Understand shyness and loneliness
Loneliness, unpleasant feeling due to the inability to have satisfactory relationships or dissatisfaction with the quality of relationships; and shyness, being socially reticent, and the tendency to feel uncomfortable, worried, and tense during social interactions, are problems and difficulties that many people, in different age groups, experience.
As humans, we are destined to be social creatures. Having friends makes us happier and healthier, in fact, being socially connected is key to our mental and emotional health. However, many of us are shy and socially introverted. We feel uncomfortable with unknown people, unsure of what to say or concerned about what others may think of us. This can make us avoid social situations, isolate ourselves from others, and gradually isolate and feel lonely. Loneliness is a common problem among people of all ages and backgrounds, and yet it is something that most of us hesitate to admit. But loneliness is nothing to be ashamed of. Sometimes it is the result of external circumstances: you have moved to a new area, for example. In such cases, there are many steps you can take to meet new people and make acquaintances friends.
But what if you’re struggling with shyness, social insecurity, or a long-standing difficulty making friends? The truth is, none of us are born with social skills. These are things we learn over time, and the good news is that you can learn them, too. No matter how nervous you feel in the company of others, you can learn to silence self-critical thoughts, increase your self-esteem, and have more confidence in your interactions with others. You don’t have to change your personality, but by learning new skills and taking a different perspective you can overcome shyness or social discomfort, banish loneliness, and enjoy strong and rewarding friendships.
Is shyness and insecurity a problem for you?
- Are you afraid of looking stupid in social situations?
- Are you very concerned about what others think of you?
- Do you frequently avoid social situations?
- Do other people seem to have a lot more fun than you in social situations?
- Do you assume it is your fault when someone rejects you or seems disinterested?
- Do you find it difficult to get close to people or join conversations?
- After spending time with others, do you tend to stop and criticize their “performance”?
- Do you often feel bad about yourself after socializing?
If you answered “yes” to these questions, this article may help you.
Dealing with social insecurity and fear
When it comes to shyness and social discomfort, the things we say to ourselves make a big difference. Here are some common thought patterns that can undermine your confidence and fuel social insecurity:
- Believe that you are boring, unpleasant or strange.
- Believing that other people are evaluating and judging you in social situations.
- Believing that you will be rejected and criticized if you make a social mistake.
- Believing that being rejected or socially embarrassed would be horrible and devastating.
- Believing that what others think of you defines who you are.
If you believe in these things, it’s no wonder that social situations seem terrifying! But the truth is never so black and white.
People don’t think of you, at least not to the extent that you think. Most people are caught up in their own lives and concerns. Just as you think of yourself and your own social concerns, other people think of themselves. They don’t spend their free time judging you. So stop wasting time worrying about what others think of you.
Many other people feel as uncomfortable and nervous as you do. When you’re socially anxious, it can seem like everyone else is outgoing and overflowing with self-confidence. But that is not the case. Some people are better at hiding it than others, but there are many introverts who struggle with the same doubts as you. The next person you speak to is most likely worried about what you think of them!
People are much more tolerant than you think. In his mind, the very idea of doing or saying something embarrassing in public is horrible. You are sure everyone will judge you. But in reality, it is highly unlikely that people will make a big deal out of a social misstep. Everyone has done it at some point, so most will just ignore it and move on.
Learning to accept yourself
When you begin to realize that people are NOT scrutinizing and judging every single word and deed, you will automatically feel less socially nervous. But that still leaves what you feel for yourself. Too often, we are our worst critics. We are hard on ourselves in a way that we would never be with strangers, let alone the people we care about.
Learning to accept yourself does not happen overnight; it requires changing your way of thinking.
You don’t have to be perfect to be loved. In fact, our blemishes and quirks can be endearing. Even our weaknesses can bring us closer to others. When someone is honest and open about their vulnerabilities, it is a bonding experience, especially if they are able to laugh at themselves. If you can cheerfully accept your discomfort and imperfections, others are likely to do so as well. They may even love you better for it!
It’s okay to make mistakes. We all make mistakes; it is part of being human. So take a break when you’re wrong. Your value does not come from being perfect. If you find self-pity difficult, try to see your own mistakes as you would a friend’s. What would you say to your friend Now follow your own advice.
Your negative self-evaluations do not necessarily reflect reality. In fact, probably not, especially if you:
- Call them names like “pathetic”, “worthless”, “stupid”, etc.
- Beat yourself up with all the things you “should” or “shouldn’t” have done.
- Make general generalizations based on a specific event. For example, if something did not go as planned, you tell yourself that you are never going to do things right, that you are a failure or that you are always wrong.
When you have such distorted thoughts, it is important to pause and consciously challenge them. Imagine that you are an impartial third-party observer, then ask yourself if there are other ways to view the situation.
Develop social skills step by step
Improving social skills takes practice. Just as you wouldn’t expect to be good on the guitar without a little effort, don’t expect to feel socially comfortable without spending time. With that said, you can start small. Take small steps to become safer and more social, then build on those successes.
- Smile at someone you pass by on the street.
- Congratulate someone you meet on your day.
- Ask someone a casual question (at a restaurant, for example: “Have you been here before? How is the steak?”)
- Start a conversation with a friendly cashier, receptionist, waiter, or salesperson.
