Overcoming Shyness

Overcoming Shyness

By Tom Hoobyar

Article Word Count 1861, average reading time 7 minutes.

I want to tell you a story about a teenage boy who went to his first dance at a new school. It was a Thursday evening “practice prom”, an early evening dance in  the gym so the students could practice various dance steps before the prom.

The music was provided by tape deck; one of the physical education teachers played the role of DJ. The dance was chaperoned by a number of teachers, and was to end  early. Dress was informal.

“Go ahead,” his parents urged him. “You’ll have fun.”

So he put on his dress casual clothes and let his parents drop him off, hoping to meet some new friends.

When he walked in he realized that he didn’t know a soul. He slunk over to a corner and watched as the couples danced and laughed and when the music ended he didn’t  know what to do.

A teacher came over and greeted him. “Go on,” the teacher said kindly, “No one will dance if you don’t ask them.”

He moved out of the teacher’s sight, but couldn’t figure out a way to approach any of the girls to ask for a dance. He had never felt more alone, or more useless.

He tried to stay out of the way, and he spent the evening watching the other kids have fun. They all looked like they belonged there and no one even glanced his way.

He wished he didn’t have to wait till the evening was finished before his parents would pick him up but he was stuck there. The dance took forever to be over.

You probably already guessed that the shy kid was me.

That was a long time ago, and no one who knows me now would have ever thought I was so shy when I was younger. When I think back on those days now, they seem like a dream.

But the memory of those times gives me real sympathy for those who are left out like I was, who are shy, and this article will show them what to do about it.

First, an old story. A guy visiting New York City for the first time has tickets  to a concert at Carnegie Hall. He gets off a bus downtown, but doesn’t know where to go. Then he sees a man with a violin case, and approaches him to ask directions to the concert hall.

“How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” he asks.

The musician looks at him, smiles and says, “Practice, man, practice!”

This article is about a special kind of practice that will give you more confidence in social situations, because you’ll know that what you’re doing is better than what you used to do.

And, if you were to keep doing what you’ve been doing, you’d keep getting what you’ve been getting, right? So why not try something new, like practice?

All performances benefit from rehearsal. Why? Because people get better with experience.
We try different approaches and find out what works better, and then, with practice, we get good at it.

Now, I’m going to show you how to get tons of experience, without actually doing  anything!

Let me give you an example:

Did you watch the Winter Olympics? If you did you would have witnessed this technique used by ice skaters. Know what it was?

During the daylight practice sessions, you may have noticed some odd behavior in  the hallways before an individual skater took to the ice. What they were doing in the hallway while waiting for their turn was — doing their routines in their  minds.

They might have actually been moving around the limited space in the halls, but in their minds they were seeing what they would see out on the skating rink, hearing the music, and feeling in their bodies what it would be like if they were actually skating their routines perfectly!

It was “practice”, or rehearsal. But, a very special kind of rehearsal. Research  has shown that – when you rehearse an experience in your mind AS IF IT WERE ACTUALLY HAPPENING, the unconscious believes that it HAS HAPPENED. And your brain gets the benefit of practice as if you had actually done the thing you imagined.

The trick is to do a good job of “remembering” it fully, sight, sounds, feelings, everything. It really works, and a number of professionals in many fields now use this technique.

In the past this technique was used only by theater actors. In recent years NASA  Astronauts, Special Operations Commandos, SWAT team cops have adopted it, and champion athletes who want to perfect their skills BEFORE they put it all on the line.

Want to know their secret? Here it is. I’ll describe it first, then how it works, and then I’ll teach you to do it.

It’s easy.

Here’s what goes on in the mind of the person doing this kind of process. They imagine, in great detail, what they would actually see, hear and feel during a critical routine.

Remember, these are people at the elite levels of their sport or profession. Peak performers.

For the Olympic athlete it may be decades of effort that is on the line, and for  the Commando or SWAT Police office or Astronaut — they work in situations with  lives at stake.

These people must get it right. This isn’t some kind of new age fluff. This kind  of mental rehearsal is used by people who need every edge they can get.

This is like making up memories, in pictures, sounds and feelings. Guess what memories actually are? Same thing. Don’t take my word for it — go inside and check. Call  up a memory of a specific occasion, and check it out.

Generalities won’t do it. You’ll need to take 30 seconds and actually call up a specific time that you remember. If you’re like most people, you’re probably back in the situation. Notice what the memory is actually made up of.

Right! Mostly, they are pictures, sounds and feelings.

