I was so shy when I was young.
One year when I was in the last year of high school. I never dared to admit sending flowers to my secret admirer that day in February on Valentine’s Day. She found out it was me through a common friend. And boy, how awkward was it for me that for the whole of 10 months in the final year of our high school, everytime we walked passed the corridor, I looked away.
I lived like a coward never admitting my action or feelings let alone meeting her.
I was regretfully that shy.
Today, I’m married with 3 kids. I’m a speaker and educator. I also have an agency consulting with professional clients. I have spoken to thousands and mentored people across cultural boundaries.
So how did I overcome my shyness?
Well, it wasn’t overnight but I know it was these 3 factors that made a difference for me.
1. Have A Vision Of What A Non Shy Introverted Version of Myself Can Be
I always thought that to be “non-shy” means to be extroverted and a life of the party like some people I noticed shine so brightly in social situations. For years, I tried to be like them. Of course all these are futile because an introvert who’s good at different things will never become an extrovert who good at others.
It was only when I decided to become myself that I overcame it. I start having a vision of how I can be the non shy version of myself. Someone who dares to speak with strangers, who have no problem interacting with people of the opposite sex. Someone who contributes in team work in the office. Someone who functions well by speaking when he/she is expected to.
I had to convince myself how this version of myself can look like. When I could imagine that person, I started to believe that person exist and began the journey to overcome my shyness.
With a vision as a starting point, I ….
2. Figure Out The One Thing That Will Make The Biggest Difference To Overcome Shyness
This is where, research and experiment comes into place. I had to spend years of figuring out what is the one thing that made the biggest difference. I read books and asked people. I have tried everything. From making myself put up my hands to answer every questions from my teacher I knew the answer to to even force myself to approach a stranger in parties.
Some method works but only for a while. Sadly most failed almost immediately . I think it was because most methods I’ve learned seemed like right fit for someone who’s already extroverted. For introverts like me, nothing was easy.
What I learned just doesn’t fit me as an introvert until I found out this.
The best way to overcome shyness is to develop curousity about the person you wish to talk to. I also found out the truth that the majority of people in the world are shy. Sometimes even successful people like models & millionaires are introverted & shy. Knowing that people are more focussed on themselves than on me, I found space to develop curiosity about them.
Today when I look at people, I wonder.
I wonder if that pretty girl is married. I wonder where is that old man rushing to board the bus is rushing to. I wonder what ethnic group does that colored skin woman come from. I practice looking at people and developing an “I wonder” curiosity.
Armed with that tool, I take the attention from myself towards the curiousity of who the other person is. And when given the chance of interaction, I asked questions. And the questions that come from sincere curiosity is always welcomed with sincere engagements.
3. Practice Taking Action Consistently.
Finally, I practice taking actions. Being the first to go up to someone to say “Hi, I’m ….. And I was just wondering …..”.
Life is a joy when you see yourself as a joy practitioner – someone facing up to challenges to engage, connect and interact with people. Acknowledge that its people rather than things that gives us joy.
The more people you talk to, the less shy you’ll become and the closer you are to realise the vision of the non shy version of yourself.
Keeping what I call a “tension journal” documenting all the interactions I have with people everyday where I can evaluate and reflect on my everyday encounters is a game changer for me.
That way I can always improve on how I do it the next day and is consistently taking one step towards being a non shy person.
Well that’s it.
I hope these 3 ways to overcome shyness is helpful and I’ve inspired you to take action to be a better version of yourself and live your best life.
For more strategies to grow and be effective in life, please visit my Youtube channel O’Human School. https://www.youtube.com/@ohumanschool