I was wondering what is the best way to overcome shyness/social anxiety and repair the damage to interpersonal relationships that is causes?
I have always been a bit shy in groups/unfamilliar situations but my problem got a lot worse around 5 years ago. Having finished high school I started my first job (part time while studying) and came out of my shell quite quickly, I could always get on reasonably well with most people as I used my sense of humour and witty remarks which seemed to go down well.
As I got to know people better and as my confidence grew i started to come out of my shell and express myself more - about that time a rumour got back to me that a couple of people thought i was gay, which I am, but at the time this was not something I could accept or wanted people to think/know.
I left that job shortly after and started an office job that i still have to the present day. I went to great lengths to "act straight" and never heard any more 'gay' references, but my social anxiety got a lot worse and i became (as described by a friend) a shadow of my former self. before long i was ostracised - which i can see was partially self-inflicted because of my avoidant behavior. My social anxiety gradually got worse over the years, until the past year or so when Ive been trying to do something about it, mainly via reading/using self-help CBT techniques, and trying to improve specific social skills like eye contact.
I accept that i am gay and this doesn't bother me at all now - i have a couple of close (straight) male friends who i've known since childhood, they know im gay and dont mind, but the problem i have now is the way i come across at work. I keep myself to myself and no one knows much about me at all. Is it possible to change my behaviour/personality without coming across as unstable? What is the best way to do this? I would rather do this out of my own volition, rather than therapy/meds.