When you're feeling shy, your mind begins to race. You might be thinking about all the things that can go wrong and you'll find it impossible to relax. Instead of thinking about what might happen, concentrate on the present and on what actually is happening.
First, attend social situations that don't require much effort from you. Events such as a comedy show, book reading, or concert are ideal. Once you're comfortable being in a crowded environment, engage in more intimate occasions that will require your direct input.
Focus on baby steps as you learn to feel comfortable in social situations. If it's been a while since you've interacted with more than two people at once, it may feel overwhelming to go to a party where there will be many guests.
Visualizations can be very powerful. They can help you relax and get past the anxiety associated with shyness.
Close your eyes and think about yourself in a situation where you'd normally feel shy or panicky. Instead of feeling overwhelmed with negative emotions, visualize yourself as completely confident and happy.
If you feel uncomfortable approaching a stranger, that's okay. Many people feel shy about this. If someone makes conversation with you, focus the conversation on him or her. Ask questions about their life, and keep them talking until you find common ground. Place all of your focus on the person you're sharing a conversation with. Really listen to what they're saying. If your energy is focused away from how you feel, you'll be less likely to be overtaken with the feelings of shyness.
Attend the gathering with your significant other or a close friend. You're more likely to meet people if you have mutual friends.
When making small talk, ensure that your questions are about less personal topics. It's okay to ask someone whether they're married or have children. Stay clear of asking for details about their divorce or custody battle.
It may also help you to encourage the other person to do more of the talking. Use open-ended questions where they can launch into a whole story or explanation instead of just answering yes or no questions.