Shyness is sometimes mistakenly referred to as a social phobia. Depending on the degree of introversion they have, some people may actually find that it can be debilitating, depriving them of a healthy social life. It not only affects their relationships, it also affects their careers, keeping people from performing at their best and making use of opportunities that come their way.

Overcoming shyness is a process and will take time. But each step you make will reward you by boosting your confidence level and making you a better person who is self-assured and can take on anything thrown your way. Here's how:

1. Figure out the source of your shyness. You might find that certain situations trigger your shyness and cause you to fold onto yourself and allow your worries and anxieties to overcome you. Once you recognize these situations, you can then find ways to handle them more effectively.

For example, you might feel most shy during social parties but don't feel the same way during family affairs or office occasions. It may be that your shyness is brought about by stranger anxiety, considering that you only feel shy around people you don't know. Once you recognize this, you can then adjust yourself to the situation accordingly.

2. Realize that it's perfectly natural to feel shy sometimes. You can't be forward and overly confident in every situation. You will always find that there are times when you feel a little hesitant and tongue-tied, especially if something is new and unfamiliar. It's perfectly all right to feel shy when you're meeting someone new or when you're going somewhere you've never been before.

3. Don't berate yourself for being shy. Overcoming shyness means affirming yourself as an individual and as a person. If you feel shy, don't tell yourself that you're stupid and that you'll never amount to anything. More negative thoughts will fabricate negative thoughts. The last thing you want to do is to become your own worst critic.

Instead, accept that you are shy but that you are working towards overcoming it and becoming a more confident person. By telling yourself it's all right and that you're taking positive steps to improve your condition, you unburden yourself.

4. Change your posture. Believe it or not, actually changing the way you stand and walk can do a lot to overcoming shyness. Slouching and keeping your chin close to your chest will only make other people look at you more, increasing your self-consciousness and anxiety.

Keep your chin up, your shoulders level, your stomach tucked in, your arms a little loose and your legs relaxed. Breathe in heavily and exhale slowly several times to calm yourself. Do this before doing anything such as public speaking, entering a party, speaking to someone, etc. Breathing in allows you to set a natural, calm rhythm that helps you walk steadily and speak in your natural voice.

5. Prepare. If you're going to a party and not know a single soul there, you might as well find out something about them. If not their names, find out what they do, what the crowd's general interests are and what they will be like. Knowing what you're getting into sheds half of the shyness factor and makes you feel more confident.

Keep a mental list of things that you can use during conversations. Neutral topics are a good start and do not put pressure on you or to anyone to produce information or expert opinion. You'll feel more at ease if you have something to contribute to the conversation.

6. Make small steps towards overcoming your shyness. You can't expect to live the rest of your life cooped up in some small part of your little universe hoping for a miracle to happen. Even Cinderella had to step out of her glass slipper in order to find a new and rewarding life. You can never overcome shyness if you don't go out there and interact with people.

Start small. Smile at the girl behind the counter of the perfume shop, say hi to the teller at the bank, nod to someone who lives in your building. If they acknowledge your greeting, good for them. If they don't, it only shows their lack of manners.

7. Take risks. After you've known the feeling of taking little risks, it's probably time to take bigger risks. Change is always scary but isn't that what you want? Do something you've never done before like eating out alone, going on trips by yourself, volunteering for a task, taking lead in a group. You'll be surprised at how easy it will be once you've gotten started.

8. Acknowledge that it's not about you. Self-conscious behavior stems from the belief that you are the focal point of people's attentions when in fact they have other things in mind. Practice shifting your focus to other people and develop an interest in them.

By keeping the spotlight focused on someone else, you keep attention away from yourself. If you do this on occasions when you feel particularly shy, you will overcome the feeling of being concentrated on. Instead, you learn to socialize effectively and enjoy yourself.

9. Affirm! Scott Adams (creator of 'Dilbert') uses affirmation to strengthen his resolve. Even life coach guru Brian Tracy encourages people to affirm themselves. Affirmation is the closest thing you can get to a magic potion in overcoming your shyness. It will not transform you overnight but it can massage your subconscious into focusing on your assets and building your confidence.

10. Practice. From your posture to your voice to the way you introduce yourself, techniques for overcoming shyness should be practiced to be perfected. By practicing them, you slowly integrate them into your thinking and mannerisms. This makes you feel that they've always been a natural process with you. As you shed your shyness little by little, you will find small but measurable improvements that boost your self-assurance.

Author's Bio: 

Pick up your Free Recovery Rolodex, Over 88 pages of self help and recovery tips, resources and links to enhance your life in addiction recovery.Join our growing community. The author, Bill Urell MA.CAAP-II, is an addictions therapist at a leading drug and alcohol treatment center. He teaches healthy life styles and life skills. Tell Your Story! Visit our growing community at: