Just about everything I’ve written on this site dealing with the topic of interacting with women has tried to keep it simple and basic. I wanted these posts to be easily accessible, understood, and applicable to real life situations. However, it seems that some guys still need a lot of help to get themselves to a level where they can at least take action, never mind having competency. I see a lot of searches on ‘how to talk to girls if you’re shy’ or something like ‘talking to women when you’re awkward’. For guys at that stage of social development, a lot of what I wrote here, won’t be easily replicated because their fears and anxieties are currently at such a level where they identify themselves as a shy person, and couldn’t possibly talk to a strange girl they met at a party or bar. If you’re one of these guys, don’t fret about it too much, you can indeed become both good with women and talking to strangers in general. The only difference with your situation is that you have to start from a more basic level and hence it will probably take longer than some other guys to get to where you want to be socially.
I don’t want to call it a secret, rather, I’ll call it an obvious tip (though many guys are oblivious to it) which is that one of the biggest keys to success with women is to be completely relaxed around them. Human beings are really good at picking up subtle signs in body language, voice, and other indicators, that help to reveal a person’s inner-mindset or motivations. So, if you’re feeling shy and awkward when talking to a girl, then it is probably going to show and also make her feel somewhat awkward or what causes girls to sometimes call guys ‘creepy’. Is the guy talking to her really creepy? He might be. However, the more likely reason is that he was nervous about the interaction and hence came off awkward as hell. With this in mind, it would seem that our ultimate goal is to be relaxed around girls so that we may express ourselves fully and in a way they conveys positive body language.
How does one reach a state of relaxation and confidence in situations that currently turn him into a shy and awkward mess? The first thing I want to convey about shyness, is that it is not a constant state of being. That is, shyness is merely a label and not who you are as a person. Since that is the case, we can therefore conclude that shyness can be reduced or completely eradicated from our lives if the necessary steps are taken to do so. In my own life, I was constantly labeled as shy when I was a kid, and it kind of took on a life of its own. People said I was shy and it kind of reinforced itself in my behavior. I would find myself in situations with strangers not knowing what to do or what to say. What did it matter anyways? I was ‘shy’ and couldn’t do anything about it. BS. It took some time but I figured out ways to begin to overcome my shyness and further raise my confidence, which only made my shyness evaporate even quicker.
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I think that the first thing a person should do when trying to alleviate shyness is to explore exactly what situations make them feel shy or awkward. Some guys have no problem talking to anyone except the opposite sex, in a situation where they’re trying to pick-up a girl. Other guys have a difficult time in just about any situation they find themselves in. In either case, there is plenty of work to be done to eliminate feeling shy and making yourself into a more outgoing person whenever you are in a social situation. It’s not necessarily an easy experience to get past shyness and can be downright painful sometimes, as it will require stepping outside of your comfort zone, thus making yourself more vulnerable to outside criticism or judgment. However, the experience is totally worth it in the long run because you start to not care about external influences and find yourself more able to express who you are, which can lead to a lot of great experiences and meeting a ton of new people you otherwise wouldn’t have.
I’ve written about reducing socially-induced fear in depth in this post, so I only want to touch on it a bit for this one, in terms of what this fear is. In many ways, shyness is a fear that comes about not because there is anything particularly wrong with you, rather, it is because you fall into a very narrow view of the world while you’re in social situations. I feel that my own mind has different magnification levels, almost like a microscope, which heavily influences my behavior or how I see certain situations.
For instance, if you’ve ever had a really rough schedule at a job, there has probably been a time where it seemed all you did was wake up, go to work, and go to sleep before you repeated the cycle again the next day. In that scenario, you had a very narrow view of life and your own mind seemed like it was functioning at a high magnification level. Meaning, your job and your feelings toward it for that stretch of time dominated your thoughts. It was only when you got some time off from work, that you could really take a step back, and view the world in a different way (like a different magnification lens). During this time off, you probably had a better sense of self and probably had a better mood or noticed some beautiful things in the world around you. Your focus could move beyond just the day in, day out drudgery of work.
