My heart starts pounding. My hands are getting shaky. I can’t catch a breath. I don’t have anything to say. I’m going to start blushing and stammering. Everyone will stare at me. They’re going to think I’m weird. They’re going to think I’m an idiot.
That’s it. I’m not going.
This was my usual pep talk before going to an event. ANY event. No wonder I couldn’t go. I literally talked myself out of any chance of going. I realised one day that I couldn’t go on like this. I was missing out on so many opportunities. I desperately didn’t want to feel so lonely anymore. There had to be a way that I could go to a party and meet people without actually having a panic attack.
It took time and lots of practise but I found it.
I started practising mindfulness. If you’ve never heard of it, mindfulness is focusing on the present moment and accepting your thoughts and feelings. It is used as a therapeutic technique for those who suffer from anxiety, depression and even sleep disorders. While it is a relatively new method in the West, it has origins in Eastern philosophy that are thousands of years old.
By focusing on only what is happening RIGHT NOW, the fears I had about going to events and having to talk to new people gradually lessened. The first step in overcoming shyness is to reduce the anxiety that it brings up. Mindfulness even helped with doing the dreaded small talk that I used to avoid under any circumstances.
I found mindfulness to be an interesting and much easier form of meditation. If you’ve struggled with meditation practise before, you’ll know how hard it can be to dedicate yourself to sitting still for even ten minutes a day without worries creeping in or constantly wanting to check your emails.
Here are three quick and easy ways you can start introducing mindfulness into your everyday.
- Take two mindful bites. For the first two bites of a meal in your day, pay close attention to the texture of the food, how it smells, what it tastes like, how it looks and the sounds that it makes when you bite into it.
- Do one thing mindfully. When you get into your car how does your body feel when you sit in it? What does the wheel feel like in your hands? What sounds does the car make? What does it look like?
- Take three slow breaths. Pay attention to how a slow breath feels. Notice the sensations in your nostrils, your chest, your stomach and how the air feels cooler going in and warmer going out.
When you start really paying attention to the present, it’s fascinating to see how much we are missing by being so much in our own heads. You start to realise so much of the fears that hold you back are just thoughts that you can CHOOSE not to have anymore.