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Overcoming Shyness - Part 2

  • Neil Clark Warren for the eHarmony Research Library
  • 2003 5 Mar
Overcoming Shyness - Part 2

Is shyness crippling your social life? Unfortunately, it's a very common problem. I'm not talking about a little nerves of excitement when your date arrives to get you; that's completely normal. I'm not talking about some awkward silences that occasionally arise during a date; that happens to the best conversationalists. I'm talking about a crippling shyness that has you turning down dates or not bothering to ask. I'm writing about a level of shyness that is preventing you from enjoying life fully.

In part one of this series I offered three first steps toward conquering your problem:
(1.) Consider getting five to 10 sessions of counseling with a therapist who has a great reputation for helping people.
(2.) Practice dating with someone who is not a potential partner for you.
(3.) Engage in something called "systematic desensitization."

Now I'd like to move forward with these additional suggestions.
(4.) Deal with your shyness by doing what you need to do about feeling good about yourself.
 Some people are shy because they feel inadequate within themselves. When I ask them, "What do you feel inadequate about?" They say "Well, you know, I weigh too much. I'm just overweight." I say to them, "Look, if we're going to deal with your shyness, we need to deal with your weight problem. We need to mobilize your will to get started dealing with your weight."

If you're a person who's shy, it's probably because you don't feel very good about yourself. If you don't feel very good about yourself, there are reasons that you don't feel very good about yourself. We want to attack those reasons. We want to eliminate them so that you can start feeling better about yourself. The second you start feeling better about yourself, your shyness will reduce.
(5.) Be around as many people as you can where the demands on you are absolutely minimal.

But I want to encourage you to be around them in a place where you feel better and better about your ability to manage the demands of relating to these people. For instance, if you can be in a group of people who are more than willing to carry the heavy burden of a conversation but at the same time allow room for you to talk when you feel the need, then that will provide you the opportunity to work progressively on your shyness in the interpersonal sphere.

What kinds of groups are there like this? Well, there are church groups that sometimes provide this kind of opportunity. There are bowling groups that are always looking for new people. There are softball teams that need individuals to fill in. You want to have situations in which you are in the interpersonal sphere but in which you do not put a heavy load on yourself.
(6.) I want you to think of ten things you can talk about on a date.
Some people are shy because they believe that when they get out in the dating situation, they simply won't know what to talk about. I say to them, "Okay, let's think of ten things you could talk about." I want you to become an expert or a reasonable expert on those ten things. I want you to make some mental notes. Let's say one of the things you could talk about is baseball. I want you to get to know a little about baseball. Go online, visit, and do a search for "baseball." Start clicking and reading. Then take your morning newspaper, turn to the sports section, and read about baseball.

Let's say that there is an ongoing political contest in your area. It would take you literally one hour to learn a lot of facts about that political contest. Pick the ten things you want to talk about on a date and then learn about those ten areas by reading the newspaper, reading online, talking to your family or friends, and getting to be a person who has facts and figures in those areas. Make mental notes about what you read so that when you get out there in the dating situation you don't feel like an empty vessel. You don't feel like a person who simply has nothing to say. You know what to say about ten areas that establish you as someone who is something of an expert in these areas.

If you will begin to apply these new suggestions to your everyday life, I'm confident that you will make a quantum leap in your confidence level and social skills. In our final article of this series, I will share the final four tools that will help you to conquer your shyness for good.

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