OK so, you probably won’t be able to tell – but I was the shyest person on the globe for a quarter of a century. 

Yup, for sure.

I mean, I’ve always been a huuuuge introvert – even as a kid, I enjoyed playing by myself and I definitely needed my downtime and alone time. But besides being introverted by nature, I was also extremely and utterly shy.

Heck, in highschool at age 17, I once lost my locker key. Now, that happened more often ‘coz I’m a hot chaotic mess sometimes, but this time around it was actually nowhere to be found…!

And my books were inside my locker, the schoolbell would soon ring so I HAD to get in there!

My brilliant idea… (oh, the sarcasm)

Instead of walking up to the janitor, who had possible access to all lockers, I came up with this brilliant idea of calling my mom, instead. Crying like a little baby. I snickered: ‘No I can’t go see the janitor mom, I’m too scared! What will he think of me, having lost the key again! Can’t you just ask him on the phone…?’ Shame. Guilt. It ate me alive.

And then, my mom said something I will never forget: ‘Jamila, I know how you feel right now, but you HAVE to get your books out or you’ll be in trouble. You’re 17 years old, you need to learn these things now. So walk up to the janitor, ask him for the key, and get your stuff quickly.’ 

I felt horrible. Betrayed. 

Mom used to always solve these things for me up until now. Why not now?!

She left me confused and a bit angry.

But OK. Had to solve this now. Breathe.

And then, I did it anyways!

Even though I was scared as f*ck. Shaking like crazy, still tearing up in no time. I did it.

I saved myself, I did it.

Yes, I was angry at mom at first – but later I realised that she only did that for me. To help, because I had to get used to the grown up world and take care of myself. No one else was going to do it for me…

But now, looking back, I am forever grateful. Because exactly that experience helped me start my journey of overcoming my shyness. It gave me just enough self confidence to keep pushing myself and move forward.

In the years that followed, I constantly focused on getting myself outside of my comfort zone. Justtt a little bit each and every time. Just far enough to keep growing.

It was hard, it was a tough road and I came across a ton of challenges. But I never gave up. Especially when I learned during my Psychology studies that shyness isn’t a life sentence: it’s actually learnt behaviour. This confirmed what I already knew and had found out myself throughout the years: shyness can actually be overcome, like any other type of fear.

What is shyness all about?

The official definition of shyness is: the tendency to feel awkward, worried or tense during social encounters, especially with unfamiliar people.

Now, we ARE born with a natural tendency to wanting to belong. To not be excluded. To not feel judged. This is all very human. But as soon as we learn that certain behaviours aren’t ‘socially accepted’ or good enough, then we learn quickly that it’s better to hide those pieces of ourselves and withdraw. We learn to be shy. We are not born shy. 

Shocking right? I remember that as soon as I found this out, I sure was!

Ok so, what are we going to do about that shyness, you may wonder.

Let’s go through my favourite tips to get rid of shyness!

1. What is the root cause of your shyness?

First of all, try to find out when and how you’ve become shy. It always has a root cause somewhere in the past. Perhaps it was the strict, authoritative or dominant parenting of your parents. It could be that there’s some form of trauma, where you felt ridiculed or bullied by others. Maybe your mother had stress, severe diseases, traumatic experiences or injuries while expecting you. It may as well have been all of the above. Really dive in here. Because if you’re aware of the reason behind your shyness, you for one start to realise that it’s actually learnt behaviour. And more importantly, you become more aware of the fact that you CAN indeed do something about it and get rid of that shyness! You gain back control over your life.

2. What are your personal triggers for feeling shy or anxious?

Try to identify your personal triggers – some common ones for many shy entrepreneurs might be: presenting or showing up on camera, do Facebook Lives. But you might experience personal triggers as well. They might be tough to identify on your own, so in that case it’s highly recommended to find yourself a coach or psychologist who can help you with this. As soon as you know your triggers, you can also work on your personal solutions. Create your personal roadmap to get rid of those fears.

3. Lots of people feel shy, just like you!

Know that you’re not alone – survey results vary quite a lot, but always seem to report 40-60% of adults feeling shy every now and again. Like I said, it stems from our human need to feel connected to other people.

4. Make a list of Social Situations where you feel Shy or Anxious.

Make a list of 10 social situations where you feel anxious: and write the list in order. So number one being the scariest situation for you. And number 10 being the least scary. Then, start practicing with the situations at the bottom of your list. Keep practicing until you start to notice a change in the severity of your anxiety. When you feel close to no fear for these activities, move onto the next things higher up on your list. And just keep going.

5. Making Eye Contact is Key to growing your Confidence.

Practice making eye contact with people, wherever you are. Making eye contact can be really scary, so start with people who are closer to you or just people who you’re the most comfortable with. When you are making eye contact, you are demonstrating your self confidence (even though you might not feel that way yet). And also, a great advantage of making eye contact is that people who do so are perceived as being friendly and nurturing. 

6. Smiling goes a long way!

Practice with smiling to strangers – when you’re shy, oftentimes people will misjudge you as being standoffish. Who doesn’t love people who smile though? So try to smile at people walking by. And reciprocate whenever they smile at you, too. It will probably make you and them feel good, as well!

7. Don’t judge yourself – be kind instead.

Be a little kinder towards yourself – this shyness thing has built up over the years. Like I said, I was shy for 25 years! (And it took me a few years to get completely rid of it by myself!) Don’t set the barre too high – don’t expect yourself to not be shy anymore overnight. The most important thing is that you’re taking steps every single day. Get out of your comfort zone, challenge yourself and then go back inside of your comfort zone to rest. Then simply repeat. One step at a time. 

You CAN get rid of it!

Listen, I went from being supershy to pressing the ‘Go Live!’ button on Facebook in a jiffy. Without even flinching or feeling a thing! In fact, I even feel excited now to go live and share things with you. And I don’t worry about the opinions of others any longer. It’s so liberating!!! And it’s cliche but true – if I can do it, you can do it too. 

Just don’t take 5 years, like I did… don’t wait. Ask for help from a professional. Feel free to reach out to me and hop on a call to see if I can help you, coz I can help with shyness too! Still got a background in psychology, after all 😉 My e-mail address is jamila@successandbizmagic.com

Have a lovely day and go beat the crap outta your shyness!

x With love, Jamila.

P.S. Feeling more courageous after reading this blog? Want to practice with getting out of that introverted comfort zone? Wanna grow?? Come join us other introverted, geeky, magic-loving entrepreneurs at the Magical Introvert Retreat (Online) on December 17th! {Get YOUR ticket HERE – only 20 spots left!!!}


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