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The Worst Shyness Advice In The World

It’s truly amazing how bad most shyness advice is.

It mindlessly repeats the same 5 tips over and over. It is completely out of touch with how REAL shy people think. And it truly believes the world needs yet another dumb motivational saying like “fake it ’til you make it.”

Even the name “shyness advice” makes me want to burn all the self help books in the library.

I’ve spent the last few months creating the 2nd version of The Shyness and Social Anxiety System.

I wanted to update the system to make it even better. So it was with great reluctance that I began studying books and courses about how to overcome shyness again.

I have an extraordinarily careful process for studying advice: I buy every course, product, and book. I study them intensely, keeping notes and comparing them. I build techniques, models and frameworks, endlessly test them, and in some cases rip them up and start again.

By the time you ever see a course from me, it has been quietly inspected and tested by dozens of people.

And after all this research, what I found was seriously discouraging.

  • I found advice written by people who have never had shyness. (In fact, most self help writers or psychologists write books for the money and recognition, not because they actually know how to help people.) If they have never personally felt what it’s like to be nervous, shy or anxious in social situations, then how would THEY know which advice actually works?
  • I found advice that tried to be “motivational” — by using tired old phrases like “Just think about what’s the worst that can happen!” or telling you to “Imagine yourself being confident.”
  • I found university studies about shyness that were almost unreadable. They used long important-sounding words to explain simple and obvious ideas. I found myself wondering: Are professors really this dumb? The answer is no. But they don’t have a clue when it comes to shyness.

So here are 5 of the worst pieces of advice — THIS IS REAL SHYNESS ADVICE — that I found. Seriously, these are actual things that people wrote and were paid for.

I pulled these 5 pieces of hilariously bad shyness advice from my internal research vault.

Let’s start with…

1. Focusing On Other People

shyness-worst-1

You’ll find almost every shyness article online endlessly repeating and echoing this tip.

It’s a piece of advice that sounds great on the surface … to people who have never had shyness. This is a great example of an article writer oversimplifying an issue because they don’t really understand it. They don’t understand how to cure shyness, so they just decided to summarize the tips they read in other articles.

Rehash. Repeat. Republish. Profit.

If overcoming shyness was as simple as telling someone to “focus more on other people,” then nobody would be shy. The advice is simply not SPECIFIC enough to be helpful to the average shy person. You’re basically left wondering HOW you’re supposed to actually do this.

The next tip you’ll find is…

2. Rehearse What To Say

shyness-worst-2

If you want to sound like a robot, then this would be great advice.

But for everyone else out there, rehearsing what to say is a terrible thing to do because it completely ruins your ability to talk to people naturally and spontaneously.

Preparing what to say for a job interview or a speech is normal. Rehearsing daily conversations or phone calls because you are shy is ridiculous. It turns your life into a performance, and is that really how anyone should live?

Do normal people have to rehearse their daily conversations like an actor? No, they simply talk to people. And the reason why they can talk to people easily is because their inner psychology is free of anxiety, insecurity and inhibitions, not because they have memorized the perfect “lines.”

So you need to focus on getting your inner psychology right instead of rehearsing what to say. Of course, the person who wrote this article is probably now writing one called “12 Ways To Tie Your Shoes Quicker” and didn’t have time to figure this out.

The next tip is…

3. Ask More, Talk Less

shyness-worst-3

Back when I had really bad shyness, I would barely speak up and people would always call me quiet. If someone had told me back then that I should “talk less,” then I’d probably think they were crazy.

Here’s the truth: Shy people need tips for how to talk MORE, not less.

So where does this bad advice come from?

About 50 years ago, there was an explosion in popularity of books that taught “people skills.” The advice in these books is mostly common sense: Be a good listener, don’t criticize people, remember their name, smile more often, and so on.

And although this advice might be useful to some people, it was never meant to help shy peopleThis type of advice should be given to the rude loudmouth everyone finds annoying. Or maybe to the greasy salesperson who wants to make more money by pretending to be polite.

Shy people don’t need these tips because they already speak up too little and care too much about whether somebody else likes them. You need advice that will make you speak up more around people. You need to learn how to be less nervous and awkward around people. You need to learn how to build confidence and courage to get that social life, girlfriend or boyfriend you want.

