Overcoming shyness is easy. Anybody can do it.
The basic method is to face your fears to reinforce the belief that there is nothing to be afraid of as the things you are afraid of won’t actually kill you.
Does it make logical sense for a man to be terrified of talking to a woman?
It doesn’t. So why are so many men afraid to go speak to women.
Why are so many people antisocial and afraid to mess up in social situations?
Saying the wrong thing or not being liked by someone isn’t going to kill you.
It’s just how evolution made us. Thousands of years ago if you entered a new tribe and fearlessly had sex with the wrong woman the leader of the tribe would come kill you. People who would do that have generally been eliminated from the population. So we now have an entire planet of people who generally are followers because that’s how you gain acceptance within a society.
People wear the same clothes as the people around them wear. I currently live in Taiwan and find it hilarious that almost every “boy” from about 15 to 30 years old has the same exact haircut! And what’s worse is it looks terrible. Shaved on the sides and extra-long bangs. People here all wear the same clothes too. And you can see this conformist behavior anywhere you travel. So why do people conform to these hilariously low standards?
Obviously, they just want to fit in.
Even if that means wearing cheap clothes or weird hair styles they don’t actually like. Of course they will convince themselves that these things are “cool.” But their definition of cool is whatever gains them acceptance from others.
I’ve noticed many shy people tend to be more conformist.
When I was a shy kid, I worried about wearing some cool T-shirts I liked. I thought they might be too unique and make me stand out too much. I look back on those ridiculous worries and wonder how I could care so much about something so meaningless. The more confident I have become, the less I have cared about impressing others and gaining acceptance. I’ve developed my own sense of style and personality that’s the real definition of “cool.”
How often have you contemplated doing something, then changed your mind because you worried how it will affect people’s opinion of you?
Now let’s not demonize this concern for your standing in society.
It’s actually very healthy to be a little nervous in a new situation. You aren’t sure what social norms this group of people observes, and you are naturally worried about making a mistake. So you stay a little quiet and observe what other people are doing.
There are actually still people who don’t have any emotional reactions in a new social situation. You might call this type of brain activity psychopathic. They literally have no concern for how they affect other people. That would be liberating and free, but it’s also dangerous.
How to overcome your fears
They’ve found that leaders in packs of baboons are more relaxed, live longer, and have more positive moods. But the lower ranked baboons are constantly stressed out, afraid of angering the alphas of the pack.
And sometimes a lower ranked baboon, increases his status in the pack and becomes the alpha. When this happens, he is less stressed out, he lives longer and everyone is more concerned about annoying him.
People are the same.
And as you face your fears, eventually you will have the same influence as an alpha baboon in your tribe.
You express yourself in several different modes depending on the situation. If you consider yourself shy, you probably are nervous about talking to new people in a social event, worried about saying the wrong thing.
But I would also bet you will admit that when you are with your friends and maybe family you are more relaxed. You make more jokes, say more stupid things, and are more honest about what you really think and feel.
So why is that?
It’s like you have two completely different personalities. One introverted self who is constantly terrified of fucking up in social situations, and an extroverted self who has poise, charisma and a sense of humor.
Is your confidence really situation dependent?
In a way yes, but there are a few more elements determining whether your confident in a situation.
The most important seems to be how you view your social status in the situation. When you feel accepted among your friends you know you can get away with saying whatever you want. The real you isn’t afraid to come out.
When you are afraid, you hide that part of yourself and limit your expression.
This becomes a habit.
Become aware of when you are limiting yourself
In what situations are you most afraid of letting your extroverted self out?
Be mindful of those situations and whenever it happens, tell yourself to “CHANGE!”
The way habits work, you have a trigger that leads to a routine that gives you a reward.
When you are in a new social situation, like a party, or meeting new people, this trigger leads to your automatic routine of being loser and not doing anything to stand out. The reward is you get a false sense of security as you think you’ve avoided a potentially awkward situation.
Wow it sure feels great to reinforce the belief that you are an awkward loser doesn’t it?
That sense of relief is blinding you to the fact that you are hiding your real personality in an attempt to protect it. If nobody challenges you, accuses you of being weird, or threatens you in anyway then you can convince yourself you have gained acceptance. Congratufuckinglations!
So how do you change this habit?
You need to replace your old routine with a new one. Whenever you encounter a trigger that leads to a socially inhibiting routine, immediately do something to demonstrate your lack of inhibition. You just met a new person? Instead of waiting for them to lead the conversation into boring interview mode and answer their lame questions with direct, expected answers, use this as an opportunity to have a little fun.
