“I’m shy. That’s just the way I am,” said a young lady I spoke to recently. To her, shyness is in the same category as the color of her eyes or the size of her feet – something she cannot change. But she can change, and so can you. You do not have to be stranded alone in the corner of a room while everyone else has a good time. Here are three reasons why you are shy and one thing you can do about it.
Reason 1. You have become comfortable with your shyness. You protect yourself in a cocoon of self-doubt, unworthiness and insecurity, and it feels safe. It is like an old pair of shoes; worn, ugly and disintegrating, but you are used to them. If you bought a new pair you would have to break them in and they might pinch or hurt. And what if you didn’t like the way they looked or maybe they wouldn’t go with your favorite outfit? It is too easy to stay with the old ones – no risk, no unpleasant pain, no change. Your shyness is comfortable and your misery is manageable.
Reason 2. You have convinced yourself you must be perfect before you can be personable. You think that there are certain characteristics you must have that will make yourself feel secure enough to take the risk to speak up and be noticed. Since perfection never comes, friendship doesn’t either. Unfortunately, perfection in human relationships is not possible because humans are not perfect. Michael J. Fox said, “Perfection is God’s business.”
Reason 3. You are concerned about rejection. You fear being rebuffed because you are unsure of your social skills and lack confidence in your intellect. Social skills, like all other skills, improve with practice and weaken when unused. Shyness inhibits the exercise of even the most elementary social skills such as a gentle smile, a warm “hello”, or a soft touch.
Now, the one thing you can do about your shyness. You can re-direct your compassion. Compassion is shared distress combined with the desire to help relieve the distress. It is feeling the other person’s pain, understanding the other person’s experience. Notice the three reasons for shyness are all about how you feel, what you experience, and the way you think.
Stop thinking only about you and become concerned about the feelings of other people. You will be amazed how quickly you will be welcome in any company once they find out you are interested in their happiness more than your own. Re-direct your compassion and you will become a friendship magnet. Magic will happen when you forget yourself and put first the wants and needs of the other person.
Walk into any room and know this: everyone has a problem, everyone struggles with something. It may not be some earth-shattering crisis, but everyone has a hidden indulgence or a point of pain. If they sense you care about them, they will like you. If they think you are there only for your own benefit, then your journey to friendship will be long and frustrating. Know and understand everyone lives with some degree of pain and sorrow and be the person ready to listen, eager to help.
Become famous for caring and you will never want for friends. Or as the songwriter put it, “Make someone happy, make just one someone happy, and you will be happy too!”
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