Have you ever looked back and wished you’d been braver? I certainly have. What we often don’t realise is the profound toll that fear can take when we let it call the shots. In fact, research shows that the number one regret of the dying is that they lived too safe and risked too little, living the life others wanted them to live but not the one they wanted for themselves. Overcoming our innate fear requires us to build courage. But not one big bold act of courage, lots of smaller ones, every day.

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Have you ever been judged? I don’t know if anyone can truthfully answer “no” to that question. Yet, for many of us, being judged is one of our biggest fears! Most of us learn to “deal” with judgement by hiding the parts of ourselves we think caused the judgements.

However, letting judgements rule what you choose to do and be in life, sends a message to others that they can control you simply by judging you. When you let judgement win, you encourage the judgers to keep on judging!

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From the outside, I appeared confident. I was achieving courageous feats for a young Indian woman, including being one of eight women (out of a group of 300) to complete a Navy Diving Course. However, in social situations, I found overcoming shyness impossible. I suffered from constant doubts and anxieties, always thinking that “people are going to judge me because I am going to say something stupid or wrong”.

Then, I was faced with a situation that required me to either speak up or go down a road that I did not want to. When I was about 22 years old, my parents began to discuss who they were going to find for me to marry, which is customary in India. The thought of having to spend my life with a stranger was the catalyst for me to finally choose to have courage, speak up and stand my ground. This experience proved that I could overcome shyness, voice what I wanted and that speaking up did not make my life worse. It empowered me to make it greater.

Now, a certified FAA Commercial Pilot, I have learnt that with determination and pragmatic tools, anyone can learn how to overcome shyness and find a more empowered self.

The key elements to overcoming shyness are:

1. Ending the self-criticism

Most shy people use judgment, self-criticism and self-doubt to stop themselves. This has to end.

Achieve this by: Replacing self-criticism with self-gratitude. Ask yourself if you are willing to be your best supporter instead of your harshest critic. Any time doubts or critical thoughts creep up, actively choose self-acknowledgment and self-gratitude instead. It takes practice, but if you commit to ending self-criticism for good, you will.

2. Take charge and choose what is right for you

Only you know what is right for you, so it has to be you that takes action. If you take charge and are clear about your goals, you will be amazed at who and what will show up to support you.

Ask yourself: “What do I truly want for my life and future, and what is one action that I can take today that brings me closer to that?”

3. Go beyond your comfort zone every day

There will be times when you think you can’t achieve something, or you are not sure if you can choose it. If you are willing to stretch yourself and be uncomfortable, these are often the moments when you will have a breakthrough and create more for yourself than you initially imagined.

4. Don’t be intimidated by what you don’t know

Your unique way of understanding things is your greatest strength. You don’t have to learn everything from schools or experts.

My mother was a stay at home mum most of her life. One day she decided to start a business, even though she had never run one before. She knew she was good at persuading people, so she decided to pitch to a company to market their product. She hired professionals to help her create a pitch, which she pitched and got the account. Then she hired professionals to do the advertising for the product. Two years later she was running an advertising agency of her own with two offices.

Ask questions, learn as you go and hire other people. You don’t have to know everything to create what you know is possible.

5. Practice true leadership every day

A leader is not someone who has followers, controls everything, speaks the most or has all the solutions. True leaders empower themselves and others to create more. Leaders acknowledge the contributions of each team member. When people know you are invested in them, they will continue to contribute fresh ideas and energy.

Ask your team: “What is the question people should be asking you, that no one currently is?”

6. Commit to being yourself to the best of your ability

Be willing to know who you are, no matter how different from others that may be. Define success on your terms, give it your best and do whatever it takes to create what you desire. Validation doesn’t come from other people.

Ask yourself: “If I were truly me and there was no one else around, what would I choose?”

Overcoming shyness isn’t about magically feeling confident and never being uncomfortable or uncertain. It’s about being willing to do it anyway. Choose one bold step a day, and you will be surprised at how you can overcome shyness and make things happen!

About Smriti Goswami
Smriti Goswami is a communication mentor, life and business coach, and a certified facilitator of several Access Consciousness special programs. She is a certified FAA Commercial Pilot, experienced glider pilot and co-owner of Mumbai organisation, ArtEscapades. A committed advocate for women’s empowerment, she offers individual consultations and classes around the world, empowering people to think out of the box and follow their dreams. Find out more at Right Voice For You.

