Millions of people consider themselves shy. This common, frequently painful feeling is often accepted without question. Shy people may look on it as something they’re stuck with, like being short or having curly hair.
Some nervousness or hesitancy in social situations is normal. Everyone experiences a degree of anxiety when meeting new people or the first time they attempt a new activity. But shyness includes fear–like the fear of failure and the fear of what other people will think of you. You can tell whether the problem needs attention by asking yourself this question:
“Am I using shyness as an excuse for not trying?”
Too often we shrug our shoulders and believe that this is how we’ll always be and there’s nothing we can do to change it. Soon we find ourselves sitting at home, making excuses to friends or coworkers until they eventually stop asking us to social events. We may feel safe and secure, but we’ve also reinforced our learned helplessness. And we are well on the way to a shrunken, shriveled life.
We’ve all heard the old saying, “If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got.” Maybe that axiom has hung around so long because it’s true. When you look into your future and see that things will be exactly the same in five or ten years unless you change, that can be enough to shock you into action.
You may need professional help from a therapist or counselor. Maybe you need to work on your self esteem and self image. The danger in giving in to shyness is that it limits our opportunities. If we’re miserable, it’s hard to admit that our own actions may be contributing to it. But it’s like going to the dentist when you have a toothache. The remedy is often far less painful than we feared.
Shyness can be overcome, but it takes courage and perseverance to take that first step, then steady following through. Once we get out and start doing and discover that a few uncomfortable feelings aren’t going to kill us, it becomes easier the second, third, and fourth times. When you gain the confidence you need to get out of the house and expand your life, you’ll wish you had done it long, long ago.