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Behavioural Therapy Blog Archive

Being Shy

Date Posted: 4th January, 2016

Being shy can involve feelings of apprehension, anxiety, nervousness, fear, awkwardness and lack of comfort when an individual is near to them or when they are being approached by other people.  This is particularly the case when facing new situations or unfamiliar people.  However, in more severe cases, an individual can be affected by shyness when in their most familiar situations and relationships.

Reluctance to "take a risk" is often at the bottom of the problem of shyness. Shy people have typically not "learned" that "you win some and you lose some". They focus exclusively on the possibility of rejection or embarrassment and seem to forget or not realise that in a world of 7 billion people, there's a decent chance that a few will want to be their friend!

Social life is, plain and simply, the numbers game. If you don't go down to the beach, you can't find those pebbles of which, it is said, there are "many more". If you don't paddle in the sea, you're unlikely to find more of those "fish" that "popular" people trip over. First things first: to make friends, first you have to pop up in places where other people go - and there are thousands of those!

The next secret of success in the friendship game is regularity. Not necessarily frequency - just "popping up" now and again and nodding and saying "hi". You don't have to mug up on current affairs so that you've something to talk about, either! Most people talk about themselves - so you can get a long way by being interested and letting them do all the work!

Psychologists have studied how people make relationships - and years of research have shown that there are just a few "rules of the game". Being "liked" is often a matter of being "there"; being "interesting" is usually a matter of being "interested"; and "other people" are usually just as grateful for a chat and a friendly word as the shy person is.

Friends and acquaintances are not the same; we have an average of 6 friends (FaceBook take note!) and perhaps dozens of acquaintances. People who are successful in making friends and acquaintances tend to spend that little bit of extra time with those they meet. Maybe just a few seconds - but that little bit extra sends a powerful message to those they meet. It says "you're that bit special to me" - a few seconds worth spending.