In this episode of the podcast I talk about shyness and some of the confusion around the word. I look at why everyone experiences it; why no one IS shy; and I consider ways in which we might expand our comfort zones to better cope with socially uncomfortable situations.
Have you ever been called shy?
It can be a dangerous word. It is evocative and often has negative connotations. It is really important to understand that shyness is not a characteristic. It is a temporary state or response to a situation.
What is it?
Shyness is the feeling of apprehension, lack of comfort, or awkwardness especially when a person is in proximity to other people. This commonly occurs in new situations or with unfamiliar people. Shyness can be a characteristic of people who have low self-esteem.
According to Dr. Bernardo J. Carducci of the Shyness Research Institute, shyness has three components:
- Excessive Self-Consciousness – you are overly aware of yourself, particularly in social situations.
- Excessive Negative Self-Evaluation – you tend to see yourself negatively.
- Excessive Negative Self-Preoccupation – you tend to pay too much attention to all the things you are doing wrong when you are around other people.
Martin Olsen Lany, author of The Introvert Advantage says; “shyness is not who you are (like introversion), it is what you think other people think you are, and therefore it is responsive to behaviour change”.
Shy vs. Social Discomfort
Elaine Aron, the author of The Highly Sensitive Person wants to get rid of the term ‘shy’ altogether and replace it with ‘social discomfort’.
The term Social Discomfort gives a much better insight into what it is we are talking about when we use the term ‘shy’. It shows it as something we ALL experience in certain situations. And it also suggests it as something responsive to behaviour change (as Olsen Lany says).
In this episode I talk about some ways we might be able to manage our shyness and expand our social comfort zone.
I hope we can better understand the difference between the natural traits of an introverted or highly sensitive character and those behaviours motivated or accompanied by discomfort, apprehension, or lack of confidence (‘shyness’). These are often both lumped into a perception we have of ‘shyness’.
Over to You
When is it that you EXPERIENCE shyness? Is there something you can do to face that situation more head on and expand your social comfort zone?
Marti Olsen Lany – The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World
Frank J. Bruno – Conquer Shyness: Understand Your Shyness and Banish It Forever
Philip G. Zimbardo – Shyness: What It Is, What To Do About It
Bernardo J. Carducci – Shyness: A Bold New Approach
Elaine Aron – The Highly Sensitive Person