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24 Jan 2004

How to overcome shyness
Dear Doc,
I have what I consider a serious problem. I am a very quiet 30 year old lady and I think I am shy too. For as long as I can remember even at school I was like this, I never had close friends and no one wanted to be with or around me. Even now I dont have much friends except 1 or 2 acquaintances from work. I dont know how to reach out to people. It is worse at work, it feels like I am afraid of something, I tend to speak very softly and have to repeat myself because one cannot hear what Im saying. I get tense in meetings, outings etc. I work in a very friendly environment (just started there), people are friendly and chatty, which I find makes things worse for me. I would rather keep to myself.

I dont have much social life, haven't had a boyfriend either in the last few years. I spend my spare time at home with my son.

Please advise me doc, what should I do to improve?
I smile but inside I feel so lonely!
Thank you
Answer 420 views

01 Jan 0001

Dear Spirit,
FOr various reasons, some of us grow up shy and uncomfortable among and with other people ; we feel unsure of ourselves when in the company of others. We may have an unfairly low opinion of ourselves ( and even an unfairly high opinion of others ). Sometimes this shyness goes beyond the usual boundaries, and becomes a Social Phobia, when one feel really severe anxiety when one has to stand out from the crowd --- for instance, if you had to stand up and make a speech at work. Its good that they're friendly folks, as it'll be easier for you to get things right, among such people. And if you become, for a start, a good listener to all their chatting, maybe thinking of a few leading questions to ask, to encourage them to keep talking, they'll like that. In a group of chatty chaps, they can really feel the need for someone to actually listen to all their chat.
As a result, one can easily become lonely. Now, the fact that you do feel lonely, suggests that you're nor truly a loner ( someone who is happy and content with their own company ). Maybe past expriences, maybe unhappy relationships, whatever, may have changed you into someone rather too cautious and awkward about facing others. You say you were shy at school, but you have had relationships in the past, so presumably it was a bit different from this present state.
Fortunately, this sort of situation can indeed be helped. It would be worth seeing a good psychiatrist, as medication can help, as well as psychological therapies, including counselling and also specific focussing on finding ways to feel more comfortable and confident among others.
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