How to Calm the Mind and Beat the Nerves
1. Dump your image – The very first thing you need to do (after not panicking) is to stop affirming your shyness. Stop telling yourself that you are shy or that you find gatherings awful.
If we keep telling ourselves we are this or that, we will never overcome our feeling of fear or insecurity. And feelings can be overcome.
Forget you have ever been shy.
2. Talk to yourself – Now this is not something to do in public, even in this age of hands-free phone calls.
Before entering a situation where you will talk to strangers, practice meditating on positive words.
When falling asleep or during other quiet moments, recite something positive, like “I am whole, perfect, strong and powerful, loving, harmonious and happy.”
This omits the word “shy” and helps to reinforce positive feelings of self. Remember, you are great!
3. Forget about visualisation – Contrary to popular advice, don’t visualise yourself in the situation. Keep that for job interviews.
It’s simply exhausting to picture various scenarios, discussions or people. Whether it be a social setting or a meeting at work, no conversation can ever be pre-imagined, so don’t try.
Experience life in the present moment and react to people and conversations in real time.
4. Prepare for every encounter – Keep a few conversation starters up your sleeve.
You don’t want your mind to go blank, so to avoid struggling on the spot, have a few general questions ready to pop.
Avoid controversial topics and ask about hobbies, holidays or work.
Speaking of work, if you’re going to a meeting and want to ensure that your voice is heard, prepare well and read any material associated with the agenda. Jot down your key thoughts.
5. Don’t fight your feelings – Accept your nervousness. The more you try to resist or eliminate it, the stronger it becomes.
So accept that you will feel nervous, but that it will pass. Now you have immediately changed your relationship with your feelings.
Your nerves will diminish because you no longer fear or fight them.
How to Involve Others Even When You Don’t Want To
6. Feel for other people – Feelings of shyness or lack of self-confidence creates a focus on ourselves.
We place ourselves in the spotlight. How do I look? What do they think of me? What should I say?
Turn that spotlight around onto the people with whom you are chatting. Where are they from? Do they have any holidays planned? Are they enjoying the food? Be genuinely interested in others.
You can learn to feel for other people simply by listening to what concerns them.
7. Partner up – Occasions are less daunting when you have a friend by your side.
If you’ve been invited to an event, ask if you can bring a friend. If you’re attending a training event for work, ask another colleague to accompany you.
This will not make you immune from nerves, but having a companion will help you to settle in. Just don’t cling to him all the time.
8. Forget about trying to make friends – Don’t create a “To Do” list in your mind.
Forget about trying to make a good first impression. Forget about trying to keep a conversation going ad infinitum.
These things will come more naturally when you stop trying. Forget that you don’t know the people around you. Be assured that many others feel the same as you do.