you’re in a social situation and you’re spending all of your time thinking about how bad you look, how bad you are, how nobody’s going to like you, how you sound stupid, how you have nothing intelligent to say, etc., you’re not paying any attention to anyone else.  That’s why they’re not interested in you.  People are the most interested in people who are interested in them.  It’s as simple as that. 

So, the best technique for breaking the ice and feeling more comfortable in a social situation is showing interest in someone else.  Ask questions about their life, their family, their hobbies, and their work.  Shyness is merely an unbelievably excessive focus on the self, and therefore, it can be overcome by showing interest in somebody else.

The next time the anxiety sets in, just breathe.  Take some slow, deep breaths, close your eyes (unless you’re driving), and concentrate only on breathing and feeling the air going in and out.  Then, look around the room and think, “Wow. Look how fortunate I am to have this opportunity to perhaps meet some people who will be wonderful in my life and me in theirs.”