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Overcoming Shyness
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Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD posted:
It's one thing to be an introverted or quiet person, but it's quite another to be shy. Shy people find interacting with others to be painful, and this interferes with their life.


Fortunately, if you are painfully shy, you can overcome it with some effort. However, you must get to know and face your irrational fears; and learn to talk yourself through with a compassionate voice of reason.


If you can relate to this, how has shyness affected your life? Have you found ways to overcome it?


If you would like to read more in detail about this topic in my The Art of Relationships blog, click here.


Dr. Becker-Phelps's discussions and her responses in those discussions are for general educational purposes only. If you need help for an emotional or behavioral problem, please seek the assistance of a psychologist or other qualified mental health professional.


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dfromspencer responded:
Hi, Dr. Leslie,

As you know, I was pretty shy for a while here? I was always shy! It started as early as grade school, and never let up. I was always the wall flower. I never accepted offers to dance, or anything else, for that matter.

In high school I started to work on that. I made myself go to dances, and even ask girls to dance. It wasn't easy, but I sooo wanted to fit in, and to find a girl friend. It was even hard for me to ask my now ex-wife to marry me. I felt that this would be a life time of misery for me. Something I could NEVER over come!

And then, I found Web.M.D., and of course you, Dr. Leslie, and everything has changed! All for the better, of course!!! You gave me something I needed all my life, and never found, Self Talk! It has worked wonders for me! There are still times I have to talk myself through situations, prior to entering that situation, and it works for me. Thanks to you! And then you gave me another key, through Dr. Greenfield, I believe it was? That particular key, has completely emptied my mind of impossibilities. My mind is open, and free of clutter. And its all thanks to you, Dr. Leslie Becker-Phelps!!!!

Now, when I go out, even for walks, I say hi to everyone I meet in passing. Male or female, I just say hi, and see where that takes me? It has worked wonders on my shyness! Shyness? What shyness? I no longer fear social situations!!! Why should I? Why should anyone suffer as I have in the past? Never again! I will never be a wall flower, ever again!!!

There are tools out there, people, use them! Just like this one Dr. Leslie has written about. Talk yourself through, whats the worst thing that could possibly happen to you? Having some fun? Meeting the Guy/girl of your dreams? Having a stimulating conversation? What ever, you get the point. Dr. Leslie is a genius!!! And if you listen to her, and follow her instructions, you too, could become free of shyness, or social anxiety!!!

I would like to wish everyone freedom from anxiety, of any kind!!!

And, most of all, I would like to thank Dr. Leslie Becker-Phelps for being here with us!!! I can't thank her enough!!!

Dennis
LIVE LONG, LOVE WELL!!!
 
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rootbeerfloat replied to dfromspencer's response:
Hello Dennis,
I cannot believe you were once a shy guy? You seem very outgoing and friendly to me. Yes, I think the keys you have spoke about from Dr Leslie have done wonders.

TTFN my friend
Louise
 
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dfromspencer replied to rootbeerfloat's response:
Ahhh, so you do check out these other posts I see? That's great!!! I hope you enjoy this as much as I do?

Yes, its very true, I was mortally shy when I was little. It was a little better by the time I hit high school. That's when I decided to work on it. I've been an on-going project for a lot of years!!!

Now, I am very happy to say, NO MORE!!! I've been handed the keys to a whole new universe, and its all because I found this site, and Dr. Leslie!!!!

I hope you find, and enjoy some of the other communities here!

T.T.F.N. my friend!!!

Dennis
LIVE LONG, LOVE WELL!!!
 
