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How to Stop Being Shy and Become a Social Champion

How to Stop Being Shy and Become a Social Champion

If you don’t have a nice circle of friends, that are fun and who also encourage you to get ahead in life, then you’re either shy about meeting and making friends, or you’re not exactly sure about how to do it. On the other hand, perhaps you’re already trying to meet new people, but you’re getting the results you want, because you’re not using the best strategies that could easily bring great people into your life.

In this article, I want to share with you how you can stop shyness from sabotaging your social life, and how to start meeting friends.

How to Stop Being Shy – Competence over Confidence

If you want to “beat” your shyness by learning to build confidence, it can take you a long time, because shyness is deeply wired into your emotions.

Instead of trying to change your shyness, I recommend that you focus on learning how to do what shyness is preventing you from doing.

Social Competence is key. The more you know about how the social world works, and how to socialize, the less discouraging mistakes you’ll make, and the more friends you’ll have.

Here are a couple of tips you can use:

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Tip #1 – How to get comfortable in a social situation

If you’re shy about going to a party, or to a social gathering, then a simple switch that can help is to go EARLY. If you do this, you’ll give yourself some time to get used to the surrounding and feel comfortable gradually before it gets crowded with people.

If you know the host, then you could offer to help out. That might allow you to be more comfortable by having something to do.

Tip #2 – What to do when people invite you, but you are nervous about accepting

Do you find yourself in the situation of declining people’s invitations, but regretting it afterwards, because you know you want to go?

What you can do in this situation, is to accept the invitation, and have a back-up plan. This allows you to leave the place if you get too nervous and can’t handle the social pressure. You can tell the person that invited you that you don’t know how long you can stay, because you’re expecting a call from someone and you may need to leave to help him or her out with something.

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This allows you to either stay if you feel comfortable, or leave, if you don’t. Either way, you win.

Tip #3 – How to clearly express your opinion, if you’re not used to it

Expressing your opinion is important, but if you’re not used to doing it, it can feel scary. One way to overcome this is to use humor. Offering ideas in a light or even silly manner is less intimidating.

The more you focus on HOW to socialize, the quicker you’ll find answers. I suggest that you stay open to new ideas when it comes to social skills like keeping conversations going, meeting people, and building your social circle.

How to Meet New People and Make Friends

When you ask the average person what they do to meet new friends, they often tell you that they leave it to chance, and that “you can’t really control these things.” However, when you look at their social life, you find that they’re not happy with the few poor friendships they have.

If the people around you aren’t fun, interesting to YOU, then you need to do something about it. If you leave it to chance, it may never change.

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Here are a couple of tips to get you started:

Tip #1 – Meet people who are already looking for friends

Instead of trying to meet people who already have too many friends in their lives, connect with people who are also looking for friends. These can be people who just came to the city (think expats events), or people who go to meetups meetup.com. Also, see if there is an internations.org group in your city.

Tip #2 – Don’t go befriending the sharks!

If you’re shy or don’t have a lot of social experience, don’t go make friends with people who are a thousand times more socially apt than you are. Instead, you can find great people who are soft spoken, introverted who would love to make friends with you.

Moreover, because you’ll be hanging out with cool, interesting, introverted people, there is no risk of embarrassment if you make a mistake. It’s ok if you make mistakes, because that’s what helps you to learn.

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Tip #3 – Learn To Get People Interested In Making Friends with You

There are certain behaviors that make some people more attractive to friends than others. It’s not just luck. There are things that these “wanted” people do that makes everyone wants to spend time with him or her… and it’s not about money, or looks…

It’s a combination of being interested in what the other person says, sharing similar stories that happened to you (or you just heard of), introducing people that you know to each other, and focusing on what value you’re giving away…

These are just some ideas to get you started…

…but if you want to really MASTER this, to a point where you have a nice circle of highly interesting and fun people, that not only are incredibly fun, but also support and listen to you, then I recommend that you start setting up your Action-Plan to meet and new friends.

The best time to start making new friends is now.

Featured photo credit: A gorgeous little girl playing peekaboo via Shutterstock

More by this author

Paul Sanders

A communication expert who tries to help people improve their social skills and make friends anywhere.

How To Be More Social If You Are an Introvert How to Keep a Conversation Going and Never Run Out of Things to Say What to Do When You Have No Friends and Feel Lonely 7 Tips How to Make Friends During College 5 Reasons Why Your Social Life Isn’t Improving, And What To Do About It

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

2. Be Honest

A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

4. Succeed at Something

When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

Final Thoughts

When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
[2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
[3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
[4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
[5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
[6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
[7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
[8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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