Do you dread social situations in case you embarrass yourself? Does your mouth go dry while your heart pounds? Are you nervous about talking to new people? Do you worry that people will judge you unfavourably? If you answered ‘yes’ to one or more of these questions then you’re suffering from shyness, but there’s really no need to despair. You’re not unusual and you’re not a lost cause. In fact, it may surprise you to learn that even the most outwardly confident people may be suffering from shyness too – they’ve just learned to hide it well.
Focus on Other People
When we feel shy, we tend to get completely bogged down in ourselves. We worry about saying or doing something that will make us appear foolish and we focus on every aspect of our own thoughts, speech and actions. We then assume that others around us are being equally as critical towards us.
If you could see into the minds of other people in this situation you would find that actually they are not thinking about you so negatively at all. Nobody else is examining your every move. In fact, the chances are that most people are silencing their own ‘inner critic’, leaving them far too busy to worry about you!
Try taking the focus away from your own perceived failings. Instead, try engaging with others by finding something in common that you can discuss, or by asking questions. Focussing attention on someone else forces your inner critic to be silent while you listen to them talking and with any luck you will soon be involved in an interesting conversation with all thoughts of shyness forgotten.
When your heart is racing and your palms are sweating with nerves, you will find that you are holding your body in a state of tension. This will in turn cause you to hold your breath. From this point, shyness can become a cycle of tense muscles and a body failing to process oxygen effectively. Nip this process in the bud by taking a few minutes to calm your breathing.
Find somewhere quiet, close your eyes and focus on breathing. Breathe in for four seconds, hold the breath for four seconds and then release it for four seconds. It may take a few breaths but you should feel your panic subsiding. Now continue this type of breathing, increasing each phase until you can reach eight seconds comfortably, by which time you should be feeling calmer. You can then return to the gathering feeling more confident and ready to engage with others.
Daley takes a keen interest in relationships and works with Dating Coach London to help guys feel more comfortable in social situations.