This Article is About
sense of anxiety
moment of clarity
inner dialogue
frame of reference
negative impact
peers
rush
circumstances
Making Friends Part 1: Overcoming Shyness
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Making Friends Part 1: Overcoming Shyness

The Root of Shyness: Feeling Like You Don't Belong

I was a very shy kid. I can remember walking through the halls of yet another new school, feeling an unbareable and chronic sense of anxiety. I had no word for the feeling back then, but I knew it really hurt and it seemed to never go away. At the age of fourteen I was walking through the halls of my eleventh school and felt the anxiety rush over me again. I remember the silent question pop into the forefront of my mind," Why do I feel like this?" At that moment a short, yet profound inner dialogue began to unfold.

" Do you always feel like this?" it questioned.

I recall the surprise I felt at how quickly and confidently I responded with," No."

" Then when do you feel like this?" it offered.

" Only when I'm around strangers," I thought, again, without need to think of an answer. Then the voice was gone and I was left with a profound clarity. Because I'd changed schools my entire life, I had no other frame of reference. That was my reality. Additionally, I was never able to grow or develope with other children because we would always move and because of this I was always alone. A stranger in a strange land. Until that moment of clarity I took my lack of social standing personally and felt that a personal flaw of some sort was the reason I had no friends. I never once connected being the new kid, literally every year, to being without friends.

That moment of clarity made me realise something.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with me

Thinking something is wrong with you can have as much of a negative impact on making friends and overall well being as actually having something wrong with you. I was always the new kid. Maybe you have unique physical characteristics or share a different cultural background than your peers. Whatever the case, understand that your circumstances do not make you less than. Understanding, first and foremost, that there is nothing wrong with you will cause immediate relief. When you believe you are worthy of friendship and happiness, you will find it. Do not just think about it, believe it. Feel it. Then you will know it.

As illustrated in the story above, I came upon a certain realisation about myself from within. It came from me as opposed to a second or third party source. That's why it stuck. It is so important to really internalise a strong and sincere value of self, because at the end of the day, you are stuck with you. Your opinion of yourself matters most and you have absolute authority over how you feel about you.

If you have esteem issues then the reality is that you have adopted and accepted counter-productive and destructive associations with and to yourself . Understanding that is key to making a positve change.

Try This Exercise

On a piece of paper, write down at least one label or name that someone has called you that causes you pain. If possible, include a negative form of behavior directed towards you that cause similar emotions. Got it? Note how it made you feel.

Now, if someone were to walk up to you and call you a three legged, pointy eared cyclops, with toenails for teeth, and a forked tongue, you'd think they were nuts! Honestly, you'd probably just dismiss the comment entirely.

What if you were walking down the street and someone approached you and immediately handed you a set of keys, expecting you to park their car for them? A similar reaction, maybe?

Why dismiss these words and actions, yet accept those that you wrote down?

The Answer

Be it positive or negative, words and actions only stick with us when we see truth in them. Remember that. You will see this material again.

End of part one.


Street Talk

Powerful exercise. For shyness and life in general. Thanks!

Reply
  about 5 years ago

great exercise! People can be so cruel and do not understand one statement can change a persons life! Words do have power if you give it to them!

Reply
  about 9 years ago

I can relate. I've felt like an odd shape for much of my life, like I don't fit where most people seem to fit with relative ease. I seem to think and feel quite differently about lots of things. I've had to see that I'm not the wrong shape, simply a different shape, perhaps in the minority. I'm somebody like all the other somebodies. (it's taking a while to really believe that's true but I'm getting there at 49 years) I'm only shy in certain environments like you mentioned in your article, but when I'm around others with a similar shape I can be quite outgoing and productive, energized. To use Joan's phrase I get "emotional fuel" from being around folk who can express sensitivity, understanding, compassion, kindness, creativity. Thanks Harold for your article, it made me think about these things and consequently I've found myself expressing them here. You did a good job:)

Reply
  about 9 years ago

I guess I shouldn't be surprised by the response of this article, and yet I am. It seems most people tend to feel like an odd shape at some point in their lives. In that way it seems we're more the same than we are different. Thanks for the feedback, Rob.

Reply
  about 9 years ago
Joan S  

Yup, I identify with shyness. Whenever there was a dance recital, and I was supposed to be onstage, I was hiding in the audience. It made my teacher furious because oftentimes I was one of the leads. Shyness is so painful. Fortunately, kids usually grow out of it. I always get a kick out of actors who say they are shy, and acting is a kind of therapy.

Reply
  about 9 years ago

Yeah, I think having better conversation skills may help people overcome shyness. I think that's why shy people tend to make good actors, because someone else is giving them their dialogue. Thanks for the feedback, Joan :)

Reply
  about 9 years ago
S. Gray  

This article really hit home for me because I was a shy child who grew into a shy adult. Only, when I was a child I thought something was wrong with me. It took years of positive reinforcement and actually liking myself to overcome the negative words and actions I internalized. Great stuff, Harold!

Reply
  about 9 years ago

AND, you're into physical fitness, too, right? P90X? That seems to help people deal shyness. I guess when your body feels good, it causes an overall sense of well being. And shyness, anxiety, and all negative emotions actually have a physical impact. Thanks for your comment, Sonya :)

Reply
  about 9 years ago

HA! You did it and you did it with flare, my friend! The word I cringe at is crybaby! I was a sensitive little guy and my brother and dad would tease me until I broke down in tears. Mom was my savior! LOL But even to this day, crybaby gives me pause! I too was very shy as a kid. No one would guess that now, because I have come out of my shell back in the 8th or 9th grade. I guess football was good for me! LOL Look forward to the next installment, Harold!

Reply
  about 9 years ago

It's funny you say that. I actually used to study karate at a local community center from age 11 or 12 to 15. I wonder if there's a connection between physical activity and building confidence in kids. Hmmm......

Reply
  about 9 years ago

I smell another article coming on! I know that scent well. My wife is tired of me saying "I need to write an article about that!" Keep up the great work, bud!

  
  about 9 years ago
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