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This is one of a series of articles on Lesson 4 - optimize your
relationships. These articles build on Lessons 1 - 3, and prepare you for
Lesson 5 (evolve a high-nurturance family) and Lesson 6 (effective parenting).
This article offers perspective on "shyness," and
practical suggestions on how to reduce it to normal levels.
It assumes you're familiar with:
intro to this nonprofit Website, and the
Do you know anyone who is notably shy? Try saying
your definition of "shyness" out loud, as tho to a young
person. Would anyone describe you as "shy"? If you
were asked to explain what causes shyness in some adults and
kids but not others, what would you say?
Do you think people
can intentionally reduce shyness?
Shyness is a convenient label for feeling anxious and
insecure about other
people's perceived attitudes and/or behaviors. See if you
agree with these ideas:
kids and adults...
fear that they'll be
scorned, disliked, and/or rejected by others because of
their appearance, language, beliefs, or behaviors; and/or that...
they'll scorn and dislike
themselves in some situations ("I never know what to
say to ____.")
they haven't developed a stable
sense of personal
identity yet, and they
boundaries between themselves and other people, and
typical shy people...
scare themselves by assuming
what other people may think or say about them, and
base their self-worth on
other people's opinions, rather than their own talents
and abilities, and shy people...
may deny or be unaware
of these traits, or feel guilty and ashamed of them
("I'm shy because I'm so shy!")
profile seem realistic to you? What can cause these traits?
A major factor is
whether the person was shamed as a young child for (a) their
appearance ("Look - Dumbo's here!") and/or (b) some personal
qualities like intelligence, sensitivity, timidity, or
clumsiness. Family adults play a key
role in helping a young child develop self-acceptance,
confidence, and healthy
When adult caregivers are psychologically
wounded or distracted themselves,
these priceless assets are stunted or blocked.
The primary block is
child's automatically developing personality subselves like a
Shamed Child ("I'm no good and unlovable!"), a shrill
("You're so stupid / ugly / geeky / ..."), a stern
("I have to act and behave perfectly!"), a hyper
("I will never have any friends!"), and an anxious
("If I do what you want, maybe you'll like me!"}.
Even "well adjusted"
kids can become shy with peers as they develop
physically and experience new sexual awareness, urges,
thoughts, and fantasies. Once again, parental sensitivity to
these normal changes, and appropriate coaching and
affirmation, can help reduce or avoid excessive gender
-whatever the causes of excessive shyness for a
particular person, the primary challenges are (a) wanting to
develop self-confidence, (b)
(Lesson 1 here), and (c) developing communication and social skills
2 and 4). Restated -
the problem is not "shyness," it's a disabled true Self and
lack of key knowledge, experience, and encouragement.
This Web site provides the
The good news:
once admitted, these challenges can be intentionally
mastered over time.
The bad news: mastery takes awareness, patience,
courage, knowledge, some skilled help, and a
environment. Excessively-shy children may have to leave a
low-nurturance ("dysfunctional") home before they can
master these challenges, unless their caregivers
their own wounds and unawareness.
Let's consider two questions: (a) if you are
significantly shy, how can you reduce that? and (b) can you
help someone else do this?
Reduce Your Shyness
This two-part YouTube video offers suggestions for
increasing your self-respect:
You've already started reducing your shyness by reading this
article. The next step is to decide whether your shyness is
"significant" or "normal." Answer these honestly: T(rue),
F(alse), or ? ("I'm not sure").
(vs. other people) believe I am "too shy." (T
avoid meeting new people too often, and am feeling
isolated and lonely (T F ?)
oversensitive to what other people think of me (T
need to develop more self confidence as a person / male
/ female / friend. (T F ?)
often uncomfortable about telling others what I feel and
need. (T F ?)
very embarrassed about how shy I am (T F
honestly reveal who I am to other people, they won't
like me. (T F ?)
If you answered True
to most or all these statements, I'd say your shyness is
"significant" (worthy of change). Ultimately, only
you can decide. If you choose "change," what can you do?
thinking from "I'm too shy" to "I'm wounded and
Choose a long-range view
(e.g. the next 5-10 years) and the open mind of a
here. Doing so
honestly and patiently will
your true Self (capital "S") to harmonize and retrain the subselves that
cause your shyness. As you do this over some weeks or
Follow the steps in
effective thinking and communication
skills. This will help you harmonize your subselves and know
what to do (be confident) in any social situation. After
major progress on these two projects, begin working
Improve your relationship
skills over time by trying the options in
special attention to affirming your personal
rights, and earning your
Notice your reaction
to these suggestions.
If you're thinking
"I'm too busy to do these
"This will never work."
"I can't change."
"I don't have the patience."
"People will think (something
"My shyness is not all that
bad (so I don't need to take these steps)"
... then a
protective false self is probably trying to stop you
from changing. For a quick test to see if this is so, study
this comparison and return.
How do you feel about false selves possibly controlling your
If you aren't motivated to act on these lessons now, you can
do so later. Some people must hit true
before they solidly commit to reducing their wounds and
unawareness. Option - scan these Lessons first, then
decide if you want to study and act on them.
What if you want to...
Help Someone Else Reduce Their Shyness
When someone you care about seems to be "too shy" and/or
complains about that, it can be tempting to "help" (advise)
them. Because of the psychological roots of shyness (above),
logical advice like "Be more confident!" and "Just be more
open!" will increase the person's guilt and anxiety.
Offering help to someone who hasn't asked for it is
disrespectful, and may evoke resentment and resistance.
With over-shy kids, avoid seeing the child
as the problem. The real problem is probably a
low-nurturance (dysfunctional) family and wounded,
caregivers. The worst thing you can do is chide,
scold, scorn, or criticize a shy child for their timidity.
The best things are to treat the child with genuine (vs.
dutiful) respect, and to demonstrate (vs. say) that you
enjoy time with them.
Part of this is
learning how to talk effectively
with kids. Option - give the child's
caregivers a copy of this article, and avoid
them or the child.
With over-shy adults, identify specifically how their
shyness affects you, and whether you wish to do something
about it. If you do, get clear on why - to vent,
inform, learn, problem-solve, confront, cause action, or
make sure your true Self is
and that you have a genuine mutual-respect attitude. If
not, you have a bigger problem to work on - false-self
ask respectfully if s/he's
open to constructive feedback. Be prepared for
ambivalence. If you get a believable "Yes," choose from
options like these, depending on your goals...
"When I observe you
being so shy, I feel _________."(informing)
"Would you be
interested in reducing your shyness?"
(problem-solving) If you get hesitation or "No,"
respect that. If you get a "Yes," consider referring
them to this article or giving them a copy. Avoid
lecturing or preaching ("You need to ____ because
Be open to discussing
the [wounds + unawareness]
- specially if the other person is a (grand)parent,
aunt, or uncle.
The cycle is
Whatever feedback you offer,
let go of expecting the other person to change.
Be clear - shyness is their problem to resolve,
not yours. You're in charge of adapting to this person's
attitudes and behaviors and honoring your own values
Pause and reflect - what are you aware of now? If there are
shy people in your life, can you imagine reacting to them
with some version of these options? If you feel "too
shy," are you ready to reduce that trait? If not, which
protective subselves are blocking you?
This is one of a series of articles
- optimize your relationships. This article (a) explores the
common trait of "shyness," (b) proposes where it comes from,
and (c) offers suggestions for relating well to over-shy
kids and adults. The article proposes that excessive shyness is a
psychological wounds + unawareness. Both can be
intentionally reduced, once understood and admitted!