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How To Overcome Shyness And Social Anxiety

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how to overcome shyness and social anxiety

Ever wonder how you can overcome your struggle with shyness, anxiety and fear, and live a life of confidence?

I used to struggle massively with shyness. That was the biggest problem of my life all throughout high school and during my early 20's as well.

It may feel like you’re the only one, but the truth is that lots of people struggle with shyness and social anxiety.

Breaking out of your shell doesn't magically happen overnight. It takes time, effort, and the desire to change. You're on the right track just by reading this post.

You need to understand that, in order to feel more confident and secure in your interactions with others, you've got to put yourself out there. You've got to confront and face your fear, even if it’s just taking a baby step.  I promise you that the results will pay off.

Watch the video below:

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Video transcript

Hey, everyone, this is Stefan from ProjectLifeMastery.com, and in this video, I'm going to share with you how to overcome shyness and social anxiety. Now, if you're someone that's watching this right now and you currently struggle with shyness, anxiety, fear, maybe you're more of an introvert, maybe you are afraid to put yourself out there to meet new people, to socialize, to date, to approach a stranger. How do you overcome that?

Well, I've got a lot of great tips and advice for you in this video. I want you to know first of all that I used to struggle massively with shyness. It was actually the biggest problem of my life all throughout high school, and even early on in my 20s as well. I struggled with it massively. I remember even when I was in school, I didn't talk to anybody. I used to spend lunch time and recess and break just by myself.

I was a computer nerd, and I would just spend all my time in front of the computer because that was a way for me to escape, playing video games, being in front of the computer, watching TV. I was so afraid to meet and talk to people that I would just try to escape that and just be alone. At least in front of the computer, I can feel significant, I can feel special or like someone important because I was very good at playing video games and I got a lot of my needs met that way.

As a result of that, I didn't have a lot of friends, and maybe you can relate not having that many friends and not being able to meet new people. I remember a huge pain for me at the time as well is I switched high schools a few times. I remember being attracted to certain girls, and I was just so afraid to talk to them. I was just so terrified of rejection. I also remember when you're shy, you micromanage everything in your head.

Analysis paralysis

You're filtering every thought that you have and you're over-thinking so much that you get analysis paralysis, and so even if you're in a social situation and you're talking to someone, you're so stuck in your head thinking about everything you're going to say and you're like, “Oh, I can't say that because that's going to sound stupid. I'm going to look weird.” I was just so fearful of what everyone thought of me.

I also remember in cases in school where I was forced to give a presentation for a class project or the teacher would call me or something like that, I used to always turn bright red. My face would turn red. I start shaking. I start sweating. I had really severe anxiety. I remember actually skipping school a lot of the time through high school. I also remember if there's a presentation that I had to do, I'd much rather skip the class and take a zero in that grade in that project than actually facing my fear and getting up to do it.

Man, I can relate. I feel like this is my duty to create a video on this because I'm now 30 years old. I have changed my life in so many ways, guys. I put a lot of work into myself. I know exactly what it's like and what the pain is, the struggle. I remember people used to make fun of me. Because when you're really shy, you're almost like an easy target for people to pick on.

Bullies will pick on you more because they know that you're not going to fight back, you're not going to defend yourself in any way. They see you as an easy target that they can make fun of and pick on so that they can boost their social status in the environment.

I remember people would say to me like, “Do you even speak? Do you even talk?” I was even super shy around my family where the dinner table, there are people, I wouldn't talk to anyone, so, man, I know the pain of it. The great thing is, is that you can change. You're watching this video right now. You're committed to change. You're looking for answers, and I really respect you for that.

As long as you stay on this path and you're willing to face your fears and do some of the things that I say, you will overcome this. It's not going to happen overnight, but you can make incredible changes in your confidence in overcoming this that can really make a difference in your life. Hopefully that you watch this video to the end and actually apply a lot of the things I'm going to share with you.

Shyness isn't really who you are

Number 1, a big breakthrough for me when I was like … I didn't really overcome my shyness until I was maybe 21 or so, but a big breakthrough for me was that shyness isn't really who I am. It's not who you are. You're not really shy.

