Previously shy people: How did you overcome your shyness?
I'm not sure that I have. My shyness is very situational. Basically I only experience shyness if there is not an objective reason to be interacting with someone. At work? Not shy at all. I don't have any particular trouble in public speaking situations. I don't have a problem socializing from within the context of sports, or when taking a class. Granted - in most of these situations I'm more quiet and reflective than most people - but I don't have any sort of struggle with them.
But in a more social situation, one without an external framework (like a game) for me to focus on, I'm "adrift" in many cases. I'm the one who goes to play sports and then *doesn't* go out afterwards, the one who's friendly at work, but always eats lunch with a book. If it's with a group of friends that I know well (and have known for years) - not a big deal. I won't say much, but I'll participate and have fun. Anything else though, and what OrangeAppled said:
INFP idealist perfectionism makes you much harder on yourself than on others, so you can feel like everything you say/do is sooo stupid and that makes you withdraw so as not to "humiliate" yourself. To the shy person, being invisible is less painful than being embarrassed.
jumps in. I don't want to appear anything less than perfect - which is, of course, unattainable. So I withdraw, either figuratively or literally. Acute invisibility is much, much less painful than acute embarrassment. Chronic invisibility, of course, is much worse. Intellectually I know this - yet I'm not always able to put it into perspective in the heat of the moment.
Tallulah said something the other day in another thread (sorry, can't remember which one) that is also very true for me. Socializing is very difficult and uncertain for me. It never even occurs to me that it's difficult for others - their socializing appears so effortless and easy to me. And so I wait, trying to learn more about the situation and how to approach it. I can easily do that for hours (or days) at a time and never really come to a conclusion on how to proceed. Stack many such episodes together, over time, and you have shyness, or what appears to be shyness. it also probably builds to a lack of confidence in such situations, which never helps.