What you DON’T NEED is “people skills advice” meant for people who don’t have shyness.

Now here’s another one…

4. Affirmations

shyness-worst-4

This is advice straight from self-help hell.

I don’t know who invented affirmations, but I think some dude just woke up one day and thought it “sounded like a good idea.”

In case you don’t know, affirmations are basically positive statements that you repeat to yourself like “I am confident and happy.” Literally hundreds of self help books have repeatedly recommended using this technique for overcoming shyness or low self esteem… without any scientific proof that it actually works!

In fact, every scientific study recently done on affirmations has consistently shown that they don’t work, and can even make you feel worse!

Here’s a quote from one of these studies. (Pay special attention to the parts I’ve bolded.)

Canadian researcher, Dr. Joanne Wood at the University of Waterloo and her colleagues at the University of New Brunswick who have recently published their research in the Journal of Psychological Science, concluded “repeating positive self-statements may benefit certain people, such as individuals with high self-esteem, but backfire for the very people who need them the most.”

The researchers asked people with low self-esteem to say “I am a lovable person.” They then measured the participants’ moods and their feelings about themselves. The low-esteem group felt worse afterwards compared with others who did not. However, people with high self-esteem felt better after repeating the positive affirmation–but only slightly.

- Psychology Today

5. Just Do It!

shyness-worst-5

The author of this article talks about introducing yourself to random strangers as if it was the easiest thing in the world.

Imagine if I told you “Go buy some groceries, wash your car, and — oh, by the way — just walk up to someone randomly and have a conversation with them.”

I can just imagine your reaction.

“Wait … you want me to do WHAT!?!!”

And while all the shy people reading that article were still shaking their heads in disbelief, the author smugly adds “And you may never see them again, so who cares what they think of you?”

Just like other shyness advice that sounds logical but doesn’t work, asking yourself questions like “Who cares what they think?” or “What’s the worst that can happen?” does NOTHING for making you feel less shy, nervous or anxious in social situations.

Why Is This Shyness Advice So Bad?

That seriously passes for shyness advice — in SOME OF THE LARGEST WEBSITES IN THE WORLD.

Are you kidding me?

Is anyone else outraged?

I’ll tell you why I’m mad.

  • I’m mad because this terrible advice is written NOT to help people, but to drive pageviews on their websites. If these writers helps literally zero people, it doesn’t matter — they still get paid.
  • I’m mad because the shyness advice we get is unspecific at best, and blatantly wrong at worst.
  • I’m mad because I realized 90%+ of the books and articles I read had never tested their theories with real people.

So what happens?

Most of us simply accept our position in life and stop trying to achieve the friends, confidence or romance that would truly make us happy. We don’t realize that what we really need is science-based advice for overcoming shyness that was tested to make sure it works IN REAL LIFE.

I’m focused on results. Like how one of my students got a girlfriend within weeks of starting my Shyness and Social Anxiety System 2 … even before he finished listening to the whole program.

So, ignore the terrible advice out there written by random article writers. There is hope. There is a SYSTEMATIC way of overcoming your shyness, clear steps to follow for having interesting conversations, and a method for staying confident even around people you find intimidating or attractive. I’ve done it, I’ve helped MANY people do it, and I want to show you how.

TO DO TODAY

Leave a comment with the following:

  1. What is the most ridiculous piece of shyness advice you’ve ever heard? Be specific please.
  2. How has bad shyness advice kept you from achieving your goals? A SPECIFIC EXAMPLE PLEASE.

35 Responses to The Worst Shyness Advice In The World

  1. johani January 3, 2014 at 1:29 pm #

    the worst shyness advise ive heard was: ‘ you dont have to be shy, you have so much that you can give people’. Right as if shyness is a choice!
    I never follow shyness advice, because i cannot see myself talking to random strangers or give input into a conversation. I cannot force myself to not be shy.

  2. Matt January 3, 2014 at 2:03 pm #

    Hi Sean,
    Thanks for the post, it’s good to know that I’m not the only one who gets pissed off by such “advices.

