Understanding Shyness and 6 Ways to Deal With It

Understanding Shyness and 6 Ways to Deal With It

Have you ever walked into a party or a social situation and found yourself overcome with feelings of Attribution to Kimberly Recoranxiousness? Shyness and social unease are quite common and affect millions of people. This may not seem like such a big deal, but as you get older, staying social and building strong friendships is a vital part of maintaining your mental and emotional well-being. With retirement, and the subsequent relocation that sometimes follows, many old friends and familiar social settings can drastically change. Many times, you’ll be forced to step out of your comfort zone in order to forge new connections. This can sometimes cause a lot of anxiety, especially if you’re someone who is inherently shy or feels awkward in social situations.

Luckily, there are steps you can take to manage your social anxiety, and overcome your shyness. We’ve listed some of them below:

1. Understand Your Shyness and Accept It
According to the Shyness Research Center, shyness has three components:

  • Negative Self-Appraisal – Tending to see everything about yourself in a negative light   (e.g., Everything I do is stupid)
  • Excessive Self-Consciousness – Being overly conscious of yourself, especially in social situations (e.g., Everybody is looking at me.)
  • Irrational Belief System – You create a negative reality out of a negative thought/idea (e.g. Nobody here will like me anyway)

Although we all experience different shades of shyness, the core root of shyness can be explained by the following reasons:

  • Low Self-Esteem – You tend to feel worthless and that your actions and unique qualities are not desirable.
  • Extreme Self-Preoccupation – You’re extremely fixated on how your actions are being perceived, and makes you question every move.
  • Defining Yourself as Shy – By defining yourself as shy, or having other people define you as being shy, you are creating a label and an expectation of that label. The good news is that you are always able to change how you define yourself.

By knowing as much as you can about your shyness, i.e. what triggers it and how it manifests itself, you are essentially taking away the “unknown”, which is what tends to cause fear in the first place. By becoming aware of yourself and your triggers, you are becoming self-aware rather than self-conscious, allowing you to move freely rather than under a microscope of self-doubt.

2. Find Your Strengths and Accept Yourself for Who You Are
By focusing on your strengths rather than your weaknesses, you can boost your self-confidence and think of yourself in a positive light. Be yourself. Conforming to what you think other people want from you only comes off as unauthentic and keeps you from accepting the unique qualities that make you who you are.

3. Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone
Overcome shyness one small step at a time. Next time you’re in a public setting, such as a museum or mall, try interacting with as many people as possible. This could include anything from smiling, to making eye contact, to asking for directions. Get used to talking to others.

4. Master the Art of Small Talk
Read the newspaper or listen to talk-based news radio in order to stay on top of current events, so that you have topics to talk about during conversation. Ask open-ended questions to keep people from answering with yes or no.

5. Focus on Other People
Rather than obsessing about yourself, focus your attention on other people. By mastering the art of listening, and learning about other people, you get to “leave your head” and create new connections as well.

6. Breathe
If you ever find yourself getting anxious in a social setting, relax and take a deep breath. By focusing on the nature of your breath rather than the physiological affects that social anxiety can create, you can help alleviate the pressure that a stressful social situation may cause you.

For more information about overcoming shyness, you can visit the Shyness Research Institute.

Author: Kimberly Recor, staff writer at Designing Brighter Tomorrows

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