Have you ever been in a situation where you're at a party and everyone seems to be getting along well except for you? Have you ever asked yourself what's wrong with you because you're just so shy? At some point, you probably did a Google search to ask how to stop being shy.
In a world where being confident and outgoing are glorified, shyness can be a roadblock in certain aspects of life.
Instead of embracing this trait, it's easier to detest our shyness and wish we were someone else. But what does shyness mean?
What Is Shyness?
The American Psychological Association defines shyness as the tendency to feel awkward, worried, or tense during social encounters, especially with unfamiliar people. However, being shy is not equated with a lack of social skills. A person can experience shyness but can still socialize with other people.
How Common Is It?
We've all been there; at least most of us have. Somewhere between 40–60% of adults identify themselves as shy. But what about those people who are not shy? Is there a reason why some people are shy while others are naturally outgoing?
Before we learn how to overcome shyness, it's essential to know why you are shy first.
Why Am I Shy?
Shyness can be caused by both biological and environmental factors. It starts as early as infancy for some. Approximately 15% of all children are born with a predisposition to be shy. A study also observed that females are shyer than males. However, only about 30% of shyness has to do with genetics.
The remaining 70% boils down to the external factors contributing to an individual's shyness. These external factors mainly include how their parents or legal guardians brought them up and whether they received ample physiological, emotional, and social support.
However, suppose the parents or guardians failed to address these basic needs. In that case, the child is likely to grow up with a predisposition for shyness. It shows how crucial proper parenting is to social and emotional growth.
Another possible complication is when severe shyness in childhood is left untreated. There's a high chance that it will persist into adulthood and could even develop further into a mental health condition.
Shyness and Mental Health
It's easy to mistake shyness for social anxiety and vice versa. After all, if a person is shy, then that means that they must be anxious in social situations, right?
There's a fine line between shyness and social anxiety, so one must be careful about it. While the characteristics and symptoms look similar, shyness is a personality trait that exists on a spectrum. From feeling uncomfortable and awkward in social situations to the inability to face other people out of fear of being judged, shyness can vary from person to person.
On the other hand, social anxiety disorder (SAD) is a mental health condition that requires medical treatment with a mental health professional. An estimated 15 million, or 7%, of American adults have social anxiety disorder, making it the third most common psychiatric disorder. With only 1% of people with SAD being diagnosed and treated, it's also widely underdiagnosed.
In essence, what separates shyness from social anxiety is the severity. To what extent are the signs and symptoms hindering the person from functioning well in society? Is it affecting one's day-to-day activities?
If being shy around people becomes so intense that it starts interfering with the person's ability to live their daily lives, that's the time when medical treatment is needed.
Everyone experiences shyness from time to time. But not everyone experiences social anxiety. When shyness becomes excessive and unbecoming, it might be time to seek professional help.
Now that you’ve realized that you are shy instead of socially anxious, let's talk about how to overcome shyness.
How to Overcome Shyness
The mere fact that you’re here, reading this article, and wanting to overcome your shyness means that you are already one step ahead of the game. Here are a few more tips to help you navigate social situations better and be less awkward in them.
It all starts here. If you want to work on yourself, you need to build self-awareness first. Treat self-awareness as the prerequisite to getting better at handling social situations. Knowing what you like and don't like helps you feel confident about yourself.
You can also start by asking yourself questions. What's making you feel shy? Do you feel shy around certain types of people?
Even the most confident people out there can feel bouts of shyness when faced with people they find intimidating. Be brave enough to ask yourself the right and challenging questions.
Acknowledge your strengths
Shy people are often shy because they don’t see themselves as good enough. If noticing negative things about yourself has become one of your habits, you need to let it go. Replace it by reminding yourself of all the cool things about yourself, of which there are many!
Practice your communication skills
Having excellent communication skills can be beneficial in almost all aspects of life. Get better at having conversations with people by joining workshops, attending online courses, or even just having chats with your family or friends. It's also a nice way to improve your relationships.
Do positive self-talk
Tell yourself beautiful things. From how good-looking you are, how wonderful your heart is, and how smart and hard-working you are to how much you matter in this world. It can feel fake at first, but similar to the other things on this list, it takes a lot of practice.
Focus on your breathing
Be conscious of your breathing when you feel nervous talking to a specific person or doing a particular act. Incorporate breathing meditations into your daily routine as well. It can help you calm down and enjoy the moment in social situations more.
Be patient with yourself
Take it slowly. The last thing you need is to overwhelm yourself by going to parties after parties. Doing so can only jeopardize your progress. Do it one person at a time; then increase your dose by joining a small meetup with 2–5 people; then increase it further by going to a small party until such a time comes that you get used to it.
Seek help from a mental health professional
While overcoming shyness is possible on your own, it can be a hard thing to do. If you have already done the steps above, but nothing seems to be working, then it's time to talk things through with a mental health professional.
DoMental offers online therapy services, which might be what you are looking for if you dread having a face-to-face session with a therapist.
Can Online Therapy Help?
Seeking mental health treatment feels daunting at first. Most people refuse to seek help because there's the fear of not knowing what to tell your therapist and what will transpire during the therapy session. At the same time, they also worry about being tongue-tied and running out of things to say because they feel shy. Online therapy can wipe some of these worries away.
Numerous studies have shown the effectiveness of online therapy in alleviating anxiety and depression symptoms. It doesn't come as a surprise that the preference for online counseling over in-person therapy is increasing year by year. But is online therapy as good as in-person therapy?
Here are some things you might want to consider:
- It is convenient and accessible from anywhere as long as you have a device and an internet connection.
- A much more affordable option compared to traditional in-person therapy sessions.
- Ease in choosing a therapist who specializes in the mental health issue you are dealing with, regardless of your location.
- Shy people prefer online therapy because they don't have to face the therapist in person. They can do it from home instead.
- Online therapy is just like in-person therapy; only it is done on the internet. Different therapy approaches can be implemented, regardless of the concern you have. There are a variety of ways on how to overcome shyness and social anxiety, but online therapy could be the key.
Shy No More
Overcoming shyness is not an easy feat. Along the journey, you will encounter many difficulties that sometimes make you want to give up. But nothing worth having comes easy in life.
If you find yourself tired and defeated along the way, know that there are people around you willing to lend a hand. These people can be your family or trusted friends. Sometimes, these people can also be mental health experts.
Always remember that the confident version of you is just a step away. All it takes is scheduling an online therapy session with one of our mental health professionals. Start your journey to mental wellness with DoMental right now.