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What causes shyness and how to overcome it

A personality disorder is an unwanted, enduring pattern of behavior that prevents a person from leading a normal life. Many psychologists define personality disorder as a behavior that deviates from normal behavior.

I don't agree with that definition because I think human beings are far too diverse and unique to have a 'standard' of behavior set for them.

Telling someone you have a personality disorder because your behaviors don't fit this list of 'standard' behaviors seems naive and unethical to me. A much better definition of a personality disorder is the following:

Any behavior that prevents people from living a happy, fulfilled life may be classified as a personality disorder.

Shyness is a personality disorder because a shy person has problems dealing with the people he wants to interact with. Shyness makes a person uncomfortable around others and shy people find it difficult to express themselves freely and start conversations with people.

What causes shyness?

Shyness is actually a symptom of some underlying psychological problem such as inferiority, self-consciousness, perfectionism, lack of self-confidence, low self-esteem or a fear of rejection. One or more of these underlying problems may be causing a person's shyness. So if these underlying problems dealt with then shyness can be easily prevented.

how to overcome shyness
Fear of public speaking is a common fear among shy people and the underlying cause is almost always a fear of rejection

Our mind develops a behavior only when it finds that it is useful for achieving some kind of an important goal. We may or may not be conscious of that goal. So, even if you logically consider a behavior such as shyness unwanted, your subconscious mind will have its own, apparently illogical reason for developing it.

The subconscious mind makes a person feel shy to ensure that he avoids social situations because it believes that there’s something ‘wrong’ with him that other people shouldn't know! This ‘wrong’ may be some kind of an inferiority or simply a lack of confidence like I mentioned before.

At the root of shyness is fear, a fear that people will get to know your 'flaws'. Shyness motivates you to avoid social interactions so that your 'flaws' remain hidden. When you feel shy, you find yourself unable to interact with others and this negative experience only reinforces your belief that you are better off staying aloof from others. Therefore, the belief that 'there's something wrong with you' gets reinforced and you get trapped in vicious self-reinforcing cycle.

Your subconscious mind thinks, "Success! I've helped you hide your flaws from others."

When you're in a situation where you know that everyone loves and accepts you (in your home for example), you're very unlikely to feel shy. The degree to which you feel shy in any given situation depends on how comfortable you are in the situation and that in turn will depend on how you think others perceive you.

So all you got to do is to fix your own perception of how others perceive you and prove to your subconscious mind that you aren't actually as negatively perceived by people as you may have imagined. Also, you'll need to drop the belief that one can be perfect, without any flaws. So what if you have flaws. Don't they have their own flaws too? We're all imperfect in our own ways.

Overcoming shyness

The way to overcome shyness is to deal with the real reason that is causing your shyness. Is it some kind of an inferiority? Is it low self-esteem? Or is it lack of self-confidence? Once you figure it out then you won’t have much problems in getting over your shyness. Ultimately, it's all about how you think and that depends on the type of beliefs that you have about yourself.

Practice talking to people, force yourself to start conversations and never avoid situations that you know have the potential to make you feel shy. But don't force yourself into conversations you aren't interested in just for the sake of 'fitting in'.

Like I said before, behind shyness there is always some kind of fear and all fears grow when they are avoided. Prove to yourself that the fear that was responsible for your shyness was irrational and then your mind will drop your shyness like a heavy load. 

Final words

You won’t become a charming social magnet when you first set out to practice but never let mistakes hold you back. Know that they are indispensable whenever you are learning anything. As time passes, you’ll make lesser and lesser mistakes and a day will come when you’ll find that you have absolutely no problems talking to anyone.

The important thing to remember is to always be on the lookout for situations that can trigger your shyness and face those situations again and again till you prove to your mind that there's nothing to hide and your shyness ends.

If you're interested in exploring in-depth the biological roots of shyness and the strategies to overcome it, check out the Shyness and Social Anxiety course developed by Sean Cooper. 

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