“I have severe difficulty socializing to others”; “They think I’m unfriendly but in reality, I do want to connect to them but I don’t really know how”; “My anxiety always gets in the way, that’s why I’m painfully conscious around people”. These are some of the thoughts shared by people who are shy or those who feel uncomfortable when attention is on them because they are afraid of falling short of the standard of the superficial authority or of their perfectionist expectations on how things are supposed to be.
Shyness, regarded as a personal attribute for a person, is also considered to be a psychiatric disease (Lane, 2008). This condition may vary in different degrees to what extent a person would display its symptoms, such as uneasiness and avoiding the things he fears to deal with. It could also be experienced inwardly without showing its complications to others but the one who suffers, when hiding his difficulties, could probably add worries and problems to his psychological self. Unusual situations are the common circumstances that trigger shyness.
Also, the person’s environment may contribute to his shyness. If he is psychologically maltreated, there is a high risk that degree of shyness and avoidance to others would increase. But, the deeper root of shyness can be explained by genetics. There has been progress in determining suspected genes involved in personality but only a little development in confirming relationships between these. A gene-linked polymorphic region (5-HTTLPR) is examined and identified to be related with shyness (Ebstein et al. , 2003).
According to WHO, embarrassment, excessive shyness, timidity, self consciousness and, social-phobia and lack of self-confidence are also symptoms of a disease called erethism. Erethism is a clinical condition in which appears in cases of mercury poisoning. Moreover, shyness is sometimes inappropriately interchanged with introversion, high sensitivity, social phobia and social anxiety disorder but is much related to the said terms in certain cases. According to Whitten (2001), introversion is not similar to shyness because introverts prefer being alone and are energized with that but they are not anxious in social situations.
Unlike with them, the shy, because they fear social encounters, thinks that he has no choice but to avoid socializing which sometimes is not really where his heart at. But, there can be cases that a person would be an introvert and shy at the same time, it is when they are very sensitive to the social environment but it doesn’t matter because they get their energy within their selves not on others. Another term, in which shyness is related, is the social anxiety disorder. Its difference with shyness is, its scope is wider and it includes panic attacks.
In relation to shyness, it also brings fear, apprehension or worrying about being evaluated by others in social situations that causes depression to the sufferer. Varying degrees of shyness and as to how the shy handles his trait contributes a lot on what can be the impact of shyness on the person. It is considered harmful when it has been controlling people’s lives because it brings incessant negative evaluation of the self, excessive self-consciousness and negative self-preoccupation that inhibit social confidence.
In cases like that, the shyness is needed to be cured or if not, lessened because it hinders the disposition in life of some individuals. Shy people may tend to be unfriendly because they believe they lack social skills and may resort to withdrawal from people. But essentially, they desperately wanted to connect to others and wished to have as many friends as those people who are not shy have. The problem is they appear to be antisocial at times which they do not intend to be. Their socializing attitude might be the root of this one.
Carducci (2000) observed that they expect others to get in touch with them and drag them out of isolation. But their efforts are also needed for starting and maintaining relationship to others. Also, being fear of negative judgement and rejection, people who are shy are likely to be afraid of socializing. From this arrangement, it could only lead to individual’s avoidance which causes isolation. Aside from emotional pain brought about by separation from others, this situation may hinder personal development which can be benefited through relation from other people.
In social situations, people who are shy are driven to be self-conscious and inhibited in their actions. Perfectionist standards on social performances were set and followed by these people. For example, they tend to feel responsible of the awkwardness sometimes experienced which is not their fault at all. These worries leave room for low self-esteem and shape a negative view of the self. According to Howard (1958), self-esteem contributes a lot to a person’s ability in handling difficult situations because it helps in dealing with problems.
It also gives confidence to a person which he will need in achieving his goals. But for shy people who has a high tendency of having insecurity, instead of focusing on their strengths, their weaknesses are given more attention. Acceptance of imperfections is very hard for them, not realizing that all people have vulnerability on their own such as failures, weaknesses and anxieties. Their true capabilities were just left confined and full potentials were not maximized because they were already intimidated by anticipation of failure.
Moreover, shy people blame themselves for having no sense of self-efficacy due to low self-esteem. Howard (1958) defined self-efficacy as the belief in self that they can achieve their desired goals. Shy people tend to criticize and evaluate themselves inferior to others. Self-doubts are then established which promotes poor decision-making, weak judgement of things that severely affects one’s life and his disposition. Zimbardo and Radl (1982) described shy people as those who tend to behave in an inhibited manner, such as speaking less of the usual, in the presence of others.
They usually hold back their feelings and opinions on certain things preventing them to express themselves. Because of nothingness to say, the shy would then tolerate silence. McMahon and McMahon (1986) told that, “…silence may be perceived as an indicator you do not approve of what’s going on or that you would rather be someplace else…” (p. 225) As a result, many people do no not understand them well and may cost them to miss out of opportunities for social relations. Shy people struggle and find it hard to initiate and maintain conversations.
