What is shyness?
Is the brain of a shy person different? Is there a gene for shyness? Advances in neuroscience have led to research on shyness to find its origin.
At this time, it is impossible to say that there is a gene for shyness. However, some research indicates a kind of predisposition to shyness, with a Harvard study contrasting that about 15-20% of children have a higher sensitivity to this phenomenon.
But is this finding sufficient? Probably not.
Shyness occurs primarily when interacting with an outside environment or in an unfamiliar situation. When shyness becomes so strong that it changes an individual’s personality, it is called sickly shyness.
It translates into a feeling of discomfort, a lack of confidence. Shyness is a feeling of insecurity and translates into fear and sometimes shame.
At this point, a repeated avoidance strategy in the face of stressful situations will gradually build and reinforce a person’s shyness.
The family environment is primarily responsible.
As is often the case in psychology, we find the origin of problems in our childhood. The family environment is one of the most critical factors in the development of shyness in children.
If you had shy parents, the chances are that you developed the same thought patterns, as these are the main models you received.
Of course, there are many different factors, and if you had an overly strict upbringing, it might have inhibited you, but the reverse is also true. If you wanted to express yourself every time you were rejected, humiliated, or simply forbidden to speak, you potentially developed a very distant relationship with others to protect yourself.
If you have been raised to be idealized by your parents, high expectations can cause inhibition and hinder your development.
Of course, culture plays an important role. In Japan, an overwhelming majority of people suffer from shyness, as Japanese society emphasizes values such as modesty, discretion, or not expressing emotions publicly.
This is in opposition to the need for exchange in our modern society and will favor a form of shyness.
The advantages of shy people
Too often considered as a defect, shyness hides treasures of qualities, however. As vaguely mentioned before, shy people often share many characteristics that are pretty rare in our society.
The quality of listening
Instead of asserting themselves and imposing their will or point of view, a reserved individual will choose the option of listening to their interlocutor with genuine interest. It will be easier to establish a deep and sincere relationship with the people around him.
It is also a real asset in certain professional functions, such as all the jobs related to help and services.
A perfect sense of observation
When one feels shy when approaching others, it is sometimes logical to try to stand back.
This position allows you to have more distance from a situation and see things from a different perspective. This behavior effectively sharpens the ability to observe.
As seen in the previous point, having a developed sense of observation also allows us to note the emotions and feelings of our interlocutors, mainly through non-verbal language.
Empathy is the ability to identify with others and their feelings.
Consequently, it becomes easier to enter into a relationship with a person because we understand them better, allowing for more authentic and deeper relationships.
It is only a step to say that shy people are generally more modest than others.
In a way, this makes sense since a shy person doesn’t want to put themselves out there to glorify themselves. Of course, saying that would be a pretty easy shortcut. But we find that shy people have a fierce desire to communicate with others, often having an empathetic personality.
They regularly show themselves to be more supportive of cooperation and unity rather than primal individualism.
Shy people are excellent leaders
Although being shy can be seen as a potential negative within a company, there are undeniable advantages to giving more responsibility to a reserved person.
Reserved individuals who reach positions of high responsibility are often excellent managers/leaders because they have developed that quality of listening and empathy that many people do not have.
Abraham Lincoln or Audrey Hepburn were considered shy people. Today, many entrepreneurs or artistic personalities are also nervous.
On the other hand, few shy people reach these positions because they have difficulty being noticed and standing out.
Therefore, stepping out of one’s comfort zone will be essential to be chosen.
Of course, one could develop more of the qualities regularly recognized in shy people, such as creativity, modesty, and many others. However, we will also see the limitations and some of the problems that shyness can cause.
The disadvantages of shy people
Although former shy people are often recognized for their outstanding ability to communicate with others, having lived through it, let’s be honest, shyness can also be a burden, and quite frankly, a commitment at times.
Before we can break out of this shell, there are many negative consequences to this discomfort.
Being perceived as a hypocrite
I can already hear you screaming, “What do you mean? I’m not a hypocrite at all; I just have a hard time communicating with others how I feel. “
And that’s the problem. Not being able to express your genuine opinion or to assert yourself can be perceived by those around you as a form of hypocrisy, as a person who does not want to take a stand in order not to offend others.
A certain coldness
I have regularly heard this kind of talk from people who consider themselves shy.
By their very nature, shy people put a certain distance between themselves and others involuntarily and create a form of the invisible border that can be similar to a certain coldness.
Sometimes this can even be perceived as a form of arrogance.
This basically poses a significant problem for the individuals concerned by these criticisms. Knowing that their will is not to appear distant, quite the contrary.
