Overcoming Shyness 

Shyness is often caused by maladaptive thoughts and beliefs about yourself. These thoughts often have cognitive distortions at their center. You can use this app to analyze these thoughts, identify distortions, and reframe them into more realistic or helpful thoughts.

For example, in a social situation you could have a thought “Oh no, they’re just thinking about how awkward I am right now.” This thought is an example of the Mind Reading distortion.

You could also believe ‘”I’m worthless and nobody likes me.” That’s All-Or-Nothing Thinking. Or “There was an awkward pause in that conversation, it was a complete failure. That’s Magnification of the Negative.

Practice, practice, practice! 

Another common component of shyness is fear of social situations. There are many lessons from the Behavioral half of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy that we can apply to overcoming fear.

The best way of overcoming fear is exposure to that fear. If you are able to tolerate a scary situation for long periods of time, your brain learns that the situation actually isn’t scary.

You can take a step by step approach to this. Think of a bunch of social situations and rank them from least scary to most scary. Then, start with the least scary situations, do it until it’s not scary anymore, and then make your way up to the most scary.

It’s all about practice. The more positive experience you get with social situations, the less scary they will become. 

Think about it like a haunted house. The first time you go through it, it’s terrifying! On the other hand, if you go through the same haunted house 100 times, eventually it becomes routine. While purposely putting yourself into different social situations may sound scary, it’s a critical step to overcoming shyness. 

Tip: Say YES to social situations!

One of the most common core beliefs underlying shyness is that everyone is thinking about you. For example, you could be giving a presentation in class and you may be terrified that everyone is going to judge you on your presentation.

The truth is, everyone is just like you – a little self-oriented. Everyone is thinking about themselves. Most likely, your classmates are thinking about their own presentations and not really paying attention to you.

For another example – let’s say you’re walking down the street and realize you’re going in the wrong direction. You can’t just turning around, that would be weird! You pull out your phone, tap it a few times, and then turn around. Take a second to think about it: have you ever noticed someone turn around and abruptly go the other direction? No! If you’re thinking “yes, consider how much you’re dwelling on that moment. Is it a lite-changing moment? Probably not. Everyone is caught up in their own thoughts and worrying about themselves. They’re not observing your every motion. In fact, many others probably feel just as awkward and

Actionable Tips:

Acting more confidently can actually make you more confident. Rejection – If you’re afraid of rejection, use the exposure technique. Make requests of 10 people that you would not expect them to say yes to. 

Ask Questions and Listen – Instead of focusing on what others are thinking of you, focus on asking open ended questions and listen earnestly to their responses.

Smile and Make Eye Contact – People often respond powerfully to a simple smile. Be present and in the moment. 

Overcome Embarrassment with Humor – Studies show that humor is the best way to overcome awkwardness and embarrassment. If you experience an awkward moment, laugh at yourself about it!