What is shyness?
Shyness is a character trait that results in insecurity in relating to other people. We must make it very clear that shyness is not a disease. It is a way of being of the person, which manifests itself in a lack of knowledge about how to behave with others. As a result of this ignorance, inhibition arises to act in front of others. The shy person does not dare to interact with others and when they have no choice but to do so, they manifest insecurity and shame.
Shyness in adolescence.
Shyness tends to be present with greater force during adolescence , since this is a stage of strong changes, both socially and biologically. New friends appear and the first romantic relationships begin. The fact of facing up to unknown people and having a conversation with the opposite sex are factors that can lead to shyness. Shyness appears as a result of the insecurity generated by situations that involve relating to other people.
Causes of shyness.
Shyness is a trait that lives in each one of us. In some people it is almost imperceptible. In others, it becomes more noticeable and makes it difficult for them to lead a healthy and fluid social life. Adolescence is a time when shyness is increased and leads the subject who suffers from it to avoid contact with others.
There are several reasons why shyness is particularly present at this stage. We can highlight the following.
Leave childhood behind.
The abandonment of childhood is to leave behind a stage in which we were protected and in which the social role was minimal. In childhood the relationships of the little ones were restricted and contained by the family and social environment. Abandoning childhood is a strong impact and many adolescents show a certain insecurity in the face of new roles, which is manifested in the form of shyness.
In adolescence, some adolescents are proud of the change in their voice. Others boast of the appearance of body hair and the formation of curved lines in the case of girls. But, much more frequently, it is that these changes are in fact a source of reasons to be self-conscious and self-conscious. Adolescence is the time of complexes: “being fat”, “being skinny”, “having a lot or little chest” are common concerns when the body takes on different forms. If we add to this the appearance of acne, the situation does not improve at all.
We could define adolescence as the festival of hormones. The physical changes involve and completely revolutionize the hormonal balance. Endocrine changes act directly on emotions and lead to great affective lability. Therefore, the changes generated in this period raise a tsunami of emotions that until then had remained dormant.
On the other hand, both genetic factors and those that make up the environment during childhood must be considered. Introversion, which consists of closing in on oneself, is a condition that manifests itself through the action of genetic factors. It should be noted that introversion is not shyness, since both conditions are determined by different motivations.
The environment in which the child grows up is also a determining factor. If the parents are introverted, it is more likely that, through the action of learning, the child will become an adolescent with the same characteristics. In turn, if the family environment is welcoming and the child is given containment, support and motivation, the chances of developing shyness vanish.
However, when the family environment is overprotective, it is also a factor that can lead to shyness. Similarly, excess authority on the part of adults is another trigger for this condition.
As expected, the social environment plays a determining role in shyness, especially if the young person did not receive the necessary foundations at home in the pre-adolescent stage. Therefore, being teased or disparaged by their peers are situations that lead the adolescent to become self-conscious and reject contact with others. This leads him to assume that all the relationships he establishes will be marked by these characteristics, which makes him avoid all possible social contact.
Factors related to the prenatal stage and the first months and years of life influence the appearance of shyness. By feeling desired and loved, the child develops the skills that allow him to face the world beyond his physical appearance and the hormonal action that will arise in later years. Self-confidence is based on the emotional stability that is developed and received at home during our first steps in this world.
All these factors will be decisive to develop, or not, shyness during the adolescent years. The reasons that lead to this condition at this stage are the same in men as in women.
How to overcome shyness?
The intervention of a therapy is not always necessary to overcome shyness. We already made it clear at the beginning of this article that shyness is not a disease. However, shyness can make life very difficult for the subject. For this reason, it is advisable to set yourself a series of objectives to overcome shyness. The adolescent can practice the following exercises and evaluate their own progress in this regard:
Putting yourself in the other person’s shoes.
It is convenient to try to place ourselves in the mind of the other person. Just as we feel self-conscious about relating to others, the other person may feel the same way. It is easier to believe that they are looking at us because they are silently judging and condemning us, than to believe that they are looking at us because they want to connect with us and do not know how to do it.
Recreation of everyday life situations.
A very effective exercise is, when the day is over, reviewing the situations that we have gone through during the day in which shyness kept us from feeling good. Once we have identified them, we will proceed to modify them in our mind so that, next time, they will develop differently. It is about improving our attitudes through an imaginary rehearsal and strictly guided by us.
This is a decision that will help you to overcome fear and, what is more gratifying, to verify that it can be transformed into satisfaction in a much easier way than you think. When we have a fear and we move away from the situation that generates it, what happens is that it increases irrationally.
Losing contact with the reason for fear makes it an inordinate threat. Instead, once we decided to face the source of fear, we realized that it had been fueled by our imagination much more than by reality itself.
Control body language.
There are facial expressions and body postures that represent a warning that goes directly to the subconscious of those in front of us and whose message is “stay away.” At any time of the day when you find yourself in a social context, be it a class, public transport or a meeting, review your expression and the position of each part of your body.
Do you have a frown or a stiff expression in your eyes? Is your mouth tight? Are you crossed arms or legs? Do your torso and knees point to the opposite side or are they deviated from the group you are in?
