Have you ever scheduled an interview, a date, or a meeting and needed to give yourself a pep talk before the big moment? Take 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 am 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, 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. As a result, they are less 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 may 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. He writes, “shyness is distinguished by three major essentials: exorbitant self-consciousness, exorbitant negative self-evaluation, and exorbitant negative self-preoccupation. These three features of shyness entail a sense of self. And the self-sense 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.
Remember that; 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. However, Timid people 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. Maybe 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.
Shyness.com: Plant Food For Shrinking Violets
Shyness.com is a comprehensive catalog of resources for those seeking treatment for this problem. 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 to her speak about shyness in the workplace in a fascinating radio interview.
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.
Related Reading: Midlife Reinvention; Is it Time for a Professional Pivot?
It’s never too late. You don’t have to live your remaining years on the sideline and continue to miss out on social experiences and business opportunities. What have you got to lose? Overcoming shyness after age 40 is possible if you are willing to be open-minded and consider trying new techniques. Or, perhaps, you have already conquered this demon. If you have, please help us all and share your secret in the comment section below.