Why Am I So Shy?

Is shyness affecting your life? Do you find it difficult to make friends?

Shyness can make socialising and mixing with others very stressful. You might be quite an outgoing or chatty person at home but find it difficult to talk to people at school. Some people who are shy will try to avoid social gatherings and events completely because they find it overwhelming.

I’m So Shy!

Shyness is often caused by low self-esteem and confidence. You may have been bullied or have been on the end of unkind words which has dented your confidence. You might be afraid to ‘put yourself out there’ again and prefer to avoid social situations in case it happens again. You might be shy because you feel different in some way or are worried that you might stand out for some reason. Shyness can be a form of self-protection.

  • Situational Shyness

Perhaps you’re not always shy. Some people are bubbly and comfortable with certain people and in certain situations but feel shy when they’re outside their comfort zone. This is perfectly normal. You might be shy when you’re around the opposite sex or when people you don’t know very well come up and talk to you. Again, this is a normal way to feel. We all feel a little shy in these types of circumstances.

  • Feeling Inferior

You might feel shy because you feel less ‘important’ or of a lesser value than the person you’re speaking to. Scenario: the most popular kid in school turns and talks to you. Your palms immediately start to feel clammy and the words stick in your throat. Sound familiar? Try to remember that you are just as important as everyone else and value your own self-worth.

If you’ve always been known as ‘the quiet one’, we hope you can relate to one or some of these reasons. Often, once we know the reason why we behave in a certain way we can figure out how to change things.

Coping Tips For Shyness

Try these top tips to help you cope with your shyness:

  • When you first meet new people or are in a situation that makes you feel shy, don’t tell everyone about your shyness. You may think it’s very obvious to others but, in reality, it probably isn’t. When you start a conversation by saying, “Sorry, I’m very shy” you’re almost giving yourself permission to be excused from the conversation which shuts down the communication. To start to overcome shyness and make progress, you need to give yourself an actual chance to practise chatting and conversing. Take a deep breath, smile, and give it a go!
  • If others notice you blushing, keep it light. Smile and laugh in a carefree way and say something like, “Oh, yeah, I always blush.” Then move the conversation along or steer it in another direction. Nothing to see here!
  • Keep things in perspective. If you’ve had an embarrassing moment when your shyness got the better of you, you may be dwelling on it and thinking that everyone noticed. Don’t beat yourself up. We all have moments like these and they don’t define us. Put it this way: if one of your friends had a shy moment would you even notice? Or remember for days on end? The answer is “probably not”. Let it go and move on with your life.

Is It Common to Be Shy?

Yes, shyness is very common in people of all ages. Shyness can be something young children have and it gets less and less as they get older. Other people carry it with them as they grow up. Some people become more shy after experiencing long or short term situations. For many teens school can cause shyness but so can life changes like moving to a new place or entering puberty.

How Can I Boost My Confidence?

Building up your confidence takes time and patience, so be kind to yourself and don’t beat yourself up if you have to take a few steps backwards. You can always try again another day. Here are some helpful tips to help you build your confidence:

  • Fake It

By pretending you are confident, you can almost trick yourself into believing it’s true. Try holding your head up high and meeting a person’s gaze when they talk to you. Yes, it can be scary, but you’ll feel a real sense of achievement when you do it and it’ll get easier and easier the more times you do it.

  • Be Your Own Cheerleader

Show yourself some self-love and focus on all the things that make you amazing to build on your confidence. List your qualities and remind yourself of them often. For more ideas on how to love yourself, read Be Your Own Cheerleader.

  • Reach Out

Why not try talking to someone you’ve never spoken to before? This can be a good way to challenge yourself and, who knows, you may make a new friend! Start small and smile. The smallest of gestures are a step in the right direction.

  • Watch & Learn

Do a spot of people-watching to see how others interact. You can sit in the school lunch hall or in a café and just observe how people mingle and mix.

  • Be Kind

Do you often think or say negative things about yourself? That can be really damaging to your confidence so now’s the time to stop. If you catch yourself being down on yourself, stop and take a moment. Conjure up your list of qualities and focus on your best points – you are amazing!

Where Does Shyness Come From?

Shyness can be caused by many things. Some research with identical twins suggests shyness can be genetic as well as a result of our surroundings and upbringing. From an evolutionary point of view you can see how not being shy might help some people moving between groups of people. But you can also see how shyness can be a protective response and could have, in fact, been a useful trait for keeping children safe and avoiding mixing with unknown groups. Luckily we don’t live like early humans anymore so we don’t have quite the same risks but shyness is still very much part of human nature.

How to Live and Cope With Shyness

Take it step-by-step and reward your successes, no matter how small. It can be scary and stressful to take yourself out of your comfort zone, so you deserve a pat on the back for every step you make! Once you start to feel more confident, you can begin to reach out and try to make new friends. For more advice on making friends, click here.


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