How To Change Your Shyness
Was I Born With It? Nature vs. Nurture
While it is possible that shyness is (partly) caused by your genetic make up, it is my belief that learned behavior (the
Nurture part) is much more powerful. There are so many cases of happy, healthy, vibrant and outgoing children having
their personalities ravaged by abusive parents or other traumatic situations. And, believe it or not, the opposite is also
true. Quiet, timid, withdrawn people can become more sociable in the same way. Catatonics and autisms can be
brought back to life, people with “learning disabilities” can become fully literate. It just takes the right tools.
Is This My “True Self”?
The truth is, virtually any aspect of your personality can change. If it doesn’t seem that way sometimes it’s because the
methods you’ve been using just aren’t powerful enough. Think about your own experiences for a moment. Have you
ever believed in something strongly only to have somebody prove you wrong? What happened to you then? You
changed - instantly. A rape or a car accident can change your personality - and not a long, slow change, but
immediately and powerfully.
Really, your mind is very flexible, and I will prove that in a bit. It’s just that we also have the tendency to do things in
patterns, so we don’t take advantage of our capacity for change. I think the belief in your “True Self” or “Core
Personality” is a dangerous one because it is so limiting. We look at the negative aspects of ourselves and say, “That’s
just the way I am. I’m being true to myself by behaving this way”. We’re denying ourselves whole realms of growth
and improvement with this defeatist attitude. Our personalities are NOT like a balance; improving one thing won’t
sacrifice anything else. I’m positive that the strategies I’m going to talk about will work, but not if you’re skeptical and
do them half-heartedly.
How Your Mind Works
The first step to changing yourself is understanding why you’re doing what you’re doing now. I’m going to give you a
model of your brain that I’ve constructed from all kinds of sources, and we will use it to make changes later.
Our minds are constantly taking in all kinds of information from our senses and storing it, even the unimportant
stuff. When ideas are repeated often enough and with consistency, we form Beliefs, or Generalizations, and these
beliefs affect the way we perceive our reality and the way we behave. The inputs that support the belief are called
“reference experiences”. For example, during the Cold War, Russians were always depicted as the “evil overlords”
or whatever, so children growing up at that time no doubt believed that all Russians were that way, unless they
were shown otherwise. If you grew up in a racist household, you always heard that blacks (or whites!) were
inferior and all that, and you probably accepted it without question. What’s more, once you have a belief, your
brain will dismiss or disprove references that run contrary to it. The only way to change these beliefs once they’re