What Is Shyness and How Do I Overcome It?

I was going to start out by saying, “I’m not an expert on shyness, so I did some research on the subject and this is what I found.”  Well, the fact is, I feel like I am an expert on shyness as I was very shy as a child.  So, I thought I would combine a little bit of what I read about shyness and then how I’ve dealt with my shyness.

First of all, if you missed my last two posts on my memories of just how shy I was, you can read them here.  Just click on the titles and it will take you to each post.

The Life of a Shy Girl Who Graduated 40 Years Ago

How It Is In Speech Class As a Shy Girl

With the big 40 year high school reunion coming up, my mind has been flooded with memories of school.  So, as usual, I had to write about it.

What Does Shy Mean? (Dictionary)

1.bashful; retiring.
2.easily frightened away; timid.
3.suspicious; distrustful:

4.reluctant; wary.

Statistics: (Research from the site No More Shyness)
  • 64% of shy individuals view their shyness as a result of external factors beyond their control, such as early family experiences, over protective parents or peer victimization.
  • 24% attribute shyness to internal factors within their control, such as intrapersonal difficulties, like low self-esteem and high self-consciousness, or interpersonal difficulties, like poor social skills and dating difficulties.
  • 62% experience feelings of shyness daily.
  • 82% report shyness as an undesirable experience.

Causes of Shyness: (research from the site 2knowmyself.com)

The Good and The Bad of Shyness: (research from Parenting and Child Health)

The good

  • Shy children often do well at school because they concentrate on their school work.
  • Shy children are not as likely to get into trouble for misbehaving.
  • Shy children are often liked by adults because they are easy to care for.
  • Shy children are often liked by children because they are not aggressive.
  • Shy children are often good listeners.

The hard

  • Shy children may be unhappy and lonely.
  • They do not get practice in learning to get on with others.
  • They are often overlooked by teachers and other adults.
  • Shyness can cause stress which leads to physical problems such as tummy aches and headaches.
  • Shy children may miss out on lots of opportunities.

By the way, if you have a shy child or work with a shy child you might want to check out more on this site.  Parenting and Child Health

That was the site with the most information that seemed the most helpful.

Now to the girl who lived it and fought to overcome it.  What are her thoughts?

My mother was extremely shy and timid as a child.  She has shared her stories with me of things she went through by being shy and….I thought I was bad, you should hear her stories!  Oh my!  She was one of seven children and just one of the bunch.  If you knew her today, you would never believe she was ever that shy.  She is the most friendly and welcoming person you would ever meet.  She loves people and she loves helping people.  She had to be strong when she became a single mom of three.  She didn’t have time to be shy anymore.

I’m thinking with my mom being on the shy side and with my home life being a bit unstable with moving many times to new towns and not having the security of a dad, it just happened.  Very scientific isn’t it?

I did not like any attention to myself.  I don’t ever remember feeling pretty.  Matter of fact I thought I was fat and ugly.  Words meant a lot to me.  It’s funny when someone said something nice or complimentary, I didn’t believe them.  But, if they said something ugly or mean, I believed them. To this day I can still remember things that kids or adults said to me that formed my self image.  I guess that is what you call the tapes being played out in your mind.

As a teen, I had several good friends and one in particular liked to make me feel vey inadequate at everything I said or did.  She regularly told me that I was like a bump on a log.  If we were in a group of friends and my face turned red, she would point it out and tell everyone to look at my face to see how red it was.  Oh my, that was killer.  Anytime, attention was brought to me, I would shut down.  I could have been having fun and talking and if someone said, “Why are you so quiet….why does your face get so red……what are you thinking about,” and I would just shut down and be content not to say one more word unless necessary.   The ultimate would be when I was talking someone would invariably say, “Stop, everyone!  Beverly is talking!”

In school when you had to answer “here” as the teacher called your name, I so dreaded it.  The teacher would say, “Beverly Fisher” and I would simply say “here.”  Then through out the class room you could hear someone mimicking the way I said here.  Oh, how I loved it when we were only required to raise our hands, which wasn’t too often.

