What is shyness and could this be you?
Do you think you're shy? Well you maybe surprised to hear that between 40 and 45% of adults consider themselves to be, according to Bernado.J.Carducci PhD.
Shyness can be anything from a nervous excitement or awkwardness to a totally inhibiting social phobia. So it's less surprising that nearly half of us think we're on the shy scale in certain situations.
Carducci says that shyness is about excessive self-focus: in other words being preoccupied with your thoughts, feelings and physical reactions, usually in a negative way.
There are three common ways in which shyness tends to affect lives:
- Wanting to be social but not feeling you are able to. You may have agreed to attend a large social event, then as the hour comes nearer you feel uncomfortable and look for a reason to cancel.
- Taking time to warm up in a social situation. Perhaps you like to arrive late to not be noticed, then feel awkward and unable to chat comfortably. This could lead to you leaving early.
- Having a small circle of friends and doing the same things repeatedly. Which can mean you feel stuck and are nervous in new situations and in making the first move with new people.
The good news is shyness isn't something you're born with and can be overcome.
Although some children are born with more sensitive and inhibited characteristics, that doesn't mean they will be 'shy' adults.
Generally shyness is a learned behaviour and linked to an experience, which made you feel worried and want to get away from. This message then gets reinforced through life and develops into shy behaviours.
So how can you start to overcome shyness?
- Accept there is nothing wrong with you. However if you feel life would be easier if you were more sociable, you can develop those skills.
- 'Get out of your head'. Start to be curious and really interested in other people and situations, rather than staying focused in your head.
- Realise others don't care about you. Other people are more focused on themselves and how they are behaving, so try to be less self-conscious.
- Find a role model. Look for someone who is comfortable in the situations you find tricky. Work out what they do and visualise yourself behaving a similar way.
- Practise mindfulness.