In fact, by holding on that identity, which identity is basically a series of beliefs about who you are, by identifying yourself as a shy person or someone that has anxiety or someone that's depressed or someone that is whatever, that is your definition that you've given yourself, maybe other people have given that to you, but you're accepting that as who you are, your identity, and it's not.

It's BS, a belief system. If you carry on withholding that identity, that's going to prevent you from making the change, because one thing that I heard from Tony Robbins years ago is that the strongest force in the human personality is the need to remain consistent with how we define ourselves. You define yourself as someone who is shy. You're going to remain that way because that's who you are. That's your identity.

Number 1 thing that I'll say is that it's not who you are. It's basically just a belief system, an identity for yourself that you've created or other people have created for you but that doesn't mean that it's true. That doesn't mean that it's real because there's a part of you, there's a part of me, there's a part of everyone that is social, that is confident, that is an extrovert, that is amazing, the life of the party, the social butterfly.

You have that within you, but it's just been dormant for so long. It's just that part of that personality within you that's just been dormant. You haven't maybe fully actualized that part of you yet because maybe there's a time in the right setting with your friends or whatever that that part of you comes out, you see a glimpse of it.

A lot of people, the shyness isn't who you are. It's just a state, a state of being. It's a pattern that you've been running, a script. You've been conditioning it so much your entire life that it's become the norm. It's become natural for you. It's become habitual and you identify that this is who I am because you want certainty, but you're so much more than that.

That's really the first step, is realizing that that's not who you are. It's just a belief. It's just an identity. It's BS. You can change it, and you have to believe that you can change it if you are going to change, because if you don't believe it, then you're not. You're not going to do the actions that are necessary to change it.

Understand that it's not who you are. You're not shy. That's just the personality. We all have multiple personalities. We all have a part of ourselves that is decisive, that can take action. We also have a part that's more lazy and indecisive. We all have a part of ourselves that are happy and ecstatic and joyful.

We also have a part of ourselves that are more, maybe, depressed or sad or lonely. These are different states, different sides of ourselves. We understand that these aren't who you are, that it's different parts of you that are maybe a little more underdeveloped than others. Whatever states you consistently access is going to be the default state of being for you.

I've got a really good video blog, by the way, on my YouTube channel called How to be Awesome, or How to Feel Awesome all the Time. It's really good. I recommend checking that one out as well, but that's number 1. Identify this is not who you are. It's a state. It's a pattern, and you can change it. I was able to change it. Watching me right now, do I seem like somebody who is shy? Do I seem like someone who can't socialize? Of course, me just getting in front doing a video like this, you can tell I'm a social person.

What you do every day is conditioning who you are

Now, the other thing that's worth understanding is that your conditioning… What you do every day is conditioning who you are. If you're always alone by yourself in front of the computer, playing video games, watching TV, you're not socializing, you're conditioning yourself to be in that state. You're making that stronger. It's a stronger part of yourself, and the only way to really change it is to condition yourself to be social, outgoing, and confident.

That's the only way to change it. Right now understand that if you're just there in front of the computer and stuff, you're actually strengthening the shyness within you because you're just spending more and more time in that state and it's going to become harder for you to socialize when the time comes.

I'll share my story real quick. For me, I was very shy. When I was 18 years old, I decided, you know what? 17 years old actually, I decided I'm going to do something about it. I'm going to do something about it. I'm going to change my life. I was sick and tired of being shy, of being a nobody, having no friends.

I remember girls that I liked because it would pain me so much because I remember even having opportunities with the girl in high school that would like me back, but I was so terrified to make a move or do anything. I finally got to a point where I got honest with myself. I look myself in a mirror and I said, “You know what? No more. I'm going to change.” I got rid of the computer, got rid of the video games. I got rid of the TV, disconnected it. I said, “You know what? I'm not going to feed this anymore.”

The pain of living my life that way was far greater than the pain that I have to go through to face the fears. You got to get to that point where you make it painful. You get honest with yourself, you tell yourself the truth and you make a decision to change because in a moment of decision everything can change for you. It'll put you down in different path and allow you to take different actions.

I decided, “You know what? I got to change.” The first step, get rid of anything that is feeding that destructive habit. Step 2, I realized, the only way I was going to change is not from reading books or watching YouTube videos. That's going to give me some theory and information, but that's not going to make me social.

