How To Overcome Introvert Shyness (And Social Anxiety)

First, you don’t have to stop being introverted.

Shyness and social anxiety are fear issues, while introversion is a personality type, not an issue.

Introversion is a strength that you do not have to give up to fit in with society. Introverted leaders excel in their fields all throughout the world.

  • An introvert prefers time alone and becomes emotionally fatigued after spending a lot of time with others.
  • A shy person may not necessarily desire to be alone, but is anxious to interact with people (even a single person may incite anxiety in them).

Shyness or social anxiety can be caused by a variety of factors, including genetics and parenting, insecurity or low self-esteem, painful social experiences, and a lack of social skill training.

How To Overcome Social Anxiety & Shyness As An Introvert

Shyness, as an emotional state, is a blend of fear and interest. Shyness, as a personality trait, is marked by excessive self-focus and negative self-evaluation.

How To Overcome Introvert Shyness And Social Anxiety

Shyness is a bigger issue for introverts since they already are reluctant to socialize impulsively.

Introversion is characterized by a desire to spend more time alone than with others. Meanwhile, shyness comes with discomfort or inhibition in social situations.

Together, both interfere with pursuing one’s personal or professional goals.

However, while introverts may appear as shy people, all introverts are not shy. In fact, many introverts have outstanding social skills and public image.

The trick that outgoing introverts use is to limit their social engagements so as to not become mentally fatigued.

Here’s a list of helpful ways to overcome shyness and social anxiety as an introvert:

1. Focus on what the audience wants, not how you feel.

When you feel shy or socially anxious, your ability to fill in the information gap in an interaction suffers.

Every exchange is, first, an exchange of information. If that is not served, the interaction is mostly meaningless.

Of course, we must ignore the times of silence that friends may enjoy simply by being in each other’s company.

The audience came to learn something from you they do not know yet. Focus on giving them that.

When you shift your focus from how you feel to how you can help them, you open a door that has a human waiting to hear you rather than a crowd.

Tap into the power of finding out how you can help and then do it.

2. Go into the conversation in little steps.

Practice replacing your shy habits with confident social skills, one step at a time.

Shyness is a fear, and like most fears, dissolves with over-familiarity. So, familiarize yourself with the upcoming situations in your mind and, if possible, with your friends and family.

Taking little steps into the interaction will help melt away quite some part of your shyness and social anxiety. The following are a few practical tips to achieve that:

  • Pre-identify your triggers for anxiety. Find out what triggers your anxieties, and use self-affirmation or a social skill coach to overcome it.
  • Practice slow, deep, diaphragmatic breathing. Most of our breathing becomes shallow and fast when we’re tensed, giving our lungs less oxygen to transmit to the brain. Reverse that breathing pattern consciously.
  • Smile. It will help to put other people at ease and also make you feel more comfortable.
  • Start with small talk to break into the conversation. Familiarity can help reduce stranger anxiety.
  • Appreciate something they are genuinely proud of. Ask questions about it. This will encourage them to talk about themselves, which is what they really want.
  • Ask about their interests, hobbies, and pressing problems. Ask about their opinions on some non-controversial issues.
  • Practice speaking. Speak in front of a mirror audience of yourself, practicing until your words and expressions are as natural as a regular person’s.

3. Treat yourself with self-compassion, self-forgiveness, and self-love.

Try not to worry so much about saying the wrong thing. Anyone can goof up a few things and you are not an alien who knows how to perfect every time you open your mouth.

When you see yourself as a normal human, with self-compassion, you realize it is not as bad as you think it is.

Self-forgiveness is also an important quality to have, especially to save yourself from the regrets of blurting out certain things you later feel you should not have.

Remind yourself, “I forgive myself. I learned from it and I will move on with this lesson.”

The most crucial part of handling your shyness is giving yourself love.

Self-love is assuring yourself with words of comfort, affection, and kindness.

Gestures of self-love can calm down your anxiousness. It can be a simple thing as telling yourself,

“Hey, let’s go get a great cup of mocha.”

4. End-to-end planning, leaving nothing to chance.

An introvert must often pretend to be someone else when they are in public and trying to have a conversation with people.

That is where most things go wrong because they are used to a social situation.

So, every time someone asks them something, they get flustered.

We can solve this by planning all interactions beforehand and sticking to the rehearsed behavior patterns.

Also, it means rejecting most impromptu interactions, as it would evoke social anxiety in you to an acute level.

You don’t need to pretend like you’re not shy or an introvert.

5. Embrace your vulnerability, and be open about it.

Introverts are reluctant to share their personal information with others.

Knowing this, and establishing a pattern to respond when asked about your personal details, will help you avoid shy and irritable responses.

You can use your introverted and shy qualities to your advantage. Embrace you are an introvert into your entire existence.

Be authentic about who you are. Show them how introverts are superb at listening.

This will give them something to take away from the conversation.

When asked uncomfortable questions, you lean into it:

“I don’t want to share that information with you.”

“Why do you want to know?”

Stay polite. Say “No” without hurting.

6. Control your inner critic into silence.

How to silence your inner critic when you are shy or socially anxious?

One strategy to stop your inner critic is to distract yourself from the thoughts that make you anxious.

For instance, if you feel anxious about what people will think about your outfit, then try changing your outfit and see how it goes.

If you cannot change your dress, then distract yourself from your dress by imagining how uncomfortable the people in spaceships feel in their odd dresses.

Another strategy is to focus on your strengths and what you are good at.

This can help you stop comparing yourself with others. When we compare ourselves with others, we find faults in ourselves that don’t exist or we don’t have those same faults at all.

The ideal person to compare yourself with is a past version of yourself, to see how far you’ve reached.

7. Allow your introverted self to wind down afterward.

Always allow time to wind down after a hectic amount of socializing.

You have done your best to handle social demands and worked away from your usual shy behavior. You now need rest and time alone to recharge your introvert batteries.

Unless you do that, you will face your next interactions with increased social awkwardness and shyness.

For an introvert, it is often not a good idea to move quickly from one crowded place to another. It would sap their energies and make them irritable to all around them.

Discover the 7 Ways To Be Successful In Life Without Losing Your Happiness.

  1. How does shyness manifest itself?

    Shyness can manifest itself at any or all of these levels: cognitive (excessive negative self-evaluation), emotional (heightened negative mood), physiological (racing heart), and behavioral (e.g., failure to respond appropriately).

  2. What triggers a shy reaction?

    Shyness can be triggered by a wide range of environmental signals. Most commonly, a reaction is evoked by contacts with authorities and strangers, one-on-one interactions with persons of the opposite gender, and unstructured social contexts.

Final Words

Introversion is a normal personality trait, not a disorder (by the way, autism and ADHD are also not disorders — they are neurodevelopmental states). You don’t need to change it.

Trying to transform an introvert into an extrovert is futile; it can lead to extreme stress and decreased self-esteem.

Introverts can learn ways to deal with their shyness issues while embracing their introvertedness.

You can reach out to mental health experts to cope with your shyness and social anxiety.

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Can solo traveling make you break out of your shyness mode? Find out how traveling can make you happier while visiting unknown, anxiety-provoking places.

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Author Bio: Written and reviewed by Sandip Roy — medical doctor, psychology writer, and happiness researcher.

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When it comes to mental well-being, you don't have to do it alone. Going to therapy to feel better is a positive choice. Therapists can help you work through your trauma triggers and emotional patterns.