Now, let’s apply this idea and see how it works in terms of social interaction. When I was working on my own problems socially, I noticed that, the times I was the most afraid was when I was being the most egocentric. My ego, while trying to protect itself from getting hurt (rejection from girls), put all of these ideas in my head of ways the interaction could go wrong or the terrible ways which I would be perceived. The more I fought through these false notions and made myself take action, the more I noticed my thoughts would change. It went from thoughts such as What do I say? and She probably won’t even like me to thoughts like What does it matter? or Just go for it!
In a very real way, I stepped back and looked at my situation from a higher or so-called meta level. I began to take my thoughts from the egocentric ‘how will I be perceived in society?’ towards a more basic understanding of what my interactions with women were. I was a man, who had a limited amount of time on this planet, and thus my fears were holding me back from experiencing life. My fears of judgment and rejection were overblown because I would soon be forgotten to history, like billions of other people, and some chick being mean or rejecting me really only mattered to my ego. The interaction between a man and a woman, I began to view, as a completely natural thing which I was programmed to do, and so me not interacting with a woman should come about only as a logical choice and not because of an illogical fear of doing so. In short, my ego’s protecting itself really had the opposite effect of hurting me because it prevented me from living the life I wanted to live.
So how does one cultivate the ability to take a mental step back while in a situation of talking to a woman? Everybody has the ability to do this, only they may lack the consistency. You might have experienced a night where you felt like you were in the zone, had insane confidence, and had no problem carrying on a conversation. The problem is that you have been able to replicate these nights on a consistent basis or have tried to induce such a positive mindset by drinking alcohol or using drugs. I can present to you the ways in which I help to relax my mind and put it in a prime state but most of the changes will come over time through first-hand experience. It is one thing to logically think of interactions in a new way but it is another to actually experience it on your nights out.
Priming your Mind
I don’t want to give off the impression that if you read one thing about overcoming shyness, then you’ll magically be cured and pick up women left and right. Sorry, it’s not that easy, but the steps are pretty straightforward. Reading and meditation seem to help me have a more realistic outlook on life, which allows me to step back and not take that nervousness I may feel so seriously. Once you can understand your fear, you can face it, and once you can face it you can conquer it. I’m going to tackle this from a perspective of what has worked for me, which will hopefully provide you with enough examples and tools to conquer this problem on your own.
One of the major habits I picked up during my senior year of high school was reading on a consistent basis. I cannot stress enough how great of an impact this habit has had on my life. My thoughts and outlook on the world around me has been constantly evolving ever since which has helped me greatly in many areas, even social interaction. The main types of books that have helped me in this area of my life are philosophy, history, and psychology.
Stoic philosophy is a Roman/Greek school of thought which mainly tackles the issue of how one should live their life. One of the central ideas in these Stoic works is that a man can only control his own faculties and should not necessarily concern himself with external things outside that control. These ideas are quite helpful when you are trying to overcome fear-based anxieties such as shyness. History books help me to put my own life into perspective and realize that I’m not the center of attention and that I’m really the only person who cares about me getting rejected. Psychology books help to understand behavioral conditioning and the underlying triggers for fear and anxiety.
Here are a few of the books that I read excerpts from on a regular basis to help keep my mind out of the mode of shyness and fear: (Note: you don’t have to read to overcome shyness but it can definitely help to keep your mind pointed towards your end goal).
Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
Any work by Epictetus
50th Law by Robert Greene and 50 Cent
Stillness Speaks by Eckhart Tolle
Taking 20 minutes out of the day, especially 20 minutes before I go out to socialize, just to clear my mind of everything is like priming your mind even further than the books. I remember once when I first began to meditate, I wasn’t feeling particularly confident or great that day, and my thoughts were going a mile a minute. However, I closed my eyes and breathed deeply for 20 minutes, in an attempt to clear my mind. After the time was up it felt like I had hit a reset button on my brain and great sense of calm came over me. That night, I felt like I was in the zone and was so completely relaxed and comfortable in my own skin. Meditation can be a great tool for quieting those negative thoughts that help to reinforce shyness and anxiety. If you can weaken your fears, then you can take action, which will in turn further weaken those fears.