Guess what? When you think of the future, you are actually looking at a memory in advance! Right, when you think of a future event, you are actually creating the same set of impressions that make up memories — pictures, sounds and feelings.

There might be some smells and tastes associated with some memories, or even impressions of a future or imagined event. Try this — go to a movie theater (in your mind) and go up to the snack bar.

Can you smell the popcorn? Make an imaginary purchase and walk into the theater.
Grab a seat and sample what you bought. Can you taste it?

Neat, huh?

So, if you want to REALLY nail down this rehearsal process, and you know what smells or flavors are associated with an experience, it will definitely enrich the impact on your mind if you call them up as well.

The reason that this type of “Instant Inner Replay in Advance” works so well is that your brain is inside your skull — it’s not out in the real world. It’s a captive of your five senses.

It only knows the images, sounds and feelings that you feed it. And research has  shown that the only difference between reality and imagining is the number and intensity of impressions you experience.

So go ahead. Work yourself into thinking as if you are actually IN the situation  you want to rehearse. Try as hard as possible to create the pictures, sounds, feelings, etc. that would be in that situation.

Don’t worry about losing your grip — you will know the difference between fantasy and reality.

But if you can get the fantasy CLOSE to the reality, you’ll be doing what the superstars of personal performance do.

Here’s the way to use this new knowledge to beat shyness:

Create the social situation you want to rehearse — doesn’t matter if it’s meeting strangers at a party, asking someone for a date, or having a confrontation with someone who intimidates you.

Wait! Don’t get agitated — you’re not going to do anything scary. You’re not even going to be in your picture at first.

Okay. Create an imaginary movie theater in your mind. Just sit back, relax and watch a movie that we’re going to create. Make a movie of the situation you want to get better at, and then pick another person to play your role in the imaginary movie.

Choose someone you know that you think would be successful in that situation (or  it could be an actor or a literary character or anyone else). The important thing is to pick someone that would act like you want to act. Let them do “your” job, taking your place in the movie for now.

Watch the movie of your “hired actor” perform. Did it go okay? If not, change their behavior until you like what you see. If the first actor doesn’t work, “fire” them and choose another person to take the job in your movie. Keep running these movies until you get a performance that you like. Then study their behavior.

Got it? Okay, next step.

Now, put an image of yourself in that imaginary movie, only have that image of you act just like the successful actor did. Make changes to adapt it to your style if necessary, and keep running that imaginary movie with a substitute “you” in it until you like what you see and hear.

How’s that? Different, huh? Sometimes, just doing this is really useful for discovering new ways to handle things, but there’s another step to make this even stronger.

Now this time, in your imagination, go into the movie yourself. Really BE there.
Imagine what you would see and hear if you were really in the situation you’ve been watching. Only now you’re acting in the new successful way you’ve learned from your model and rehearsed by watching the “substitute you” in the previous versions.

How does it feel? If it feels good, you’re done.

If it feels awkward, make changes till it feels okay and is a way of behaving that you’d be comfortable trying. Now, having experienced a new and successful way of  acting, you will do that the next time you’re in the situation you’ve rehearsed.

You’ve just done the inner routine that peak performers use.

Congratulations! You’ve just taken the first step in getting control of the most  important person in your social life — YOU!

I invite you to play with this technique till you get so good at it that it’s second nature to rehearse any upcoming situation where you might want improvement.

Because this method of mental rehearsal is so good at giving us new and better ways to act, it’s called the “New Behavior Generator”.

I know that the teenage boy I was at that dance would have LOVED to know this little trick. He would have walked up to one girl after another, asking for a dance, not caring whether they accepted or not, knowing that some girl would if he kept asking.

He would have had a much better time at that dance than I did, that’s for sure.

And you will too.


Tom Hoobyar

P.S. SPECIAL NOTE: We are getting ready to start an exciting new program. It will be an ONLINE NLP Café. The same NLP Café you are familiar with, presented in an online format to allow anyone to take advantage of it. We are launching this awesome program in September. If you would like more information email me at [email protected] and we’ll connect with you on it. We’re really excited to offer this first of its kind opportunity for those who don’t live near an NLP Café, and would love to have you join us!

Additional Resources:

To see Tom Best demonstrate the New Behavior Generator on video, visit this link:

P.S. I would love to hear from you. Have you had a particularly successful experience
with NLP in your life? Did a client make a breakthrough using a process that you
would like to share? Do you have a particular way of working with people that you
have found to be very successful? Drop me a line and let me know what you are doing
with NLP. I may even share your story in an upcoming newsletter! [email protected]

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