If you are a teacher of a shy child:

Don’t single them out in front of their peers.  Realize that teasing, making fun of and belittling them only makes it worse.  If you truly care about children, take the time to get to know the shy child.  Encourage, speak positive and good words into them.  They may be told over and over again, but keep on.  They may not be getting any type of encouragement or praise from anyone but you.

If you are a friend of a shy person:

Accept them just as they are.  When in groups of people, don’t ever make fun of them.  Build them up.  Help your friend to excel at what he or she is good at and speak works of kindness to them.  If you have a home that is filled with love and acceptance, include your shy friend in when you can to join in on family activities.

If you are a parent of a shy child:

Lot’s of love and acceptance.  Do your homework on what shyness is.  Go to the site that I shared, Parenting and Child Health and read as much as you can about shyness.  Do whatever you can to give your child the tools he/she needs to excel.  Talk to them.  They are usually quiet and easy to overlook.  Make your children regardless if they are shy or not, your project.  Grow them into successful and responsible adults.  Don’t ever make fun of your own child.  Don’t ever speak negatively about your child to others.  Your child needs to have total trust in you.  They should be able to talk to you about anything and not be made to feel bad.  Even if they are telling you someone mistreated them.  Take it seriously, they need to talk.

If you meet someone who you discover is shy:

Treat them just like you would someone who isn’t shy.  Don’t point out that they are shy.  Don’t tell everyone, “This is Beverly, she is shy, but she has a lot to say if you let her.”  I could tell you stories. If you notice they are sitting alone, just include them like you would anyone else.  Don’t ever let someone sit alone unless of course, they really want to.  I know for me, I am very sensitive to seeing someone sitting alone, I always introduce myself and do my best to include someone with whatever I’m doing. Not out of pity.  I do it out of caring for people, shy or non shy.  People are people.  Rich, poor, black, white, brown, whatever.  Everyone wants to feel like they matter.

How did Beverly overcome her shyness:

I don’t think she really did.  She still has her moments.  She is sensitive to others and she knows her purpose in life.  When she gets her eyes off herself and all of her insecurities she can soar.  She knows that her Heavenly Daddy is right with her in every step she takes and He gives her the confidence she needs for the many tasks that have been set before her.  Who really has time for shyness when you realize your purpose.  You don’t have time to miss an opportunity to encourage or help someone by being consumed with yourself.  So much can be said on this topic of overcoming shyness, I’ll have to save that for another day.  If you have any questions, please feel free to email me or even leave a comment.

The hardest part of being shy for Beverly:

Being so sensitive that words can hurt so deeply.  The actions of others are so hard to understand when you try so hard to make others feel accepted and loved.  Seeing how cruel others can be with their words and actions.  Also, shy children can also be an easy target for those that want to harm children.

The best part of being shy for Beverly:

I can honestly say that I probably stayed out of some trouble simply because I was too fearful to walk the way some walked and tried to take me with them.  I’m thankful for that.  Being quiet gives you time to listen to others and to watch others.  You can become very discerning and wisdom comes with discernment.  For that I am very thankful.  Being discerning has many advantages.

Well, that sums up my thoughts on shyness.  I hope it truly helps you to understand those that are shy.  It might come in handy as I just read that 40 to 45% of adults say they are shy.

 

 

 

 

How It Is In Speech Class For A Shy Girl!

As I wrote about how it is going to school for a shy girl, I mentioned my moment of insanity when I signed up and took a speech class when I was in eleventh grade.  Along with a friend of mine, we decided to take speech together and promised to support one another.  I had always dreamed of being an airline stewardess and fly to Paris.  When I got tired of flying around the world,  I would fall back on my fashion design.  It was a good plan, don’t you think?  Along with my speech class, I also took a French class. Parlez-vous français?

The first day of the speech class was very intimidating.  It was a full classroom, every seat was filled.  Who knew so many kids wanted to learn public speaking.  The teacher was the drama teacher of the school.  I remember thinking he was a bit different than what I was used to.  He didn’t seem that thrilled with the class.  I don’t remember any smiles at all, just a lot of rules.  He proceeded to tell us that we needed to have a speech ready by each Tuesday.   We also got the list of things we couldn’t speak on, which mainly was anything that had to do with religion or our faith.  Bummer, that left most of my interests out right off the bat.  I don’t remember a lot of actual teaching on the proper way to give a speech or hints on how to be better.  He mainly sat behind his podium and told stories.  He ridiculed Christianity each chance he got.