How to face your biggest social fears
When it comes to the things that really scare us, you should face your fears gradually, starting with situations that are a bit stressful and developing into scenarios that cause more anxiety. Think of it like a stepladder, with each step a little more stressful than the last. Do not continue with the next step until you have had a positive experience with the next step. For example, if talking to new people at parties makes you extremely anxious, here is a stepladder you can use:
- Go to a party and smile at some people.
- Go to a party and ask a simple question (for example, “Do you know what time it is?”). Once they have responded, thank them politely and then apologize. The key is to make the interaction short and sweet.
- Ask a friend to introduce you to someone at the party and help facilitate a short conversation.
- Pick someone at the party who seems friendly and approachable. Introduce you.
- Identify a non-intimidating group of people at the party and get close to them. You don’t need to make a big entry. Just join the group and listen to the conversation. Make a comment or two if you want, but don’t push yourself too hard.
- Join another friendly and accessible group. This time, try to engage in the conversation a little more.
More tips to develop social trust
- Pretend until you do. Acting like you can trust can make you feel more secure.
- External focus, not internal. Instead of worrying about how you will find yourself or what you are going to say, shift your focus from yourself to the other person. You will live more in the moment and you will feel less self-conscious.
- Laugh at yourself. If you do something embarrassing, use humor to put things in perspective. Laugh, learn and move on.
- Do things to help others or brighten someone else’s day. It can be something as small as a compliment or a smile. When you spread positivity, you will feel better about yourself.
Tips for starting a conversation
Some people seem to instinctively know how to start a conversation with anyone, anywhere. If you’re not one of these lucky guys, these tips will help you start talking when you first meet someone:
Here are some easy ways to strike up a conversation with someone new
Observation about the surroundings or occasion. If you are at a party, for example, you can comment on the place, the catering or the music in a positive way. “I love this song”, “The food is great. Have you tried the chicken?
Ask an open-ended question, one that requires more than just a yes or no answer. Adhere to the journalist’s creed and ask a question that begins with one of the 5 W (or 1 H): who, where, when, what, why or how. For example, “Who do you know here?” “Where do you usually go on a Friday?” “When did you move here?” “What keeps you busy?” “Why did you decide to become a vegetarian?” “How is the wine?” Most people like to talk about themselves, so asking a question is a good way to start a conversation.
Use a compliment. For example, “I really like your bag, can I ask where you got it?” or “It looks like you’ve done this before, can you tell me where I need to log in?”
Consider everything you have in common and ask a follow-up question. “I also play golf, what is your favorite local course?” “My daughter went to that school too, how does your son like it?”
Keep the conversation going with a little chat. Don’t say something that is obviously provocative and avoid heavy topics like politics or religion. Stick to clear topics like weather, environment, and anything you have in common, like school, movies, or sports teams.
Listen effectively. Listening is not the same as waiting your turn to speak. You cannot focus on what someone is saying if you are forming what you are going to say next. One of the keys to effective communication is to focus completely on the speaker and show interest in what is being said. Occasionally nod, smile at the person, and make sure their posture is open and welcoming. Encourage the speaker to continue with small verbal cues like “yes” or “uh huh.”
What to do when social situations tire you
There is a common misconception that introverts are not social. In fact, introverts can be just as social as extroverts. The difference between the two is that introverts lose energy when they are around people and recharge by spending time alone, while extroverts gain energy by spending time with other people.
What this means is that even socially safe introverts will feel tired after much socialization. It does not mean that there is something wrong with you or that you are unable to have a satisfactory social life. You just need to understand your limits and plan accordingly.
Don’t compromise too much. It’s okay to decline social invitations because you need a break or schedule a downtime after socializing. After a fun Saturday with friends, for example, you may need to spend Sunday just to rest and recharge.
Take mini breaks. There will be times when you feel exhausted, but you can’t leave the situation alone for long. Maybe you’re at a busy work convention, you’re on a getaway with friends, or you’re visiting family for the holidays. In these circumstances, try to find time to escape to a quiet corner when you are not seen as rude. Even 10 or 15 minutes here and there can make a big difference.
Talk to your family and friends about your time alone needs. Be direct about the fact that socializing exhausts you. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, and trying to hide it will only increase your social exhaustion. Good friends will sympathize and be willing to meet your needs.
Dealing with social setbacks and rejection
As you expose yourself socially, there will be times when you will feel judged or rejected. Maybe you communicated with someone, but he didn’t seem interested in having a conversation or starting a friendship. There is no doubt: rejection feels bad. But it is important to remember that it is part of life. Not everyone you approach will be receptive to starting a conversation, let alone making friends. Like dating, meeting new people inevitably carries some element of rejection. The following tips will help you have an easier time with social setbacks:
Try not to take things too personally. The other person may be having a bad day, being distracted by other problems, or just not in a good mood to talk. Always remember that rejection has as much to do with the other person as it does with you.
Keep things in perspective. Another person’s opinion does not define you and does not mean that anyone else is interested in being your friend. Learn from the experience and try again.
Don’t stop at mistakes. Even if you said something regretful, for example, the other person is unlikely to remember it after a short time. Stay positive; refrain from labeling yourself a failure or telling yourself that you can never make friends. The shyest people do it, and so do you.