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The Advantages of Being Shy

Posted Jun 18 2008 5:04am


[Image courtesy ofandy_c]

If you suffer from shyness then you might daydream about swaggering into a party and captivating an audience with your witty anecdotes and smooth one liners. Whilst being confident and attracting attention has its advantages, you shouldn’t discount the qualities of being someone who holds back a little until you feel comfortable around strangers.

Being shy shouldn’t be something you’re ashamed of. But instead merely an aspect of your multifaceted personality.

If being shy or socially anxious is causing you problems then there are ways of overcoming it. But it’s not something you should think you have to be ‘cured’ of to be happy and attractive to others.

Polite and considerate

Shyness and anxiety are merely your body’s defensive mechanisms for staying alert to potential dangers. Whilst most learn to get used to the situations that made them shy as children, many people continue to feel bouts of anxiety as adults.

Being shy can get in the way when you meet people for the first time, and you just want to relax and be yourself. However, the flip side of the coin is that it also gives you the ability to evaluate situations before jumping straight in.

When you’re feeling shy, you might find yourself planning a route through the minefield of potential social mishaps. Whilst you should learn not to worry so much about exposing your weaknesses (which drives your fear of humiliation), the ability to be mindful of saying or doing the wrong thing can be a good thing.

Your efforts to not tread on anybody’s toes or cause offense means people will think you’re polite and considerate, whereas people who aren’t shy enough can  seem overpowering, pushy and self opinionated.  

Being shy means you’re more likely to take the time to assess the appropriate thing is to say or do, rather than blunder into a dinner party, take someone else’s seat and then boast about your pay rise when someone else at the table has recently been fired.

Friendships based on quality rather than quantity

People who are shy are sometimes perceived as having an air of mystery about them, or hidden depths just waiting to be revealed. This can be an attractive quality. And can make people curious enough to try and break down your defensive walls to discover the real you.

The people with whom you form friendships will appreciate the confidence you’ve placed in them by letting your guard down. You in a turn are more likely to be a loyal and considerate friend. As a result the friendships you do form tend to have deeper roots and be longer lasting.

Whilst you might not always dominate the conversation. You’re likely to be an attentive listener and adept at asking the right questions, which is a valued characteristic in any relationship. 

Independent, resourceful and thoughtful

Whether you consider yourself to be an introvert, shy or socially anxious, there’s a lot of positive skills you’ll have built up due to your personality type.

Spending a lot of time on your own can make you feel isolated. But it also means you’ve had to be self reliant and independent in pursuing your own interests and priorities. This resourcefulness can enable you to be more adept in looking after yourself, and less reliant on others to help you overcome life’s obstacles.

The anxiety of shyness might also mean you spend a lot of time pondering over situations - what went wrong, how it could have gone better. Once you’ve learnt how to assess life’s episodes objectively, you can learn to divert your thoughtfulness to better use by thinking through events more clearly and planning how you’ll approach them better in the future. 

Mental strength

Being shy might (at the moment) be causing you problems in life and making everyday activities difficult, such as being assertive at working, dating or interacting with strangers in the street.

But there’s a proven, goal orientated approach to overcoming social anxiety in the form of cognitive behavioural therapy. CBT teaches you first to accept your shyness and then how to reduce it so it doesn’t inhibit your enjoyment of life.

And the sense of achievement, mental strength and improved ability to cope with life’s demands is perhaps the biggest long-term benefit of all from accepting your anxious feelings and taking steps to overcome them.

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