Emotional,  Mental,  Social

Being Shy Can Cause More Harm Than You May Think

So you’re awkward with social interaction. So the thought of attending birthday parties and family functions makes you uncomfortable. A normal part of life right? 

Well, some would say otherwise. While most of us deal with shyness from time to time in life, there are those that truly suffer from it. I’m talking about those that cringe at the mere thought of going out to a large party or social function with crowds of people. This attitude should not have to be anybody’s normal. 

So is shyness something we need to overcome?


The truth is, shyness is not necessarily a BAD thing, but it can certainly hold you back. 

being shy

Looking Deeper

As per the American Psychology Association “Shyness can be defined as the presence of anxious reactions, excessive self-consciousness and negative self-evaluation in response to real or imagined social interactions.” From this definition, it is easy to see why shyness may hold certain individuals back. Anxious reactions often mean reserved or sugar-coated conversation/answers. It means that a shy person is not really being their true self. 

But aren’t shy people just introverts? Isn’t that who they are?

Not at all. There is a huge difference between being introverted and being shy. It is true that introverts prefer more solitary activities and prefer to avoid social activities but the biggest difference is that introverts do not FEAR social interactions. They simply prefer to be alone. But those that are shy do in fact desire social interaction but their negative self-evaluation and perceived lack of social skills causes them to live in fear and therefore, “shy” away from social situations.

Factors Affecting Shyness

There are tons of factors that contribute to someone’s degree of shyness. Some are more common and some are unique to that individual. Culture tends to have a huge impact on shyness. The article on APA.org called Everything you ever wanted to know about shyness in an international context explains that in places like Japan and China, shyness is not only common but a social norm. While in western countries like the USA and Canada, Shyness is viewed in a negative light. 

Other factors like overprotective parents can cause a child to grow up shy. Healthline posted an article called What You Should Know About Shyness which explains in detail that parents who do not allow their kid to experience social interactions on their own or with other adults can have adverse effects such as development of shyness or social anxiety.

Effects of Shyness

As I said before, shyness holds us back. It can prevent or stump someone from personal growth. It can hinder someone’s ability to perform well in high-pressure situations like interviews or exams. Which can in result, cause a lot of stress and anxiety for those with tendencies to be shy. 

Shy individuals often see themselves in a negative light, and in doing so, are limited by their own thoughts and emotions. For example, a shy individual dreams of being a rockstar. Their own negative thoughts limit them to only being a backstage crew member. 

So how does one overcome shyness? How can people break out of their limiting thoughts? 

The Answer

Each person’s tactics for overcoming shyness may differ, but below are some amazing techniques that will get the ball rolling and hopefully, inspire those that are shy to step out of their proverbial box.

  1. Let go of the label. You are not just shy, you are a unique individual with many amazing qualities. Do not let your shyness become you or define you. 
  2. Find a way to destroy those negative thoughts. It can be hard, but it is so important to recognize when you are heading down the path of negativity. Work to stop that thought process in its tracks and think about something more positive. Maybe you try some deep breathing, or think of something that makes you happy. It is all in the mindset. 
  3. Baby Steps. No one needs to overcome their shyness overnight. Start small! It could be as easy as asking a friend to come with you to a social function that you would normally never attend. The point here is progress, however slow it may be.
  4. Keep conversation light. Keep the conversation casual and light. If for any reason your shyness is brought up, own it and speak of it in a lighthearted way. “I guess I am pretty shy! So what are you all up to this weekend?” It gives the appearance that you don’t really care, and more than likely, moving forward, no one else will either. 
  5. No one is looking at you. It can be awful when your mind leads you to believe that everyone is looking and laughing at you. The truth is, no one is looking. In all seriousness, they probably don’t even notice that you are freaking out inside. More than likely their minds are on other things like what T.V. show to binge on netflix next.

Consider using some or all of these and start to overcome shyness that may be hindering your ability to be the amazing person you are! If you are still finding it really hard. Confide in someone you love or trust. Talking about your struggles and challenges can make a huge difference. Or make an appointment with your doctor who can talk you through it and suggest solutions. Remember that you matter and you deserve to live a life you love.  

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