Tuesday mornings were the worst for me.  I usually would be sick at my stomach due to the fact that I may be called on to get up and give a speech.  We weren’t allowed to use paper or notes.  We had to just talk.  If you knew me then, you would know that I was way in over my head!

One morning, I got to class and my friend wasn’t there.  When I saw her later that day, she told me that she couldn’t do the class anymore and went to the school counselor and they got her out of the class.  I thought. “Woah, we can do that?”  Guess where I went?  I went to see the counselor.   I explained my situation and she just looked at me and said, “I’m sorry, but you have passed the deadline to switch classes.”  I said “oh.”  When I was getting up to leave, she then asked me what my plans were for life.  I told her my dreams of being an airline stewardess and fashion designer.  I explained that maybe college first?  She then said, “Beverly, I really don’t think you are college material.”  I said, “oh.”  I then thought that B’s and C’s were not acceptable for college.  If you remember in my writing yesterday that I didn’t like school and so much was going on in my world, studying was not at the top of my list.

So, back to speech class feeling like a total failure with my grades and not being college material, whatever that meant, I had to get back to coming up with speeches.

The next type of speech we had to give was a demonstration speech.  I came up with the idea of baking a cake that my grandmother always made that I had fond memories of and then explaining how I baked it while serving the class a piece of cake.  Brilliant, right?  Through my nervousness and with the teacher sitting in the desk right in front of me, I thought I was doing pretty good.  At the end of the class the teacher asked me if I put buttermilk in the cake.  I said “oh, yes, I forgot to mention that.”  He must of known this recipe.  After serving the class the last piece of cake, I then sat down and listened to more speeches.  Although, I didn’t hear anything because all I could think of was, “What an idiot, I forgot to mention an ingredient to my cake, double failure!”

At the end of the class, the teacher would sit behind his podium again and call out each speech giver name with their grade.  I heard A’s, B’s and then I heard, “Beverly Fisher, C-!”  I was horrified. I gave and did my best and that was the grade I got.  The boy that sat in front of me did a demonstration on how to make your own moonshine and drew a steel on the board.  He received an A, I think.

We had a test the next day and I answered everything as it should be but I gave my opinion underneath all of my answers.  By this time he had shared many stories about making fun of heaven and people that believed that.  I proceeded to share my thoughts.  I wish I had that paper to see what I actually wrote.  Whatever I wrote, I remember the big F on my paper when it was returned to me.

I was done with the class.  I decided I would no longer torture myself and work for bad grades.  When my name was called for the next few speeches I said I wasn’t ready.  I had shut down.  I was done and I didn’t care.  Needless to say, I failed the class.  I didn’t care either.  Although I did care when graduation came and I was struggling for more credits.  Bad move all the way around.  I sure wasn’t going to the counselor for help, I already felt like a loser.

So, that’s my terrible, no good horrible 8 weeks of a speech class as a shy girl.

Whenever you hear that writing is good therapy for us, I believe it, because in writing this story out, I have realized something about myself.  That was about 41 years ago and I still have a habit of quitting things when I feel like something is a waste of my time or when I feel like I’m being mistreated and or used.  I’m done and over it.  No looking back.  I’ve done that a few times over the years with some people and organizations.  Yes, even a church where there was so much drama going on all the time and people always talking about others. If there is a clique going on, I walk the other way.  It’s a waste of my time to try to serve and belong to a place when you can’t trust the ones that you work side by side with.  I guess that is part of my story.  I’ve been mistreated before and I refuse to keep on letting it happen. I have learned to stand up for myself because I learned most people won’t stand up for you.  I heard a preacher say once when I was a teen that if someone doesn’t lift you up, mark them and avoid them.  I took it literally and it has become a habit with me.

The crazy things that have happened to us and that we have gone through in our past can always be used to better ourselves.

