Severe shyness can affect the quality of a person’s life
Ms. S is anxious and tense in an unfamiliar situation. She finds it difficult to speak in front of others and becomes inhibited while meeting someone new. She always feels comfortable to watch life go on from the sidelines rather than join in. These traits clearly suggest that Ms. S is shy. And her life is severely affected by her shyness.
In humans, shyness is the feeling of apprehensiveness or lack of confidence experienced in regard to social associations with others. It is most likely to occur during unfamiliar situations hindering the individual from achieving the best and disrupting interpersonal relationships. Shy individuals avoid objects they are apprehensive about. Shyness may fade with time, for example a child who is shy about facing strangers may overcome it as he grows older, becoming more socially adaptable and integrated.
Humans experience shyness in different degrees and arenas. For example, an actor may be loud and bold on stage but shy at an interview session. Shyness may manifest itself when one is in the company of some people but may disappear when in the midst of friends who are happy, jovial and outgoing. Some people experience ‘love shyness’ towards potential partners. Instinctive behavioural traits in a social situation such as smiling, a relaxed position and eye contact, which come spontaneously for some, may be alien to those who are shy.
Constant and severe shyness may affect the quality of a person’s life, activities and achievements. It may also reduce opportunities to develop or practise social skills.
Shy persons may have increased feelings of loneliness, unimportance and reduced self esteem. They also have an incredibly reduced ability to reach their full potential because of the fear of being critically judged by others. Most shy persons are anxious and may display embarrassing signs such as blushing, stammering or trembling.
Shyness has some positive aspects too. Those who are shy may do well at school, behave well and may not get into trouble, may listen attentively to others and are easily manageable at home and workplace.
Genetic factors, personality, acquired behaviour, family relations, lack of social interaction, harsh criticism and fear of failure are some of the reasons for shyness. It is true that shyness deprives one of opportunities, but it may not prevent them from achieving goals. Some of the shy celebrities are Abraham Lincoln, Albert Einstein, Eleanor Roosevelt, Thomas Alva Edison and Thomas Jefferson. Similarly Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley, Henry Fonda, Ingrid Bergman, Neil Armstrong and Sir Alec Guinness were all shy but good entertainers.
Authors such as Agatha Christie, George Bernard Shaw, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Robert Frost were all outstanding writers but remarkably shy.
If a person’s shyness is acute, he can consider professional help from a counsellor or a clinical psychologist. Treatment options include stress management, relaxation strategy, affirmation, social skill training and at times medication too.C. P. SOMASUNDARAM