13 Tips For Overcoming Shyness

Medically reviewed by Andrea Brant, LMHC
Updated April 23, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

While socializing comes naturally for some, it can be a struggle for others, leading to discomfort, trouble communicating, and the desire to isolate. Shyness is a normal, common personality trait—but one that can make it hard for people to connect with others and achieve their goals. If you’re often hesitant to engage in social situations, you may be looking for ways to interact with those around you in a more comfortable way. Below, we’re outlining 13 strategies for overcoming shyness in your life.

Article Visual

Want to feel more comfortable in social settings?

What causes shyness?

Before we discuss ways to overcome shyness, it can help to gain an understanding of the reasons a person might be shy. According to the American Psychological Association,  is “the presence of anxious reactions and excessive self-consciousness and negative self-evaluation in response to real or imagined social interactions”. Shyness can be caused by a variety of factors, including genetics, low self-confidence, upbringing, and mental health challenges. Many people attribute the development of shyness to early interactions with caregivers. Overprotectiveness, in particular, is thought to be a major contributor. 

The effects of shyness

The avoidance or inhibition of people who are shy can make it hard for them to take advantage of the benefits of social interaction. Common effects of shyness include:

  • Canceling social events at the last moment
  • Avoiding situations that provide positive social interaction
  • Having few or no friends
  • Struggling to assert oneself
  • Low self-esteem
  • Engaging in isolating activities
  • Struggling in workplace interactions

Tips to overcome shyness

Although shyness is considered to be partly an inherent characteristic, it is an attribute that can be kept in check with the right strategies. The following are several tips for feeling more confident and less bashful in social situations. 

1. Put yourself in social situations

Sometimes the best path toward addressing a fear is exposure. Think about moments when you overcame shyness—the time you introduced yourself to a stranger or performed in a high school play. Did you feel more confident afterward? Putting yourself out there can help you feel more self-assured and may make future interactions less daunting.

2. Pay attention to your words

The words we use to communicate with and characterize ourselves can be powerful. Talking to yourself in a negative way or using limiting language when describing yourself can damage your self-confidence. Consider replacing phrases like I am shy with I am learning to be more comfortable in social situations. This can go a long way toward moving from shyness to confidence.

3. Breathe deeply

Socializing or speaking in front of others can cause stress for someone who is shy. Taking a few moments to breathe in and out deeply can help to reverse these effects.  are effective stress management tools that you can employ almost anywhere. A common deep breathing technique is box breathing. To practice box breathing, take a deep breath in for a four count and hold it for a four-count, then breathe out for a four count and hold your breath again for a four count. Repeat these steps three to four times. 

4. Appreciate your uniqueness

Embracing your shyness may help you avoid feeling self-conscious when you’re out with others. Many people find shyness endearing, and you may find that those around you will work hard to ensure you feel comfortable, regardless of how engaged you are. Celebrating and leaning into this unique quality of yours can help you feel better about participating in social situations, even if you don’t necessarily interact with others as frequently. 

5. Get excited about a new adventure

One way to approach an uncertain and possibly difficult time is to look at the journey toward the new you like an adventure. You may have been shy most of your life, and if so, that’s a part of you that you’re used to. Working through shyness and developing increased confidence may seem like a daunting task, but viewing the journey as an exciting adventure to parts unknown can be exciting and, in turn, may boost your self-esteem. If you’ve made up your mind to attend more social situations and events, you can look at each of those moments as exciting and new adventures.

6. Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness involves drawing your attention to the present and being aware of your thoughts, feelings, and surroundings. There is evidence that mindfulness can help reduce symptoms of social phobia, which can lead to severe discomfort interacting with others. In one study, participants in a mindfulness program experienced reduced symptoms of social anxiety disorder, increased self-esteem, and an improved view of their self-worth. 

7. Look the part

If you have an upcoming job interview, wedding, or other potentially uncomfortable social situation, taking time to tend to your appearance can make a big difference. Dressing well and managing personal hygiene can increase confidence, lead to more comfortable interactions with others, and help you convey a composed attitude. 

8. Take small steps

Getting started can be the hardest part of learning how to be more social for those who are shy. But engaging with people doesn’t have to be practiced at a 200-person wedding or an important work presentation. Start out small. Try chatting with the teller at the bank or the person ahead of you in the checkout line, and then move up to talking to strangers at stores or the gym. This can help you build confidence and work your way up to more difficult challenges.

 9. Utilize confident body language

Your body language and tone of voice can give off cues, even subconsciously, to the people you’re interacting with. People who are shy often display body language that reflects a lack of confidence. Making eye contact when talking to someone, avoiding hanging your head, and projecting your voice clearly can help you express self-assuredness without words.

10. Try creative visualization

Forming a mental image of how a successful interaction will play out can help you prepare for social situations. Visualization is a common technique used to help people perform their best in various scenarios. For example, if you have a work presentation, imagining the way it will progress can help you prepare for it. Visualization gives you the opportunity to practice what you’re going to say and how you’re going to communicate your message so that you feel more confident when the time comes. 

11. Find shy role models

You may have friends, family, or co-workers—or you may know about public figures—who are naturally shy but display the confidence in social situations that you would like to develop. Many highly successful people have overcome obstacles like social anxiety in order to achieve their goals. Learning from role models and realizing that overcoming shyness is possible can provide you with encouragement and inspiration.

12. Give yourself grace

Remember that shyness is a normal, common experience—in fact, it is estimated that up to 50% of people experience some form of shyness.

Although social interaction can be beneficial, your self-worth is not derived from how sociable you are. Try to be kind to yourself if you experience setbacks. It’s OK if you struggle in some social situations as you work through shyness. Giving yourself grace can help you avoid damaging your self-confidence.

13. Address the sources

Many times, shyness is caused by a deeper concern, and working through that challenge can help you feel more comfortable in social scenarios. What is the source of your shyness? Is it a result of self-esteem? Does it relate to a childhood event? Are you living with social anxiety disorder? If you’re having trouble identifying the roots of your shyness, a mental health professional can provide useful insights and valuable guidance.

Want to feel more comfortable in social settings?

How online therapy can help

Studies show that online therapy can help individuals manage mental health challenges that may lead to shyness. In a study on the efficacy of online therapy for social phobia, researchers found that over 50% of participants no longer fit the criteria for social anxiety disorder. They also noted that participants experienced improvements in shyness, fear, and discomfort, all of which were sustained at a six-month follow-up. 

Online therapy can help you feel less self-conscious and more confident in social situations. With an online therapy platform like BetterHelp, you can chat with a therapist remotely, which can be helpful if you’re not comfortable meeting face to face due to symptoms of social anxiety disorder or similar concerns. You’ll also have the option of contacting your therapist outside of sessions; so, if you have a question about overcoming shyness, you can send them a message, and they’ll respond when they’re able. 


While shyness can be difficult to experience, it is a completely normal feeling—and one that can be managed with the right approach. The above tips can help you limit the discomfort you feel in social situations and better connect with peers and loved ones. If you’d like support as you navigate interactions with others, consider working with a licensed therapist online. Taking advantage of the experience and knowledge of a professional can help you better connect with others and nurture your own emotional wellness.
Target disruptive behavior in therapy
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
Get the support you need from one of our therapistsGet started