Okay, what is even crazier is as time has gone on I have spoken at a few women’s retreats and conferences as well as some workshops.  The first time I did this, I depended on God to get my feet to actually walk up to the platform.  He still gives me every ounce of strength I need to give a speech or talk publicly and I even enjoy it.  I love sharing when I can to a group of ladies who love to learn, laugh and share the mighty things of God.  I’m thankful for those ladies who have encouraged and taught me how to speak publicly.  I’m very grateful for those that have given me much grace as I have learned and did my absolute best and even bombed a few times.  But, put me in front of a group of sour ladies, eye rollers  and backbiters and I’m out of there. Whew, that’s a scary place to be. Someone else can have that group. This has happened a couple of times.  You could feel tension in the air due to a lack of people that didn’t have any intention of letting the Holy Spirit do His work.

Speaking publicly is important.  YOU have something to say and share.  Make it the best you can and let God open the doors and give you the strength that you need.  Your voice could make a difference in someones life. And for those that don’t want to listen, you can’t change that.  You just do what God has called you to do at the moment!  We are just the vessel/tool.  God does the rest.

The Life of a Shy Girl Who Graduated 40 Years Ago

I remember hearing years ago of someone going to their 40th high school reunion.  I thought, “Woah, that is a long time ago and I wonder how school was back then.”  Well, guess what, my 40th year reunion is coming up this weekend.  Don’t ask me how that happened…I have no idea.  Just innocently going about my business and one day you get this invitation that says the unbelievable, “40th.”  Just doesn’t seem right.

Needless to say many times these past few weeks, memories have flooded back into my mind of my life in school.  I can honestly say that I can remember ever year of school and every teacher I ever had.  But maybe not in a positive happy way as so many can say about their school life.  School life for me was very traumatic.  The life of a shy girl is hard.  I’m not talking about shyness as in being on the quiet side, I’m talking, shyness as in wishing I could disappear and why am I even here.  If there was any focus on me for any reason, I thought I was going to die.  My face would turn so red that I actually thought I was on fire.  My chest would break out in hives if I was put on the spot to say my name or much less talk in a complete sentence.  You would think I was attacked by killer bees by the way my chest and neck would look.

My first day of first grade is vivid in my memory.  Oh, how I loved the classroom.  The bright colors and the posters on the wall and the smell of crayons and pencils.  I had my brand new red plaid satchel and Big Chief tablet ready to go.  What I wasn’t ready for was the stomach aches every morning as I got ready for school.  Many times I was sent home because I was throwing up.  The school nurse would take me home with a can in my lap to throw up in. I had no idea at the time why I was always so sick.  It was called shyness.  This is the year that I found out what “show and tell” was.  If you are extremely shy, “Show and Tell” day is the day from the pits of you know where.  I still have the note that my teacher sent home to my parents.  It said “Beverly is very quiet, she points at things she wants and won’t talk.  During Show and Tell she just holds up her item that she is showing and won’t talk about it.  Please send her on errands and teach her how to communicate.”   Not a good start and I had 11 more years to go.

A couple of  months into my second grade year, we moved to another town.  For a shy girl to have to move to a new place and then walk into a classroom mid year is heart wrenching.  Not once, but twice we moved and I had to enroll in a new school.  I’m thinking that is why today, I love fresh beginnings.  I love new things and I really did like meeting new people.  But, the second any attention was brought to me, I would shut down.  I could be talking away to friends and if someone mentioned how quiet I was or how soft my voice was, I stopped.  The second I became aware that someone was watching me or taking note of anything about me, I wanted to hide and not talk at all.

My third grade year wasn’t getting any better.  Once again, we were moving to a new town.  The school I was in was huge to me.  I had a different teacher for every subject.  For each class, I had to get my teacher to sign my records that I was going to have to take to my new school.  One particular class I took my little piece of paper up to the teacher and asked her if she would sign it.  Only the Lord knows how I got that across to her.  As I was walking back to my desk and it was so very quiet you could hear a pin drop, the teacher yelled out, “Well, Beverly Fisher, I hope wherever you are going, you learn how to talk!”  Oh my goodness… I sat down at my desk and tears welled up in my eyes, I was so embarrassed as I felt every kid in the class watched me until the bell rang.  I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.  I was ready to move, I wanted to go somewhere else and hide. I thought, I will start over and learn to not be so afraid to talk.

