At gatherings you hover near the buffet, trying to appear fascinated by the dip. You arrive at meetings exactly on time to avoid the usual pre-conference chit-chat. You would rather have minor surgery than make a speech and you dance only after repeated requests. You are shy and even perhaps lacking good self-esteem. The following is a little plan to help you overcome the monster in your social life!

  • Imagine worst-case scenario. The first cousin of shyness is fear. If you're party-shy, prepare before the next celebration with this helpful mind game. Ask yourself, "What am I afraid of? What is the worst thing that can happen?" Then ask yourself. "Is this worth the energy it takes to be afraid?"

  • Avoid people overload. Researchers have found that introverts are more sensitive to the pounding bass line of loud music. Their hearts beat faster, their pupils dilate larger and their muscles knot tighter than extroverts. You "overload" faster than your extroverted buddies. After learning to pick and choose the people you expend energy on, you will have much more energy for the people you choose.

  • Banish the insulting voice. The one thing almost all shy people have in common is an insulting little voice inside their heads. It is the voice that gives you a running commentary on every conversation you have: "He must think I'm boring." "I'm fat."

If you want to overcome shyness, you have to beat The Voice. First, acquire ammunition. Make an "I like me" list, a run-down of your positive characteristics. Next, lie in wait for the voice. When the insulting voice pops up, do not argue; just overcome it with something from your "I like me" list.

  • Brush up on social skills. "But," you say, "It's not just The Voice. I am really a crummy conversationalist." Fair enough. Maybe your social skills need work. So, start working.

A speech class at the local community college can help you get past the fear of public speaking. Maybe taking a dance class would help. If you're too shy to take formal session, maybe some "private tutoring" from a friend is in order.

  • Make a shy alliance. Nothing terrifies a shy person more than the thought of standing alone on the edge of a party. The best remedy is going on the offensive. Chances are pretty even that another shy person somewhere in the room is going through the same thing. Take a look around. Home in on the woman at the end of the table who has spent the last five minutes hiding behind the cheesecake. Take a deep breath. Walk up to her, and propose an alliance. You might say something like this: I'd like to meet some people. Do you want to join me?"

Provided she says "yes," introduce yourself. If the conversation between the two of you lags, set off together on your mission to meet others.

  • Become a popular connoisseur. If you are going to parties expecting to be Murphy Brown, it is little wonder you are shy. It is tough to be that witty without script.

Go with the attitude that you are going to meet at least one new person and learn about one new topic. The more you take chances, the more you gradually take steps to beat bashfulness.