Pass the Torch , Decode Your Shyness
By Ghaythaa Deeb
Co-founder of IFbooks 30.4.2016
The monster that lies outside and you call it “the other’s judgment on me ” will diminish until it disappears when you boost your confidence and shed light on the shyness and diffidence that you suffer from . As there is a significant percentage of people that suffer from shyness , many scholars and experts tried to explain and discover more about shyness also a lot of researches & studies have been made following different methods to solve it as a problem , interestingly , there are varying results have been reached that define shyness , list it’s causes and the different cultures attitude towards it .
There are lots of definitions for shyness , some of them attributed it to psychological, physiological or social factors. Generally speaking shyness refers to an emotional state that could be experienced by anyone of us in some awkward situations and in most cases it affects our behavior and leaves us with uncomfortable and negative feelings, Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology defines Shyness as ” an emotional state is considered by some researchers to be universal, a blend of fear and interest, and adaptive in evolution. ” Some believe that we only show spontaneous reaction but in fact these changes could be a reflection of what is beyond spontaneity since shy people may develop a certain mechanism and it becomes under their conscious control , more than this they develop it to be a lifestyle .A professor at Stanford University, Zimbardo who published several books about this topic said “The point is that we don’t see the extremes of shyness, because when shy people are effective in doing what they do, they hide it, they conceal themselves and they become anonymous. What happens is that you develop a whole lifestyle around that.” Thus the shy persons start to build a bubble and live in it to protect and defend themselves from the outer world ” You can choose an occupation that does not involve a lot of socializing and you can arrange your life to limit your human contact “ (Observer ,1996) .In this meaning shyness will lead to depression and in this case people who describe it as a desirable trait should know more about it , it’s causes and how to manage solutions before it becomes a serious problem can’t be cured .
Genetic , environment , personal experience could be the causes of shyness .According to a 2003 study in the journal Science, the differences in children temperament and personality may be related to differences in brain structure . However , when shy person responds sensitively towards the opposite sex , towards strangers ,being embarrassed in some situations then shyness is strongly connected to the person perception about himself within the social context including his/her over-thinking of being judged by others or looking ridiculous and that will be accompanied with unpleasant changes at different levels ” cognitive (e.g., excessive negative self-evaluation), affective (e.g., heightened negative emotion), physiological (e.g., racing heart), and behavioral (e.g., failure to respond appropriately”( Zimbardo and Carducci 2010 ) . Obviously ,this perception about oneself is incomplete as it is limited to negative aspects only and related to an excessive self-focus of each behavior and fear of other’s reaction , opinion and judgment .This fear from the interaction consequences with others comes from the experience acquired through years and built our personality , in this regard ,
shyness could become better or worse according to the upbringing that we receive and the surrounding that we live in and affect our personality ,even though ;few researches related shyness to genetic causes , for example , when a child raised within a family rarely interact with each other , avoiding meeting face-to-face with other people and sunken in their smart phones then this child is more likely to become shy and he/she will avoid social interaction in the future . “a person can become shy not because of inadequacies or fears of rejection, but because they are not learning basic social skills and not interacting with other people.”Zimbardo . Similar to writing , reading and talking languages , social skills are habits acquired by learning and practice and children should be encouraged , guided and supported to enhance self–esteem and develop social skills otherwise children could suffer from social isolation in the future . “Therefore good social relations may serve as a protective against depression among shy people” (Cheek and Buss 1981, Joiner 1977). Anxiety disorder , fear , social phobia all associated with shyness as a problem that needs to be solved from an early age by taking the hand of shy children and walk with them towards the light , moreover , we should encourage shy adults as well to be active members in the social life . In spite of all of these negative effects of shyness , it includes good aspects at various levels
Modesty & Shyness almost merge and become one thing especially in Eastern cultures where shyness indicates politeness according to the customs & traditions and in this case it becomes part of the social system that followed in theses societies , for example , in Eastern Asia & Arab countries you have to choose an appropriate behavior when you are dealing with elderly, authority, and opposite sex . The signs of shyness such as looking down , lowered head and avoid talking in some topics encouraged and praised in many of Eastern societies . Boivin, Hymel and Bukowski (1995) found that by early adolescence, in Western society, shy individuals are aware that they are lacking social skills and friendship with peers and often become lonely and depressed. In more collectivist societies like China reticent and quiet children receive encouragement and praise from teachers and parents (Ho, 1986) . Furthermore , in some cultures shy people considered quit , kind and reasonable , but other cultures or societies that esteem extremely confident and outgoing individuals eliminate shy ones considering them whether week or arrogant . In The Rewards of Being Shy , Science Now Daily News Michael Hochman write “shy people may be quit , but there’s a lot going on in their heads” as the findings of a research by the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, showed that shy children have increased activity in the reward system of the brain .Brian Knutson, a psychologist at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California said because shy children appear to be more sensitive to winning and losing, they may experience emotions more strongly than others, putting them at risk for emotional disorders such as anxiety and depression. On the flip side, shy children may experience positive emotions such as success very strongly, helping them succeed (ScienceNow,13 Jun 2006) .
The positive attitude towards shy persons in some cultures may prevent shyness from turning into a serious problem as well as the increased sensitivity of shy people makes them exceeds their peers in the response to certain stimuli and that gives them the feeling of happiness and satisfaction .
Identifying shyness, its causes and the different cultures attitude towards it may help us to understand it more and manage the best ways to overcome shyness before it becomes a serious problem or a psychiatric disorder . Shyness may have positive aspects , but when shy people avoid society , fear from expressing themselves and have negative self-judgment , they deprive themselves from developing their ways of thinking , behaving and learning within the social context which they are part of it in addition to that their mental health will be affected .It is mixed by many that the alternative of shyness is insolence , lacking of ethics and sense of humanity ; in fact it is not a good suggestion to find an alternative rather working on improving and developing the social skills and enhance self-esteem in shy persons to be more confidant , express themselves and overcome their shyness .
Henderson, L., Zimbardo, P. and Carducci, B. 2010. Shyness.
Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–3.
Observer Vol.9,No.4 July/August 1996
Henderson, L., Zimbardo, P. and Carducci, B. 2010. Shyness. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–3.
Jeremy W. Pettit . and Thomas Ellis Joiner ‘ 2005 . The Interpersonal Solution to Depression .
Dabie Nabuzoka & Janet M.Empson . Culture & Psychological Development . 2010
ScienceNow Daily News 13 June 2006