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Being Less Shy

The story goes that there was once a teenager who had just started college in New York. He was incredibly shy, especially with girls and just couldn't get out a single "Hello" without stuttering or blushing or feeling like an idiot. Fed up with himself, he decided that there was only way to get over his shyness. He developed a plan. For an entire day he stood in the Bronx Botanical Gardens and approached every single woman who passed by him stating, "Hi, my name is Albert. Will you go out with me?"

He asked every woman that passed by- ones with small children, ones who were old and bent, and even ones who were tall and gorgeous. Albert repeated his speech to one hundred women that day and each and every one of them said no.

You would think that that much failure would have made him feel even worse about himself. But it didn't! What that teenager discovered was that each time he approached a woman and said his speech and each time she said no, it was easier to approach the next woman and the next and the next. It felt entirely natural to approach people he didn't know, introduce himself, and finally talk to them. Instead of feeling down about being rejected one hundred times, he learned that he could be rejected and still go on. He realized that he was still a perfectly decent person even though he had been told "no" so many times.

So, after having been rejected one hundred times in the Bronx Botanical Gardens, Albert went back to school and walked into the cafeteria- the place where he had always felt the most out of the place and the most anxious. But since he had had so much practice talking to people that day, he walked right up to a table of beautiful young women and introduced himself before asking to sit down.

After a moment, they said "yes" and Albert had finally succeeded in overcoming his shyness.

This is a true story of a young man who would eventually become a great contributor to the very dynamic field of cognitive behavioral therapy. His name was Albert Ellis and he lived for beyond his shyness to the age of 93, writing books about human behavior and rational ways to overcome our issues.

Shyness can come from a lot of things, but a great way to get over it is to practice. In the beginning, it might be difficult. Your heart races, you sweat and stutter. You feel like everyone is looking at you and judging you. But the truth is that everyone is usually so busy wondering what other people think of THEM that they aren't really paying as much attention to you as you think. And, like Albert, you will find that the more you practice, the easier it gets. Just make a plan to practice. Call it an experiment. Decide to talk to ten people in the hall at school or finally have a conversation with that cute boy or girl you've had your eye on. The great thing is that you can't fail a behavioral experiment. You are just using it to practice and gather more data. And if the very shy teenager Albert Ellis could be rejected by one hundred women and still do great, so can you!

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