Nearly 50 percent of Americans describe themselves as shy, notes "Psychology Today." So you're definitely not alone -- although it may feel that way when you're approaching the woman of your dreams. Your heart is racing, your palms are sweating and your mind has suddenly gone blank. Don't let your shyness keep you from asking for a date.
Change the Way You Think
Psychiatrist Neel Burton recommends writing down your strengths, achievements and good qualities to help you boost your self-esteem. Look at the lists whenever you feel anxious or insecure about hitting on a woman. Whenever you catch yourself having a negative thought about yourself, replace it with a positive one, referring to your lists if necessary. Another useful trick for boosting confidence is the mirror exercise recommended by psychologist Diana Kirschner. Stand in front of a mirror and note the positive things you see in your reflection, for example a warm smile, friendly eyes or strong shoulders. Next, shut your eyes and think of a time and place where you felt positive emotions such as happiness, love and security. Spend at least 10 minutes doing this exercise before you go out to meet women, advises Kirschner. Over time, you should notice your confidence growing.
Examining the nature of your shyness is the first step toward overcoming it, says Indiana University Southeast's Shyness Research Institute. A little self-analysis will help you identify when your shyness kicks in and how it affects your behavior in the company of a woman you are interested in. You may be more shy in large groups of people, in which case it may be easier to approach a woman in a more private setting. If you feel more nervous in a one-to-one situation, ask a friend to accompany you to talk to a woman.
Practice Interaction With Others
Build up your confidence by practicing small talk in non-threatening situations, such as at a ball game or in line at the grocery store. Smiling, saying "hello" and asking for simple directions on a regular basis will help you get used to talking to people you don't know. When your shyness makes you feel self-conscious, remind yourself that everybody else is far more interested in themselves than in you.
1, 2, 3 ... Relax
If you relax your attitude toward hitting on women, dating and relationships in general, you will find the whole process a lot easier -- and more fun. Try to go with the flow and live in the present rather than worry about what will happen in the future. Before you approach a woman, take a few minutes to relax your body and mind. Find a quiet spot and take several slow, deep breaths. Focus entirely on your breathing to take your mind off what you are about to do. Tense and relax muscles in any part of your body that feels strained. You will approach the object of your desire feeling more calm, confident and in control.
Putting pressure on yourself to be someone you're not will only make you feel more anxious and self-conscious. Don't worry about acting suave and sophisticated, being the life and soul of the party or cracking endless jokes. Smile and maintain eye contact, but forget about being overly flirtatious if it makes you feel uncomfortable. Asking the woman questions and really listening to her answers will show her you are interested. Do your homework beforehand to give you some easy conversation topics, such as current news stories and the latest movie releases. Practice questions in front of the mirror before you go out to help you feel prepared. Open-ended questions such as "What did you think of [actor's name]'s last movie?" and "What do you like doing for fun?" will help the conversation flow more than questions that only require "yes" or "no" answers.