Wednesday, December 7

Excessive shyness: eight tips to overcome it

Shyness is not always bad. It’s a personality trait which, to a greater or lesser extent, can appear in various situations and influence behavior, but without generating major inconveniences.

However, when shyness is excessive, it does become a problem. People who experience it “have a behavior that limits their social development in everyday life”, in the words of the psychologist Manuel Escudero. Specifically, a person who is too shy becomes very withdrawn when meeting other people.

She has an attitude of permanent vigilance towards herself that leads her to focus only on the negative image she has of herself and on the mistakes she can make, for which reason she is constantly concerned about her own behavior.

All this conditions his way of being with others. The person feels uncomfortable and inhibited and experiences anticipatory anxietythat is, a kind of fear or anguish for something that has not happened but that he fears will happen at some point.

The consequences of this discomfort are usually evident in the body: excessive shyness often causes profuse sweating, flushing, palpitations, dry mouth, and trembling hands or voice.

And not only that, but the cognitive area is also affected. When shyness worsens, it is normal for it to be difficult to maintain concentration, for thoughts to become disorganized and for forgetfulness or mental “blackouts” to occur. Nervousness becomes the dominant state.

The result is that “his worst nightmares come true and ratify the idea that he has no social skills,” explains a document published by the El Prado Psicólogos cabinet, based in Madrid. Consequently, a vicious circle is produced from which it seems increasingly difficult to escape.

What are the causes of shyness?

However, it must be borne in mind that shyness is not the same as introversion. The latter is a characteristic of people who enjoy being alone and often prefer solitary activities or activities with few people rather than those involving relationships with many people. But they are not afraid of social encounters.

The shy, on the other hand, do want more contact with others. But the aforementioned effects -withdrawal, fear of being singled out or judged, anxiety- harm their way of relating to other people, which leads them to feel frustrated and deteriorates their social and couple life.

What are the causes of this characteristic?

Many and of various kinds. exist studies that demonstrate that, in part, shyness is determined by the Genetic heritage and even by elements as curious as the time of the year in which the person was gestated and was born.

Maternal exposure “to low daylight during pregnancy, especially at mid-gestation, predicts increased risk of shy behavior in children.” So says a worked of scientists from the United States, who points out that the key would be in the variation of the mother’s melatonin levels.

However, according to experts, such genetic elements would have a 30% of the “fault” of shyness. The other 70% is related to environmental factors, such as having been raised with an insecure attachment (that is, without adequate emotional ties with their parents), or with low self-esteem, which generates insecurity and lack of confidence.

In addition, shyness – the experts add – could be caused or exacerbated by traumatic experiences, such as having been teased or humiliated or having suffered excessively hostile and stressful family, school or work environments.

Tips to overcome shyness

To counteract the problems caused by too pronounced shyness, you can take some measures such as those listed below.

1. Acknowledge shyness. A study from the University of California in Los Angeles showed that naming negative emotions helps to live them with less intensity. So admitting to your own shyness is a good way to take the pressure off yourself and start to relax.

2. Make a list of the anxiety-provoking social situations. And in the most concrete and specific way possible, as recommended by Pau Forner Navarro, author of the book ‘Dirige tu vida’ (Planeta, 2018) and specialist in the development and improvement of social skills.

3. Practice how to deal with those situations. This practice, in the first instance, can be done alone (for example, in front of a mirror), then with trusted people and, finally, in real circumstances. This should be done gradually. “It’s about replacing a negative habit, shyness, with a positive one,” says Forner Navarro.

4. Learn to use comments or themes that work as tools in specific situations: to start a conversation, to get out of an uncomfortable silence, etc. They can be trivial matters (sports results, fashion series, etc.) but very useful.

5. Use relaxation techniques: They can be deep breathing, meditation, mindfulness, etc. The shy person can turn to them when he feels that shyness is starting to make him uncomfortable. In this way, they explain from the Madrid Psychology Center (cepsim), “emotional self-regulation skills” can be developed.

6. Change body posture. The image of a person also says things about him: a study from Harvard University, in the United States, concluded that the so-called “power posture” (head held high, shoulders back, and arms at the sides taking up space to the sides) provides an image of self-confidence. And it also helps reduce stress and anxiety.

7. Understand that nothing too bad can happen. The psychologist Daniel Colombo recommends thinking “what is the worst that could happen”. What error or what clumsiness can be so serious in the interaction with others? Analyzing it in the coldest and most objective way possible also helps to see fears in their proper dimension.

8. Be patient. Leaving shyness behind can be a long road, with small “stumbling blocks” that lead to embarrassing moments. The challenge is to ensure that they are not insurmountable obstacles but part of learning.

In any case, of course, you can always go to a psychological therapy consultation so that a professional provides the individualized and specific support that the situation requires.

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