Starting a chat with somebody is usually feared and avoided by a shy person because it is either he is anxious that he has nothing to say or the topic that he will put up would disinterest the other person and that the other would badly evaluate him personally. There is a tendency for the shy to choose topic of conversations that would impress the other. And in the process of overthinking only about the topic, he would forget to be attentive to the actual thing discussed by the two of them because his mind was already drifted away. Also, a shy person is scared to have conversations that suddenly drop like a dead balloon.
When this would happen, he would resort to leaving the person he talks to, because he has nothing to say, thus, leaving a bad impression to the other. Shyness can be a serious threat to communication because it brings about distractibility and may interfere thinking processing which were caused by irrelevant thinking reactions which arise from being conscious from social evaluation. Merill (1965) stated that frustration can arise in cases where there is a failure in comprehending someone’s temporary disinterest due to certain circumstances. Also, this can hinder development of essential relationship to others.
Self- doubts will be triggered because of depressing situations like this. As a result, a person may tend to avoid this sort of encounter that will only lead to further alienation and despair. Sociability is a human affiliative need that is needed to be nourished. Socializing includes people skills which needs understanding the self and controlling our responses, communicating effectively and empathizing accurately, and most importantly, it provides respect, trust to relationships (Rifkin, 2009). The different benefits of social relations contribute to a healthy well-being of a person.
Heider (1958, quoted in Weiss) notes that there are six basic “provisions of social relations” –the things that are given when in a relationship (p. 232). First is the attachment, the sense of being secured and comfortable which we experience through our closest relationships. Shy people do not have an issue with this one because they reveal their true self in front of people they know and know them very well such as family. Another is social integration which is the sense of having shared interests and attitudes and offers companionship and sense of belongingness to society.
For this, shy people find it hard or it takes time to fit into the society due to draw backs. Next is the guidance that we grasp from friends or authorities which we lean on at times when we need an advice that most of shy people are deficient to because they lack certain relations such as relation to some authorities. Sense of reliable alliance, knowing that there are people who will offer their help when emergency arises, and opportunity for nurturance, when our sense of importance and needed is shown while taking care of others, are nurtured through closest relationships.
Last is reassurance of worth, it is when others let us feel being valued and looked up to as a competent person which shyness hinders a lot. Concern for others and love we feel from them are the necessities for a person to grow and to have worthy and productive life. Without these, a person may suffer emotional depression. (Corey, 1986) Most of shy people were likely to suffer social inhibition. One reason could be the lack of social skills at the beginning of interaction: According to Merill (1965), lonely people who would like to make new friends fail because they do the wrong things during the initial and critical moments.
They avoid the other’s person gaze, they do not smile and they seem tense or preoccupied with other things. All of these discourage any comment from the other person, who does not realize that this apparent unfriendliness is due to a considerable discomfort and an inability to cope with it. (p. 104) People respond negatively to others who have undesirable anxieties and depressing behaviors which turn people away. As a result, social support needed by people with negative attitudes is inadequately given. (Plotnik, 1996) Anxiety is clearly seen on the outside.
The shy, having his face registered blankly or anxious, or avoiding eye contact to others, can be interpreted by others as a sign of being aloof so the shy appears to be unapproachable. Plotnik (1996) says that high self-esteem, confidence and self-worth are the benefits of social support. These things promote our physical and psychological well-being. So if social support is lacked, it results to poor mental, physical and emotional health and the shy people have a disadvantage to this. Popenoe (1977) claims that the self-identity provided by social interaction helps people learn new roles in life.
It also enhances our self-image which prevents loss of self-identity that may cause emotional stress. When people discover their new roles, they tend to develop their selves and aim for the best changes to make in oneself. But, due to shyness, social interaction experienced by some is very limited that the benefits like the desired change reduced also. Shy people do not want to stay disturbed by problems related to shyness forever. That is why they discover or think of ways resolving the problems that are crippling them. The usual effect of the harmful shyness is mental distress in form of loneliness.
According to Heider (1958), loneliness is a personal anxiety which is a result of certain lack in either social integration or attachment in relationship. In order to free themselves from these bothersome issues, certain strategies were reinforced by shy people. Unfortunately, for some, they employ ineffective and irresponsible strategies to overcome shyness. Examples of these are alcoholism and drug addiction. Reason of this undertaking is that they feel energized because they thought that it would be better to detach themselves from their true selves and be more outgoing which they thought most people prefer.
According to James, lack of support from social connections and poor stress management contribute a lot to psychosocial deficit (2009). Disadvantages and problems associated from shyness are disturbing and bothersome. Shyness should not greatly affect one’s life and disposition in a negative way. These should have been prevented only if shyness will be cured or if not, learn its ways and have the control of it, not the other way around. However, this is a self-inflicted issue which is just within the self. Treatment for this is easy only if handled accordingly and the shy individual is properly counselled and guided by an expert.