If you want to learn how to play basketball, you don't sit there in front of YouTube or read a book. You're going to learn way more by getting on the court and actually playing than you ever will from a book. You got to understand, you got to put yourself out there. You're going to have to start to confront and face these fears. Even if it's little baby steps, that's okay. I took baby steps, and I also took massive steps as well, quantum leaps that really made significant changes, and I'll share a few of them with you guys right now.

Be comfortable with discomfort

Number 1 thing that I did … I did several things, but one is I decided, you know what? I need to become comfortable with discomfort. If something scares me, I've got to face it. I've got to do it because that's the only way I'm going to overcome it. I wish there was a technique I could give you, but really, the only way is to feel the fear and do it anyway, as that book says. One thing I did is I joined public speaking classes.

There's an organization called Toastmasters. You can join for free or there are yearly membership fees you can pay, but it's very inexpensive. Every city in the world pretty much has Toastmasters. I think you can go to Toastmasters.org, and they're little public speaking groups. You show up to a meeting. They have their weekly meeting or whatever. You show up. You can just watch the beginning if you want.

You're going to introduce yourself, and even for me, that was a stretch, just standing in front of people and actually introducing myself. That was terrifying for me, but again, those baby steps, I got a lot more confident in doing it.

I did public speaking, and week by week I committed myself to go. What I found is that being in a supportive environment like that where you don't know these people, they're not going to judge you, everyone is in the same boat, other people are shy as well, they're going to encourage you and cheer you on. That was a good empowering environment for me to get more comfortable with myself and speaking in front of an audience.

That was one thing I did. Another thing I did was acting in improv classes. I remember actually specifically joining these acting classes. I found them through a school board or whatever, and it's called Acting for the Terrified. It was like acting classes specifically for people that were scared and had anxiety. I remember I signed up for 6 classes every week, and I went to one, I was terrified to do it, basically getting in groups of people and stuff and you got to act things out.

I had never before expressed myself in different ways. Again, I was so busy in my head micromanaging things, over-thinking everything. I remember being terrified to do it, but I did it for 3 sessions. The fourth session, I didn't show up. I had so much anxiety that I just decided I can't go. It's just too much for me, but I made progress. I went to 3 sessions. I improved a lot. I gave myself credit for that.

Improv is great too. Improv, you're going to be put in situations where you're going to have to get in front of a group and not have any idea what you're going to say. It's going to be purely spontaneous and you're going to be asked to stand up and talk about X, Y, Z, or act out this. When you do it, you are going to embarrass yourself, but that's how you get better. You have to understand that, is that the only way that you'll overcome your fear is by doing it.

I remember I used to coach people that were shy and introverted. We'd go to a club. It's an environment that would terrify them. There would be girls around and stuff. I said, “Okay, go talk to that girl.” He said, “No, I can't. I'm afraid of rejection.” I said, “Great, then let's go get rejected because that's the only way you're going to overcome the fear.”

You got to go and get rejected 100 times and then the hundredth time, you're going to be desensitized towards it, you're going to stop caring. You got to desensitize yourself towards rejection and all these sorts of thing.

Improv is great. You guys can look that up in your area. Another thing that I did is I forced myself to approach strangers, and this is something I was terrified of, but I understood at the time I wanted to have a girl in my life, a girlfriend, things like that. I realized that in order to attract the woman I want I got to have the confidence to go to approach her. The woman that I'm going to want in my life is going to want someone who is confident, that believes in himself, that has certainty. I recognized that I needed to change that.

Take baby steps

One thing that I did, I took baby steps. I used to go to the mall. I used to go to the busy street in my area in Vancouver's Robson Street. As I walk down the street and I just would take baby steps. The first thing I do, I said, “I'm going to approach 10 people today, I'm just going to ask them for directions, or I'm going to ask them for the time.” It might sound silly, but that was a huge stretch for me. I'm so afraid just to ask them for the time, and just walk up and say, “Hey, excuse me, do you know what time it is?”

I forced myself to do it, and I found by taking those little baby steps, every time I'd walk away, I gain confidence. I felt better about myself. I was like, “Wow. I did that. I faced my fear.” You do it again and you do it again, you do it again, and get momentum, and you start to realize, “Wow, that wasn't that scary. That wasn't that hard. I can do this. People aren't as scary as I thought. I didn't embarrass myself. They didn't judge me, whatever,” and I forced myself to keep doing it.

