Have you ever scheduled an interview, a date, or a meeting and needed to give yourself a pep talk before the big moment? You took a deep breath and swallowed hard, telling yourself, “I can do this.” Suddenly a wave of nervous energy crashed over you, and a familiar voice flooded your mind with doubt. “What if they don’t like me? I’m going to make a fool of myself. I can’t do this.” Then reluctantly, yet with a sense of relief, you canceled the event. By not overcoming shyness by middle-age, you have missed out on countless life experiences as well as business opportunities. You are not alone.
According to Dr. Bernardo J. Carducci, P.h.D., head of the Shyness Research Institute at Indiana University Southeast, about 40% of adults worldwide believe they are shy. And as a result, they are less likely to advance in their careers and not surprisingly, have fewer social connections. Does this scenario sound familiar?
Don’t Play Coy With Me!
At this point, you might be asking, “Was I born this way?” That’s a good question. While Scientists debate whether there’s a gene that causes shyness, Carducci does not believe people are born with it. He writes, “shyness is characterized by three major features: excessive self-consciousness, excessive negative self-evaluation, and excessive negative self-preoccupation. All three characteristic features of shyness involve a sense of self. And the sense of self does not develop until approximately 18 months of age.” And there doesn’t appear to be one single cause for this affliction either. Perhaps your shyness stems from your temperament, personality, upbringing or a combination of all three.
— Hannatu Adamu (@mamahannatu) December 2, 2016
Keep in mind; I am not referring to a social anxiety disorder. That’s significantly more serious than being bashful. If you hyperventilate or need to make a pitstop for adult diapers at the thought of attending a social or networking event, you should probably get some professional help. I battled both shyness and panic attacks in my life. And I assure you, they are completely different. You can read about my struggles here.
I’m not talking about introverts either. They feel comfortable spending time alone and prefer solitary activities. Timid people, however, long to interact and participate in activities and gatherings, but don’t feel capable. So, what’s the secret to overcoming shyness as a mature adult? You have probably tried to conquer it in the past or hoped to outgrow it by now, but shyness isn’t going away on its own. Perhaps the time is right to consider a few new resources.
Podcasts: Keep Calm And Listen On
I listen to several podcasts on varying topics each week. I find them to be educational and entertaining. Whether in my car, on the treadmill, or cleaning the house, hitting the play button on my phone makes these mundane tasks seem more enjoyable. Here are three highly rated podcasts that may help in overcoming shyness. You can find them on iTunes.
The Calm Living Blueprint, Candice Esposito
Shyness.com: Plant Food For Shrinking Violets
Shyness.com is a comprehensive catalog of resources for those seeking treatment for this problem. Sponsored by The Shyness Institute in Berkely, California, this website is packed with helpful information. You can find suggested books, research, therapists, training programs, meditations, and more. Dr. Lynne Henderson, P.h.D., is the director of this research facility. Listen her speak about shyness in the workplace in a fascinating radio interview here.
Hypnosis: You Are Getting Very Sleepy-
The fair-minded part of you may be intrigued by this potential remedy while your skeptical side may have a few doubts. As it turns out, clinical hypnosis, self-hypnosis, and sleep hypnosis have been used successfully to treat everything from shyness and anxiety to asthma and irritable bowel syndrome. Famous athletes and top business people have used this focused, guided imagery for years to enhance performance.
The British Medical Association has concluded that hypnotherapy is an effective treatment for phobias and anxiety-related issues. While it does not work for everyone, it may well be worth a try. The National Board for Certified Clinical Hypnotherapists can help you locate a professional near you.