Overcoming Loneliness and Shyness
Loneliness as a result of shyness isn’t an uncommon problem, but it can be difficult to overcome. Feeling uncomfortable or anxious in social situations makes it hard to interact with others in a positive way and form friendships. However, feeling shy doesn’t have to mean being lonely – there are plenty of things you can do that will help you get past your social issues.
Challenge Negative Thoughts
Many people who struggle with shyness suffer from insecurities and anxious thoughts that make them afraid of social situations. You may believe that you’re boring, unlikeable or strange. You may think that other people are evaluating or judging you in social situations, making you fear rejection. You may worry that you’ll do something embarrassing. Dwelling on such negative thoughts is bound to make social situations seem terrifying! Instead, try to focus on the following thoughts:
- Most people are too caught up in their own lives and concerns to spend as much time thinking about you as you think they are. They’re unlikely to spend a lot of their time judging you.
- People are much more tolerant than you think. If you say or do something embarrassing, most people will ignore it and move on.
Learn to Accept Yourself
Banishing those negative thoughts about yourself and social situations will help you accept yourself. Learn to recognise when you’re being too hard on yourself, and try to remember that you don’t have to be perfect to be liked. In fact, it’s often imperfections and quirks that bring people closer together. Changing your self-image for the better isn’t something you can do overnight, but making a conscious effort to accept both your merits and flaws will gradually help. You’ll also find it easier to accept yourself as you begin to spend more time with others, and meet people who like you for who you are.
Face Your Social Fears One Step at a Time
Once you learn to adopt a more self-accepting mind-set, you may find it easier to handle social situations. If you’re still finding them a challenge, take baby steps towards being more sociable. Maybe smile at someone as you pass on the street, or start a friendly conversation with a cashier or waiter. Small friendly interactions can help you build confidence, allowing you to ease yourself into more social situations. If the thought of joining a group conversation at a party makes you anxious, start by smiling at a few people at that party or introducing yourself to a single person who seems friendly and approachable. Your success with these smaller interactions will help you work your way up to group interactions.
Keep Conversation-Making Tips in Mind
Making conversation comes naturally to some but is a struggle for others. If you find it difficult to talk to others, keep some of these tips in mind:
- Remark on the surroundings or occasion. This may mean discussing how good the food you’re eating is, or pointing out how much you like the music that’s playing.
- Ask open-ended questions, which require more than just a yes or no answer.
- Note anything you have in common and ask follow-up questions.
- Listen effectively. Don’t just anxiously wait for your turn to talk – concentrate on what the other person is saying and be responsive. Conversation will develop more easily between the two of you if your body language is open and inviting, so focus on the speaker, perhaps nodding or smiling occasionally.
Don’t Let Setbacks Get You Down
Inevitably, some social situations won’t go the way you’d like them to go. You may reach out to someone who doesn’t seem interested in having a conversation, or you may get the impression that someone doesn’t like you. However, it’s important not to take these things too personally. No one likes being rejected, but remember that a rejection has as much to do with the other person as it does with you. Maybe that person was having a bad day or just wasn’t in a talkative mood. Also, keep in mind that someone else’s opinion doesn’t define you, and one negative experience doesn’t mean that no one else will be interested in getting to know you. Over time, you’ll learn to shrug off social setbacks rather than dwelling on mistakes or rejections.
While overcoming shyness and social awkwardness is a challenge, it’s important to take the necessary steps to do so. Having friends and supportive relationships in your life is an essential part of maintaining your mental and emotional health. If you’re lonely because of social anxiety and insecurities, figure out what issues are holding you back and use our tips to deal with them.
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