In an ideal world, everyone would be able to stay within their comfort zone. But in our culture, sometimes you need to act in a way that doesn't come naturally to you so you can reach a professional or personal goal.
Non-anxious introverts have a preference to act the way they do, but not an anxiety. "So if they want to act more outgoing, say at work, they can usually do that," says Cheek. "They just have to make a choice." He doesn't recommend trying to change your entire life, but you can target certain domains.
For anxious introverts struggling with shyness, things are a little trickier. Before you can start improving your social skills, you have to tackle your underlying anxiety.
"What shy people need to do, in a nutshell, is to relax their bodies and modify their self talk," says Cheek. "They need turn down their self-critical monologue, and pay more attention to other people – so they can then interact more with other people."
Of course, that's easier said than done. But it doesn't necessarily have to be a huge undertaking that involves a therapist, says Cheek, and self-help cognitive behavioural therapy does work for some people. If you think you have an anxiety disorder, though, it's best to speak to a doctor so they can help you figure out what works for you.