But I’ve always thought that those who wrote those articles had never been shy at all.
The last time I wrote about the different origins shyness may have, but no matter where it comes from I think that there are always the same few solutions to it.
I’ll try to keep this as short as possible (even though is going to be really long), it would take a book to tell you all about my personal journey out of it, but even though everybody’s favourite topic is oneselves, I don’t think you’d like to read that book!
But I can tell you I’m an expert on this topic, and I do not mean to “blame” anybody for my shyness.
I don’t remember when or why I started being shy, we have family videos where I sing and dance with no problem at all, but maybe it was just some childish game.
Anyway I do remember that I had the biggest issues during the last years of high school / first years of uni: at the end of middle school and during the first years of highschool I really couldn’t care less of what others thought about me, I was all like “I like punk music, I don’t give a damn, I wear fake yellow Docs with purple corduroy trousers and a red hoodie, so what???!”.
Then it all went down, to the point I was paranoid when I had to push the stop button on the bus “what will people assume from my finger? from where I stop? from how I stand up and walk down?” and so forth.
Despite all of this I behaved as usual, maybe I over-acted a bit to hide my shyness.
Moreover I had just started taking singing lessons.
And here comes mistake number one.
If you do something you like, and you do it ’cause you like it (and it happens to have benefits, like, in my case, helping me out with shyness), please DO NOT transform your hobby, your “getaway” into therapy.
It’s just not going to work. I don’t know how but singing stepped from hobby to therapy, and from therapy to the issue itself.
I told myself that I simply had to get used to it, but the more I failed at it, the more I was nervous. But I swear, miss, I knew it at home!
Mistake the second.
Too many “experts” give you pieces of mind, blabbling too much on what you should do, but it seems that they forget a bit too often that shyness is something personal, and therefore you have to see each case, each person, and know that each one of us has to deal with it in his/her own way.
As I was saying, the second usual mistake is to fight against your shyness. Yeah, right. How do I get rid of it then?
Getting rid of the idea that you have to get rid of it. I said I’m not “blaming” anybody for my shyness, this means that as long as you worry about it, as long as you lose mind and sleep trying to figure out which was the traumatic event that unleashed your shyness (ever thought that maybe there wasn’t a single one? But maybe some tiny, meaningless moments that drove you to shyness slowly, all together?), as long as you look for all the names of the responsible ones (my mom repressed me! my dad never complimented me! my family has too high expectations from me! society doesn’t allow my self expression! school was filled up with jerks! I’m hopeless no matter what I do!) you are never taking your own responsability to change things.
Let’s face it, will it make a really big difference to know who/when/why? I mean, figuring it out may be therapeutcally useful, but it won’t change the facts: you are shy NOW and you feel bad about it.
So let us do something right now. Let’s say to ourselves “Ok, I am shy… so what???”, start accepting it, realizing that shyness is no deadly sin, you don’t have to be shy of being shy, it’s part of you, like having one particular hair colour, a certain lenght of legs, and hands shaped in a certain fashion.
In the meanwhile, let’s be grateful we do have legs and hands? Shall we? Shyness is really the last of the problems.
Once you’ve learned to accept it (which doesn’t mean you have to write poems praising your shyness, but simply facing the fact that it is there, and learn how to live with it, think about what I’ve wrote about limits) you can start to actually deal with it.
I think I started to get better last year, when I went to France for Erasmus, when I found myself thrown into a Shining meets Slumville dorm, where I knew nothing and nobody, and where I met the most wonderful and amazing people, who had purposes, who were passionate and positive, and when I found blogs and websites written by girls like me, from all around the world, but with an endless charge of positive thinking. And then EFT, LoA, affirmations &co.
Last but not least this winter thanx to Charade’s homeworks and Gala’s Radical Self Love I practiced daily and constantly two simple things:
treat yourself like you treat your best friend, and if you slip (that’s normal, it happens) into negative thought and into self-harassment commit yourself to a non-punishment: compliment yourself, hug yourself, smile in the mirror, any silly crap to remind yourself that you love yourself!
How do unicorns and rainbows fix your shyness?
Well, they don’t, at least not on their own, it takes time but if you love yourself, the next time you’ll be “wrong” you won’t react by getting mad at yourself for being wrong, or worst (and it was me) you won’t stop yourself from doing for fear of being wrong, and then getting mad at yourself for not even trying.
Slowly, with Commitment and Patience, you’ll simply become softer with yourself.
Third mistake: to think that you have to be firm like granite. I was 17 and I thought I had to be some kind of moral and ethical coherence model, I absolutely had to be in only one, non-contradictory way, stay true to my words and always do what I said and have no mercy if I ever -ah! blasphemy!- changed my mind on something, it wasn’t right!
I say (sparing you from any teenager psychologistic retrospective) to hell with coherence, stillness is death, change is life.
Eventually, to face all these mistakes, a “stage persona” is not a bad idea (I really got it after slamming my head on severall walls, some times I had to hurt myself really bad before realizing evidence… sigh…): Oscar Wilde said to give a man a mask to hear the truth from him (or something along these lines)… I don’t think that truth exists, only portions of reality, but anyway, a mask does you no harm, it doesn’t mean that you’re an impostor or an hypocritical (like I thought), it means wearing some protections, some lifesavers, some airbags around you.
You can decide where and when to be shy and when to use your super powerful and sparkling mask, that won’t hide your true self, but will enhance your strongest features while protecting the fable ones (I avoided “better” and “worse” terms on purpose, otherwise I would have perpetuated the thought that shyness is something bad, a flaw you should be ashamed of and you should get rid of).
I can sum up my “expert advice” in one single word: flexibility.
Meaning you have to be open minded to distinguish between fun and therapy. Meaning being gentle with yourself, remembering that you are your first best friend (whether you like it or not you’re bound to yourself forever, so you’d better make the best of it!). And also meaning that you have to welcome change.
Oh! And remember to breathe!
One of the most common advice is to “focus on what you are doing in that moment”… well hello genius, but it’s just what I’m doing that makes me nervous!
Then you should learn to focus on your breathing.
Breath in, deeply, from your stomach to your chest, the breath out completely, till the last bit of oxygen you have in your body, you have to turn blue from the effort.
Then you’ll feel your lungs filling up with air, on their own, and that air will be sooooo good!
From now on just feel the air tickling your nose, filling your belly, your chest moving and the air going out again.
After all, focusing on your breath is the first step in any kind of meditation and physical exercise.
Trust me,it makes a difference: if your lizard brain (remember?) it’s busy taking care of that one fundamental activity that is breathing, it won’t have the time to focus on fear and run.
Last but not least: physical activity really helps, not only it will give you, with time, a better shape (and that’s not bad for self esteem!) most of all it gives you right away a load of endorphines, plus it relaxes muscles and gives you the ability to focus on your body, therefore you will have a peacefully “empty” mind.
And drink lots of water… and eat healty, and sleep well… but this is “ye olde stuff” 😉