A lot of people view shy persons as boring to be with. Others consider them foolish and yet others just wonder how they cultivate and maintain relationships. But as dull as their lives may seem, could there be anything fascinating about them? YIRA-EEBA BEKEE takes a look at the positive side of being shy.
Picture the following scenarios. You attend an event and when you enter the venue, you just walk straight to a seat. Once you seat, that is where you remain until you leave. At times, the thought of walking through a crowd makes your heart start racing and leaves you with no option than being glued to your seat. You just seat and observe, seriously anticipating when to leave and when food is served, you reject it not because you are not hungry but because you have probably thought of how to transport the food into your mouth in the first place. When you accept the food, you rather take it home than eat it right there or if you chose to eat it there, your hands start shivering because you have given consideration to the crowd of people who have their assumed eyes on you. You try to dismiss the thought but something tells you someone is at a corner secretly watching you but you manage to dismiss it completely this time and put the food in your mouth but it spills on your body.
You feel so embarrassed after this first attempt that you try no further so you just hold the food pretending to be eating when in reality, you are starving. This is the story of a girl named Angelica.
You were assigned a presentation which you have taken time to prepare. You have been fine all this while but the moment you are called upon to deliver your presentation, you feel a sudden thud in your heart and then others follow as if a drummer was beating his drum in your heart. You walk up to the stage but when you raise your head, your audience have their eyes all on you. You start stuttering and this is a presentation you prepared so well for. You feel bad wondering how much of a fool you have made out of yourself especially if someone in the audience has a smile on his face, you just conclude that person must be laughing at you. This is John’s experience.
The above are just two of the numerous experiences gathered by LEADERSHIP Sunday from those who consider themselves shy. Some of us could relate to one of the above experiences or a similar one not mentioned here. In that case, it is obvious you are not alone. But what are the possible causes of diffidence?
Diffidence (shyness) is the feeling of apprehension, lack of comfort or awkwardness especially when someone is around other people. This commonly occurs in new situations and with unfamiliar people and it could be the characteristics of people with low self-esteem. Diffidence is caused by the combination of a number of factors, one of which is inferiority complex. Feelings of worthlessness or inferiority could lead to shyness, making one reluctant to express himself or interact with people. Lack of self-confidence, which is distrust in one’s abilities, qualities and personal judgment, also contributes to shyness.
Perfectionism is also another cause. When someone wants to do something perfectly but ends up doing less.
Other causes of shyness include the following, excessive teasing and criticism, self-consciousness, fear due to some bad experiences in the past or fear of people especially those in positions of authority. Diffidence could also be genetic.
Diffidence is nothing to be ashamed of. Lynne Henderson, PhD, clinical psychologist and researcher says, “defined as a blend of fear and interest, it’s a universal human emotion that all of us experience”. She added, “Only about three per cent of the world’s population say they have never been shy and I am not sure I believe them. It’s adaptive in evolution- it’s a way to pause and check to see if something in the environment is safe. It’s only an issue when it gets severe enough to stop you”. You would agree that it is normal to feel shy and most people feel shy at one point or another. Shyness only becomes debilitating when it hinders you from participating in social situations that are important to personal or professional goals. If it has gotten to the point where it stops you from doing the necessary things, what steps can you possibly take to overcome it?
Face Your Fears And Act Confidently Shying away from the situation does not always help. Confidence comes through action, learning, practice and mastery. Exposing yourself to your fears is the best way to overcome it. So why not look for a way to tackle that fear of yours.
Try Something New
Never allow anxiety, fear of failure, humiliation or rejection stop you. Engaging in new activities, gives you the opportunity to confront your fears and learn to handle anxiety more effectively. So, do something to get out of your comfort zone.
Learn To Express Yourself
Practice giving presentations and speeches. Tell a joke or story at every opportunity and while doing this, project your voice clearly and effectively. Let your ideas be heard and do not be preoccupied with whether everyone is going to like what you have to say.
Think Of A Quote That Makes You Feel Better. Write it down somewhere and repeat it to yourself.
Find a way to shift your focus elsewhere whenever you are feeling anxious. You could call a loved one who makes you happy or listen to your favourite song.
According to Craig April, PhD, clinical psychologist and anxiety expert, one major technique in handling anxiety is practicing eye contact, greeting people or engaging in conversation. She says, “the main goal of repeated exposure is to help the brain adapt. The brain simply gets tired of the fear and stops caring so much and isn’t going to send signals as if there is a terrible danger”.
Veronica Parker, MFT, lead therapist says, “working your way through social anxiety is essential. If untreated, you run the risk of getting it worse. It becomes a vicious cycle. The more you withdraw and isolate, the more fearful you become and the less opportunity you get to have more social interactions.”
Identifying your strengths can also help you overcome social anxiety. Below are some of the fascinating traits of shy people that have helped them develop and maintain healthy and meaningful relationships. Shy people are:
They barely engage in small talk and stay away from gossip. Hence, people find it easier to trust them with secrets they would not care to share with people who are outspoken. This trust in turn leads to respect. People also find them more believable.
Friendly And Polite
They are usually good-natured, polite, friendly and soft-spoken. This makes them more approachable as opposed to those who are arrogant. Their warm smile attracts people and although they may appear aloof, many have found them to be the best of friends they could ever have.
Good Listeners. They naturally have a quiet deportment and speak less. While this passive behaviour may not be universally appreciated, some say it has a calming effect on them. Shy people understand the feelings of people and motivate them hence they are admirable counselors.
They love spending time on their own. This makes them reflect on their experiences and reactions to past situations. They excel in careers that allow them to work on their own as opposed to working in a team. Thus, they have been observed to be creative, with the potential to excel as artists and poets.
Good At Developing Deep And Long-Lasting Relationships
They open up to a chosen few who appreciate the trust placed in them. This appreciation, along with their kind and considerate nature, helps them form a deep and lasting bond. Though they might appear unfriendly, once you get to know them well, though this may take some time, you will realise you have gotten a gem of a friend. The reason it is so is not farfetched. They find it difficult to make friends thus they cherish the few they have.
Reluctance In Asking For Help
This makes them independent and self-reliant from a very young age.
Keen Observers Of People And Surroundings, Doing This Meticulously
They are adept at reading people’s faces and can easily identify different facial expressions. They also barely make snap judgments nor make decisions in a hurry.
If you feel overcoming your shyness is the best option for you, do so but if you have tried everything possible and it isn’t leaving, do not feel bad about it. Rather, look for ways to face your fears, discover your strength(s) and use it to your advantage and that of others.
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