post Is Shyness Curable?

March 26th, 2011

Filed under: Social Issues — Lissan Magazine @ 14:39

Curing Shyness and other Social Fears
by Vicki

source: Helium: Emotional Health & Wellbeing

Shyness and social fears can be dramatic side effects of deeper issues. Self-esteem plays a major role in the way people interact in all social aspects. Other factors to consider when determining the causes of social fears are life and social experiences. Our child hood experiences provide insights into our many adult behaviors. The way in which we are conditioned to interact or react to people and situations is a process in which we learn through out our lifetimes.

In 1902, after extensive research, C. H. Cooley introduced the concept of “The looking-glass self”. The Looking-glass self is created through the imagination of how one’s self might be understood by another individual. The “self” can be defined as ones sense of personal identity.

There are three components to the looking-glass self:

1.We imagine how others view us.
2.We imagine how they will judge us based on that view.
3.We develop our self through our ideas on how others judge us. (Yeung)

“The way we imagine ourselves to appear to another person is an essential element in our conception of ourselves. In other words, I am not what I think I am, and I am not what you think I am. I am what I think you think I am.”
Bierstedt, Robert.

“I am not who I think I am
I am not who you think I am
I am who I think you think I am.”

“Each to each a looking-glass
Reflects the other that doth pass.”
C. H. Cooley

Not every person will experience social fears at the same level. Some will find themselves mildly shy, and they will be able to warm up to a person or situation with a little time and comfort. Others with more severe distress may find it impossible to gain the level of comfort they need for security. Severe social distress or social anxiety may bring about ringing in the ears, tunnel vision, seeing spots or colors, trembling, a sudden rise in body temperature, a shaking or stuttering voice, and even entirely losing train of thought. Beyond shyness, social anxiety disorder or social phobia affects 13.3% of our population with a male to female ratio of 1:1.5.

Our parents, our peers, our environments, society, and we condition ourselves throughout our lives. In realizing that behaviors can be conditioned, and knowing how they are conditioned, we can come up with options for reconditioning the same behaviors to a more desirable and realistic view of what we perceive as the norm.

Social learning theory proposes that our behavior changes are affected by environmental influences, personal factors, and attributes of the behavior itself. Each may affect or be affected by either of the other two. A person must believe in their own capability to achieve social tasks and there must be a positive incentive over the negative expectations. The person must desire and believe in the outcome of the particular behavior modification one is working on.

Children raised with criticism are often stripped of their self-esteem. They may lack in will for accomplishments and withdrawal from social situations with peers for fear of judgment and criticism. Child abuse also discourages children’s desire to pursue closeness, and thus they do not allow themselves social situations that could potentially expose them to the risk of involvement.

Society pulls our children to strive for a set standard that some simply cannot seem to achieve. Societal expectations have grown, and not everyone is able to keep up with the standards. Those who cannot achieve societies set norms will often have feelings of depreciated value. They will feel as though the way they see themselves is the way others view them as well (the looking glass self).

The first questions to ask would be what it is that instills the social fear and in what situation is the fear most prevalent. It is a good idea to explore the triggers to the fear. Which are considered normal and which are heavy burdens to your functions in society? If your social fear is mild, you may not have to go as far in depth with the environmental details that conditioned your fears. However, the person who suffers severely, who is more controlled by the fears, would need more in depth reconciliation. The more severe cases benefit considerably from behavioral therapy, and many even find it helpful to utilize anxiety or depression medication for added support.

In either mild or severe situations of shyness or social fear, what is very important is that the will for change is there. The fact that the behavior was conditioned shows that it can be reconditioned with effort and the will to try, and try again. Modifying behaviors in day to day events is necessary and should be done over a period of time. Make sure you are working on all of your self-esteem issues, and realize you are not alone in this. So many individuals around us every day suffer some type of social fear; you will cross their paths daily. It really is a large portion of our population in the United States.

The focus should be on just doing it and believing you can. Put yourself in the situation repeatedly. Although it is hard to deal with the feelings of fear, it is necessary for change. Just like anything else to be mastered, you must practice until you reach the comfort zone you are out to achieve.

Change does not happen over night, and it will prove to be a lot of pain staking, emotional work. The more you place yourself in situations that drive that fear, reconditioning will occur with out a doubt. Believe in your capacity to function in a manner that you believe is best for you.

source: Helium: Emotional Health & Wellbeing


  1. Helpful points. I always mention research done by Jerome Kagan whenever someone says, “Shyness is learned, so you can unlearn it.” one poster has even made the claim that “Shyness is learned by the age of two.” Such people usually don’t support this claim by saying how something like bashfulness could be learned by age two.

    Just because shyness is partly inborn, however, that doesn’t mean we are powerless to change, simply that we should not spend our time obsessing over the past or putting the blame on our upbringing.

    Comment by Tim at ShyFAQ — 15. April 2011 @ 20:37

  2. Everyone is afraid of something. This most fundamental, critical rule of human existence may be among the oldest reasons for the human need to socially interact. To a certain extent, it is arguable that all society is based on the foundation that we are playing off each other’s fears. However, while it is normal for everyone to have fears, not everyone has a phobia. The phobia, which is essentially an unreasonable fear that is firmly rooted in a person’s psychology, can sometimes be difficult to spot. In general, they don’t so much affect a person’s social and professional standing as other disorders might. Yet, there are some people that must deal with the prospect of having to face a phobia at work on a daily basis..

    Remember to view this useful blog page

    Comment by William Wiltgen — 6. February 2013 @ 17:12

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