Life goes on.  Life happens, parents divorce, unstableness, insecurity, hating school, being bullied, wanting to learn but, so much going on in my head I couldn’t concentrate.   As a child you just take one day at a time and deal with whatever is handed to you.   I was a perfect target for being bullied.  I didn’t take up for myself or care to.  Jr. High was a nightmare.  That was the year I actually got into a fight.  I got the pulp beat out of me and the only reason was because a girl got upset because her boyfriend talked to me in the library.  I had written a note to a friend (notes were big in those days) and called the girl a “queer”  who then told her what I said.  Ah, nothing like a friend, right?  Granted, I didn’t have a clue what that word meant.  It was the big word in those days, everyone used that word. Regardless what  I thought it meant, it was obviously a fighting word and I was going to pay for it.  Whatever was done or said that day, all I know it was the worst day of my life.

Should I mention that I rode a bus to and from school?  I had to ride a bus with the high schoolers.  By the time I got on the bus they had all the seats.  In those days if you didn’t have a seat, you stood in the aisle.  Yes, I rode across town on a bus standing in the aisle with a load of books.  No backpacks back then, those weren’t cool yet.  Many times I would ask if I could sit in a seat that had only one person in it and they would say no and put there leg on the seat so I couldn’t sit down.  It wasn’t just me, they did many people that way.  I had gum thrown in my hair by the high school girls. I could write a book on my bus riding days, but I’ll save that for another day.  I can pass a bus to this day and I get a sickness in my stomach.

My ninth grade year was the year that I became a believer in Jesus Christ. (You can read my story by clicking here.)   I began to learn that I was somebody special to my Savior.  He created me for a purpose and I had a strong desire to live my life totally for Him.  I loved church and I loved my new friends and my church family.  Oh wait, I was still shy!  Yes, it was still hard for me, but it was different as I had people around me that seemed to love me for who I was.  Of course, there were always people teasing me for not talking, not talking loud enough, my face turning red and on and on.  Many times I would go home from a church youth activity and cry myself to sleep because I was so embarrassed by things that were said to me.  I never gave up though.  I strived to get better and learn to talk and not be so shy.

In eleventh grade I signed up for a speech class.  I know….a moment of insanity.  At that time, I had wanted to fulfill my life long dream of being an airline stewardess/fashion designer and somewhere I read that you needed two things, to know a foreign language and how to speak well.  Well, I had visioned myself flying to Paris as a stewardess or a fashion designer,  so french was the language for me.  Hello, for a girl who struggled with focusing and taking the time to really study, french might not be the language to take.  That was a bust.  I knew a few words but I sure couldn’t carry on a conversation in french as my  teacher did as she led the class in french.  After a couple of weeks in my speech class, my good friend who joined with me got out of it.  She didn’t want to give a speech every Tuesday morning.  I didn’t either, but I didn’t know  we could change our mind.  So, the next day I went to my counselor and told her I wanted to get out of my speech class.  She looked at me and said, “No, you can’t, you waited too long, the deadline was over yesterday to switch classes.”   Tomorrow I will share “Life in Speech Class for a Shy Girl.”  Many lessons were learned in the longest 8 weeks of my life as a shy girl who signed up for only the Lord knows why,  speech class.

Ahhhh, at last graduation!  Oh wait.  My english teacher called me up to her desk the week of graduation and told me I didn’t have enough credits to graduate.  Somehow I had failed to turn in a couple of book reports.  How did that happen?  Don’t ask me!  It’s all a blur.  All I know is that I worked really hard at reading a couple of books that I had no interest in whatsoever and wrote a book report.  I never heard another word from my English teacher on wether I got my credits and I would graduate.  The day came for graduation rehearsal.  We met at the stadium and sat in our assigned seats.  They began calling each person to come up and walk across the stage.  As my row stood and went to the platform in the middle of the stadium I didn’t know if my name was going to be called or not.  I had the horrible sick feeling in my stomach that my name wasn’t on the list.  As I stepped up on the platform, they called my name and handed me a little card that was a replica of my diploma that we would receive on graduation night.  I double checked and there was my name.  I was in!  Oh wait….I then had the thought that maybe they messed up and it was already printed and they hadn’t told me yet that I wouldn’t graduate.  Well, graduation night came and not only was I nervous about walking up to the stage but I was double nervous that there was a mix up and my diploma wasn’t there.  Well, it was there and oh, my goodness, the sickness went away the second the announcer called my name.   I now look back and wonder why I was put through that torture and why didn’t the teacher talk to me….why didn’t I have the sense to go to her and understand exactly what it was she wanted from me and what I did to deserve that torture.   What did it all matter, I just felt like a million pounds had been lifted off of my shoulders.  Now to go set the world on fire as they say.  Not really set the world on fire, but go and do something really exciting and life changing.

