The problem of shyness
Being shy can be listed as having the following concepts running around in your head:
- Low self-image — voice in your head creating unhelpful thoughts
- Worrying about social situations — actively avoiding interactions
- Trust issues — not believing or accepting compliments for example
- Fear of humiliation
- Worried how other may see you — overly focused on yourself
- Being labeled as shy or having shy being an incorrect synonym for introverted
The last one is of note, as both extroverts and introverts can be shy, as shyness is more about people being afraid of engaging, due to a fear of external judgment. Extroverts and introverts simply receive their energy from different places. One receives external energy and the other internal energy, respectively.
Now that we’ve cleared the air between introversion and shyness, we need to see what the actual problem is. Before we can create our gamified “quest” goal, we need to break it down. What about being shy is bothering you? Is it impeding your work, your social life?
Not everyone wants to be a social butterfly or the highlight of a party. Don’t force yourself, as this will also reinforce discomfort in you. But equally, not everyone pushes themselves as far as they can, except of course when they are playing a game. The point is to push yourself to a new point of comfort.
Gamifying your battle with shyness
For this gamify your life piece, we’re going to break down the various steps you can take and suggest what you can possibly do in each step, a how-to guide that you can implement to aid you. So, let’s get going!
- Step 1: Who are you? Who is the player?
Step 1 is tackling your (lack of self-awareness). Figure out what the triggers for your shyness are: audiences, new situations or surroundings, being alone in a crowd, etc… Not all situations are a trigger hopefully for you.
This is also a great moment to give yourself a role in your game. A loss of confidence is often due to losing your purpose in a situation, and as any good game, give yourself a role that’s appropriate for the situations you’ll pick out in step 4
- Step 2: What is the goal/problem to solve?
What is it that you want to have achieved at the end of the game? Do you want to change your life? Improve a skill? Or change a specific situation? Just remember that any goal always needs 3 things: it must be concrete, it must be achievable (with effort) and it must be rewarding, or create real change in this case.
- Step 3: Reward / Win-State
So, what will the reward be? Pick something that will motivate you, that will push you past the finish line. This is another part of improving your self-awareness, picking the right reward. Intrinsic or Extrinsic rewards are both fine — use an extrinsic one (like a nice bottle of wine) for short-term wins, and use an intrinsic reward (like spending the day with friends) for long-term wins.
- Step 4: Actions: Breaking down the goal into smaller steps
Make a list of all the triggers and situations. Then rank your fears and issues and start working through them using the following suggested actions.
- Change your thoughts day by day. Break out of negative thinking — research and find factual evidence that disputes your negative thoughts. Use positive affirmation/reinforcement — actively tell yourself positive thoughts and statements, either vocally or silently in your mind.
- Don’t focus on yourself. Brush off or laugh off any (imagined) perceived flaws, everyone has flaws, just accept them as part what makes you unique, and practice continuing forward regardless of what you think others think.
- Observe and research others who are good at social settings. If you already know people who are confident then ask them for help and advice. This is part of Step 5 as well.
- Be approachable, open your body language. Tell yourself in the mirror that you are an open person. Be sure to be clean, groomed and dress well — strike a pose in the mirror when you’re suited-&-booted to feel better and more confident. Visualise your success, use the same mirror to role-play experiences you feel uncomfortable with, after all, practice makes perfect. Also, be assertive, learn when to say no and when to say yes, and be direct when needed.
- Really go out there, once you’ve done the previous steps for a week or 2, then actually go out into the world. Pick a gathering you want to experience and try it. Get friends or family to help you at gatherings if you’re not quite ready for a solo flight. And go to places where people share a similar interest or have hobbies like you. If you’re already good at something then it’s easier to find common ground with people.
The easiest thing to do is to always listen, be curious, be nice and give sincere compliments. People like feeling good and smart about themselves and will be more approachable to you if you’re friendly to them, so, practice that smile, and practice small talk.
As I’ve said before though if you are really struggling and experiencing true anxiety then explore solutions with a mental health professional. They will be able to expand the steps in your gamification setting.
Some extra steps to aid you are Mindfulness, practice daily meditation, do it for 10 minutes a day, lots of good online & offline guides to find the right meditation technique for you. Maybe also pick a theme song or a mantra. Or change your diet, take out anxiety increasing foods like coffee for example. And lastly try to work-out more, feeling healthy and looking healthy boost confidence as well.
Ensure that you create small steps, that have short-term achievable goals. Going straight for the end-goal will be overwhelming and lower your motivation. Remember to have small rewards for your goals as well. It’s the “tension & release” approach of putting stress on yourself for a period, then releasing and achieving a mini-goal, and rewarding yourself appropriately for it.
· Step 5: Who are your Rivals & Allies
As I said at the start, any good game starts from a point of relatedness and community. So, like any good game you need allies and rivals, people who can help you and people who will push you. These are very important, as even though you may get far on your own, you’ll get further with people helping you.