Wednesday, 17 June 2009


An article on Shyness.

Shyness plagues millions of people every day. It invades all professions. Age, socio-economic status and race matter not. 

What is shyness? 

Shyness is a complex combination of feelings and behaviours that each person experiences in his own unique way. Though the intensity may vary from one person to another, most consider it an experience they would rather do without. 

A shy person is defined as ‘an individual who consistently has difficulty making conversation with others or experiences severe physical symptoms of anxiety in social situations. 

For the majority of people, shyness means occasional awkward feelings in certain situations, such as when asking for a raise, meeting new people, or speaking before a group. This type of shyness is due to low self-confidence and a lack of social skills. 

For others, however, shyness may mean a tremendous anxiety that is life disrupting. The chronically shy may find themselves prisoners of their shyness and experience great anxiety and physical discomfort. In its most extreme form, shyness can result in depression and suicide. 

Many shy people experience a painful self-consciousness; a concern about one’s effect on others one’s appearance, or making a good impression. It may involve feelings of inferiority – that one is stupid, ugly, or not as deserving as others; it may cause a person to feel tongue-tied and awkward in social situations. 

The physical symptoms of shyness may include blushing, butterflies, weak knees, jerky body movements, nervous perspiration, and rapid heartbeat. The shy person’s self-consciousness merely aggravates the situation – by concentrating on the symptoms, they frequently become worse, leaving him flustered and embarrassed. 

Shy people are probably their own worst critics. Many see others as constantly evaluating them in a negative way. They often set unrealistically high standards for themselves, which only contribute to feelings of inadequacy. 

It is difficult for a shy person to initiate conversation. So much easier, it seems, to remain quiet rather than risk speaking poorly and making a fool of oneself. Thus, shyness makes it hard to meet new people and make friends, which often leads to feelings of loneliness and depression. 

Many people managed to conceal their shyness. They may still suffer inwardly, but through practice and concentrated effort they appear calm instead of nervous, and are able to function well in public. 

How to overcome shyness? 

Shyness can be overcome. With time and dedicated effort, change is definitely possible! By building a series of successful interactions with others, your self-confidence will increase, your shyness diminish, and your relationships lengthen and deepen in trust. 

The first step is to convince yourself that change is possible, and then dedicate your efforts to making it happen. 

Learn to relax in a 'threatening' situation. Breathing slowly and deeply will help you overcome initial anxiety. If you stay with the frightening situation and do not flee, your fear will subside. 

Smile, make eye contact and give compliments. 
A smile says that you are positively disposed to others. People will notice your smile and will smile back at you. A sad or lowered gaze tells others that you are in a bad mood and do not wish to socialize. 
Looking in the eyes of others shows that you are interested in them and are paying attention to them. Give compliments — people will feel good around you and, therefore, also about being with you. Learn to accept compliments: offer thanks and return the compliment immediately. Then use the moment to begin a real conversation. 

Stop expecting the worst. 
Dark thoughts are emotionally unsettling — they make you nervous and confused causing you to forget what you were trying to say. Fear tends to exaggerate things: therefore, the sooner you jump into the situation you fear, the sooner you will notice that it is much easier on you than you imagined and that much sooner you will understand how unnecessary your dark forebodings were. 

Stop beating yourself up emotionally. 
Every time you meet others, dark thoughts go through your head: "What a stupid thing to say!" "No one likes me!" No one judges you as strictly as you do yourself! Do just the opposite: search for signs that disprove your negative thoughts about yourself. 

Stop demanding perfection from yourself. 
Some of your jokes will not be funny, some of your comments will not be insightful. Your problem is that you expect so much of yourself and fear so much that you will not live up to your own expectations that you condemn yourself to a constant failure. Assign yourself more realistic goals. 

Learn to accept rejection. 
Rejection is a natural risk — everyone in society is exposed to it. Do not take it personally — refusal to socialize with you may not be connected with your perceived faults or behaviour at all. 

Finally, the most important thing that you need to overcome your shyness is to break through your self-centeredness. When you socialize with others pay attention to them and not to your timidity. If after meeting you people think ‘it was so nice to be around him/her’ then you have transformed your shyness into social competence. 

- Source Unknown 

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