Gaining First-Hand Experience
Like I said, reading and meditation are merely tools that I use to prime my brain and focus my thoughts. If that is all you do, then you’ll just be a calm and well-read guy sitting at home, which is not our goal. Obviously, the way you get over your fears and anxieties is to face them, and not only face them once but repeatedly until they no longer have any control over you. This is just a fact of life. Professional athletes have to adjust and get comfortable with the speed of their game at a higher level after they leave high school or college. The first few years of their careers, athletes have to throw themselves into the game and learn on the fly, how different and more advanced things are now that they are professionals.
You too, have to learn how to deal with different ‘speeds’ of social interaction. Talking to your friend you’ve known for years, is a lot easier than, walking up to a girl you don’t know in a bar and chatting her up. It’s a learning experience you have to undertake and the more you expose yourself to the uncomfortable situations the quicker you will become more comfortable in them. Of course, the quickest way to learn to be relaxed in these interactions with women is to immerse yourself in these situations. So for example, you might consider going out every day for a month and talking to as many women as possible. After, 30 days (30 Days to Life Change) of that your nerves will be falling by the wayside but it is important to note that having social skills will make it easier to go into an interaction without fear. As such, it might be a better idea to take it slow and learn social skills while chipping away at your shyness if you’re at a stage of utter cluelessness.
Indirect Ways to Reduce Shyness with Women
Going out every night and talking to women is a very good way of reducing your shyness around them but it isn’t always practical to do so. Here are a few ways in which I became more comfortable expressing myself in groups or in one on one conversations, that didn’t directly involve me trying to get a date or a phone number. These things allowed me to tailor my life towards a more social bent and gradually increase my social skills.
Retail jobs aren’t fun but they can get you quite comfortable talking to people. I mean, if you’re full-time that’s 40 hours a week of practice time socializing. A great thing about having a job in retail is that you generally have a built-in script of things to talk about, after all you want to sell this product and help the customer. You become a better reader of body language and will learn how to correct your own, in order to help other people feel more comfortable with you. I’ve done both the face to face retail jobs and the ones that are done over the phone and at some point it becomes so routine that you don’t even think about being shy. Cell phone retail stores, bartending, food service, clothing stores (usually girls on staff as well), are all useful to help you get more comfortable around people.
Clubs, Sports, etc.
If you’re in school, this is especially important. Join a club, join a sport (co-ed sports like swimming or track are great), or any other activity. You will meet a ton of people, have built-in topics to talk about, and will be a part of a group that you can gradually get more comfortable with. Don’t only join groups that you know you will enjoy but also push your boundaries and get involved in something that you might not know that much about.
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Remember, the goal is to reduce shyness and awkwardness in social situations (especially with girls). So, getting a job and social activities that require interaction will have you practicing your social skills on a daily basis and as such your growth will be accelerated. If you’re not good a sports consider getting into shape and learning how to play.
Talking to Girls
It’s hard to still be nervous when talking to girls, if you are consistently talking to people throughout the day. However, some guys still do have a problem going up and talking to a girl at a party or a bar. This is why it is so important to develop both mindset and social skills because those basics is what will allow you to get better with women. A guy who is confident and can hold a basic conversation will always do better than the nervous guy who memorized some ‘game’ or pick-up lines. Also, see: How to Dress to Get Girls
The only way to get better at talking to girls is by going out and talking to them. The other things I mentioned can help to greatly reduce shyness and have you feeling more confident, but at some point you will have to dive into the deep end and just start talking. Don’t let you fear of rejection make you regret not taking action later in life. Do you want to be a lonely old man full of regrets? Wouldn’t you rather be the ideal version of you that I’m sure you’ve thought about being?
Look, right now getting phone numbers and learning how to flirt with women are logistical and secondary issues for you. Learn to crawl before you can walk and face the shyness by gaining confidence and learning to hold a basic conversation. Go for what you want but don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get her number. This all takes time to figure out but you can accomplish it if you’re willing to do the work.
Overcoming shyness while talking with women is a process but shyness isn’t a life sentence nor is it encompassing of who you are as a person. Work to overcome shyness and social awkwardness now and give yourself the power to live the life that you have always wanted to.