“Each time we face a fear, we gain strength, courage, and confidence in the doing.” – Unknown
Feeling insecure is right up there with feeling guilty, wearing jeans that are a touch too tight or having a pimple you can’t seem to pop. We all have moments or periods of time in our lives where we feel afraid and insecure. Getting an email saying you are going to be attending the Arnold Sports Festival with team ON / ABB – that’s scary shit.
For most of my life I have been very shy and introverted.
It took me years of trial and error, with countless experiments, books, seminars, and tons of failure and rejection before I overcame my shyness, built my confidence and learned how to deal with insecurity.
The good news is that it doesn’t need to take very long to become more confident, to make new friends and increase your odds of success. As matter of fact I did it over 3 days.
Sometimes people can be quick to judge and label based on stereotypes and perceptions. This is particularly true in the fitness industry. Not everyone will take the time to reach out to you and get to know you before they label you. This brings me to my first tip:
Overcoming Shyness Tip #1: Talk To Everyone
One of the best ways to overcome shyness is to make it a habit of speaking to everyone.This sounds like a bit of a catch-22 situation, since you need to have confidence to be able to speak to people, and you need to speak to people to build confidence. The trick is to start small, for example just start saying “hello” or “good morning” to one person every day.
Then when you start feeling more comfortable with this, start speaking to two people every day, and increase the length of your conversations.
Don’t limit yourself to speaking to people you know or “click” with. Talk to everyone in your community, talk to men, women, young, old, whether they seem normal, strange, or crazy—even if it’s just to say hello. While on my layover in Minneapolis I saw this guy all decked out in Team ON gear. One of my 2015 goals is to overcome my minor social anxiety (or what the less dramatic refer to as shyness) and I walked up to him said “Hello my name is Erika Thatchuk, are you on Team ON?” I tried my best to avoid sounding like Will Ferrell in the movie Elf and it must have worked, he was in fact a member of Team ON and having a familiar face upon arriving in Columbus gave me such a
peace of mind.
Many people won’t take the initiative to get to know you, so that just means you have to get to know them and give them the chance to get to know you.
You’ll find that the majority of people who you start a conversation with are really friendly. If you remember this, reaching out to someone new won’t seem so scary.
Overcoming Shyness Tip #2: Educate Yourself
Many insecurities, fears, and doubts stem from lack of understanding or lack of knowledge about something. The more you understand and know about a situation, the more comfortable you will be and thus the less power your shyness will have over you.
Let’s take for example the subject of public speaking. This is an activity that terrifies most people half to death, but only because most people don’t have much knowledge about it. If you do some research and investigation, you’ll come to learn that it’s perfectly natural to be terrified of public speaking, and that almost every single person has the same fears and insecurities that you do.
When you take it further and ask yourself why you are so terrified of this, you’ll come to learn that you are scared of being judged, or of being laughed at. From there, you can go and read and learn about people who are good at public speaking—learn their tips and strategies.
This way you are much more prepared because your knowledge on the subject is vast. As a result of this, your confidence will already be much higher than before, which might allow you to attempt public speaking when you join a team like ON/ABB. As you practice more, you will naturally become even more confident.
That is exactly what I did in preparation for the Arnold. I learned everything I could about the brand and Team ON / ABB. I learned about the Arnold Sports Festival so I knew exactly what to expect.
And it’s not just the fitness industry where this rule applies, it applies to any area where you feel insecure. Read and research as much about the topic as possible. This will help increase your confidence enough to give the activity a try to see if you might be able to become better at it. And that initial confidence to take action is all you need to get the ball rolling and overcome your shyness.
Overcoming Shyness Tip #3: Practice and Be Persistent
The third and final tip that you need for overcoming shyness is to practice endlessly and never give up. Theory and education will only show you the path to becoming confident, but you still need to actually walk it to gain the full benefits.
The more you practice, the better you’ll become. At anything.
If you want to become better at public speaking, you need to give dozens and dozens of speeches to feel at ease with it. If you want to feel more social in group settings force yourself to get uncomfortable.
I used to be super shy when it came to talking in groups, and as a result my relationship with others were pretty much non-existent.
I started by reading every book related to social anxiety and talking to strangers that I could get my hands on. After that, I spent close to one full year talking to literally hundreds of people in group settings in gyms, bars, and malls. It was the only way to overcome my shyness and become confident at talking in groups.
So what exactly do you have to do to overcome your shyness?? Take action, practice, and don’t give up until you get the results you were aiming for. You will face setbacks, failures, and rejections, but ultimately those are all necessary to build more confidence.
I know what it’s like to be shy and have little or no confidence, and I know for a fact that you can turn that around.
With love from the Trench kitchen,