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1nt3rnalc0mbu5t1on responded:
I can completely relate, this has been something I have been dealing with all of my life. Growing up my parents never let me speak for myself when someone asked me a question, something as simple as how old i was. I never got to shot out, im this many! Over the years I just never found my voice, letting people take advantage of me, because i was to afraid to stick up for myself. As time went on and my depression grew deeper and darker, the next obvious step was a decrease in my self-esteem. So instead of appearing friendly, i would appear stuck up or arrogant, which is completely the opposite of who i am. It became my way of protecting myself from actually having to interact with others. If i appeared arrogant, they wouldnt want to talk to me, because they felt inferior? or i just gave off a very unfriendly vibe. As i have gotten older, early 30's now and after being divorced for several years, i want to put myself back out there. If nothing more, to see i am mentally/emotionally ready to handle a relationship. But this road block is proving to be even more difficult to hurdle. More so now due to my lack of self-esteem and confidence. I am a fairly intelligent person and i speak very well, i shouldnt have any reason to fear what might come out of my mouth. But the shyness has lead to a very strong feeling of self doubt and lack of having anything to offer someone. The more i have read on the subject of depression, it blows my mind as something as small as being "shy" can deeply effect someones life. I am trying to become more out going in social situations and have had some sucess, but there have been dates along the way and a relationship never flourished. None of it was either parties fault, it just wasnt meant to be. But given my frame of mind, I always look to myself to see why it ended. I point the finger at me and it puts me back into that wallflower mode. I have been trying as hard as i can to overcome it and as i mentioned have made strides. All i can do is try to keep moving forward and maybe one day i will be able to be that outgoing confident person i know i can be.

After typing, not sure if this should have been posted here or in the trapped in your mind thread...maybe both.

IC
 
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Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD replied to 1nt3rnalc0mbu5t1on's response:
IC, It sounds like you have worked hard on this issue. And, it sounds like you have made strides forward. I hope you continue on this path.

You might find it helpful to consciously think about your fears- even walk yourself through them in your mind. When people are aware of fearing things that are unlikely to happen, they can sometimes help themselves by consciously and repeatedly putting those back in perspective. They can also often help themselves by imagining the worst case scenario (what's the worst that can happen?), living through that, and moving on - and so realizing it's not as bad as they fear.

Please feel free to return to this topic at any time - even starting your own thread - so that the community can support you in this effort.
 
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1nt3rnalc0mbu5t1on replied to Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD's response:
Dr. LBP,

Thank you, I have been making strides. Problem being is that I do consciously think of my fears and in doing so I tend to "see" the outcome before hand. Given my lack of confidence and my depresssion, the outcome is always unfavorable to me, so why try? I do try the whats the worst that can happen game and of course the outcome isnt nearly as bad as I make it. But one of my biggest fears is that of rejection, so when the worst is me being rejected...i tend to shy away, no pun intended.

I have tried reframing the situation to make it seem better, but my mind wont let go of the fact that I just got rejected. These rejections i speak of are both personal and professional. I have tried to envision a positive outcome, but then my pessamistic side creeps up and shuts that idea down.

I really do appreciate your time, have a great weekend!

IC
 
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Leslie Becker-Phelps, PhD replied to 1nt3rnalc0mbu5t1on's response:
I appreciate how difficult this can be. It's good to hear, though, that you keep trying. One difficult part of this that many people struggle with is taking in the positive. It's not enough to have successes and positive interactions, but people need to notice and absorb them in order for them to be a benefit. With this in mind, if you don't already do so, you might find it helpful to consciously make note (on a daily basis) of the positives in your life and the successes. This can help give you some strength.

Many people who struggle with fears of rejection are also often helped by building supportive relationships. Of course, for these relationships to really be supportive, you would need to truly take in the positive feedback.

You might also find it helpful to hear other people's stories about their similar struggles - to hear how you are far from alone. Maybe you can ask for this kind of feedback here on occasion? (once is not generally enough)

Keep up the good work and please feel free to keep coming back here to this community to talk through issue and to get support.
 
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dfromspencer replied to 1nt3rnalc0mbu5t1on's response:
No IC, you are not alone!!! I myself have been there, done that! I was mortally shy when I was young! Just being asked a question by a stranger, and my face would turn beet red, and I would try to crawl inside myself, if no one was around to hide behind, like my mother!!!! No, you are NOT ALONE!!!

Like I said before, self talk! Talk yourself through any situation you can think of, what is the worst thing that could possibly happen to you? What???Oh, you might have a wonderful time? Sure, but,..... oh, and you might have a stimulating conversation? Ok, but you said... well, sure, you might meet the man/woman of your dreams! Now THAT, is more like it! You see, you can do it, it just takes a little SELF TALK!!!

Try it, practice it, keep it in the front of your mind, always! YOU really can do this, I should know, right? I went from wanting to just die, to now i'm an outgoing kind of guy!!! Whats the very worst thing that might happen to me??? Well, to be honest, I want a loving, caring, sharing relationship, for the rest of my life! And, you know what, I will have that!!! So can you!!!