    1. Advices that were supposed to help in approaching girls
    I’m gonna use few examples: “Just approach random girl on the street and start speaking to her, it doesn’t matter what you’ll say just be confident”, “Approach at least 10 girls a day, that will build your confidence, just start doing so” etc. And of course the most helpful one – “Don’t be shy” (http://tinyurl.com/77y2b26)

    2. Reading advices like abovementioned almost always made me feel miserable. I was thinking that I’m useless and hopeless because I wasn’t able to follow these tips.
    These advices were lowering my self-esteem in a big way.

    So that’s it.

    Best Regards

    • Sean Cooper January 10, 2014 at 8:48 am #

      Hey Matt,

      Thanks for the comment. A lot of the dating advice out there is really designed for guys who don’t struggle with issues like shyness or social anxiety. So they assume that with practice and a few basic pointers, you can just start approaching women.

      Obviously someone with shyness needs different advice than “most guys.” I’m thinking of creating a course later this year specifically designed to help shy guys become comfortable around girls and get a girlfriend. Stay tuned!

      - Sean

      • Peter May 21, 2014 at 7:57 pm #

        Actually, you can, but the advice is useless anyway, because you have no clue how.

        I used to look at it exactly as you. It was as if healthy person was telling a disabled person in a wheelchair to “just force themselves to walk”. Nonsense!

        Now I look at it as if a person who swims since infancy was looking at drawning person and telling them to “just swim”, not understanding that they don’t know how to do it. This analogy may seam very similar to the previous one, but there is one crucial difference – you can learn how to swim. I do understand now that I can, I want and I will learn how to overcome my problems.

        People giving me bad advice may not understand what’s going on, but they are not telling me to do the impossible.

        • Peter May 21, 2014 at 7:57 pm #

          oh, sorry, was meant to go on different post

          • Peter May 21, 2014 at 7:58 pm #

            @johani (January 3, 2014 at 1:29 pm)

  3. N. Cowin January 3, 2014 at 2:34 pm #

    I was told to pretend I was someone else. As if I was incapable of overcoming my social anxiety.

  4. Stuurman January 3, 2014 at 2:59 pm #

    Im Stuurman from South Africa i have a problem wth shyness, so i realy like what i read here i knw its gonna help me, so thanks alot for your information its powerfull and true unlike the shyness advide out there i really want the book of yours but i dnt knw how, coz i live in rural araes in South Africa.

  5. Jenn January 3, 2014 at 3:30 pm #

    The worst peice of “shyness” advice I’ve ever heard is one that you have listed, which is to “just do it”. Another variation of this that I tend to hear a lot is “just get over it”.
    This is a peice of advice that I hear a lot and see on most websites. It suggest that it’s really that easy to just get out there and “do it”. It frustrates me when people say this because they don’t know what it’s like to be shy and don’t seem to realize that it is not that easy. If it was that simple, I would have done it a long time ago.

    Bad shyness advice has kept me from reaching my goals (ex. Doing well with a presentation/public speaking) because I attempt to follow the advice and when it doesn’t work, it makes me feel like there is something wrong with me. I feel bad about the fact that I couldn’t follow a few “simple” steps. But what I’ve realized is that the advice wasn’t realistic or helpful to begin with.

    • Sean Cooper January 10, 2014 at 8:49 am #

      Thanks for the comment Jenn.

      I agree with you — the worst shyness advice really has to be the “motivational” type. Hope this article put things into perspective.

      -Sean

  6. Joe January 3, 2014 at 4:10 pm #

    Most ridiculous advice I have ever received is : Be yourself !

    • Joe January 3, 2014 at 4:15 pm #

      How it has stopped me from reaching my goal is :

      - The problem IS with the way I am and I want to CHANGE that !
      - I have been myself for all my life and it took me nowhere. Why should I continue to be like that when it is ruining my life !
      - This advice makes sense for those who are confident. But someone who has failed so many times you are asking me to keep failing like this again and again without learning anything or trying anything new !

  7. Tayib January 3, 2014 at 4:16 pm #

    Here is the worst advice for shy peopleI have ever heard in my life.
    If you are shy, be around confident people. It will force the shyness out of you and replace iy with confidence. Clearly, the person who said this doesn’t have a clue about shyness.
    Would a sheep like to be amidst lions?

