How to Overcome Shyness and Social Anxiety

By Mary Smith. Updated: June 5, 2018
How to Overcome Shyness and Social Anxiety

Although there are different degrees of shyness, it is generally defined as a feeling of discomfort that affects an individual when faced with social situations. It can impact both your personal and professional life. When faced with the prospect of taking part in new activities, playing an active role in large groups of people or attending social events to meet new people, shyness can be crippling, and sometimes affects the way you are viewed by the outside world. In this article, we'll provide some techniques you can use to kickstart a positive change and discover how to overcome shyness and social anxiety.

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Steps to follow:

Analyse yourself: this is important so that you can find out how you physically react to situations that make you feel uncomfortable, enabling you to take steps to control those reactions. If you have tics, bite your nails or avoid looking at the person you're talking to etc., these are signs that suggest discomfort and you must identify them so that you can work on them.

How to Overcome Shyness and Social Anxiety - Step 1

Make the most of your skills and talents: self-esteem issues and feelings of inadequacy can lead to shyness, so it is important to identify what you're good at so that you can improve your skills. For example, if you like social networking, attend courses and talks on the subject; if you enjoy arts and crafts, sign up to some workshops. This enables you to face new social situations, meet people that you have things in common with and build on your qualities.

The first step to overcome shyness is mixing with people that have common interests as yours, so it will be easier to break the ice and try to be extroverted.


Focus on improving your self-esteem: develop your assets and abilities, recognize your strengths, avoid comparing yourself with others, overcome the fear of rejection or criticism and understand that nobody is perfect. We are all complex human beings and it is important to work on improving your self esteem. Don't be afraid to be different or of having your own opinion: be proud of who you are and work on your weakness points. For more tips, take a look at our article on how to boost your self-esteem and confidence.


Find new friends: try starting a new activity, such as a professional course, a sport or a hobby. Doing this will help you meet people you have things in common with.


Get out of your comfort zone: you can't avoid going to that work presentation or your friend's big party forever. It is important to face your fears. To prepare yourself, visualize the situation that causes you anxiety. Then imagine yourself relaxing and taking control; increase your positive thinking in order to get the results you want.

How to Overcome Shyness and Social Anxiety - Step 5

Reduce anxiety: seek out activities that help you to relax, like sports such as yoga and Pilates. Learn relaxation and respiration techniques; believe it or not, these will help you to control the physical manifestations of shyness.


Before a social situation, use some conversational techniques that might help you, such as asking open-ended questions that encourage the other person to develop a conversation. Focus more on the other person than on yourself, allow yourself to be spontaneous, maintain eye contact, accept and give compliments and don't miss out on the opportunity to meet and interact with new people.

How to Overcome Shyness and Social Anxiety - Step 7

Get advice and surround yourself with positive people: If you feel your shyness is a problem, tell a friend about it and ask for their advice or opinion, surround yourself with people who are happy and spontaneous. This can help you to overcome your insecurities and anxieties; you'll soon see that your progress will become easier.

If you want to read similar articles to How to Overcome Shyness and Social Anxiety, we recommend you visit our Family Relationships category.

  • It is important that you look at yourself in order to identify and improve what you think indicates shyness.
  • Accept yourself as you are; if you're sure of yourself, other people will notice it.
  • If you feel that shyness is severely affecting your life, you should seek specialist advice to help you to overcome the problem.

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