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Overcoming Shyness
(You don't have to be an introvert!).

You walk into a classroom, where you know no one at all and you feel....shy... and different. You take a seat at your desk and throughout the rest of the day, you keep your head bowed. Everyone says, "She's so shy" or "He never talks to anyone" and eventually, you begin to fear going to school because you're so "shy" and because you don't really know how to interact with the other kids. Starting a conversation terrifies you.

It's a terrible feeling to have and it's even worse when you feel as though there is nothing that you can do to help the situation. But there is. Did you know that a lot of people are so shy that making friends, or starting a conversation is simply too difficult to do, so they give up trying and then they have to go through their lives feeling alone?

But you don't have to be one those people, no matter how shy you think you are. In psychology, Ilearnt of a way that really does help people overcome their shyness and be their true selves. In fact, when I performed this experiment on a few very introverted and shy people, I was amazed at how different one of the guys was, after he'd gone through the steps. Many times, the reason for our shyness is because we look at the whole picture, instead of taking things one step at a time. The method below, the systematic desentisation method, teaches you to go slowly and provides you with a comfortable way of practicing doing the things that seem so impossible.

It's very simple. All you do is get a piece of paper and find a very comfortable place to sit. Imagine a situation that you find diffiuclt to do: such as starting a conversation with a girl (in the case of guys), that you like and list the steps leading up to that difficult task from "least anxiety provoking" to "most anxiety provoking". So, for example, your list may look something like this:

  1. Getting ready to go to school, where I know I have 1st period with her (least anxious thought)
  2. Driving to school (more anxious)
  3. Walking through the halls to 1st period (anxious)
  4. Saying "good morning" to her (most anxious)

Your list may have more or fewer items than mine does, as long as it's in the same order. Then, once you have made your list out, you relax. This is very, very important. You have to completely relax, until your breathing is slow and regular and you feel very comfortable. Once you are totally relaxed, look at the first item on the list, which, in this case, happens to be "Getting ready...". As vividly as you possibly can, imagine yourself getting ready for school, thinking about this girl that you like. Imagine yourself showering, dressing, eating breakfast, and thinking whatever you usually think about her. Whenever you become so anxious that you feel almost fear, stop imagining, totally relax once more, and then start again, with the same item, and again and again, until you are able to vividly imagine yourself getting ready for school with no fear or hesitation at all. Then go to number two and repeat the process, until you are able to so vividly imagine yourself saying "good morning" to her that you don't feel any fear at all. You will be amazed at how comfortable you will be the next day, or the day after, when you actually put your list into action; and you say good morning to the girl you like.

This method has the potential to be dangerous, since it is possible to so vividly imagine something that you give yourself an anxiety attack. For this reason, it's imperative that, whenever you're imagining something and you feel very anxious, or fearful, that you STOP and relax. Hardly no one is able to accomplish the method correctly in one day; it is best if you work on it for about an hour or so and then stop. You need to remain as relaxed and comfortable as possible. The theory behind the process says that if you face your fear, which in my case, was talking to that girl, enough times, then your fear will go away. And it does work. But you need to do it slowly and carefully.

A lot of people think, "it's just shyness" and, "it's just who I am" but I think that it's not really who you are. Shyness, in my opinion, is based on fear: fear of being accepted, fear of being made a fool of, etc., and all of us have those fears. It's just that we deal with those fears in different ways: some of us write, some of us mock our fears by using humor, and some of us become "shy" and stray from people. But if the shyness makes you feel alone or different, then you can overcome it. The method above can help and so can prayer: I think a lot of us don't really pray about our shyness, because we don't think it's that big a problem or we think the problem is something else. So, pray about it and you'll be amazed at what that alone can do.

I have known people that were so shy they couldn't say, "hi" to a teacher, but who, once they had become comfortable and confident with themselves, were the most hiliarious, or intelligent people I've ever met. You don't have to hide your thoughts and your personalities: express it and friends will come to you. There are lots of people in your world that are waiting to get to know you and have good, strong friendships with you and when you take the courageous step in overcoming your shyness, then you'll find some of the happiness you're looking for.