Understanding the True Nature of Shyness

Do you consider yourself a shy adult? Join the club – according to Bernardo J. Carducci, Ph.D., 40% to 45% of all adults think they are shy. The problem of shyness, thus, may be more prevalent than many people think.

Cause of shyness:

Why are some people shy while others seem more confident? People are shy because they are quite preoccupied with what they are feeling and thinking, and how their body reacts when they are exposed to certain social situations. Many times, the shy person may perceive that he is being unfairly treated even when other people are not making fun of him – this is because of his shyness. The shy person may then avoid the people or the situation that caused him to feel bad.

For example, if he associates colleagues who gather at the water cooler and who start laughing with a negative thought (such as: they are laughing at me), he will probably avoid going to the water cooler or even stop talking to his co-workers altogether. It does not matter if the thought is based on reality or not: the point is, the person thinks this and obsesses about it, thus making his mild shyness much worse.

Effects of shyness:

A shy adult will have a hard time progressing in the adult world where he is expected to work independently. Such a person may find it difficult to talk to clients about projects assigned to him. Or he may dither about approaching a superior for a well-deserved raise. So, we can see that shyness may bar a person from progressing in his occupation. He may brood about this and become depressed. So he winds up with two problems: shyness and depression.

Shyness can also affect the interpersonal relationships a shy person has (or does not have) with others. Colleagues may think he is weird because he does not join in normal everyday conversations. He may find even a simple greeting with a woman he likes to be a hardship, so he becomes lonely.

Even simple chores like going to the Laundromat or the grocery store could be avoided because he does not want to talk to other people. His relationship with his own relatives might suffer because he does not feel confident even with them. So family and friends may not understand why he avoids them – such is the impact of shyness on relationships.

When does shyness crop up?

Carducci believes that shyness generally manifests itself when the shy person is going through a period of change. A person may become shy when his marriage ends, or he gets laid off from his job, or he relocates to a new neighborhood. More severe causes of shyness could be the death of a loved one, or a tragedy such as when his childhood home burns down. The point is, the change is pretty drastic so the person resorts to withdrawal to protect himself. Shyness is often a coping mechanism that adults resort to, to prevent being hurt again.

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