I am a shy person, which is something I am trying to overcome. This shyness sometimes makes it hard for me to be friendly and to properly love people. Can you give me some practical, day-to-day tips on how to overcome this?
answered by: Lauren R. | CO, USA
First of all, rest assured that God can and will give you victory over this area of your life. I used to think that I would always be painfully shy, but I am continually amazed at how far He has brought me in overcoming shyness.
Over time, God has shown me that shyness stems from a root of acute self-awareness. When I am nervous about something or struggling with shyness in the moment, it’s because I am being self-focused. I am only thinking about myself and my comfort when I entertain thoughts like, “How am I coming across to this group of people?” or “I really don’t want to be here right now.” With these kinds of thoughts filling my mind, it’s impossible to be truly friendly and warm towards others.
When I let my feelings of shyness govern how I act, I am being selfish—because I am behaving in an entirely self-focused way. Philippians 2:3-4 says, “…in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (ESV). In order to be friendly and loving to the people around us, we need to walk in humility, putting others and their interests before ourselves. This is how Jesus, our perfect example, lived His entire life on earth.
The most practical advice I can give you? Forget about yourself and your feelings. In those moments when you are feeling uncomfortable and tempted to turn inward, call upon the grace of God and choose to turn outward. Instead of consulting your feelings in that moment, stop and prayerfully consider who you could be an encouragement to around you. Finally, ponder Paul’s exhortation in the very next verse, Philippians 2:5, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.” As you surrender yourself to the Lord, purposing to turn outward and bless others, you can trust that He will enable you reach out in love!
answered by: Audrey T. | CO, USA
Oh, how I can relate to this question! When my eyes are focused on myself — how shy I feel, how uncomfortable a situation makes me, etc. — then it is hard to look to the needs of others and love them properly. The solution comes down to a change of gaze.
This isn’t something we can remedy on our own. Outside of Christ, we will not be able to work up the courage to overcome our shyness. But when we submit our lives to Him and ask Him for the grace and courage to love as He loves and to get our eyes off of ourselves, then we can begin to be outward focused and love people better. “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Phil. 2:4).
Some tips that I have found helpful in approaching situations where I would tend to be shy are:
- Praying that God would give me the grace to get my eyes off of myself and look to the needs of others. (It’s hard to be shy when our focus is off of ourselves.)
- Intentionally look for those who need encouragement and are shy themselves. A lot of people need someone else to draw them out and feel paralyzed to take the first step. But by God’s grace, you can be a means of encouraging and loving those you interact with, even if you would consider yourself a shy person.
I can testify that as soon as I begin to get my eyes off of myself and truly seek to love those around me with the love of Christ, I actually begin to forget about my shyness. I might be intimidated to start a conversation, but when I ask for God’s grace to approach that person I’ve never met before and step out in obedience, I find such an overwhelming joy and peace