I wish you all the luck in the world!!!

Dennis
LIVE LONG, LOVE WELL!!!
 
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1nt3rnalc0mbu5t1on responded:
D,

I appreciate your feed back and i know i am not alone I am trying to work at the "positive" self talk. But I have always beaten myself up with negative talk, about how i am worthless, have nothing to offer or just plain old ugly. so when i try to do the self talk, it doesnt last very long because deep down i feel that i am lying to myself. And if i know i am lying to myself, i will believe it, whether it is true or not. More often than not, it is the negative talk that is untrue. But i have conditioned myself to believe it to be so.

I would love it if i could become the type of person who just said hello to everyone, but in reality thats not me. I am ok with that, but i would still like to be more out going. After all i am a friendly person and when I give myself the chance i can pretty much have a conversation with anyone. As long as it is something i want to talk about, if not, i tend to zone out and my mind will start to wander. have often thought in the past that i might have a hint of ADD to go along with my depression. All i can do is keep moving forward and hopefully one day ill be able to look into the mirror and actually love who is looking back.

Again, i appreciate everyone's input.

IC
 
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dfromspencer replied to 1nt3rnalc0mbu5t1on's response:
Hi IC,

One thing for sure, you do have an avoidant personality, huh? That can be dealt with, also! You even avoid loving yourself, why is that, if I may ask? When you look in the mirror, what do you see? Do you see a human being, or something else??? I'm just being curious here, I don't mean to meddle. I find it amazing that, anyone could look in the mirror, and NOT like who is looking back??? Could you enlighten me on that, please?

One thing I know for sure, about you, is that, YOU are a very smart, intelligent, thoughtful, caring individual. You have empathy pouring out of you, why not use some of that, on yourself??? Its ok to love yourself, you are not being selfish, you know?!

A little ADD? Hells Bells, we all have a little ADD!!! There may be times when i'm reading something on the internet, and an ad for sun tan lotion comes on, and there is a lady in a bikini, you think I won't tear my eyes away, and stare at the ad??? If the model is super hot, I may completely forget what it was I was doing prior to seeing that ad? LOL!!! I may laugh, but its true! Is there anyone that can say that isn't true for them, also? I don't think so?

Each time I read one of your posts, I find it well written, and very explanatory! There certainly is nothing wrong with your brain!!! I would love to be in the same room with you, and have a stimulating conversation!!! I bet you could hold everyone's attention, that's for sure?!!!

Keep going with that self talk. Every time you start to think negative thoughts, think of some thing you like to do, and how you accomplished it? Be proud of what you are, who you are! YOU are a HUMAN BEING!!! Deserving of love, friendship, fun, every single thing every one of us deserve!!! Remember that! Then use that self talk, I know you can do it!!! You have the right mind set to accomplish any single thing you want to!!!

Now get going!!! Loafer! Get up, stand up straight, march out into this world, and demand your share!!!

Go ahead, no one is going to bite you, I promise!!!

Your Friend, Dennis
LIVE LONG, LOVE WELL!!!
 
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rohvannyn replied to dfromspencer's response:
You wrote this to IC but it so true for me as well. I should print this out and read it every day.
Roh

'Your focus determines your reality.' --QGJ
 
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1nt3rnalc0mbu5t1on replied to dfromspencer's response:
D,

