Inspiring

And what shyness is not

The last post tells us what is shyness. Also our own experience shows us its characteristic traits. The question is that there are few misconceptions about shyness amongst the “non-shy” that I’d like to talk about here.

Shyness is not:

Mental disease

First af all, an explanation: A mental disorder is any clinically considerable behavioral or psychological syndrom characterized by the presence of distressing symptoms, impairment of functioning, or significantly increased risk of suffering death, pain, or other disability. And even if shyness could lead to some real pathological problems like anxiety… it’s not an illness, just a behavioral trait.

This clarification takes us to state that shyness is not a mental disease. It seems pretty obvious, right? But it seems that is not that clear when there are tons of pages offering the cure to shyness, treatments and pills, yes, you read it right, there are pills to take away shyness.

All of this leads to a couple of problems. The first one lies in the consequences of seeing shyness as a disease, a mental disease which sometimes are scarier that a physical one. That’s why one might consider the necessity of a lunatic asylum, when being shy is seen as being as crazy as a loon in the pathological way. The second problem is that seeing shyness as an illness that can be solved by taking few pills makes us envisaging to take the easy solution to solve something that requires more than a pill to overcome. Shyness won’t go away with a treatment but with some personal effort.

– Being antisocial

Yeah, we, shy fellows, might have a lack of social and interpersonal skills, or they may be not developed enough, we might suffer from anxiety when in need to socialize and we might feel uncomfortable when we are with strangers. However that doesn’t mean we don’t like people, on the contrary, we tend to affiliate to groups in the search of connection, approval or sense of belonging, but we really have a hard time when faced to being with strangers or in casual encounters. We tense up, we are embarrassed and uncomfortable, and we inhibit the normal social behavior.

But all of that isn’t a prove that we are not interested in people or motivated with socializing, it’s more about being afraid of strangers due to the expectation of a negative social evaluation or not positive enough.

– Introversion

Although they are usually viewed as identical, they are not the same. One of the reason why they are frequently related is because the lack of socializing. Although it’s certainly not the same the lack of interest in socializing due to a preference of being in their own company than the fear of it. So the main difference resides in the motivation or not to socialize. An introvert enjoys being alone and usually gets drained when is surrounded by people whereas a shy person doesn’t necessarily want to be alone but is afraid of the interaction with others, so ends up chosing to be alone.

– Cowardice

And, curiously, this tends to be the opposite. Shy people, because we have a barrier that holds us back from things most others enjoy with ease, are taught how to overcome those barriers. Once you learn how to overcome your shyness, every other barrier in life will be easy in comparison.

However, for some reason, some people tend to mix them up, even the dictionaries!

– Mere quietness:

There are different types of shy people as there are colors in the world. And here we have a good example. One can be quiet as a personality trait or be quiet for whatever other reason, one can be shy and quiet, or one can be shy and quiet only in certain situations or environments. Obviously, if we are shy, we are not such a great talkers, mainly because we don’t develop our chatting muscle that naturally as other children, but it doesn’t mean that when we are with friends, or familiar people we don’t participate of the conversations. It’s a matter of comfortability more than quietness.

– Being a loner

This misconception is very similar to the previous one. We already discussed that being shy is not the same as being an introverted, so this works in the same way. Are we alone because we prefer to be alone, or we are alone because we are afraid to interact with others? I’d say that in many cases we are longing to talk with that group of strangers over there that seem having so much fun.

Do you have any experiences with these misconceptions? Have another ones you’d like to talk about? 

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