    When I was In high school I had the opportunity to do a weekend job that woulf easily get me around $700
    It was a private delivery service for a supermarket. Normally all the people that get deliveries from this place are lawyers , doctors in other words busy people. And they ALWAYS give a large tip never less then $70.00. This supermarket had around 25 – 30 houses on the weekend list. And that’s just the tips. The guy offering me the job was willing to give me a 100

  8. Tayib January 3, 2014 at 4:36 pm #

    Here is the worst advice for shy peopleI have ever heard in my life.
    If you are shy, be around confident people. It will force the shyness out of you and replace iy with confidence. Clearly, the person who said this doesn’t have a clue about shyness.
    Would a sheep like to be amidst lions?

    When I was In high school I had the opportunity to do a weekend job that woulf easily get me around $700
    It was a private delivery service for a supermarket. Normally all the people that get deliveries from this place are lawyers , doctors in other words busy people. And they ALWAYS give a large tip never less then $70.00. This supermarket had around 25 – 30 houses on the weekend list. And that’s just the tips. The guy offering me the job was willing to give me a $100 for both days making it $200 + tips. This person was from my country so he was trying to help me get a job. He even wanted me to go out with his sister! But little did he kno about my problems of shyness and anxiety. The job seemed hard enough let alone goung out with his sister! He wasn’t happy with who she was seeing. Like I even hsd a chance woth her Lol. I would hate to go house by house to deliver groceries. Having to maintain eye contact and being forced to talk to people. And to have a girlfriend on top of that (the guys sister was dang hot!). I just passed. Told him I would think about it. I kept him off for a few weeks. He eventually gave up on me. I could’ve taken this job and used the extra money. Just because I was shy I couldn’t. That was the only darn reason I swear. Little do people know that shyness can hamper you from a lot of things in life. From success to love. How I hate it.
    P.s I think I must have clicked on the submit button before the comment was completed so you might be getting two of the same comments. One is nkt completed. Sorry!!

    • Sean Cooper January 10, 2014 at 8:52 am #

      Hey Tayib,

      Sorry to hear about that! Seems like that could have been a great opportunity. Better luck in the future.

      -Sean

  9. Irah January 3, 2014 at 5:26 pm #

    1. Face your fear
    2. I have read a lot about it from internet and even bought a book on how to face the fear.

    Until i realise that i have been facing my fears for all these years and it is still not working.

    It also says about facing the same fear regularly will reduce your fear and it don’t work as well!

    I remembered during my school days i have to do group presentation almost everyday for 3 years. I got so nervous and i end up just reading from slides.

    Now i am working adult and i still facing the same problem. I have attended job interviews, meetings and make phonecalls but still feel nervous such as my heart will beat v fast, my hand will tremor, my face turn pale, i keep memorizing and recalling of what to say and end up lost of word. :(

    I found out that the above advise is abit ridiculous because everyone are facing their fears in their everyday life. They need to come out with a better advise.

  10. Irah January 3, 2014 at 5:27 pm #

    1. Face your fear
    2. I have read a lot about it from internet and even bought a book on how to face the fear.

    Until i realise that i have been facing my fears for all these years and it is still not working.

    It also says about facing the same fear regularly will reduce your fear and it don’t work as well!

    I remembered during my school days i have to do group presentation almost everyday for 3 years. I got so nervous and i end up just reading from slides.

    Now i am working adult and i still facing the same problem. I have attended job interviews, meetings and make phonecalls but still feel nervous such as my heart will beat v fast, my hand will tremor, my face turn pale, keep memorizing and recalling of what to say and end up lost of word. :(

    I found out that the above advise is abit ridiculous because everyone are facing their fears in their everyday life. They need to come out with a better advise.