You can always come up with a reason why you should not speak up. Everyone has a past story or memory of a time they spoke up and it backfired, blew up in their face or just plain didn’t work out. But that doesn’t have to be your story now.

I’ve overcome shyness several times in life – first, by creating my translation (and first ever) business in my 40s; just being willing to talk to people and let them know I had a business took courage, as not everyone was supportive of my endeavor, and I had many opportunities to give into self-doubt. Even more challenging was a time I lost my physical voice after a surgery. I was diagnosed with vocal paralysis, which meant speaking became difficult, unpredictable and unreliable, my sounds coming out strangely and erratically, even after I underwent years of vocal therapy.

I could have given up and stayed hidden, but I made a different choice, and it led me to radically change and empower my voice in all areas of my life. Here are 6 ways I helped myself overcome shyness and find my true voice:

Make a commitment to you

It was only when I began to make a very different type of commitment to my voice – that of finding my true inner voice (no matter what occurred with occurred with my outer one!) – that I began a journey to successfully overcome the debilitating shyness, developing confidence and ease with speaking both out in the world and in my own life. Are you willing to acknowledge that you have the power to change this, and to make the commitment to you that you will have your voice?

Is that shyness really yours?

How much of the shyness you currently have going on are learned reactions and behaviors, as well as awareness of others around you? All of us have had an experience of walking into a room and sensing the mood in the room. When and in what situations does “shyness” come up for you the most?

If you’re willing to acknowledge that some shyness you’ve learned from others, and some parts are what you picked up from others around you in the moment, you can ask yourself, “So how much of the shyness I thought was mine, isn’t?” And if it’s possible a lot of it isn’t yours, how much confidence and ease do you actually have available that you’ve never acknowledged?

Recalibrate the negative self-talk

Self-doubts and criticisms keep shyness in place. When I started truly listening to my inner-dialogue with myself, I realized it was mostly negative. I was afraid to speak up and make a fool of myself, using that fear to withdraw.

I decided to challenge those fears. Whenever a negative thought come up, I made a conscious choice to stop believing it. I made a commitment that I was changing my point of view completely, and then employed different ways to replace the negative thoughts with an empowering alternative – such as kindness, gratitude, and self-acknowledgement.

Have gratitude for you

When your attention is on gratitude, judgments cannot stay in place. Gratitude is inherently empowering, while judgement is inherently disempowering. Choose gratitude for you and praise yourself for what you accomplish, what you are great at, what is different and unique about you. Everything in your life that you enjoy is there because you created it and chose to have it. Have you acknowledged that lately?

Ask a question

Every judgement we make against ourselves is like closing and locking a door to a tiny room. A question can open a door for you to see beyond that tiny room. One of my favorite questions is, “What’s right about me I am not getting?”

Negative self-talk focuses on making ourselves wrong. But if you ask, “What’s right?” you turn everything 180 degrees and can see yourself in a totally new light.

Trust your “Inner GPS”

A major component of shyness is holding onto self-doubt: the places where we have stopped (or never started) trusting ourselves. Trusting you and listening to your inner guidance system is one of our most potent allies. It may take a while to rebuild your self-trust, but it just takes practice. Trust isn’t about making the right choice, or having everything work out perfect, it is knowing that you can trust you to handle whatever comes.

Even when you have made a ‘bad’ choice, or something didn’t work out, how often have you landed on your feet? And the times when didn’t work out, where they also the times that you overrode yourself to listen to other people – whether it was taking a job, going on a date or buying that recommended brand when somewhere you knew it wasn’t going to work for you? Start practicing looking to yourself for the answers – ask, “What do I know about this?” “What is my sense of this situation?” and “What would work for me here?”  Put your own instincts back into the picture and give your inner voice a chance to be heard.


Creating the confidence and willingness to speak out beyond shyness truly is an “inside job”.  If you are willing to recalibrate and revolutionize the way you perceive and speak to yourself, the way you communicate and interact with the world around you will change naturally and come much more freely (and with a lot more joy!) as a result.

Norma Forastiere is a business mentor, natural therapist and certified facilitator of several Access Consciousness® special programs. A self-proclaimed seeker, Norma began practicing mediation at an early age and then went on to study metaphysics and several energy healing and natural therapy modalities. A native Portuguese speaker with a proficiency in English and Spanish, Norma offers workshops and consultations for those willing to explore greater possibilities in life, communication and business.