Licensed Clinical Psychologist
Shake Your Shyness
Shake Your Shyness
Renée Gilbert, Ph.D.
Contents . . .
Did you know that . . .
- nearly fifty percent of the adult population in the U.S. is believed to be shy?
- on the average, shy men marry later in life?
- shyness is on the increase--approximately 10% over the last decade or so?
- shyness causes shy people to miss out on opportunities that others would embrace?
Welcome to "Shake Your Shyness"-- a web site dedicated to helping people overcome shyness through education. On this site, we will explore the origins of shyness, treatment alternatives and resources available to help. But most importantly, you will see that shyness does not have to rule your life. In fact, we the shy people of the world are the true "silent majority," because somewhere over the course of our lifetime more than half of the adults in the United States and many other countries have struggled with shyness in one area of their life or another including . . . Barbara Walters, Johnny Carson, Henry Fonda, Former President and Mrs. Jimmy Carter, Farrah Fawcett Majors, Sigourney Weaver, Nicole Kidman,Sally Field, Ella Fitzgerald, Gloria Estefan and many many more. So, if you're one of the "silent majority," welcome to the club and know that you're in very good company. I know, because I'm a "recovering"shy person myself.
What is shyness, anyway? -- Shyness is feeling uncomfortable in social situations in ways that interfere with our ability to enjoy ourselves, to perform at the level we're capable of or that cause us to avoid social situations altogether.
Shyness can vary from feeling mild to moderate discomfort in one or more areas of our life (e.g., meeting new people, public speaking, attending social functions, dating, making cold calls at work) to debilitating levels of anxiety that impact us in almost everything we do. When shyness is more intense, it is often described as social anxiety, social phobia or panic disorder. The latter terms are diagnostic terms used by health care professionals who treat people struggling with more intense forms of social discomfort.
Because shyness can affect one area of our life and not others, it's possible for shy people to appear outgoing to people looking in from the outside. Most of you have heard of actors who go on stage and deliver a brilliant performance, but are shy and timid in their real life. Some of you will be able to relate, because you're able to be more outgoing at work than you are in you personal life.; But why?
The answer is simple. When we're at work, we're given a role to play that role legitimizes us in our own eyes and the eyes of others. We're not calling for ourselves, we're calling on behalf of our company. If we're rejected the company takes part of the fall. But when we call on our own behalf, whatever rejection may follow is far more personal.
Shyness and me -- Let me introduce myself. My name is Dr. Renee Gilbert. I am a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and "recovering shy person." I say "recovering," because like so shy many people, I've never completely overcome my shyness. Just when I think I've licked it, something comes along to catch me off guard and those old familiar feelings of wanting to hide, dive under a table or run for cover come rushing back. You know the feelings--the ones where your heart races, your body temperature rises and it feels like your stomach has dropped down to your feet. It's just that most of the time, these days, those feelings are only a vague memory. But when they do come back--when I do feel shy, my shyness no longer rules my life--not for long anyway. These days I know I can do something about it. And so can you. You just need to know where to start.
Shyness and you -- I'm not going to kid you. It takes time to get over being shy. It took me years. But then again, I didn't have anyone to guide me. I had to learn everything the hard way. But the good news is, the farther along I got, the better I felt. I felt better at the end of year one than I did before I started and better at the end of year two than I did at the end of year one. You get the picture.
When you've been living with shyness a lifetime, it's unrealistic to think you can get rid of it overnight. But if you make a commitment to work a program year after year, the results can be dramatic and you don't have to wait until you've finished learning everything there is to know to reap the benefits. Most people notice a difference right from the start. It's just that you don't get "over" being shy all that quickly.
As a former guitar teacher, I think about shyness the same way I used to think about learning to play a musical instrument. You don't have to be a virtuoso to learn a few things that sound pretty good and can go a long way toward impressing your friends. And so, too, by learning a few social skills and strategies for handling your anxiety---and in some cases, exploring the possibility of medication---many of you will experience relief early on. But to truly get over your shyness---know that it takes work, time, commitment and a plan---and it helps to have a little support along the way. When it doubt---heed this message--GET HELP! The help can help!
It is my hope that this website can point you in the direction of some of the things you can do to overcome your shyness. It is a work in progress and I hope that as you return you will gradually see new and different things that can help you along your way.
Best wishes to you on your journey
Disclaimer . . . This site is provided as is without any express
or implied warranties. While every effort has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in on this site, the author assumes no responsibility for errors or omissions, or for damages resulting from the use of the information contained herein. This site is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice and/or counseling.