Being shy can manifest in many different ways. It may make you nervous when you meet someone new, or it may cause you to avoid meeting anyone new entirely. Shyness can cause you to feel anxious when you're the center of attention, or it can send you into a panic attack if all eyes are on you.
People who tend to be a little shy can usually function just fine in everyday life. However, for those who are at the more extreme end of the spectrum who describe themselves as painfully shy shyness can interfere with their lives, causing them to avoid social events, not move forward in their lives and even to become socially isolated.
At its worst, being painfully shy can turn into social anxiety disorder, or social phobia. This is a psychiatric disorder whose symptoms, according to research by Ronald Kessler, Ph.D. of Harvard Medical School, affect more than 13 percent of Americans at some point in their lives.
Meanwhile, up to 4.5 percent of the population meets the criteria to be diagnosed with social anxiety disorder, which makes it the third most common mental disorder in the United States (depression and alcoholism rank first and second).
People with social phobia have an intense fear of social situations that keeps them from venturing out in the world, doing things, or speaking to people.
Are You Shy Because of Low Self-Esteem, or Are You Just Introverted?
Interesting points about being painfully shy, however, are the various things that can cause it.
'There are two underlying groups of feelings that can cause people to seem shy. The first is lack of self-worth and even actual self-loathing,' says Hale Dwoskin, CEO and director of training of Sedona Training Associates. 'When we are not comfortable in our own skins because we are judging ourselves, we are embarrassed to be with anyone else.'
Meanwhile, Dwoskin points out that sometimes people who appear shy on the outside are actually just more quiet and self-reflective.
'If someone is introverted people often misinterpret this natural inner focus for shyness,' he says.
Whether you are shy because of low self-esteem or because you are introverted, you can feel more comfortable around others by learning to let go of your negative thoughts and fears (such as a fear of being embarrassed in front of others). Learning to let go is something you can learn how to do easily with The Sedona Method.
'The best way to deal with shyness,' Dwoskin says, 'is to let go of whatever feelings are causing you to feel uncomfortable opening up around others. Once you do this you will find yourself relaxing and feeling more at ease being yourself, even when you are with other people.'