  11. Lauren Kennedy January 3, 2014 at 6:41 pm #

    1. I used to really struggle with selective mutism. It wasn’t until I was 12 years old that I started talking in school. But a year or so before that happened, I was supposed to give an oral presentation in class. I didn’t want anyone to know I had an actual problem with speaking so I went up to the front of the class with every intention to speak. But I got up there and I couldn’t do it. It was the most embarrassing situation in my life. My teacher let me sit down when I was just short of crying. But I was more afraid of how my dad was going to react to me not talking again. He was clearly frustrated and upset. He sternly asked me when I was going to start talking and reminded me of how I said that day would be today, but then I didn’t do it. He said, “I don’t know how you’re going to get through this, but you HAVE to start talking. You’re going to give your presentation just like everyone else in the class did.” I understand his frustration, but he’s not the one who actually feels the anxiety. I don’t think he ever realized that not only did I feel the same anger and frustration with myself that he felt, but I also felt the fear and anxiety. But if I knew what to do to get over my anxiety, wouldn’t he realize that I would do it and be done with the problem? If he can’t figure out a solution, how would I? I don’t talk about anxiety with either one of my parents anymore. I already know who they’d react and what they’d say. And back then, I didn’t even know the full extent of my problem. I always thought I was just shy. I had never even heard of social anxiety disorder or selective mutism. I went through a very mentally painful experience because the goal was just to talk to people. It wasn’t to overcome the anxiety. So now I talk to people, but anxiety still rules me. However, the first edition of your system was the first thing that I could actually relate to and it really helped me more than anything else ever did. And although I still have a long way to go, I’m much better.

    2. I was going to a counselor at my school for social anxiety. It was about my 6th session with the counselor and she told me go to the professors who didn’t know that I’m actually struggling with anxiety and tell them. I guess that is good advice and I want to be able to do that someday, but she wanted me to do it and tell her about it at our next session. I know that it won’t ever be something that is easy so I figured better sooner than later and just get it over with. So I had every intention of admitting my struggles to the professors I hadn’t talked to about it yet. But the thing is, I hadn’t told some professors yet because there’s something about their personality that intimidates me. Or I feel that I already know what they are going to say. I told one professor and he thanked me for opening up about it, but then proceeded to say that I really need to just work through it because it would really hinder me in the work force, more so than it does at school. Well, thanks for the helpful advice. Not. I didn’t realize that already. So it seemed useless to tell any other professor. It just seemed like it was causing me unnecessary stress and anxiety. So I put it off and was planning to tell the rest of my professors right before my next counseling session. But I just didn’t feel the strength or confidence to do it. I know that my counselor wouldn’t have gotten mad or frustrated at me for not doing it, like my parents would. But at the same time, it still felt like I was letting her down by not doing what I said I would do. I didn’t want to admit that I still felt too intimidated to talk. I’ve been struggling with social anxiety and speaking for a long time and I still feel pretty pathetic knowing that I’m still struggling so much. So I canceled my counseling appointment for that week to give myself another week to get braver and talk to my professors. I still couldn’t do it. So I canceled my appointment indefinitely, saying that I would reschedule some other time. I haven’t been back.

    • Sean Cooper January 10, 2014 at 8:59 am #

      Hey Lauren,

      Thanks for sharing your story. I can definitely relate to parts of it…

      When I was going to school, I absolutely hated doing speeches and presentations. The only reason I did them was because I was MORE afraid of making my parents angry if I brought home an F.

      So every speech I was up there in front of everyone — trembling, shaking and sweating! Talking so quietly the teachers would always ask me to speak up. It was a humiliating experience for sure.

      It’s tough when other people don’t realize that something that’s easy and normal for them can be so difficult and uncomfortable for you.

      Best of luck in the future at school,

      - Sean

  12. Hana January 3, 2014 at 8:39 pm #

    The most stupid advice for me is to simply get rid or stop negative thoughts. This was even told by my own counselor. I tried it one time. It gave me some relief but soon the thoughts kept coming back and were worse.

  13. Christopher January 3, 2014 at 8:47 pm #

    Worst advice? Be vulnerable and open up to someone you’d wanna be friends with. I got lucky when I tried this but I would never advise this. It creates an unnatural friendship, probably a little discomfort for the other person as they may want to help but really don’t have any idea what you’re going through etc. After the initial tell all, you are right back where you started. And now it just feels awkward every time you see them.

    I actually took this bad advice from a therapist and tried it with one person I really liked and wanted to be like cause he was self assured, confident, playful, and very friendly. He just seemed like someone you could share anything with if you were friends cause he’s not judgmental and treated me like a best friend and tried to get me to talk and stuff.

