You blush at compliments, you are afraid of a new job or you have difficulties to insist on your right? If you know such moments, then you know him too. Who? The good friend. The guy who fearlessly catapults himself into the center of the action. He seeks confrontation with the boss and still earns respect. At parties he can hardly save himself from female attention because of his sociable nature. And you? You yourself stand apart. You would like to be like your colleague, but are too afraid of rejection. You get goose bumps at the thought of being the center of attention. You suffer from shyness, which is no disgrace. You are just one of many: Up to 20% of the population shares your fate (Source: Statistika). Fortunately, something can be done about it, so you can finally stand up to your colleague.
What are the reasons and what does shyness actually mean?
Shyness is between 25 and 50 % genetically predisposed, according to the state of science. For our ancestors caution and fear of strangers was essential for survival. Another cause lies in your upbringing: you had a dominant caregiver or your parents have separated? Then you are 50% more likely to develop shy traits. Not to forget your social environment. If you spent the whole day in front of the computer or browsing through books as a child, you were one thing above all: alone. You hardly had any contact with friends. But it is precisely in these interpersonal situations that children learn social skills. They lose their fear of being criticized or judged negatively by others. They become sociable, talkative and active.
Shyness, writes psychologist Dr. Rolf Merkle in his self-help books (“So you win more self-confidence: Accept yourself, make friends with yourself, defeat the inner critic”, PAL Verlag), manifests itself in 4 areas:
- In the Thoughts Shy people tend to strive for perfection and bury themselves in their own thoughts. But this is an unhealthy pursuit. Because the will for perfection comes from the – often false – conviction that others might think you are not good enough.
- In the Feelings Shy people feel inhibited, insecure, and easily frightened.
- In Behavior Affected people avoid situations in which they could be rejected. For example, the aforementioned party or the conversation with the boss.
- In physical reactions If shy people nevertheless find themselves in a situation like the one described above, it literally hits them in the stomach. Typical stress reactions include clammy hands, rapid heartbeat, dizziness, nausea and urination.
What are disadvantages of shyness?
- Feeling like your stomach is turning or sweaty panic are still among the lesser evils of shyness. They are temporary. At work, on the other hand, the behavior can make it more difficult to get promoted – those who do not openly represent their achievements, even when asked, are passed over. Shyness can also make you seriously ill. In social life, it can set off a chain reaction that leads to loneliness and depression: people who are inhibited by fear approach fewer people, know fewer friends, have problems finding a partner or maintaining a relationship.
- This can escalate into a so-called social phobia. Affected persons tend to increase their drug and alcohol consumption, think about suicide. All attempts to combat or overcome the negative experiences experienced through shyness. In the case, professional treatment is definitely advisable. Antidepressants or cognitive behavioral therapy are considered as solutions.
- But if you only suffer from a pronounced shyness, there is no need to despair – unless you absolutely want to become an entertainer. Because you will never completely get rid of your shyness. But: You can learn to be more sociable and talkative.
5 steps to overcome your shyness at work, in public and with women
1. Work on your body language: Shoulders back and up with your head and the corners of your mouth! Look for eye contact when walking on the street. This alone demonstrates self-confidence to others. When talking to someone, take a deep breath beforehand, really into your lower belly. When you exhale, hum once deeply inside yourself. This calms. You do not fall into panic or chest breathing so quickly, but rather stay in confident belly breathing. Shake hands with your counterpart. Accept the invitation to a hug. Self-confidence is like a muscle. Train it!
2. Think through your fear imagination to the end: What really happens when the pretty woman across from you turns you down? Honestly, this is a natural process. Not everyone can like you. You don’t like everyone either, do you? And if the woman gives you a raw deal for no reason, don’t feel sorry for yourself. Distribute compassion. The woman is not only uncultured, but also cruel – and nobody wants to be with someone like that. There are 7.5 billion people on earth. You have just escaped from an unkind fellow human being. So you are lucky.
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3. Stand by your insecurities: Sounds like a contradiction? No, the point is that you do not deny yourself. If you close your eyes to your own weakness, you will feel even more ashamed inside because of your inhibitions. This will only make things worse: you will become angry with yourself or your environment, the boss, the woman or even all women. You become more and more uptight. Shyness is a part of you. You have to accept it in order to change it.
4. Try new things: Sign up at the gym. Do for a long time? Then this is the next step: Join a sports club. Play football, tennis, badminton. In short: Find a team sport. You can also join a film or book club. The main thing is to get out of your comfort zone. By trying new things, you confront your fear of the unknown and learn to deal with that fear.
5. Make a list: Write down all the compliments that have ever been given to you. About your appearance (e.g. friendly eyes), your qualities and abilities (e.g. helpfulness, loyalty, good listening skills, quick perception, good memory) and your achievements (at work, hobby, children). If you don’t remember any of them because you have reflexively blocked them all so far, then start collecting them starting today. One month at a time. Visualizing something helps you to accept it. It is the image of your strengths. Let yourself be reminded of it every day, hang it on the wall.
Conclusion: You have to make the first, small step
Shyness affects almost one fifth of our society. In severe cases, the trait can develop into social phobia with subsequent depression and addiction problems. If you allow yourself a period of time to get used to it, you can get rid of your own shyness with the above tips.