You can always come up with a reason why you should not speak up. Everyone has a past story or memory of a time they spoke up and it backfired, blew up in their face or just plain didn’t work out. But that doesn’t have to be your story now.
I’ve overcome shyness several times in life – first, by creating my translation (and first ever) business in my 40s; just being willing to talk to people and let them know I had a business took courage, as not everyone was supportive of my endeavor, and I had many opportunities to give into self-doubt. Even more challenging was a time I lost my physical voice after a surgery. I was diagnosed with vocal paralysis, which meant speaking became difficult, unpredictable and unreliable, my sounds coming out strangely and erratically, even after I underwent years of vocal therapy.
I could have given up and stayed hidden, but I made a different choice, and it led me to radically change and empower my voice in all areas of my life. Here are 6 ways I helped myself overcome shyness and find my true voice:
Make a commitment to you
It was only when I began to make a very different type of commitment to my voice – that of finding my true inner voice (no matter what occurred with occurred with my outer one!) – that I began a journey to successfully overcome the debilitating shyness, developing confidence and ease with speaking both out in the world and in my own life. Are you willing to acknowledge that you have the power to change this, and to make the commitment to you that you will have your voice?
Is that shyness really yours?
How much of the shyness you currently have going on are learned reactions and behaviors, as well as awareness of others around you? All of us have had an experience of walking into a room and sensing the mood in the room. When and in what situations does “shyness” come up for you the most?
If you’re willing to acknowledge that some shyness you’ve learned from others, and some parts are what you picked up from others around you in the moment, you can ask yourself, “So how much of the shyness I thought was mine, isn’t?” And if it’s possible a lot of it isn’t yours, how much confidence and ease do you actually have available that you’ve never acknowledged?
Recalibrate the negative self-talk
Self-doubts and criticisms keep shyness in place. When I started truly listening to my inner-dialogue with myself, I realized it was mostly negative. I was afraid to speak up and make a fool of myself, using that fear to withdraw.
I decided to challenge those fears. Whenever a negative thought come up, I made a conscious choice to stop believing it. I made a commitment that I was changing my point of view completely, and then employed different ways to replace the negative thoughts with an empowering alternative – such as kindness, gratitude, and self-acknowledgement.
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Have gratitude for you
When your attention is on gratitude, judgments cannot stay in place. Gratitude is inherently empowering, while judgement is inherently disempowering. Choose gratitude for you and praise yourself for what you accomplish, what you are great at, what is different and unique about you. Everything in your life that you enjoy is there because you created it and chose to have it. Have you acknowledged that lately?
Ask a question
Every judgement we make against ourselves is like closing and locking a door to a tiny room. A question can open a door for you to see beyond that tiny room. One of my favorite questions is, “What’s right about me I am not getting?”
Negative self-talk focuses on making ourselves wrong. But if you ask, “What’s right?” you turn everything 180 degrees and can see yourself in a totally new light.
Trust your “Inner GPS”
A major component of shyness is holding onto self-doubt: the places where we have stopped (or never started) trusting ourselves. Trusting you and listening to your inner guidance system is one of our most potent allies. It may take a while to rebuild your self-trust, but it just takes practice. Trust isn’t about making the right choice, or having everything work out perfect, it is knowing that you can trust you to handle whatever comes.
Even when you have made a ‘bad’ choice, or something didn’t work out, how often have you landed on your feet? And the times when didn’t work out, where they also the times that you overrode yourself to listen to other people – whether it was taking a job, going on a date or buying that recommended brand when somewhere you knew it wasn’t going to work for you? Start practicing looking to yourself for the answers – ask, “What do I know about this?” “What is my sense of this situation?” and “What would work for me here?” Put your own instincts back into the picture and give your inner voice a chance to be heard.
Creating the confidence and willingness to speak out beyond shyness truly is an “inside job”. If you are willing to recalibrate and revolutionize the way you perceive and speak to yourself, the way you communicate and interact with the world around you will change naturally and come much more freely (and with a lot more joy!) as a result.
Norma Forastiere is a business mentor, natural therapist and certified facilitator of several Access Consciousness® special programs. A self-proclaimed seeker, Norma began practicing mediation at an early age and then went on to study metaphysics and several energy healing and natural therapy modalities. A native Portuguese speaker with a proficiency in English and Spanish, Norma offers workshops and consultations for those willing to explore greater possibilities in life, communication and business.