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How to overcome shyness and make friends

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Shutterstock | fizkes

Dolors Massot - published on 01/27/20

It can be hard to break out of your shell, but change is possible!

Are you one of those people who would like to make friends but you freeze up in conversation and can’t get a word out? Does it seem like an impossible challenge to go to a social event when you don’t know anyone? if so, here are some tools that can help you overcome shyness and difficult social situations.

1. Shy people can overcome this difficulty if they set their mind to it.

Shyness is a characteristic you can change. You may not become an unbridled extrovert, but you can keep your shyness from being a painful obstacle to interacting with others. To do this, you have to do a personal exercise that consists of accepting that you are shy and, at the same time, recognizing that your shyness is a problem for you: You can think of repeated examples of how being shy has limited your life experience.

2. Change is a free decision.

Shy people won’t be able to overcome their difficulty if they close in on themselves and think they can’t change, or if they justify their shyness by saying, “That’s just the way I am.” People are free and that freedom allows us to change our behavior. If you think you’re shy but you want to make friends, put your willpower into action and decide to change.

3. Don’t let your imagination undermine your efforts.

Our imaginations can be our enemy: We imagine that if we open our mouth in a conversation, we’re going to make fools of ourselves. We think we won’t be able to rise to the occasion. But if you haven’t opened your mouth yet, then that hasn’t happened, and it’s only in your mind. Dispel thoughts and imagined scenarios that hold you back. They aren’t real and they set you up for failure.

4. Take the focus off yourself.

Shyness can lead some people to be self-absorbed. It feeds on imagined situations which may never occur, and creates phantoms. The best thing is not to think about yourself and to focus on other people and on what you are going to do.

5. Prepare yourself for the situation.

If you’re going to have a conversation, think of some questions you’d like to ask the other person. It may also help to identify common ground beforehand (where you studied, a hobby, your hometown, what sports teams you like …). These are topics you can speak about with greater confidence.

web3-woman-shy-shame-smile-sun-ok-shutterstock
sun ok/Shutterstock
Don't give so much importance to your imagination, and pay more attention to others.

6. Don’t be afraid to look bad.

Relax and don’t give each conversation more importance than it really has. Your life doesn’t depend on it, so it’s okay to voice your opinion. It’s important for you always to be yourself and not to try to put up a façade.

7. Lean on people you trust.

Practice first with your family and with the circle of people you trust, like co-workers, for example.

8. Turn to helping others.

Getting outside of ourselves helps us know other people’s stories better, and we become simpler and less complicated. This makes us forget about ourselves and allows us to help those who need it.

web-woman-people-talking-help-shutterstock_1316330951-halfpoint.jpg
Shutterstock | halfpoint
Start by approaching the people who inspire the most confidence in you, and don't be afraid to be yourself.

9. Look for environments that suit you.

Use your hobbies to find people who share your tastes. You may also feel more confident dealing with people in your own professional sector.

10. Social networks can be a start.

Through Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, you can find people you would like to meet. It’s a way to get closer and discover common ground. Social media can be a first step towards real in-person friendship.

If none of this does the trick and you’re still overwhelmed by your shyness, it might be a good idea to seek out professional help. A psychologist could help you work through anything that is holding you back, so that eventually you will be able to do what now seems impossible.


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