This article is in answer to a reader who is a 35-year-old male. Although I am addressing him, the principles I write about apply equally to men and women. So, if you are a woman, please change my gender references to make the article meaningful to you.
Our reader writes, "I would love to have a girlfriend to spend time with, but I get really nervous when approaching women. I don't know what to say or where to meet them. The years are starting to catch up to me. I wanted to have a family but I can't seem to meet women. Do you have any suggestions?"
Shyness is often thought of as a personality trait or part of one's nature. In truth, however, it is nothing more than a HABIT that is REINFORCED each time one acts on their fears. For example, John is at a party and would like to meet Mary, but he says to himself, "If I talk to her, I probably would say something stupid. No doubt, she would reject me. I'll appear as a fool in front of all these people." So, what does John do? He avoids Mary. His avoidance reinforces his habit of not going after what he seeks and deserves, making it that much more difficult to take positive action in the future. Each failure to act adds another strand to the cocoon that is imprisoning him.
The only way to break free is to STOP REINFORCING this negative habit. That is, John has to do precisely what he is afraid to do, speak up! He doesn't have to begin by sweeping Mary off her feet with an eloquent rendition of a heart-stopping love poem. No, not at all. The smallest positive step would do. For example, if Mary is in a group of three, he could go up to the person that appears to be the least threatening among them and say, "Hello!"
The person he greeted would then most likely introduce him or herself. So, John could continue the conversation by saying, "My name is John." He could then move on to another member of the group, saving Mary for last, once again merely saying, "Hi. I'm John."
As he does so, a member of the group may ask John a question or two, forcing him into a conversation that may lead to a pleasant evening. On the other hand, if nothing happens after greeting all the members of the group, he would simply smile, say "Nice meeting you," and move on. In a situation like this it is impossible to lose. Even if he goes through the whole evening introducing himself to group after group without making any new friends, he is still a winner! For he has stubbornly refused to give in to his fears, stopped reinforcing his shyness habit, and is laying the groundwork for a new positive habit. Also, as John persists in actively trying to meet new people, he will slowly grow in confidence and social skills, until he experiences a breakthrough.
Shy people are self-conscious. They worry about what others may think of them. They are preoccupied with themselves and their needs. SOME may become needy, desperate, and act rashly. Ironically, in their desperate desire to meet others, instead of attracting people, they may drive them away. All of this can change, however, if shy people redirect their focus from themselves to others. Here are a few steps our reader can take.
1. Take some time to focus on your loneliness. Linger intently on it, making yourself feel as much pain as possible. The purpose of this exercise is to let you feel the pain that others are experiencing. Don't you now feel sorry for the many wonderful, lonely women who live in your area?
2. Use the pain to empathize. Whenever you see someone who looks lonely, try to reduce their pain by becoming their friend. When you think of others, rather than yourself, you will lose your self-consciousness. You will also win friends, confidence, and new opportunities. Besides, as Lady Bird Johnson said, "The way you overcome shyness is to become so wrapped up in something that you forget to be afraid."
3. Look for nothing more than friendship. Instead of seeking romance, develop a fertile field by becoming friends with as many as possible. After doing so, romance will spontaneously bloom.
Where do you meet women? Here's a short list, which you should add to each day: dating services, and dances; support groups, city tour groups, church groups, and writers or poetry groups; book, chess, tennis, photography and other clubs; adult education classes, such as art, dance, martial arts, and public speaking. Also you can join a health club or become a volunteer.
Here are some more tips to consider:
1. Try a multifaceted attack; don't rely on one way to meet people. Simultaneously try as many ways as possible.
2. After meeting someone, don't stop looking. Remain friends and keep making new ones. All are worthy of your friendship, but only one will be worthy of your love. The right one to choose will be revealed to you over time, so do not rush into relationships.
3. Always be alert for opportunities to make new friends, not in desperation, but in a sincere concern for others.
4. Don't overlook making new male friends. One of them may have a sister that is eager to meet you!
5. Don't be demanding. Look for the good in everyone you meet. Inner beauty never fades, so look for someone you admire and respect.
6. Don't rush into sex. Sex is a powerful force that will cloud your reasoning. It can deceive you into thinking you are in love, and lead you to marry the wrong person. Fall in love; don't fall in sex.
7. Don't lie. Don't pretend to be what you are not. Always remain sincere.
8. Expect some friendships to end. That's part of life. Accepting that now will protect you from heartache later.
9. You do not like everyone you meet, so don't expect everyone to be attracted to you.
10. Do not judge too quickly. That "angel" you met could be a devil in disguise. Conversely, that woman who is "cold" and "aloof" may merely be shy. Give everyone time to reveal their true colors.
11. Don't make the mistake of others who marry people with addiction or other problems, hoping to change them in the future. That is a recipe for divorce.
12. Don't expect perfection. If you expect someone to accept you, imperfections and all, you've got to be willing to do the same.
Lastly, here are some resources worth exploring:
1. Check out these web sites that are devoted to shyness:
2. A woman reader who tried out CDs I recommended for rebuilding SELF-ESTEEM had this to say,"Just a quick note to thank you for recommending the CDs by Dr. Lloyd Gleuberman. I have now listened to two of them and found them to be profoundly effective. I have one more to listen to and plan on ordering all of them eventually." I first mentioned these CDs in the following
3. If you are interested in studying self-hypnosis for self-improvement, I can think of no finer book on the subject than "Self-Hypnosis for the life you want" by Dr. Charles E. Henderson. His book is available at: http://www.bcx.net/hypnosis/bookcover-1.html
If you follow the simple steps I have outlined above, you cannot fail. Why? Because there are many wonderful, lonely women dying to meet you. If you forget about your own problems and become concerned about the suffering of others, relationships will naturally develop. Be open to how events unfold and allow nature to take its course. But start taking action today, and continue until you discover that it is never too late to fall in love. And when that day arrives, invite me to the wedding, for I may be able to attend!
© Chuck Gallozzi
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