Approaching a girl to whom you are attracted can be downright terrifying, especially if you tend to be shy in general. Being naturally shy isn’t necessarily a bad thing; however, it can prevent you from pursuing your personal goals, explains psychologist Karen Payne, Ph.D., in the Caltech Counseling Center publication “Understanding and Overcoming Shyness.” You’ve already overcome the first and perhaps the most daunting obstacle of shyness in changing a girl who is a friend into your girlfriend. Getting rid of shyness that you continue to experience around your girlfriend can be accomplished by changing your perspective while also implementing techniques to help you relax.
Learn and implement relaxation techniques that can help you feel less anxious when you’re around your girlfriend. Shyness can cause significant anxiety that can impair your ability to focus on enjoying your girlfriend’s company. Fortunately, the human body is only able to be either anxious or relaxed and cannot be both simultaneously, explains licensed marriage, family and child counselor Nancy Wesson, Ph.D., in the post “Overcoming Shyness” on her website. Practice relaxation by using techniques such as deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation. Over time, you will be able to reduce your anxiety and, thus, your feelings of shyness around your girlfriend.
Identify and replace negative self-attributions. Shyness is often caused by negative thoughts, also known as attributions, we have about ourselves. These attributions also tend to go unnoticed unless and until you make a conscious effort to pay attention to your thinking at times when you feel shy or anxious. Once you’ve identified your patterns of thought when you feel shy around your girlfriend, you can make an effort to replace each negative attribution with a more positive one. You won’t necessarily believe the positive, since you’ve become good at buying into the negative, but with time and practice, your thinking patterns will change. Subsequently, you will likely feel much less anxious and shy when you’re around your girlfriend.
Create positive affirmations and practice them daily. Positive affirmations are more global than positive attributions but serve a similar purpose in improving your confidence and self-esteem. Create a list of positive affirmations such as “I will overcome my shyness” or “I will feel more confident.” Similar to positive attributions, affirmations aren’t immediately believed by the person using them. Daily repetition of each affirmation and paying attention to evidence that it is true can help make it more believable. Evidence isn’t hard to find if you make an effort to look for it. For example, you can see the evidence that your confidence is improving in a decrease in anxiety when you are in public venues.
Interject a sense of humor into your life and into the time you spend around your girlfriend. Humor has a number of health benefits, including reduction of anxiety that can occur when you feel shy. Learning to laugh at yourself and at the world around you can also help distract you from patterns of thinking that can provoke anxiety. Additionally, the fact that you are able to make your girlfriend laugh can improve your self-confidence, reducing your anxiety and, thus, reducing shyness. If humor isn’t your forte, watch televisions shows with a humorous slant, read books on humor or watch stand-up comedians on a DVD. Look at the world around you and find the humor in everyday things. Seeing the brighter side can also reduce negative patterns of thinking that can cause you to feel more shy.
- Psychology Today: Are We Born Shy?; Bernardo J. Carducci
- Caltech Counseling Center: Understanding and Overcoming Shyness; Karen Payne, Ph.D..
- Psychology Today: How To Overcome Shyness; Alex Lickerman, M.D.
- Nancy Wesson, PhD: Overcoming Shyness; Nancy Wesson, Ph.D.
- The Network: The Health Benefits of Humor; Dwenda Gjerdingen, MD, MS
- Jack Hollingsworth/Photodisc/Getty Images