We all have our ‘comfort zones’, but for some people, those zones are very, very small. Shyness can be a truly paralyzing condition. For about 50% of people, who have reported feelings of shyness at one time or another, this may have been temporary, but for others, it is something that has lingered, and greatly affected their quality of life. Shyness is often attributed to strong feelings of self-consciousness, and a lack of experience in social settings. Often teenagers suffer from periods of shyness as they view themselves with a very critical eye, and seem to want nothing more than to blend in among their friends. For those adults who suffer from shyness, understanding the causes is just the first step to overcome social shyness once and for all.
A good first step is to look at yourself with a kind and not a critical eye. Chances are, when it comes to social settings, you are pretty hard on yourself. Being as kind to yourself as you would be to others will help to break the pattern of always feeling like you don’t measure up. Make a list of the positive and unique qualities that you possess, and read and reread it every day. This will help you to feel a new confidence, and remind you that you really DO have great things to contribute. Pay close attention to others in social settings, try hard not to let you mind wander back to a harsh assessment of your appearance, and behavior, as this will make you feel self-conscious.
If you know that you will be in a social setting, psych yourself up beforehand. The better you are prepared for those first few encounters, the better your chances to overcome social shyness. Preparation might involve thinking possible scenarios through in your mind, or coming up with some general responses, or phrases that will keep you part of the conversation, even if it is marginal at first, you will enjoy the confidence that this experience gives you. Try to practice as often as you can, and before you know it, you will have made tremendous progress, and may even begin to enjoy social settings, instead of dreading them.
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