#HighlySensitivePeople: Is shyness something to overcome?

#HighlySensitivePeople: Is shyness something to overcome?

Shyness is a feeling of insecurity and extreme awkwardness around others. Who at some point in their lives hasn’t experienced this? It becomes a problem when it interferes with one’s day-to-day functioning. If shyness is a part of one’s being, it doesn’t have to be something that has to be overcome. It’s a trait that should be embraced and utilized.

Shyness isn’t some terrible obstacle. It’s not something that you cannot work with. I have many shy characteristics.  I refuse to see it as something to be ashamed of, it’s not a negative character trait. The world may see shyness in a poor light, but it shouldn’t affect the way we see ourselves. If we feel good about ourselves, who cares what anyone else thinks?

I must admit, I haven’t always felt this way. I started to feel better about myself when I took the initiative to learn more about myself. I did this by reading books, going to seminars, and listening to positive and uplifting information. The aging process, learning from my own experience and that of others, and going above my comfort zone in social situations have been important factors in my growth.

I’m also a highly sensitive person, an inherited character trait. A highly sensitive person (HSP) processes and absorbs more emotional and physical information than the average person. I’m on the high side of the spectrum of being a HSP. I’m acutely aware of everything around me.

Author and clinical psychologist, Elaine Aron, PH.D., has done extensive research on highly sensitive people. Her findings include:

  • Shyness is not an inherited trait. Being a highly sensitive person is.
  • Experiences in childhood might have caused people to have shy tendencies.
  • Social anxiety or shyness is almost always due to over arousal, which makes people act, speak, or appear to be socially awkward. Over arousal isn’t necessarily fear but can be caused by outside stimuli such as loud noises, etc. Shyness tendencies might not have anything to do with being around people.
  • The best anecdote for shyness is to acknowledge that you might be nervous in certain situations and either make allowances for it or try to make the best out of it.
  • Being highly sensitive and/or shy doesn’t mean that you can’t function in social situations.

This information has been extremely comforting to me. There are definitely challenges to being highly sensitive and shy. My shyness started in grammar school. A teacher continually scolded and humiliated me in front of the class. My childhood feelings about school and that difficult teacher had a profound influence on my life. I was afraid to go to school and didn’t do very well.

I have learned that when I have a burning desire to do something, I can go for whatever I want. I’m not going to let my fears, negative self-talk, and my own personal history keep me from my desires. My increased self-confidence has helped me love and accept myself. This allows me to be confident in dealing with outside influences.

The best way to increase your self-confidence is by reducing your avoidance of situations that make you anxious. Avoiding something that causes high anxiety is not an ideal solution to any problem. The more you avoid something, the more shy you’ll become. Your confidence will increase automatically when you directly face a difficult situation.

Set a realistic goal every week for increasing your confidence. While setting goals, don’t underestimate your capabilities and successes. It’s too easy for us to do this. Take responsibility and work with your high sensitivity and/or shyness.

Some advantages of being highly sensitive and/or shyness include:

  • You appear different and mysterious. Doesn’t this make us more interesting?
  • You are seldom lonely and don’t require a crowd of people to make you happy.
  • You are blessed with great listening ability. This enables you to easily make friends. People seek out other people who are willing to listen to them. Listening skills are also extremely helpful in learning new skills. You are willing to listen to a speaker for a longer time with greater concentration.
  • You usually keep to yourself and are not easily distracted. This can be used to excel at work.
  • You have self-reflective qualities that enable you to understand yourself and others better. This quality helps you make better decisions.

There are definite benefits to being highly sensitive and/or shy. You’ll feel better about yourself when you utilize your unique qualities. People will see you in a more favorable light. You’ll have more confidence to be in situations that previously made you anxious. Shyness isn’t something to overcome. It’s a gift. Use it to your advantage.

Do you feel that shyness is something to overcome? I’m interested in any thoughts or comments that you have.

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