Then after that, I was like, “Okay, I'm going to force myself to go a little bit further. I'm going to try to have a conversation with someone. I'm going to try to ask someone a question and actually engage in a conversation.” I slowly did that and gained some confidence. I remember I used to go out 4 days a week doing this. I remember at one time, this is funny, when I was 16 to maybe 21 or so, I worked for the family business off and on, and it was a construction business with my dad and stuff, and I used to have to go to Home Depot.

I think I go to Home Depot to basically pick up supplies and stuff like that, so while I was working I said, “You know what? I'm going to use this as an opportunity to improve my social skills and face my fears.” What I decided is every time I went to Home Depot, I had a mission, I had a goal. I said to myself, “I'm not going to leave Home Depot until I said hi to 3 people. 3 people I'm going to say hi to.”

I remember people look at you like you're strange and stuff, but just walking down an aisle like, “Hey, how's it going? Oh, so you're having a good day, great.” Just hey, just smiling and saying hi. I used to practice just making eye contact with people or smiling at people, but those little things helped build my confidence. Those are just little things that I did that you can do little exercises when you go out that will help improve you and give you more confidence.

Giving compliment and adding value to other people

I remember for me, I also forced myself to approach women. I was afraid to talk to girls and approach them, so I decided, “You know what? I've got to face that fear.” I went to night clubs. I went to the mall. I went to the beach. I went to the streets. I make it, I got to approach 3 women, 10 women, and a little exercise that I did was I would just approach and give a compliment and then walk away.

I wouldn't force myself to any conversation. I'm not trying to get a phone number or date or anything like that, but just to add value, to give a compliment. If there was a girl walking by, I stop and say, “Excuse me, I just want to say that you've got really nice hair,” or “You've got a great smile,” or “You look amazing today,” or “You look really beautiful. Have a great day.” That's it. Walk away.

By doing that, when you walk away, you end the conversation. There's no rejection. I found by doing that women responded amazingly well. They're like, “Oh my God.” They start blushing. They feel really good. They call their girlfriends afterward and say, “Guess what? Some guy complimented me today,” and it makes them feel good. I felt good about myself because it's adding value to other people.

I did that, and then eventually forced myself to get into a conversation with a girl. I say, “Hey, you know what? I have to say that you look amazing,” or “You look beautiful,” or “I saw you walking by and I'd be kicking myself if I didn't stop you and say hello. What's your name?” Now I'm transitioning to a conversation. What's your name? I'm Stefan. What are you up to today?

Transitioning again into another question, what are you up to? What's going on today? Now you're having a conversation with someone and you're talking about what they're doing what you're doing. Really, I mean, just going further and further from there to telling stories and joking around, having fun. These are all things you develop over time, but it all starts with baby steps guys. You're going to take baby steps or big steps, whatever your courage is right now, but take those steps and you gain more confidence. You got to condition yourself. That's what it is, condition yourself.

The more time you spend at home by yourself, introverted, you're conditioning that side that's not going to allow you to be extroverted in those moments in your life, to have the social skills and the confidence and to overcome the shyness and anxiety. It is a process. For me, I decided, you know what? I'm going to spend 4 days a week socializing, I forced myself to. It's great if you can get some friends or you can meet people online.

That's what I did. I didn't have friends, so I found people on message boards and people online. I went to different events and meet up groups and forced myself to meet people that way. That was really great for me. The funny thing is, in a few years, I made a big transformation in my life, became a totally different person that I started coaching people. This was when I was 21. I started my first business called Lifestyle Transformations. I made such a transformation, my confidence. I could approach girls, get phone numbers and dates.

People are blown away because I had this ability to talk to girls on the street and talk to a group of girls and just do these really amazing things. I wanted to share and help other people, and I built a whole business and I coach people for years just doing that, helping them develop their confidence and meet girls and dates and really changed their life in a more positive way.

Understand that you can change

There's a lot of great things that can help you guys to overcome the shyness, the anxiety, develop that confidence and the social skills, but man, just understanding you can change. Again, books and resources can help you, but you got to face it. You're going to learn so much more by getting out there and talking to people. You know what? You are going to get rejected. I'm not going to lie. You're going to get rejected.

