Many of us struggle with shyness or social anxiety. Overcoming shyness opens up more possibilities and freedom in life. Phobias of any type are hard, but a social phobia is particularly debilitating because interaction with people can rarely be completely avoided. In my London practice I use hypnotherapy to help clients find freedom from shyness and build self-worth and confidence.
Here are 5 ways to start freeing yourself from shyness.
- Identify Your Negative Thoughts
People who experience intense shyness usually have negative thought patterns that build up their fear of social interaction. You can train yourself to take a step back and stop these negative thoughts before they raise your anxiety to a destructive level. These unhelpful thoughts might include:
Mind reading – assuming you know what other people are thinking about you.
Fortune telling – attempting to predict the future based on previous bad experiences or bad things you ‘know’ will happen.
Catastrophizing – assuming the worst will always happen if you take a chance. Only entertaining the idea of the worst possible outcome.
Self-fixation – becoming overly fixated on your thoughts, behaviours and appearance and assuming others are doing the same.
- Rational Challenge & Positive Affirmations
Once you have identified your negative or false beliefs, the next step is to challenge them with rational thought and replace them with positive affirmations.
For example, if you’re feeling anxious about going to a party because you’re worried what people might think of you, what you will say or that people don’t like you.
Challenge this thought with a more realistic outlook – you were invited to the party because people want you there, most people will be too busy enjoying themselves to pay you too much unwanted attention, everyone is there to have fun. Build up positive affirmations in your mind – “the party will go well, I am relaxed and funny, I can visualise myself enjoying it.”
- Focus On Others
We all need a certain amount of self-focus and awareness in order to monitor our own behaviour. However, most people who are shy have too much and become fixated on every little detail of their behaviour.
Try to relax and let go. Be authentic and focus more on others or your environment. Ask questions, get to know others, listen carefully and build rapport. You’ll find that if you focus more on others you naturally shift the focus away from yourself.
- Practice Relaxation and Mindfulness Skills
If you find your anxiety levels building up, it’s useful to have some techniques in reserve to help you control them. Positive mantras, breathing exercises, meditation and relaxation techniques can all be helpful and called upon when you feel tense.
- Desensitise Gradually
Write a list of your shyness triggers and order them by severity. Starting with the less extreme, gradually begin to expose yourself to situations that make you feel uncomfortable and use your new techniques to become more comfortable with them.
Set yourself small goals at first and reward accomplishments. Find places that make you feel calmer – perhaps a park or zoo – and work your way up to busier or more intense situations. As you start to make progress you will be rewarded by the new opportunities that open up to you.
If you’re still struggling with shyness or social anxiety I can help you using proven hypnotherapy treatments that often take as little as 3 sessions to produce real and lasting results. Please do get in touch to learn more about how I can help you.