How I Went From Extreme Shyness To Overcoming My Fears.
“What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?” – Vincent van Gogh.
Have you ever sat in a meeting and had something important to say, but held yourself back at the risk of sounding ‘stupid?’ Have you ever wanted to say yes to an opportunity, but talked yourself out of it? Or perhaps you’ve avoided a social situation at the risk of feeling awkward or uncomfortable?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you’re not alone. In fact, many of us have allowed feelings of shyness or fear get in the way of reaching our full potential.
I’ve always had a burning desire within me to be more and do more, but would let my shyness and fear of failure get in the way. I realised that if I wanted to live out my ambitions and dreams I needed to get over it – and fast.
In order to get over my extreme shyness and start making my mark in the world, I’ve developed some strategies which I’d like to share with you here:
I know this may sound really basic, but one of the best ways to overcome fear is to simply feel the fear, and do it anyway.
Susan Jeffers wrote a book entitled ‘Feel the Fear & Do It Anyway‘ By adopting this practice, it has enabled me to stop, take a moment to acknowledge that I am fearful of a particular situation / action, and then just go ahead and do it anyway.
Mel Robbins has a similar take on this, called ‘The 5 Second Rule.’ When you feel yourself hesitate before you do something that you know you should do, count 5-4-3-2-1-GO and move towards action.
These simple strategies can be really effective when pushing yourself to do the difficult, challenging things that you’re scared of doing.
One of the ways I have overcome my shyness is to invest in my own personal development. I recognised that one of the things I wanted to improve was my confidence and ability to speak in front of an audience, and to not crumble under pressure. I had an irrational fear of public speaking and would often let nerves prevent me from 1) Saying yes to speaking engagements and 2) Performing at my optimal level.
Investing in my own personal development and voluntarily putting myself through such training has given me a boost of confidence. It has also encouraged me to feel comfortable with getting uncomfortable and put certain strategies in place to perform at a much higher standard.
We are often our own biggest critics and are much harder on ourselves than on others. I hold myself to a very high standard and get very frustrated and disappointed in myself when I allow my shyness to get in the way of putting my best self forward.
Psychology Today suggests that one way to do this is to start noticing the good things about yourself and learn to ‘talk back’ to your inner critic. When the critic starts to blame you for being fearful, remind yourself that no one enjoys feeling fearful – it is about finding the strategies to overcome it. Softening your inner dialogue can help you to manage your shyness and reduce negative self-talk.
Is shyness something that you have struggled with? What strategies have you put in place to overcome your fears? I would love to hear your thoughts – please leave your comments below!