When it comes to shyness there are two types of people.
And everyone will fall into one of these two types. Everyone.
Because only two things can actually happen. Once you’ve realized you have a problem with shyness and it’s preventing you from being as happy as you could be you decide one of two things.
1) To do something about it.
2) To sit back and take it. Continue life like you used to and find yourself back at square one in the future.
And the following story illustrates the difference in these types.
For some it might sound a little familiar. And maybe be a tough pill to swallow but you’ll need to hear it.
For others it will hopefully help you make the right decision between which group to join.
Either way, it’s worth the read.
Chris, 22, is a student.
He’s always been quiet and tends to avoid going out when he can avoid it. He’d rather spend his time in front of the TV or the computer.
He see’s people around him hanging out in bigger groups and going out to fun places and meeting fun people but always finds an excuse to not go himself.
He knows there is a problem with this. But he always tells himself he’ll do something about it in the future. It’s always tomorrow.
He’s been saying this for a while now.
His friends ask him less and less and he spends more and more time hiding away from the world. The few times he ends up talking to strangers he avoids eye contact and doesn’t know what to say. Most of these conversations are full of awkward silences and he gets away as quickly as he can.
Chris needs to change something.
One of the few times he brings himself to go into a lecture he ends up sitting next to a girl from another class. Normally he would sit in silence but she kept trying to start a conversation so he did his best.
As it later turned out – the girl, Beth, was just as shy. But was trying to overcome it and had learned how to spot other shy people (which is a lot more people than you might think) and to talk to them.
If someone is too shy to start a conversation themselves then they’ll have an automatic good reaction to anyone who starts one with them. It’s an instinct. Humans are social creatures we want to talk to each other.
So by starting conversations with people who were being too shy to engage with people themselves Beth was getting a great response from that and using it to re-train the lower levels of her brain (namely the Amygdala) out of shyness.
(Don’t worry if this sounds complicated. I’ll explain it later but all you need to know is that Beth was shy – but was trying not to be).
Chris didn’t really understand why she was talking to him but for the first time he felt like part of the class. After getting the ego boost from having a conversation with a complete stranger he actually ended up talking to a few people in the lecture that day.
He ended up getting Beth’s email address after class and making tentative plans to meet up with the rest of his class who were going out that night.
Unfortunately this slight ego boost didn’t last. He found and excuse not to go and quickly fell back into avoiding people until, a few weeks later, he got the courage to email Beth.
Date: January 12 2009 at 3:17 PM
Chris here, you remember me? We had an economics lecture together a few weeks back.
This might seem a little random but I’m normally a pretty quiet guy and don’t get on with people.
That class was actually fun (fun in an economics lecture, who’d have thought) just wondered if you’re in that class again?
Now a simple note like that took him over an hour to mull over but he eventually brought himself to send it.
A few hours later he checked his inbox and was surprised to see a reply.
They got talking for a few days. Chris was happy just to be at least talking to someone new.
But then he got something in his inbox which would change his life.
Date: January 14 2009 at 8:34 PM
Look I might be totally out of bounds here.
But (in case it wasn’t totally obvious) I’m a very shy person. I almost didn’t come to study here because I was terrified but I got some help for it.
I could be wrong but you seem to do the same things I used to (ignore me if I’m wrong here!) and just in case it helps I wanted to show you what I used to get over it.
I forwarded you the details in another email, take a look if you’re interested.
And either way Monday sounds good, what time?
Well he couldn’t not check the other email could he?
Two months later he had a packed social life and couldn’t believe how far he came. And it was all down to the advice he got from Beth.
There’s a lot of advice out there on how to overcome shyness and change of your life.
Some of it good. Some of it bad.
I’ve overcome shyness myself. I’ve helped other people personally overcome shyness and I now run more than a couple of websites on the subject (although Over Shyness is slowly becoming the hub for everything).
But by far the best resource I’ve used to change my life was in the link Beth sent me.