    Not only was it incredibly hard to just ask if he could help cause I was struggling, it was way more difficult when we started going to lunch. First I tried to explain what was wrong and how I wanted to be like him. Well we kept the lunch thing going but but i didn’t just want to whine about myself every time. So then lunches run into awkward silence, got nothing in common, etc.

    But like I said, I lucked out with this guy. We do see each other at work every night and any awkward moments seem to be eventually forgotten. Also like I said he’s very social and confident and will treat and talk to ya like your best friends. So he was able to over come any awkwardness and kept talking to me when he had the chance. We kept going out to lunch, and recently he showed me his house and stuff. He’s also helping me lift my jeep, getting everything for that, we took a two hour ride together to get the lift, never ran out of stuff to say and it’s been good. But this took over 6 months to get this comfortable, and has more to do with just the type of person he is over anything I’m doing. I still don’t feel like I’m clicking that great but I wish I could. Friendship feels awkward at times cause I still have a hard time talkin or finding things to say. And all this has not helped out with making other friends since the only reason we are now was cause I asked if he could help and I wanna learn to be more like him. I’m not gonna tell everyone this to make another though my therapist did suggest it. Once was torture enough and trying it again this way is just starting to sound manipulative.

    So yeah that was the worst advice I’ve received. While I lucked out with this guy, not many are like him, and it has helped as far as depression and stuff, I would NEVER advise this to anyone. It doesn’t cure social anxiety. If you already have a good friend, then yes opening up is a good idea. If you don’t, don’t force a friendship by asking for help from a general acquaintance and over share. While I did end up making a friend, I really don’t see this working out usually and honestly looking at it now feels manipulative. What are they gonna say ? No I won’t help?

    2. Bad shyness has kept me from making friends and connections. At this point in life that’s all I want. All my dreams kind of went out the window. Now it’s about just doing stuff I want to do, like 4x4ing, surfing, skydiving, scuba diving, performance driving etc etc. I don’t do them because I don’t have anybody to do them with cause I feel so anxious or awkward. I did push myself hard to do some of them like I tried skydiving. I figured if I could do something I really wanted to do , I could make friends there. Well nope… By the 4th jump, it was boring and I felt too uncomfortable to come back alone again. I felt like the biggest loser and just couldn’t click or know what to say to the people there. Anxiety would go through the roof cause skydivers seem to have very wild personalities. I took a trip to the beach my self and wanted to learn to surf but same stuff happens. Never got my motorcycle license either for same reasons. Got myself to take the class but just felt so out of place that doing the motorcycle exercises, I just couldn’t focus on riding and got so nervous with everyone around, I failed hard and got booted from the class which was a terribly embarrassing experience.

    • Sean Cooper January 10, 2014 at 9:03 am #

      Hey Christopher,

      Usually the way friendships develop is that people slowly open up over time. Opening yourself up and being vulnerable too quickly can definitely make the other person feel uncomfortable.

      And in my experience friendships between guys are often not that deep. Girls are generally better at connecting with each other deeply.

      It’s great that you got lucky and make a close friend though!

      -Sean

  14. Hanh January 3, 2014 at 8:52 pm #

    The worst advice I ever got was to stop being shy, just see people as “normal people” and you’ll get over it don’t worry. What the fuck is this, mess?! I don’t think that I can just ‘get over it and miraculously stop being shy!!!! Ugh. And also to sere people like how you would see yourself. Well shit I see myself in such a, negative skewered way so how the hell can I see people in a realistic positive way??? That frustrates me so damn much.

  15. Steve January 3, 2014 at 9:29 pm #

    1. Worst advice ever received was, “You’ll grow out of it.”

    2. This piece of bad advice came from my mother whom I love. I can recall the conversation freshman year in high school. And better yet, I can recall the incidence, and I can still feel the physical symptoms that accompanied it. “Why do I feel so uncomfortable around people, even my friends?” If only my question had been answered more accurately. I may be a more well-adjusted person today.

  16. Ninad January 3, 2014 at 9:41 pm #

    Hey Sean,

    The worst shyness advice I’ve seen is to get involved with people that are confident and outgoing. How do you get involved with them, exactly? Why would they hang out with you if you’re shy and you don’t know what to say?