Now what’s the shy girl going to do……

Life only got better.  Well, lot’s of bumps and bruises along the way but I had a Heavenly Father that walked through every second of life with me and He’s still with me nudging me as I write and as I share things on this blog that I only hope would encourage and inspire others to be better people, to think about others and most importantly to share the amazing love of my Savior, Jesus Christ!

I’ve learned so many lessons…..many good….many very good and many not so good.  I try to use each of my stories of life and what I’ve learned to show that my God is a good God and He loves you just as much as He loves me and He can get you through anything….even through 12 years of school where I learned how to make it and keep on keepin’ on regardless what was thrown at me. Even if you are the most shy person on earth…..you can make it!  Actually, my shyness kept me out of a lot of trouble and away from some things that I watched others be hurt by.  That’s all for another day, too.

So, I’ll leave you with this:

If you know of a shy person, especially a child, give them the biggest hug you can give and look at them in the eyes and tell them they are special to you and special to God.  They can do great and mighty things and that you will help them be the best they can be.  Then you pray daily for that person to be secure and strong in who they are.  Don’t be shy, you can do it!

Until next time,

 

*This post is linked with A Wise Woman Builds Her Home.

 

 

Speaking Up For Christ!

I wrote a short devotional for Denise Hughes who has an amazing writing ministry called, Deeper Waters.  She is doing a study in the book of Ephesians now and she asked me to write one on today’s study.   Be sure to check out her ministry at www.Deeperwaters.us!

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Day 29 ~ Ephesians 6:16-20 ~ Freedom from Fear and Insecurity
Welcome to DAY 29 of our online Bible study on Ephesians!

DAY 29
Read: Ephesians 6:16-20
Growing up in a single-parent home and a having a father that didn’t have much to do with me, left me extremely shy and very unsure of myself. I never had the confidence to speak up about things that were important to me. In school it was a nightmare when I was called upon and had to answer a question. The teasing of my quiet and soft voice was hard to bare. And the redness that appeared on my face was even more reason for teasing.
I became a Christian at the age of 14 and slowly became more sure of myself as I learned more and more of how much God loved me and I became more secure of His love for me.
Shortly after I married, my husband and I went in to full-time ministry after he graduated seminary. I was then finding myself in situations that were way out of my comfort zone. Things like praying out loud in prayer meetings with other women, leading a study for teen girls, introducing speakers at events, and going out on visitation to knock on doors and share the gospel with whomever was willing to listen.
I would beg God to give me boldness and wisdom to do and say just the right thing. I so wanted to be a bold witness for Christ.
Whether it is face to face, speaking before a crowd, logging on to social media, or silently by our lifestyle, we have a message to share and we can share it boldly.
Just as Paul was in chains desiring to speak boldly for Christ, you may be in the chains of low self-esteem like I was, wanting so desperately to speak up and share the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Paul even prayed for such boldness:
“Pray also for me, that the message may be given to me when I open my mouth to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel.” (Ephesians 6:19)
Have you been caught in the chains of insecurity yet you broke free to speak boldly for Christ?
If so, I would love to hear how you are using your voice and your life to be a bold witness for Jesus Christ!
The more we share the message of Christ, the easier it will become.

~ Diving Deeper ~
Have the shackles of insecurity kept your from sharing your faith?

Share in the comments!

Beverly Dillow
The desire of Beverly’s heart is to have a heart like His. She invites readers to live life to the fullest from the hardest of times to the best of times.  We were created for such a time as this. Join her in the everyday tasks of life at www.BeverlyDillow.com as she shares what she’s learned in 50+ years and is still learning each day.

There it is…..I hope it somehow encourages you to speak up for Christ!

Blessings on your day!