They ask you, “What’s your job?”
You can reply with, “I’m a spy” or “I write erotic fiction” or “I was sent from the future to kill John Connor.”
You could even pretend you have the career of any other fictitious character and see if the person can figure it out. Look at that, you’ve actually started having fun in interactions with people you’ve just met. Most people will have a sense of humor and play along. They themselves probably suffer from some social inhibitions and are happy to meet people who can lead an interesting interaction.
By doing this new routine, you still get the reward of social acceptance, and you are thus able to convince yourself it is acceptable to be more extroverted in new social situations.
You may have heard that telling yourself affirmations such as “I am confident!” 300 times a day for a month will help you build confidence. Well this isn’t complete bullshit. You will start to feel and think more positively. But the thing is you might start asking yourself, “why am I confident?” You need some kind of reason to convince yourself. It doesn’t need to be a completely rational reason, it just needs to satisfy your need to believe in yourself.
Pretty much all your behavior is habits reinforced by your beliefs about what is acceptable in a given situation.
You are your habits.
Who are you? You are just the chaotic mess and interdependency of all the habits you have accumulated in your life. As your habits change so do you.
That doesn’t mean habits are something bad. They make it easier for us to make decisions unconsciously, thus saving energy.
Most people however are completely unconscious about how thoroughly their lives are run by habits. And unfortunately, unhealthy habits will slowly ruin your life as your potential gets even more and more covered with the layers of filth and social inhibition you layer around it.
Social situations are for having fun, expressing yourself, and whatever you want it to be. You should never need to be afraid or inhibited in social situations.
There are some people who are so uptight and socially inhibited that they refuse to relax and have fun in social situations. You make a joke with them and they refuse to laugh, their sense of humor died long ago with the rest of their personality. They got so obsessed with being accepted by the group that they have become boring robots without the slightest shred of originality. Often this leads to a very negative, neurotic and critical personality type.
Don’t worry when you run into people like them. They have spent so much time trying to impress others that they have forgotten what they are angry about. I actually pity them. If they haven’t become too neurotic yet it’s possible they can still learn to develop their personality and charisma.
It shouldn’t matter to you either way. They aren’t the people you want to impress.
So who do you want to impress? I hope you said yourself. You know you shouldn’t be living life to impress others, but be honest with yourself, how often do you do it? Probably more often than you want to admit.
Here’s a quick test.
When you stay home all day and have no reason to go outside, do you shower, change your clothes and make yourself look good?
No? Well why the hell not? Are you saying if it wasn’t for the fact you don’t want other people to think you are a slob you wouldn’t clean yourself?
I like to ask girls who wear lots of makeup and dress very feminine if they wear these things when they have a day of staying at home and not meeting anyone. Of course they don’t! And then if you ask why they dress up and wear lots of makeup they say it’s only for themselves and no one else! That’s either dishonest or deluded!
You are unlimited awareness observing reality from the perspective of your body. You have this amazing world to play with. Billions of other characters to interact with. Places to go. Adventures to experience. Skills to learn.
The world isn’t as dangerous as social anxiety convinces you it may be. Maybe you don’t even think it is dangerous. Maybe you just want to avoid situations that make you uncomfortable. I still do sometimes. But I at least try to turn that uncomfortable situation into something I can enjoy and I’m honest to myself that I’m making excuses to avoid something that doesn’t need to be uncomfortable at all.
So let’s review what we’ve learned so far:
- Be mindful of your antisocial routines and the situations that trigger them
- Actively replace those routines with more extroverted routines
- Find reasons to believe your extroverted, expressive behavior is rewarding
Wow, shyness and social inhibitions solved in three easy steps right?
Of course it isn’t as simple as replace an old unhealthy routine with a new one and its permanent forever. You need to constantly reinforce these new routines for them to become your natural unconscious habits.
Now don’t get discouraged, but neuroscientists have discovered that every habit you develop is permanently in the brain. The neuron connections that make them part of you may not ever permanently disappear. However, the more you practice a habit, the stronger the connection between your neurons that make this habit automatic become. And the less you engage in a habit, the weaker it’s neuronal connections become. Now this may be an oversimplification of a phenomenon observed in neuroscience, but it is also an observable fact.
People who grow up shy but are then forced into positions of leadership usually develop the social skills required of their status. It may be still be situation dependent though. Such as a man who gets great talking to random women throughout the day and is able to express a very charismatic personality in interactions with them, but is still quiet and reserved at work because he subconsciously views himself as lower status in that situation.
An Extra Resource for Building Unstoppable Confidence
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