Self-confidence: how to overcome one’s shyness?
Are you anxious at the thought of an oral exam? To approach someone? Or attending a party? If your shyness bothers you on a daily basis, don’t worry, it’s not inevitable. With time and a few exercises, it is possible to overcome this very common disorder, especially in adolescence.
“Serious student but difficulties in speaking.” At the end of the school year, Jennifer, a student, has just received the report of her class council. The appreciation of her teachers comes as no surprise to this shy teenager. “When I have to speak in class, I stammer, I blush, I’m afraid of being mocked, so I almost never raise my hand,” she explains.
As a teenager, many people share Jennifer’s anxieties. This is all the more true since it is also often the time of first love. “I’ve never been shy before,” says Benjamin, “but now I lose a little bit of control when I have to approach a girl. So I send friends or hide behind text messages!”
“For many, shyness will pass naturally, after several small successes.”
A period of great upheaval, adolescence is in fact a stage that we often go through with a lack of self-confidence. “Adolescents are vulnerable,” confirms Rachel Ackermann, psychotherapist, and sophrologist. They are faced with hormonal and bodily changes, and their self-image is often not what they would like.
For many, shyness will pass naturally, after several small successes: a romantic relationship, passing exams… For others, the road to be covered may be longer, especially when this lack of confidence is linked to humiliation. Or trauma. But whether your shyness is temporary or more deeply rooted, certain tips can help you feel more at ease with yourself and with others.
Getting to know each other better
In order to be daring and assertive in society, start by filling up with positive vibes. Shyness is often linked to a poor self-image. So, rather than focusing on what you don’t like about yourself, make a list of your qualities and focus on those strengths.
If this exercise seems too complicated, ask a friend or relative to help you: what do they like about your personality? Why does he or she enjoy your company? If you are sometimes too hard on yourself, you can call on the benevolence of those closest to you.
They will certainly be able to help you discover talents, skills, and treasures that you don’t know. “What helps me the most is the support of my friends,” says Jennifer. For example, they keep telling me that it’s safe for me to speak up. Some teachers also help me to feel more confident.”
You can also get into the habit of writing down everything you can be proud of: having helped a friend, finding a summer job? Get into the habit of congratulating yourself, even for small things. It boosts your ego and encourages you to move forward. Accept and appreciate all the compliments and positive comments you receive.
Freeing yourself from the gaze of others
While it may be interesting to seek the benevolent gaze of a loved one to gain self-confidence, it is also necessary to detach oneself, little by little, from the judgment of others. Because by dint of fear of displeasing them, of making a false step, or of being misunderstood, one risks quite simply not doing anything anymore and to fold up in his shell.
It is therefore important to find the right distance. “As a teenager, I used to spend a lot of time imagining what others might think of me,” says Mary, 25 years old, which used to be very shy. Then I realized that I was wasting my time because people had other things to do and think about than analyzing my actions!”.
So use your energy instead to go to them, to discover them (really), to ask them questions. Rather than: “What does he think of me?” ask yourself: “Who is he?”, “What are his tastes? His passions?”. Also, try to adopt a more objective inner discourse. Rather than saying, “That student didn’t say hello to me because he doesn’t like me,” perhaps you could just say that his mind was certainly elsewhere.
Anticipate being better prepared
When an anxiety-provoking situation looms on the horizon, rather than counting the days and worrying, it’s better to take the lead and prepare for it. Thus, as a high school student approaches a lecture date, Bianca rehearses aloud, sometimes with a real audience, and imagines herself in a situation: “As I have done before, I have better control and feel less stress before and during the oral presentation.”
Work on your body language
“60% of human communication is non-verbal and 30% is through the tone of your voice, which means that 90% of what you say doesn’t come out of your mouth,” explains Alex Hitchens, professional matchmaker, played by Will Smith, in the film “Hitch.” Indeed, many researchers agree that 60% to 90% of communication does not go through words.
