You have been invited to an event that supports a cause that you care about. The night of the event comes and you are so excited that you can barely get dressed. You drive there in record time not noticing how heavy your foot is.
Then it happens. You go to get out of the car and you can’t. The one thing you thought you had overcome has paralyzed you.
You look over at your spouse and through the sweat beading down your forehead and over your eyes, you mutter the words “I can’t do it.”
You’re too shy. But why?
An evolutionary trigger
Studies show that the same sort of shyness that is present in humans can be found in animals. Now, of course, the shyness found in animals does not prevent them from going to parties but it does prevent them from being the first to take action. These types of animals wait and see what happens to the others first. Once they determine that there is no harm in doing whatever they are about to do, they follow.
Sound about right?
Your negative past experiences affect your current beliefs
I’ve been here.
Oh, I’ve been here.
I can remember a time where I based everything that I did on things that had happened to me previously. I know I wasn’t alone.
A study has shown that past experiences can create inherent shyness. At the moment that a negative experience affects you, you subconsciously store that feeling and make every effort to ensure that it does not happen again.
You were bullied
It is more common for shy children to be bullied over unshy children. These children internalize feelings that include depression, anxiety, and emptiness. As they age, the feelings manifest into a larger problem.
Then, as adults, these people are less likely to find stable relationships, date or even get married.
Being shy is thought to be linked to fear.
Feeling shy is your brain attempting to protect you from an impending threat.
Fear forces us to do amazing things (skydiving, jumping from a cliff, taking a flight across the ocean) yet at the same time, it can prevent even better things.
Have you ever noticed that you find it easy to talk to some people but struggle to talk to others? This happens when we feel inferior to the other person, find them attractive, or have a difficult time relating to them. Your brain is saying, “stay away”.
You find yourself overly sensitive
Don’t worry, you’re not alone.
Studies have shown that nearly 20% of the population has what is being called the “sensitivity trait.”
Scientists have determined that individuals like you tend to be more analytical than others. They often require more alone time to reflect, are more conscious and they get bored with small talk very quickly.
You have parents that were over controlling
Being a new-ish parent, this one hit home.
Parents who teeter on the edge of being over-controlling might be shielding their children from stressful situations that can help them develop. This can lessen the chance that the child will develop proper coping and self-regulation skills.
A study conducted by Neira van Zalk, has shown that parents who give praise and are warm to their children raise children who are less likely to experience stress, anxiety, and depression. The same study explains that children who have controlling, rejecting and less emotionally warm parents, have the tendency to grow up shy.
So, how do I overcome being shy?
Engage with others
Start small. Engaging with others doesn’t mean rushing out and having a deep conversation with the next person you see.
You and I both know that this won’t happen.
The next time you find yourself in a line waiting to pay, strike up a conversation with the person in front of you. Find out who they are, what they do and what they enjoy. This series of small wins will chip away your shyness.
Confidence will come with practice.
Remember that all things pass and so too will your shyness. Like a learned skill, it takes time, but the more you do it, the more likely your shyness will disappear.
Make yourself vulnerable
If you have mastered the art of small talk, get out there and put yourself in uncomfortable situations. Start attending events that you wouldn’t attend and contact those who you are too shy to contact.
Open up yourself to others. At first, it won’t be glamorous, but that isn’t the point.
Get it out of your head right now that you can’t do it because you can. I know this because I lived exactly what you are living. It sounds cliché, but I am going to say it anyway. I know that you are better than me, so start acting like it.
Do you know who sabotages themselves? Losers. You’re not a loser, are you?
Don’t let a bad moment bring down your day.
One more expression before I leave you. “Shit happens.” You, I and everyone else have heard this before. Don’t let it get in the way of what could be your best day yet.
Cheers to your success,