Why Am I So Shy And Can I Do Anything About It?
By: Ashley Brown
Updated November 16, 2020
Have you ever found yourself wondering, "Why am I so shy?" You might have been born a shy and introverted person or it could be part of a deeper issue, like social anxiety.
If you tend to be a quiet person who likes having a small group of friends that you feel comfortable around, that's perfectly fine. There is nothing wrong with being shy, but sometimes it can make life more stressful and make it harder to do things that require you to be more outgoing, such as having to give a presentation at school or work.
Sometimes it can be hard opening up to new people. If you find yourself being shy around almost everyone or feeling anxious in most social situations it might point to something other than the average shyness. The good news is there are skills that you can learn and talk to a counselor can really help. You do not always have to feel this way.
Why Am I So Shy?
Figuring out why you are shy in the first place or why your shyness has increased can be difficult because everyone falls somewhere on the shy/outgoing spectrum.
If your shyness causes you distress, you can see a doctor to rule out any medical reasons for your shyness or anxiety around other people. You may find out that you fall somewhere on the autism spectrum or that you have social or generalized anxiety. If you would prefer, you can also talk to a counselor, like the thousands of counselors on BetterHelp, who can help you determine how to better cope with your shyness and help you explore possible causes.
Knowing the underlying reason for your discomfort around people can help you address it. By addressing the underlying causes, your social life can become livelier, less stressful, and more fulfilling. If it turns out that you are just a shy person, that's okay too. Not everyone is extroverted, and some people are just naturally more reserved. Neither type is better so if you are shy, do not feel like it is a negative attribute. You just want to find ways so that your shyness does not cause you distress.
Can I Do Anything About It?
Whether you have an underlying cause or you are simply more of a shy person to begin with, there are ways to gain confidence being around people if you want to become a more social and outgoing person.
- Spend time with people with shared interests
Spending time with people who have similar interests will allow you to come out of your shell more than if you hang out with people who are completely different. You will have more to talk about and you will feel more at ease with people you connect strongly with.
Try looking for different clubs or groups in your area that focus on topics you are interested in, whether that's sports, art, comic books, music, etc. There are so many meet-up groups that have a wide array of interests. If you have a friend who can go with you to the first event, that could really help you ease into it. If the thought of going to a face-to-face event is too much right now, you could start by making and talking to some friends online. It could be a less stressful way to build skills. There are many Facebook groups and online communities that are sure to have something that piques your interest.
2. Come up with questions to ask when getting to know people
We've all been there - trying to make small talk with someone we just met. You ask how the person's day is going and comment on the weather, but what's next? You smile awkwardly while in your head all you can think of is how you have nothing to say.
A quick fix for this situation is to come up with simple questions like, "What genre of music is your favorite?" or "Where did you grow up?" or "I need a new hair stylist: who do you use?" to get the conversation moving. One thing to remember is that people often enjoy talking about themselves, so if you can have some questions ready that allow them to share about themselves, the conversation is likely to go well. Try to stay away from questions that allow for "yes" or "no" answers and use questions that start with: who, where, when, what, and why. That will allow for a deeper conversation and likely give you a chance to jump in and share as well.
These questions might teach you that you have more in common with the person than you thought. If not, they are still a useful way to break an awkward silence. Make sure that you are allowing the other person an opportunity to answer you back and ask you questions as well. Otherwise, the exchange will feel rehearsed and stiff. It is not an interview so don't take on all the burden of making conversation on yourself. Let them ask you things, too.
3. Stay present in social situations
Another way that you can work to become more outgoing and less shy is by being present in social situations. If you are shy you might tend to withdraw from conversations easily, content with daydreaming in the background.
Stay present with the conversation. Pay attention to what is being said, who is saying it, and your general surroundings. Focus on physical sensations like sounds and smells. Ask questions and don't be afraid to share your thoughts and opinions. Remember, too, that a genuine compliment can often go a long way to starting a conversation with someone.
4. Think positively
When meeting new people, keep a positive outlook. Combat your negative thinking by replacing those thoughts with more positive ones about how the social situation will go. Remember that you are usually your own worst critic. Before you arrive somewhere where you know you will need to interact with people, visualize it going well. Let yourself visualize walking up to people with confidence and not second-guessing yourself. Remind yourself that while it may feel uncomfortable, there are many positive benefits of coming out of your shell. You can make new friends and get more connected with your community. And, most of all, know that you don't always have to feel shy and uncomfortable. Just knowing you can face a social situation with confidence will be invaluable.
If you find yourself in need of professional help, therapy is a great next step. Online therapy, such as BetterHelp, is an especially good option for people who are shy due to a variety of reasons, including social phobias. For example, a 2007 study examined how effective an Internet and email-based program for social phobia was. The program included different methods of connecting with a therapist, such as emails and forums. Eighty percent of the group finished the entire program and gave it high marks. The study also found that the program ranked with high-quality face-to-face treatment programs.
Many people do not feel comfortable speaking with others in-person about potentially vulnerable topics. With online therapy, however, counseling sessions can be done discretely and in the comfort of your own home. You also have many platforms to select from, such as video chat, email, instant messages, texts, or by phone. Here are some reviews of our counselors by individuals who are already using BetterHelp to work on shyness:
"Rachel is wonderful. She is extremely respectful that I am to shy/nervous to video chat or call (something needing to be worked on). Just messaging her is such a relief for myself; not having others to speak to. It feels like I am talking to a friend. I cannot recommend her enough!"
"Lori is so friendly and kind. She puts me at ease quickly and I feel comfortable talking to her. I would recommend her to anyone who is a bit shy or nervous and needs a gentle touch."
Becoming less shy can be challenging. Chances are you will always be at least a bit shy and that is perfectly okay. The goal is to gain some skills so that your shyness does not make you uncomfortable. We all have different limits and social needs. You may never want to go out every weekend or enjoy giving presentations, and either is completely fine. However, living a fulfilling life where shyness doesn't hold you back is possible-with the right tools. Take the first step.
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