This is Melanie. I am very shy. Okay, stop laughing! I’m serious! It’s pretty hard to imagine, I’m sure, how someone who speaks every year to thousands of people, does radio interviews and web broadcasts and loves talking to people at our booth could possibly be shy, but it’s true. I hate picking up the phone to call someone, hate even more answering it, and struggle to reach out sometimes, if you can believe it!
So, how does someone shy end up a public speaker? By learning to overcome it.
Shyness, I think, comes from focusing too much on myself: “What will I say?” “What will I do?” “What will others think of me?” It’s about constantly thinking of my own comfort zone, my own feelings, and wondering how others see me. For me, overcoming shyness came in thinking instead of others.
I used to hate big parties. I felt so awkward, wondering, “Who is going to come talk to me? Who will I sit with? Will I be left out?” I hated for anyone else to feel that way, so I began to look for people who were alone at parties or people who looked uncomfortable. I would go and make conversation with them, introduce myself, share about the event, ask about them. Their relief was palpable – and my shyness was completely forgotten. By focusing on others, I forgot to focus on myself!
Similarly, when we first started speaking in public and I was nervous, I would show up early for the engagement. I would sit on the first row and make conversation with other early arrivals. The ones that come early and sit in the front are those that are feeling a strong need to hear the topic, so they would always start sharing about whatever was going on in their lives. When it came time to step up on the stage, I could then talk right to them, giving them the help they needed. Ministry overcame shyness!
So, how do we help our children? I think we first try to help them get out of their own heads and think about others. Got a child who doesn’t want to talk to others? Afterward, talk to them about how the ones they wouldn’t talk to felt. Help them to understand the other person’s perspective. There is a lot of growing up in just that.
Secondly, we teach them to be ministry-minded. I don’t necessarily mean going out and participating in a formal ministry, but to think about other people as real people with real needs and feelings and a real need for a Savior. We they begin to see that, it will change their own perspective.
And finally, we prepare them for situations as we face them. Going to a history club meeting today? What do you think we have to offer the group? How can we help? What talents has God given us that could bless our group? What should we do if there are new folks there? Help them to see that stepping up and leading gives you great opportunities to do good. Help them look for opportunities to serve Christ. We need to help them get their eyes off themselves and onto Christ – and through Him, to see the needs of their neighbors.
Shyness is hard. It’s emotional. It’s uncomfortable. I don’t want to let it stand in the way of doing what the Lord wants me to do here, though. And I hope you and your children won’t either!
UPDATE: Our friend, JoJo Tabares at Art of Eloquence, is having a webinar on Tuesday evening, August 28th:
7 Ways to Help Your Child Overcome Shyness
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” -2 Timothy 1:7
Jo Jo says, “Shy children are often lonely and frustrated. I know because I was painfully shy as a child. It took me YEARS to overcome my shyness, but it doesn’t need to take that long for YOUR child!
You may not be able to relate and some of the things you try may actually drive them further into their shell. I know because I’ve been there! Let me help you help your child so he or she doesn’t need to go through this pain and loneliness anymore!
Shyness isn’t a personality flaw and 99% of the time it’s a simple lack of social communication skills which YOU can help turn around in a few short weeks with the information in this webinar!” Click here to register!
JoJo is offering a free copy of Say What You Mean: Overcoming Social Anxiety to a reader of this blog!
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Contest ends Tuesday morning, 8/28/12, at 7am Eastern