    This has kept me from making new friends because this advice is never specific and it never explains how to do it. I really hate how the people who come up with this advice have never experienced shyness and they just do it for the money and recognition. If it was that easy, no one would be shy.

  17. Gertrude January 3, 2014 at 11:39 pm #

    Why wold I want to give up shyness. I worked a long time to develop this positive trait and now people want me to give it up? Why do I need advice? And everyone experiences shyness at one time or another. Why is it treated as a negative thing or as a fault? How stupid.

  18. JohnKaye January 4, 2014 at 2:22 am #

    Consider this to be a cautionary story from a 64 year old. Social Anxiety Disorder showed itself when I was in Kindergarten during the 1950′s. I was sent to the school psychologist as well as a speech therapist during elementary school with no results. Social Anxiety Disorder was not a recognized condition at the time. High school was a horror show but I managed to graduate, barely. My parents always wondered why I spent so much time “hibernating” in my room. As a teenager and adult I was not able to sit in a fast food restaurant and always ate in my car. I had panic attacks in shopping malls and did not go very often. Luckily I have some artistic skills and found work as a stained glass artist and photographer. I was able to go from job to job based on recommendations and have never formally had a job interview. I did well at work because work meetings were always structured and a specific topic was discussed.

    Up until 50 years old I knew something was wrong with me but did not know what it was. I was different from many other people and wondered why I couldn’t socialize. At age 50 I took part in a Social Anxiety study that investigated Paxil to relieve the symptoms. Having a name to my pain helped. I joined Toastmasters International and got comfortable speaking in front of audiences. Again, as with work, this was a structured environment. I was giving a speech, not having a social conversation. I met hundreds of Toastmasters but never socialized with any of them outside of Toastmasters. Last year I titrated off the Paxil and started taking improve comedy classes. The people in the class were great and very supportive.

    It was about this time that I purchased Sean’s Shyness and Social Anxiety Program. It helped a lot. Sean described what I went through very accurately. His section on how to have a conversation was the best part. The improv class started having practice sessions at a members home. At age 63, for the first time in my life, I went to someone’s house to meet socially with a group of people. Sean’s advice on how to converse worked great!

    I have been married for almost 40 years. My wife is also a social phobic and we have never had guest over to our house, even once. Throwing a party is out of the question. Four years ago I was laid off from my job as a photographer. Applying for and finding a new job was far too stressful due to having to interview. I survived to age 64 1/2 and started collecting Social Security. After 50 years as a full blown social phobic I have decided to accept who I am as well as my condition. I have cut all social contacts and now live as I did for the first 50 years pursuing my personal interest without much contact with outside people. I am comfortable and content because I finally found out what I have and was able to spend some time in the outside “social” world. The downside is that I was never successful income wise and am now living on social security and a small 401k.

    If you are younger please do not wind up like me. Buy Sean’s course and apply what he teaches. I wish his course existed when I was in my 20′s. Your social contacts will approve and probably your income. Especially with social networking it is not what you know, it is who you know. I believe, as Sean does, that Social Anxiety can be overcome. The younger you start to overcome it the better. In my case I had 50 years of conditioning to overcome. Thank you Sean, it is a great comfort that someone else experienced the same symptoms as me, overcame them and created a product to help other people.

    • Sean Cooper January 10, 2014 at 9:06 am #

      Hey John,

      Thanks for sharing your story. I’m sure your advice will be very useful to a lot of the young people who come visit my website.

      It’s true that the earlier you start, the easier it is to overcome social anxiety. That’s not too say that it’s impossible after 50 — just gets harder.

      Wishing you a happy and comfortable life.

      -Sean

  19. Shane January 4, 2014 at 2:53 am #

    1. I went to a psychiatrist to get help with my fear of public speaking because I had a speech class in college that I was freaking out over. The only advice he gave me was “some people are extroverts and some people are introverts and that’s ok.” He also told me to not fight the feelings of panic and to just go with it. When I came back for my second session and told him I’m still freaking out over having to give a speech he just gave me a xanex to take before the speech.

    2. Bad shyness advice has stopped me from achieving my goals by wasting my time trying to use tips and techniques that simply do not work. I could have been putting into practice good advice and accomplishing goals in my life that shyness has kept from me.

