Wisdom//

How to Harness Shyness

And use it for good!

Courtesy of Murat Göçmen / Getty Images
Courtesy of Murat Göçmen / Getty Images

Shyness — social anxiety or awkwardness, staying quiet around others, being hesitant to speak up — if you’ve experienced any of this, you are not alone! With some studies revealing that 40 to 60 percent of adults admit to developing some form of “shyness” in their lives, shyness, for the most part, seems to be a learned phenomenon.

Some experiences and situations can take us down the road to becoming more withdrawn or hesitant in expressing ourselves. I’d always naturally been a little shy, although I had not let it stop me from creating a successful translation service business. But, when I experienced a distressing physical change after a surgery, where I was diagnosed with vocal paralysis, it led to years of being desperately withdrawn. My ability to communicate was completely dismantled; my voice became erratic and I could not finish a sentence without my voice cracking, squeaking or disappearing. I became afraid to speak to anyone for fear of making a fool of myself.

After an unsuccessful attempt at therapy, and trying to heal my voice in the outside world, I took an entirely different perspective. My new principle was this: Change the way I talk to myself first and see what follows.

With this shift, I was able to harness my shyness as a powerful catalyst for creating greater confidence and empowerment in both my inner and outer communication. Today I speak easily, run workshops, can talk for hours and I no longer experience vocal loss or strain.

Here are three easy steps to use shyness as a springboard to greater inner and outer communication:

Change Your Inner Dialogue

Until I made this commitment to change, most of the thoughts I had of myself were incredibly negative and judgmental. These thoughts were how I continuously overpowered and undermined myself, making me afraid to talk to people or hesitant to go places. Rather than give in any longer, I made a conscious choice to change my reaction and stop believing those thoughts. One tool that helped me reduce the power of the criticisms was saying, “Interesting point of view; I have this point of view,” to the thoughts and feelings as they came up, repeating it as many times as required until the thought no longer dominated. When thoughts and feelings are just interesting, they lose their significance and their hold diminishes. Another easy way to change things when those thoughts come up is to just say, “Stop!” Reaction to judgments and negative inner dialogue occurs when we decide they are true, and we have to align with it or fight against it to overcome it. You can make a simple, conscious choice to change your inner dialogue and not let it win.

Gift Unlimited Kindness, Gratitude and Acknowledgement to Yourself

As you stop the unkind thoughts and feelings, begin to replace them with kind inner feedback, gratitude and self-acknowledgement. It may not seem natural or easy at first, but it can become so! If you have done something well, or you receive appreciation from others, don’t dismiss it — acknowledge it. Learn to recognize all that is great about you, and don’t wait for others to give it to you first.

Each day ask questions that keep your attention on your greatness:

What is right about me that I am not getting?

What is different and great about me that I haven’t been willing to acknowledge until now?

What can I be grateful for about me and my life today?

What am I capable of that I have never considered?

Every time you increase the kindness, gratitude, recognition and trust of you, it will overtake the weeds of negative dialogue and self-doubts.

Take Action — and Don’t Give Up

Every moment where you could withdraw or avoid communication or connecting with the outside world, is also an opportunity to take a different action and surprise yourself with what you are capable of. As I worked every day on the way I talk to myself, I realized the resilience and determination I actually had within me. This revelation gave me extra confidence to keep going and rise above my shyness, even the parts that have been with me my whole life.

If you think you are afraid talk to people, do it anyway. If you are hesitant to go somewhere, what unexpected thing could occur if you go? Make small changes. Any action to stop negative thoughts and feelings, or choose a conversation or situation you would normally avoid, will begin to change things. Trust yourself that no matter what shows up, you can handle and even enjoy it. You might surprise yourself with just how quickly shyness will leave and no longer hold power over you.

Follow us on Facebook for all the latest news on how you can keep Thriving.

More from Thrive Global:

8 Things You Should Do After 8 P.M. If You Want to Be Happy and Successful

The One Relationship You’re Probably Ignoring

The One Word That Can Hurt Your Reputation at Work

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres. We publish pieces written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Learn more or join us as a community member!
Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

Community//

Most People Would Rather Die Than Give A Speech

by Terry Beard
Wonder//

From Wallflower To Sunflower

by John Grant
Community//

I grew up the ‘shy kid’ – and here`s how I got over it

by Ben Rose

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.