DEAR ABBY: When I was young, I was extremely shy. I finally got over it, and here's how: I came to the realization that shy people have one thing in common -- they're all overly sensitive about how others perceive them. "Am I dressed right? Does my hair look OK?" They obsess about themselves.
Then one day someone asked me about a necklace I was wearing -- and that one question distracted me so I didn't think about myself. After that, I made an effort to find something of interest to ask other shy people about, and it would usually open up a conversation.
Conquering my shyness didn't happen overnight, but I was eventually able to go into sales and even make "cold calls." I've come a long way from the shy girl I was as a child.
If my experience helps even one shy person to be less self-conscious, the time it took to write this letter will have been worth it. Thanks, Abby. -- PAT IN TUJUNGA, CALIF.
DEAR PAT: Thank you for sharing your technique for overcoming shyness. Many people share the problem in social situations. In extreme cases, "social phobias" can also be treated with counseling and medication.