All of these signals are huge “NOs” that you are transmitting to those around you. If you start to break down your barriers one at a time, you will see that people’s attitudes towards you will change in a positive way and you will feel more encouraged to form social bonds.
Swapping negative thoughts for positive ones will make a difference. The word works in a very powerful way in us. When we constantly repeat to ourselves: “it will go wrong” “you will fail” “they will laugh at you,” we are creating the circumstances for this to happen. On the other hand, if we substitute these maxims for others such as: “cheer up” “they are waiting for you” “you have a lot to give,” the situation will take a radical turn.
Introspectively analyze yourself.
We all have our strengths and weaknesses. Knowing yours will help you to relate based on all the good things you have. For example, suppose you are an artistic person. In this case, you can use your skills, such as playing a musical instrument, drawing or painting, to start building bridges to other people.
When we are shy, especially during adolescence, it is common to focus on the negative that we have. Thoughts in the style of “I’m clumsy” “I don’t understand any math” or “I have no topic for conversation,” often prevent us from seeing all that is wonderful in us that would be very welcome by other people.
Take drama classes.
Although it is probably not available to many people, this discipline allows us to develop the social skills that a shy person lacks. In addition, it allows us to address the perspective of the other, something that is essential to overcome shyness.
We can firmly say that shyness is not the same as social phobia . In fact, we could even say that there is a gulf between the two. Shyness is not a disorder, but a characteristic or a trait of our personality. Instead, social phobia corresponds to an anxiety disorder. When we are shy we can face a social situation without major problems. When you have social phobia, you experience very intense adverse physical reactions to contact with other people. Symptoms such as sweating, palpitations, chest pain, hot flashes, the need to urinate frequently (frequency), dizziness and chills, manifest when we are forced to get involved in a social situation.
Another factor is the feeling of fear. Those who suffer from social phobia feel a deep-rooted fear of facing people, while those who are shy only feel discomfort. For example, if we think about what can happen in a high school class in which an oral presentation is required, the shy person will carry it out in a low voice, without looking directly at their classmates and blushing. On the other hand, those who have social phobia will not be able to do it. You may start to sweat, your hands may shake, and your heart may race. Words will probably not come out until you leave the room.
In conclusion, shyness generates a state of mild discomfort, while social phobia negatively affects the quality of life.
Characteristics of shyness.
- Tendency to introversion.
- Difficulty expressing your feelings.
- Preference for going unnoticed.
- Be ruborizan.
- They do not express their opinion in front of a group of people.
- Observations are taken as if they were being judged.
- The “what will they say” governs their daily actions.
A shy person can manifest passive aggressiveness. Assertiveness is the ability of a person to express their thoughts clearly and directly, ensuring that when defending their rights they do not hurt others.
The shy person has a great deal of difficulty being assertive. You have a hard time claiming what is yours. You are not able to demand something to which you are entitled to the right person. Contrary to what happens when we are assertive, the shy person complains about what is not satisfactory. Faced with an injustice, he exercises criticism, but he does so behind the back of the person who generates his discomfort.
The fact of being aware of “what will they say,” conditions their way of acting, so they are not people who make use of their freedom effectively.
Consequences of shyness.
- Emotional dependence..
- Close bond with negative and destructive emotions.
- Need for approval.
- Low self-esteem.
- Difficulties making friends and finding a partner.
- Tendency to isolation.
- Intolerance to criticism.
Shy adolescents are strongly dependent on people with whom they feel comfortable. This someone can be a member of your family or a friend. They believe that they will not feel that way with anyone else, so they tend to get attached to and hoard that person.
Its link with negative emotions that destroy self-esteem, such as guilt, shame, and depression, is very close.
They need the approval of others, so they are usually very helpful with those who connect. They do not have a good concept of themselves, but consider themselves people of little value to others. All this makes it difficult for them to make friends, since not only do they not look for it to happen, but they can even reject those who approach them with that intention.
Isolating themselves is the natural reaction by which they get carried away and it is difficult for them to differentiate a destructive criticism from a constructive one. When they are criticized, their self-esteem drops even more and they feel that their low self-concept is reaffirmed.
Does shyness have a solution?
The definitive answer to this question is: “Yes. Shyness has a solution ”. If you have followed the advice we have given above and have not achieved a significant improvement, you will always have the possibility of psychological therapy.
At the beginning of this process, the professional will evaluate you and determine to what extent shyness affects your quality of life.
Based on this, he will develop a personalized therapy for you, in which he will teach you the techniques that will allow you to develop the necessary social skills so that shyness, little by little, begins to be part of your past history.
In our center we work with a therapy aimed at better understanding and managing emotions. Through this technique the subject is able to identify the different emotions that accompany his moods. Shyness, being a personality trait, derived from insecurity and shame can be effectively addressed.
Through this therapy you will know your emotions in depth, you will improve your self-esteem and reduce the shame to relate to others.
Alexa Clark specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. She has experience in listening and welcoming in Individual Therapy and Couples Therapy. It meets demands such as generalized anxiety, professional, love and family conflicts, stress, depression, sexual dysfunction, grief, and adolescents from 15 years of age. Over the years, She felt the need to conduct the psychotherapy sessions with subtlety since She understands that the psychologist acts as a facilitator of self-understanding and self-acceptance, valuing each person's respect, uniqueness, and acceptance.