Thanks again. I wouldnt say my personality is avoidant, at work i am a very out going person and as mentioned before can carry on a conversation about almost anything. But personal and professional are two different animals all together. I wouldnt say that i try to avoid loving myself either, there are times that I do, although they are few and far between. I would prefer to say incapible of loving myself, at least for now. Like i mentioned before, I would love to be able to see myself through other peoples eyes. But that just isnt my reality right now. With out getting into specific details about my past, I can give you a few reasons why i dont/cannot. I know that i am human and that all humans are imperfect and we all make mistakes. I just have a very hard time letting go of the past and those mistakes, they haunt me every day. Whether it be a career that I feel I am over qualified for and thus underpaid(yes im thankful to have a job). The fact that I had a failed marriage, i realize that many people get divorced. The fact I got divorced was primarily my fault, i am not accepting 100% of the blame but a majority of it. And a handful of other short comings that probably shouldnt matter to me nearly as much as they do. When I look into the mirror I dont see the attractive, confident, intelligent and sucessful person that I always thought i would be. So you asked what i see when i look in the mirror i see a failure. The word may seem harsh and it probably is, but thats what i see. Growing up i played a lot of sports and excelled at them, some might call me a natural athlete. Giving that background i had a black/white world engrained in my mind, that being winning and losing. So now, i tend to look at life in a very black and white manor, sucesses and failures. I wish i could create a gray area, actually i have, anything that is not a sucess is a failure to me. No matter how close i was to being sucessful, if i didnt acheive my goal, it wasnt worth it. Granted I tend to set unreachable goals, thus setting myself up for failure. If i set a goal that is not so lofty, i tend to not really try. Again setting myself up for failure. The fact of the matter is that i am lazy and i procrastinate, again this is something im trying to work on.

As far as getting distracted by a beautiful woman in a bikini, i find that a far cry from ADD. I am pretty sure most men would find that distracting. Im talking about not being able to focus on the task at hand or not being able to really prioritize by importance. And when i do over come that, it is very hard to stay motivated for a long time.

Again, i appreciate your input

IC
 
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dfromspencer replied to 1nt3rnalc0mbu5t1on's response:
Hi IC,

Thanks for telling me what you see in the mirror!

Loser?

W.T.F.???

Sorry for cussing, but that really threw me!!!

Loser? Really?

You played sports, and excelled? You had, at one time, a successful marriage? You have a job, one I am sure you are overqualified for, but its at least a job!

Loser???

Sorry!, I just don't see that, myself!!! And I would bet no one else would, either?!!!

And, as for not letting things go, why the hell not? What possible good does it do you, to hold onto things you cannot change, no matter how many times you wish you could????

We cannot change what's already transpired!!! Trust me on this one!!! So, what good does it do, to hold onto it??? Let it go!

Now, for the focusing. I have a hard time myself, so I sometimes use the rubber band reminder thingy! You know, put the rubber band around your finger, that way, you have to concentrate on that one thing?!!! Try it, see if it works for you? If you have many tasks, use post-it notes, running down the wall, from most important to least? Works very well, for me. Try it?!

Enough for you to think about for a while, I sure do hope these things help you?

Good luck, Sir!!!

Dennis
LIVE LONG, LOVE WELL!!!
 
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1nt3rnalc0mbu5t1on replied to dfromspencer's response:
D,

I really do appreciate the kind words.

Yes I played sports, i dont know if i would use the word excelled, but i was good. I had offers from smaller colleges to play, but it made more financial sense to give up the sports and go to a state school and focus on academics...or so that's what i told myself.

As for a sucessful marriage, i wouldnt totally say that, we had a great relationship and shortly before we got married it all fell apart. We hoped that getting married might reignite the "spark" but sadly it didnt.

Recently it has been brought to my attention that the reason I hold onto the past is a defense mechanism and i totally agree. The reason i dont let go of the past is because i use it to shape all of my current judgements/decisions. I take all of those horrible memories and use them to shape my future. I understand how completely assanine this sounds, but unfortunately its how my brain processes things. I wish i could turn it off. That being said, i am always jumping to conclusions and anticipating the outcome with out even going thru the paces. In short, i am scared of the unknown, so by drawing a parallell to something i have been thru, it helps ease my mind, mainly because i will convince myself it is a waste of time because the outcome will be similar to what happened before.

So the common theme is that I have a defeatist attitude. As i said i appreciate the things you have said and the tips you have offered. But in my mind because you dont personally know me, i dont take them to heart. That has nothing do with you, i do it with everyone who tries to offer me comfort or a boost of self esteem, family included. I have a belief that family is supposed to say those types of things because they are family. That their intentions may not be the most genuine or honest because they dont want a family member to hurt. And rightfully so, I dont want a family member to hurt or see them sad. But then again, i feel that i deserve to feel this way.

And what is the saddest part, I know there are so many millions of people out there battling with depression, who have it so much worse than i do. I dont have big problems, but i let them eat me alive.

As i said many times D, i really do appreciate your input and your upbeat attitude. I truly do wish you all the best on your journey.

IC


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