You're going to have people say … be offended. You're going to have people that are going to judge you, and understand that it's got nothing to do with you. If you approach someone, you're like, “Hey, have a great day today. You look amazing. Have a great day,” and that person starts yelling at you, upset, that has nothing to do you with you, man. That person is having a bad day.

That person has got some issue in their life. They're unhappy. They're projecting that on to you. Understand you can't take those things personally.

People that comment on YouTube online, whatever, there's negative stuff, there's positive stuff, all it is is a projection. If somebody watches this video right now and they said, “You suck. I hate you.” That has nothing to do with me. That person is probably upset, or hates himself or his life in some way, just having a bad day, and he's projecting that as a comment on YouTube.

You got to understand, these people don't know you. How could they dislike? How could someone dislike you if they don't know you, they don't really know who you are, they don't know the real person that's you? You've got to understand that rejection doesn't really exist. It's all how you interpret it.

Also, it's really actually a blessing too, because rejection is always feedback. That's how you learn. Sometimes when you're approaching people and you're socializing. You might come across a little bit weird because you don't know how to calibrate. You don't know how to pay attention to social cues. You don't know how to pay attention to body language and stuff. The only way that you know where the line is, is by crossing the line, by doing things that are uncomfortable that are going to offend people and stuff.

You're going to be willing to ruffle a few feathers

Then you know where the line is, you know not to cross it. Don't be afraid to go through that. The great thing is when you go to environments nobody knows you, it doesn't matter. Nobody knows you. It's not going to matter if you get rejected or embarrassed in front of people. I've had many moments like that, but again, it's always been a great thing because it's made me stronger, it's made me better, more confident, desensitized myself towards it and help me become a much more social, confident, outgoing person.

That's what I got to share about how to overcome the shyness, the anxiety, the fear. Hopefully, you guys take some of this advice that I have for you. If there are any questions, leave them below. I'm more than happy to answer some for you. If there are any specific questions about other things, I might do another video. I might even do a video on how to meet people and approach people and stuff, because that was a big area in my life that I coached a lot of people on, even dating, et cetera.

If there's any interest in that, leave a comment and I might consider doing a video on that also, but man, understand you're in the right place, you're looking for answers, now you've got to go for it. You've got to make it a discipline and force yourself to face those fears. Again, it's going to happen over time, but man, in a year, 6 months, a year, you can change your whole personality, your whole confidence, and it can really be amazing for you.

Hopefully, this video has been helpful for you. I'll throw in one more tip too as a resource. I'm not going to go too much into it, but another thing that's helped me is conditioning the states every day that I want to experience, so the states of confidence, social, believing in myself, dedication, motivation, et cetera, conditioning that every day through a morning ritual.

I have morning rituals in my life that I put myself in a state of confidence, I put myself in an outgoing social state before I go out. Morning ritual is a great way to do that. I've got a whole course on that called Morning Ritual Mastery. If you want to create a morning ritual that can help support you to put you in a great state to condition yourself.

Again, the only way you change is through conditioning. You've conditioned shyness and anxiety, now you got to condition every day, like building a muscle, confidence and being social.  That's a program that I created. I have a link below in the description. Head on over there. It's a 7-day program.

Every day I'll guide you to help you to develop a morning ritual that will help you with your beliefs, with your states, your emotions. That's been another powerful influence for me as well. That's it for this video guys. Thank you so much for watching. Make sure to leave a comment below and subscribe for more videos. I'll talk to you later.

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How To Overcome Shyness And Social Anxiety
5 (100%) 4 votes
  • Alexandre Ouellet

    Stefan I relate to that too!!

  • Wow, Stefan! I’ve been following you and your blog for a long time now, and you really have a lot of great videos about business, life planning, time and wealth management, emotions and rituals and what not. But this blog post is really spot on. I’m a high school student and I’m shy and a bit introverted too. I can really relate to the things you mentioned, like being afraid of rejection, afraid of talking to girls and afraid of meeting new people. I got inspired by your blog and currently working on changing and improving all areas of my life. And as a shy person myself, I must say that this blog post is one of the most valuable content on your blog among the hundred other posts I have read. Keep up the good work and please do a few other videos on relationships, social anxiety and meeting girls. I think they’ll be really helpful for me and others alike. Thanks!