Here are some specific things I've done to overcome my shyness. For me, I simply wanted to be more outgoing, to be more comfortable around people and to have higher self confidence.
-Accepted more rejection from people! People are free to criticize this site if they like. I don't care!! I don't let it bother me (side note, on the guestbook, one guy said I sounded like a commercial, another guy advertised his buyabong.com site, lol, whatever. This is a perfect example of what happens in the real world, you may have great intentions, but not everyone will respond 100% in your favor all the time. Let it be there loss, not yours). Or in my personal life. If a conversation I have with someone completely falls flat, oh well, there's always next time. In a strange way, rejection leads to success!! Often, top actors and actresses have been rejected dozens, if not hundreds of times before they got a big break. Rejection leads to success because if you're never rejected, then chances are, you aren't taking much action to begin with. And you've got to take action to get what you want.
-Built a website. You can be proud of what you have to say. Your voice is just as important as anyone elses. There are lots of free sites (such as Angelfire) that can host it.
-Joined a public speaking group (see my "Public speaking isn't so bad" article). It gave me a big boost in confidence.
-Pinpointed in exactly what areas I wanted to improve in. I use to make this big generalization, "I'm shy". In some situations I wasn't though. For example, when I was around my family or around male friends, I felt pretty good. But in front of women, it's like I turned to stone. Shyness became my identity. Now I've changed how I identify myself. That was a crucial distinction for me. I can't overemphasis that enough. You are much more than any one word. I made a list of the situations where I felt the most shy, uncomfortable.
talking to women
talking to a group of other people (thinking I was being judged)
going to unfamiliar locations (not feeling as "loose and relaxed" as I should)
talking about my life with others (probably the biggest problem)
After you get clear on exactly which areas you want to improve on, it gives you something to focus on and an area to improve upon.
-I found many new ways of describing myself instead of "I'm shy". You can replace it with "I'm athletic", "I'm smart", "I'm honest",.....whatever traits that you have that you don't give yourself enough credit for.
-I got really good at eye contact. One of the best places to practice for me were in stores and restaurants. People are paid to be nice to you there! If you go to a restaurant, you could make eye contact with the host/hostess waiting to seat you from the moment you enter. Make eye contact and maintain it until you walk up and tell them how many people are in your party. Or at a store, if a clerk asks,.."can I help you", instead of looking away and saying something quietly like, "no, I'm just looking", make eye contact, and ask them about something in the store just to practice some small talk. It's not what you say, but how you say it that is important. When you make eye contact when speaking with someone, it gives the impression of having confidence in yourself. This is something I didn't even consciously think about when I was very shy.
-Ask yourself, what do other people know about my life? When I asked it, I realized, they didn't know a whole lot. Do you know more about the lives of other people, or do they know more about you? Notice what other people tell you about themselves. Stories, opinions, recent events in their lives. It can be alot of things. You can talk about the same things they do. What you have to say is just as important as what others have to say. Ask yourself, what do you want other people to know about you?
-I started talking to one new person a day (even just saying Hi to someone as they pass you out walking their dog for example). Then you can gradually increase it to, 2 or 3 people a day. Doing this everyday creates a habit and after awhile, what was once hard or scary is easy. Then you can increase the length of the conversation (say from 20 seconds to a minute). Then a minute to 3 minutes. Then you could extend your hand and introduce yourself (when talking to the opposite sex for example). Then if you're feeling great, you could compliment them on something, flirt, ask them out, etc. It's a natural progression. Whatever feels right for you. Everyone is different. I practiced until I felt good about it.
-I started to dance more. This is something I never use to do. I thought, "who me?,...learn how to dance?, no way." Believe me, it's not that hard. It does a couple of things:
Loosens you up physically (I feel more alive, like I have more energy).
It loosens you up pyschologically. Like, "hey, I fit in with others, I can have fun like everyone else. I'm getting out of my shyness shell."
It makes you less self conscious.
If a great song comes on the radio in my car when I'm driving, I'll tap the steering wheel in rythym to it, or move my head back and forth enjoying it. When I was very shy this is something I never would have done in a million years. If you want to learn to dance at a club or party, I just picked up moves from movies or TV. I figure if it's good enough for them, it's good enough for me. Teen movies like American Pie II, any dance shows on MTV, etc.