One of the hallmark symptoms of social anxiety disorder is the “shy away” syndrome.
We tend to shy away from the football game, from the office party, from the nightclub, from lunch with friends.
We shy away from that curious or flirty look from that attractive member of the opposite sex.
We shy away from conversations, fearing (that is, knowing) we’ll run out of things to talk about.
It’s the greatest challenge. In order to overcome shyness, we need to stop shying away from life. Of course, if you’re chronically shy or socially anxious, that’s by far easier said than done.
Here’s a simple tip I have for chipping away at the “shy away syndrome”: chipping away at it, piece by piece! I hate to repeat myself, but it’s one way in which I and many others have seen much progress. Stop shying away from things, little by little.
- If you shy away from eating in the cafeteria, start going and eating at an empty table where you can be by yourself. Do this every day for 2 weeks, and if you’re confident enough, sit at a table where one other person is sitting.
- If you shy away from starting conversations, challenge yourself to hold eye contact and smile (just a little) as you walk by people. Do this consistently, and when you’re able, try to say “hi.”
- If you shy away from calling up a good friend, send him or her a quick, 3-sentence e-mail or text: “Hey [friend's name]! Haven’t heard from you in a while, but you crossed my mind. How’s life treating you?” Don’t overthink it; just do it! I even gave you the words to make it a tiny bit easier. That might get a email/text conversation going, and if it’s a friend you’re really comfortable with, he/she should have no problem if you write “Call me sometime and let’s catch up!”
There’s an interesting saying I’ve heard that goes something like this:
How do you eat an elephant? One piece at a time.
That’s good news for us, my friends. If a monstrous animal like an elephant can be consumed with slow and steady effort, we can get rid of social anxiety by attacking it piece by piece, a little bit at a time.
Click here to learn more about an effective, thorough program for overcoming social anxiety!