If you are face-to-face with someone, try to sit next to them rather than across from them
Of course, to break the ice, nothing is better than to accompany this look with a smile. It is also important to stay in tune with the person you are talking to: look concentrated when he speaks to you, respond to his smiles… Finally, as you have probably already been told, remember to breathe, to stand up straight and to make sufficiently large gestures.
Another little piece of advice for the more shy: if you are face to face with someone, try to sit next to them rather than in front of them, this creates more closeness. And don’t hesitate to stand if you have to facilitate a meeting or express yourself publicly, this will reinforce your natural authority.
Challenge yourself on a daily basis
“Every day a little more! Set yourself a certain number of challenges per week. Expose yourself progressively to new situations. For example, dare to sit next to a person you like, whom you have never dared to approach. Intervene in a conversation to give your point of view. Call that person who keeps talking behind your back at the movies…”
As for your qualities, it can be interesting to regularly take stock of all these little things you’ve accomplished. Don’t forget to always follow through on your goals, so you don’t end up in a downward spiral. And don’t get lost in a multitude of challenges that you’ll end up losing sight of.
Analyze your failures and put them into perspective
Why did I repeat a grade? Why did my relationship with this friend deteriorate? Why did I start smoking again? Why did I quit participating in this sport competition? Even on the road to confidence and success, no one is immune to failure. Error is human, okay?
So rather than plunging back into self-deprecation and denigration, it is better to take the time to reflect. The objective is to understand what went wrong and thus to give meaning to this failure. You will thus turn these “setbacks” into constructive steps on the road to success.
Do theater, sports, volunteer work!
Action is also often an excellent way to get out of your bubble, to “put your brain on pause” and to end the infernal cycle of “rumination.” Practicing a sport, theater, yoga, or joining an association as a volunteer often allows you to take a leap forward.
You learn interesting things. You are in contact with others. And if you are involved in a joint action — a play, a handball match, a meal distribution for the homeless — you spend less time observing and judging yourself.
For Megan, a young teacher, putting on plays with her teenage students is an excellent way to help the most reserved to reveal themselves: “The theater allows shy people to express themselves, to talk with other students with whom they never spoke before.
There is a kind of privileged relationship between them because there is this special atmosphere, this connivance of the theater. But before going into a play, if public speaking is too difficult, you can also try your hand at mime.”
To take part in a training course of assertiveness of oneself
Some coaching specialists also offer group courses, often of short duration, which can provide tips and tricks for dealing with anxious situations in everyday life. Through role-playing or group discussions, the aim is to tackle such concrete themes as “knowing how to express disagreement”, “responding to criticism” or “speaking in public.”
These courses can give you the tools you need to make this or that small step in your social life stop looking like an insurmountable mountain.
Consult a therapist
Sometimes shyness is so overwhelming that it prevents you from moving forward, from taking off, and from looking to the future with serenity. This is reflected in many testimonials, like that of Samantha: “I am a new graduate, but I am afraid to enter the professional world. The problem is that I have never felt supported since I was a child. . I have always had my parents criticizing me, I was very afraid of them, especially of my father. I am afraid to communicate with people. I devalue myself, I am always clumsy “.
Putting down your luggage and entrusting your personal story to a professional can be the right solution. kelly, 25, our shy ex, has made this choice: “I went to see a psychologist at the age of 18 because I was having trouble finding my place in a blended family,” she explains. As the sessions went on, things got unblocked and I became more confident. Thanks to this therapy, I made important decisions: I consulted a nutritionist, ate healthier, and took the singing lessons I dreamed of. I also forced myself to do things that intimidated me: having coffee alone or just going shopping. You get used to it, and it becomes natural.”
Finally, don’t forget that the most important thing is to get used to taking a softer look at yourself, to accept that changes can take time and patience. “It is by accumulating experiences that we reveal ourselves to ourselves and to others. So dare, simply. Dare, for a shy person. It is already successful!”