Can lead to regrets
When it takes deep forms and installs inhibiting behaviors, this uneasiness will prevent us from being ourselves.
Not daring to talk to that person you like is regretting that story that will never exist. Not daring to apply for a job offer means missing out on the possibility of a new career choice, and of course, the examples are countless in all spheres of life and at all ages.
To avoid a feeling of discomfort, fear will inhibit action, implicitly generating regrets for not having done it and sometimes leading to a sense of personal devaluation. This brings me to the next point.
This is a generally true and specifically false statement. Let me explain. Although not all shy people have low self-esteem, it is a constant in many fearful people.
Disrupting social and professional relationships, the feelings of a shy person can be expressed in the form of various frustrations through a sometimes very negative internal dialogue. “I am tired of being told that I am shy,” etc. This pejorative monologue, which turns into a negative conversation, results from the shy person’s frustration.
This pejorative monologue, which goes round and round, damages our self-esteem and our judgment of ourselves daily. This can have repercussions on our general well-being.
After laying the groundwork, it’s time to get to the heart of the matter. Here are six effective techniques to overcome shyness.
How to overcome your shyness
Set yourself small regular challenges
The famous technique of baby steps that I apply most often is an ally of choice when dealing with your shyness.
Are you afraid to speak in public?
Start by asking a stranger for directions on the street, dare to compliment a salesperson in a store, or raise your hand in class.
Whatever your current level of shyness, choose an intermediate step that won’t terrify you and will allow you to notice even minor progress.
Remember to take frequent stock of what you’ve accomplished and stay focused on one goal at a time so that you don’t lose focus.
Take your small step toward your goal each day and ask yourself: what is the smallest action I can take right now to improve myself?
Modify your posture and gestures
Have you ever noticed how we tend to withdraw into ourselves when we don’t feel well? Our posture sends a direct message to our brain, indicating what emotional state we are in.
Go ahead, take the test, stand up straight, torso slightly bent, take a deep breath, and smile.
How do you feel right now? Better, isn’t it? Be aware of your posture when you interact with others, see how slouchy you are, head down for example or back arched, breathing choppy.
Practice changing your posture with people you trust and are comfortable with.
Getting into theater
How to practice and find the best way to get out of your comfort zone: theater.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve always heard this, and yes, it works.
Not only will you learn interesting things, like how to set your voice, improve your diction, get a message across or work on your breathing. But you’ll also be in a safe and caring environment where you can experiment, fail and learn quickly.
Of course, if you are not interested in acting, you can join a sports club, which will positively affect and improve your health.
The “Go” rule
Before talking about this method, I will quickly tell you about the 5-second method. You will find on the internet what is called the 5-second rule, which says that you should count down in your head when you procrastinate or are afraid to take action. The principle is simple; you count in your head, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, Go.
I tested this program, and my feeling is simple, it does not work, at least for me. And I am far from being the only one to make this observation. Of course, there is nothing to stop you from trying it out for yourself.
Personally, this is why I prefer a more practical method: the “GO! “
What is the go rule? It’s simple but not so easy to implement. It is based on the principle that when you are faced with a situation that represents a challenge that challenges your shyness, you must take action now, without question. You say in your head, “Go! “and you go for it.
We don’t take action because we go into our cerebral cortex and start imagining hundreds of scenarios and obviously always the worst possible situations.
The purpose of taking action in the moment is to take the wind out of the sails of this fear, and do what you like. Don’t forget a fundamental principle; fear disappears when you are launched.
Take an interest in others with sincerity
You know, most people like to be cared about and want to talk about themselves.
Taking an interest in the person you are talking to naturally creates a genuine connection to others. You don’t have to worry about what others will think because they have no reason to reject you. Of course, it’s essential to do this sincerely, or you will come across as a hypocrite.
The goal here is to disassociate yourself from your thoughts and connect with the other person. The ice will be broken quickly.
Consult a coach or therapist
Take the time to assess your anxiety about your shyness.
Sometimes shyness is so intense that the very idea of getting started inhibits any action; this is called sickly shyness. This is why, in an extreme case, it becomes urgent to get help from a competent person with an outside opinion.
You will be able to work on your self-confidence, improve your internal language, and set up a real progressive action plan to reach your goal, all this in a benevolent and secure context.
It is also important to keep in mind that overcoming shyness is also about total commitment, as it represents a specific challenge on many levels.
Being shy is not a fatality, and everyone can overcome it. Often more quickly than we think at first, and I really speak from experience.
Experiment at your own pace with the different steps to get out of shyness that I have proposed here. I imagine that some points will be more effective than others depending on your character and personality.
Keep your confidence and go at your own pace to free yourself. I am sure you will quickly see encouraging results.