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)
- 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)
- Lack of self confidence: Low self esteem or lack of self confidence can force the brain to try to protect the person by making him shy.
- Inferiority complex: feelings of inferiority could lead to shyness. If a person felt worthless he would be too reluctant to express himself or to interact with people
- Perfectionism: Perfectionism can lead to shyness. If a person wanted to say everything perfectly then he might end up speaking much less and so becoming shy
- Lack of social skills: When a person lacks proper social skills he will become self inhibited around others and he might become shy because of not finding anything to say. See How to develop social skills
- Self image problems: Any kind of self inhibiting thoughts can lead to shyness. Since self image issues can lead to self inhibition around others they can lead to shyness
- Fear of people: A bad past or a dysfunctional family can lead to many problems such as fear of intimacy or fear of people. Those problems can also cause shyness
The Good and The Bad of Shyness: (research from Parenting and Child Health)
- 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.
- 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.