Monday, 3 February 2014

Dealing with shyness and social inhibitions

I can chat freely on Facebook and express myself well on there. This comes fairly easily to me. I have done videos and put them online - and feel fairly confident doing that. Even public speaking probably wouldn't phase me that much. I am also confident when I am driving.

However, it's a different story when it comes to interacting with people socially. I was incredibly shy as a child, and this continued somewhat into much of my adulthood. In some ways, I still feel like a bit of a social outcast, even in groups that have similar beliefs to me. At the same time, I still want to get to know people, even though I may never have that many close friends.

I guess, for me, confidence in a particular thing comes when I believe I am good at it. Interacting with others has never been one of my strongest capabilities. My brain sometimes seems to freeze in social situations - and I get intimidated by people who talk a lot - for example, if there's someone I really want to talk to, but then someone else in the group butts in and talks to that person.

One on one situations, I'm generally okay - although even then, I don't always find it easy to maintain the conversation.

Sometimes, it's not an easy one to deal with. Part of me would like to get to know people and part of me thinks I won't have anything interesting to say and won't be able to get to know them. Having spent a fair bit of time on my own in the last few months, I think I'm a little bit more nervous socially than what I was. I guess I want now to rebuild my social life a bit, but it may take a while to do so. I tend to keep my distance from people when I first meet them, and normally take time to get to know people.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Sometimes we can feel like we are holding ourselves back. 
So, some pointers for people who are highly sensitive like myself, and/or people who are not social butterflies - and hopefully other people might take something from this too:

1) Give yourself time to settle in and get to know people. Even if you hardly talk when most of the group talks to one another, people are not likely to judge you. Sometimes, if you're new to a group, if you're like me, you'd like other people to make you feel really welcoming, but sometimes, other group members may be shy as well. If you're going to groups of like minded people, very few people would be deliberately unfriendly.

2) Accept that you're a bit different to others. It can feel a little daunting when most people seem to find it easy to interact socially with others, and you don't. But it's okay. I don't know if it's possible to completely change in the area of social interaction, but even if it is, it sure isn't easy. Accepting yourself as you are is important. You may have things to offer people that more extroverted people do not.

3) Don't expect too much from others. Like I said, if I go to a new group where I don't know anyone, I do like it if people make me feel really welcome. But if you are a bit shy, it may be a little more difficult for others to connect with you to start with. This is okay. Just do your best and give other people a chance.

4) Work on the most important relationship - the one with yourself. Sometimes I can wish I had more friends. But being introvert is a great opportunity to get to know yourself better and understand yourself. When you get to truly love yourself more, it will become that bit easier to connect with others.

5) Face your fears - Yes, this one is for me. It is easy to cower in the corner and let your inhibitions hold you back. But it's important to face fears head on - and not by drinking lots of alcohol. Do the things you fear the most, although sometimes it's important to be discerning - as sometimes things can be made worse. Allow your heart to guide you in this and to help you face fears when you are truly ready.

Hope this helps some people - even if it helps one person, it's worth it. I would be interested to hear other people's tips and opinions too!


1 comment:

  1. Very good tips and insights Andy. I was incredibly shy as a child and from shyness I just became incredibly anxious in social situations. I would be able to talk but it was not comfortable doing so. I have found in the past being honest with people helps, telling people in a group I am nervous and people often come out and say they are too and people really take to that honesty. If you ever feel a brain freeze with me let me know, my brain freeze is probably talking too much when the anxiety is like a bullet coming out of a gun lol


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