  20. Jhon January 4, 2014 at 8:40 am #

    I don’t get many bad advices because not many people know I’m shy.

    Worst advices?
    1- I once told my mom that I was afraid to go and deposit her money into her bank account.
    Her reply was:
    “oh son, don’t be shy :) you’re still young and no one cares about you!!”
    Oh really? Thanks mom, you saved my life! I’m 17 btw.
    She’s not dumb, but just ignorant to the matter.

    2- “You will grow out of it” ~ said my weird neighbor who barely goes out of home.

    some GOOD advices I found on this site which helped me very much!
    - Eye Contact:
    I used not to look on people’s eyes when I’m talking to them, I don’t remember where i used to look LOL, I didn’t think it was a problem and I didn’t realise that.
    Until a girl sitting next to me in class mentioned that I’m shy. She told me loudly “I bet you to look in my eyes”.
    I did, but I could’nt handle more than 3 seconds, I was very embarassed. I went to google and searched for eye contact and stuff, and that’s how I found this site and learned the tips.

    Now it’s normal thing for me.

    - Breathing Techniques:
    This is maybe the best advice, It helped me very much. It helps me relax when I’m anxious and relieves the stress.
    I’m still practicing it and I’m getting better at it.

    - The opposite Of nervousness is not confidence, but relaxation.

    Thanks Sean for this site!

    • Sean Cooper January 10, 2014 at 9:09 am #

      Thanks for sharing your experiences! Eye contact was definitely one of the “first steps” I took in overcoming my own social anxiety. I’m glad to hear the information on my website is helping you.

      -Sean

  21. Jeetendra January 4, 2014 at 11:46 am #

    Hi Sean,

    This was a really well-written article & I tend to agree with most of your points.

    Coming to the most ridiculous shyness advice, I read somewhere online that the best way to overcome shyness is to accept your shyness and start telling people that you are shy. This way people will understand your problems & they will treat you in a much better way. And consequently, you will overcome your fears.

    I think this is the worst advice ever. By admitting your shyness, you are not only telling the world but you are also telling yourself that you are weak and that’s the person who really counts. This leads to nothing but only demoralising yourself.

    This is what I think. What’s your take on this, Sean ????

    • Sean Cooper January 10, 2014 at 8:43 am #

      Hey Jeetendra,

      Thanks for your comment. Sure, I agree that going around and telling everyone you are shy probably won’t do much.

      BUT … often opening up to one person and telling them about your issues can actually help a lot. It can make you realize that there’s nothing truly wrong or shameful about you, and that people can like you just for you.

      The problem with issues like anxiety, depression or shyness is that there’s actually two layers to them. The first layer is the actual uncomfortable feelings you get – feeling nervous or awkward. The second layer is shame around these bad feelings. In other words, you might not want other people to find out about how you feel inside because you’re ashamed of it, so you try to hide it.

      And the worst part is, modern psychology has found that trying to hide or supress bad feelings actually makes them come up EVEN MORE!

      So a big step in overcoming issues like shyness, anxiety or depression is getting rid of the second layer first. Not feeling ashamed of these problems and not trying to hide them.

      It’s not the complete answer, but it’s a big step in the right direction. Does this mean that you should go around telling people that you have shyness? Not really. But it can be helpful to find a “safe person” you can share your issues with. This is often the real reason why a therapist is helpful to people — they get them to open up and, by doing so, are able to dissolve a person’s shame.

      Hope this makes things clear,
      Sean

  22. Stacey January 9, 2014 at 2:57 pm #

    My therapist told me that I need to “just get out and meet people” and my psychiatrist said that I was really sweet and funny but I just don’t connect with people so I need to start doing that. What does that even mean? If the “professionals” are giving such bad or generic advice, it’s no wonder we feel so hopeless and bad about ourselves!!!

  23. lynne April 21, 2014 at 2:14 pm #

    hi , I find this worst shyness advice really bad. I’ve read from somewhere that in order to avoid shyness we should always try to please people by agreeing to their ideas, that way they will agree with you too, isn’t that such a waste of time. I totally agree with you ‘ There is hope. There is a way of overcoming your shyness, staying confident even around people you find intimidating or attractive”. Thanks for a very enlightening post.

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