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Why Am I Shy?

Aug 17, 2007
Working as a personal development coach, I've helped hundreds of people to overcome shyness and gain confidence and a healthy, assertive state of mind. But as we get started on the process, the first question people usually ask is, "Why am I shy?"

With a background in psychology and many years of personal development coaching under my belt, I could give you some extraordinarily complicated theory to explain your shyness, but I won't. You see, the simple answer is, "You are shy because you have developed a habit of being shy." That's it.

I'm sorry to disappoint anyone looking for a more complicated or exciting answer. But the simple truth is that shyness is a learned response that becomes a habit by repetition, just like any other habit you may have, and in fact, it is no more difficult to change than any other habit.

Consider this (slightly silly) example: when you're getting dressed in the morning, which sock do you put on first; your right or your left? Odds are, you have a habit of always putting on either the right or left sock first. This is an example of a simple habit, formed by common repetition and then performed mostly on autopilot for the rest of your life.

But what if one day you decided to reverse the order you put on your socks-- you wanted to establish a new habit? What would it take to make this happen?


That's right-awareness is all you really need to change the sock habit (or any other). But this requires you to pay attention every time you are getting dressed. In other words, no more running on autopilot!

Now this is the stumbling block that trips up many people who are trying to change a well-established habit, no matter if that habit is sock order or learned shyness! People don't want to have to think about it so much-and who could blame them, they're used to letting their autopilot handle all this and not giving it a second thought. Besides, paying attention to your habits is boring, right? Not Necessarily...

The key to paying attention to your actions, and changing the habit of shyness is...wait for it..."playing games".

Playing mental games when you are in social situations is the fastest and easiest way to change the habit of shyness. One great example of a mental game (or "strategy") that works well is modeling the behavior of someone you consider to be very outgoing. You do this by asking yourself simple questions like:

1. What would ___________do in this situation (fill in the blank with the name of the person you are modeling)?
2. How would ________feel in this situation?
3. What would _______think and say right now?

The person you model can be someone you know, or a celebrity you've never met-it really doesn't matter. The important point is that this person must represent the opposite of shyness to you. Also, you don't have to worry so much about the answers to the above questions; simply asking the questions to yourself calmly will start your subconscious mind looking for answers and you will find yourself gradually taking on some of the characteristics of this person.

Now some people will protest, "This is all well and good, but I want to be myself-I don't want to imitate anyone else." Don't worry-you will be yourself. No matter how much you try to imitate someone else, you cannot help but be who you are. It is impossible to take on someone else's personality-all you can do is affect some of their reactions and mannerisms. But the good news is, that's all you have to do.

Modeling behavior can work miracles in your life, and there is absolutely no chance you will "become" the other person or "lose" your natural personality. Humans just aren't made that way.

But you can certainly learn new habits of interacting with other people. And the more fun and "game like" you make this exercise, the better it works.

It you've been asking yourself, "Why am I shy," try looking at it as nothing more than a habit. The simple but effective concept of modeling behavior can change this habit quickly. Just keep it light and keep it fun- you'll be surprised how outgoing you can become using this easy strategy.
About the Author
Jon Mercer is an author, personal development coach and developer of "The UltraConfidence System." Click Here to Learn Jon's Secret for Building Confidence Fast!
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