Finding Happiness by Overcoming Shyness

Finding Happiness by Overcoming Shyness

Dont Be Bashful: Shyness Can Be Overcome

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We’ve all known people that become paralyzed with fear in social situations. Perhaps you’re one of them. Why are people shy? No one really knows, but there does seem to be a genetic component: In studies of identical twins, if one twin is shy, the other is likely to share that trait.

Bernardo Carducci, director of the Indiana University Southeast Shyness Research Institute, told Life Science that about 15 percent of children are born with an “inhibited temperament — new experiences are particularly stressful for them.”

As adults, shy people are overwhelmed with self-consciousness and negative feelings about themselves in social situations. But psychologists say these feelings can be overcome with a series of small steps.

— Relaxation training. Taking slow, deep breaths while imagining yourself in a social situation can help, says Jonathan Cheek, a psychologist at Wellesley College.

— Volunteering. Giving to others takes the focus off you and onto others. And the positive reinforcement you get can erase your negative self-talk.

— Dating in small steps. The idea of approaching someone you’re interested in might seem overwhelming, so break it into small steps, Cheek said. One goal might be to strike up a conversation. Practice with a friend or counselor first.

And if things don’t go well, don’t take it too hard. Failure and rejection are facts of life, even for the most gregarious among us.

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