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The shy person is scared of other people and feels quite unsure about himself. He cannot enjoy social life because he is ill at ease, tense and uncomfortable. Because of his upbringing, he has grown up expecting other people to criticize. He develops a conviction that he cannot please. He believes that people generally are likely to disapprove.
Social life for everyone should in fact be a pleasure, not a pain. The majority of people are reasonably easy to get along with. They take us at our face value, and are much too busy living their own lives to bother to criticize. When the possibility of criticism worries us to such an extent that we dread going out among people, it is necessary to take a close look at our lives and examine the way we grew up.
We develop chronic shyness when our original fear of criticism and not being able to please people has been intensified by experiences which caused us pain and humiliation. Even if our memory is hazy, the painful emotion associated with an unpleasant experience rises to the surface every time we are in danger of experiencing any situation which is remotely similar to it.
If you are afflicted with shyness it is essential to understand the why and how. A sarcastic school teacher may have made us feel small in front of the class, with the result that whenever people show any sign of noticing us now we hastily retire into the background. We identify the person who shows signs of noticing us with teachers. The rest of the people present have become, in our mind’s eye, the class. Our shyness is a form of running away, a panic – reaction, to something that in fact is past.
Every time shyness bothers you, make this positive affirmation. Say to yourself: “I mean to be positive, not negative. No matter how uncomfortable I feel. I will go out among people, and talk to them, and do things with them”. Slowly but surely, you will find social life becoming less of a strain.
Shy people are often self – centred people, all wrapped up in themselves. They are too worried about themselves to bother to think about others. It is difficult for them to get to know people and equally difficult for other people to get to know them. Thus the tendency is for shy people to become more and more absorbed in themselves as the years go by. Even if other people would like to help them they are unwilling to give them a fair chance.
If you are shy you must change your attitudes. Take your attention off yourself, and become interested in other people and other things outside yourself. Start wondering about people. As a good start, make yourself an attentive listener. Everybody appreciates having somebody who will listen.
Be sympathetic observant and sensitive to people. Use your imagination about them. Remind yourself that you are not the only shy person in the world. When we are shy, there is a physical reaction. Muscles tense up, and sometimes we can hardly recognize our voice. We may find it hard to concentrate, and movement may be clumsy and awkward. Try relaxing those muscles consciously. Breathe more deeply and breathe evenly. Distribute your weight on both feet so that you stand comfortably. Sit well back in the chair so that it can fully support you.
Finally, make a point of being really interested in other people. Develop two or three really worthwhile pursuits which you can share with the people around you. Once you become really engrossed, you will forget to be self – conscious and stop being shy.