The Thirty Minute Blogger

Exploring Books and the Writer's Life, Faith and Works, Culture and Pop Culture, Space Science and Science Fiction, Technology and Nostalgia, Parenting and Childhood, Health: Physical and Emotional ... All Under the Iron Hands of the Clock and That 30 Minute Deadline

Monday, February 18, 2013

Using Social Media to Help Adults Relieve Shyness

Shyness is a plague on many houses. This is not to be mistaken with being an introvert instead of an extrovert, not at all. Shyness revolves around the following reactions and feeds upon itself:

  • Fear of specific social situations
  • Self-preoccupation to the extreme
  • When around particular types of folks, one feels uncomfortable and awkward (and I'm not talking angry bar brawlers here)
  • Unable to express your own thoughts and feelings to others
  • social skills deficit
  • self-esteem in the tank
  • inhibited from taking desirable, familiar actions
  • heart and breathing rates spiking when hit by a bout of shyness
You are not alone in this if you are so plagued. The situation may have developed long ago from some difficult childhood moment or period. It is amazing how early problems stick with us, no matter what we have become in later life. Roughly 40% of 10,000 people surveyed in one report consider themselves actively shy and another 40% say they were shy in the past. You are most definitely in good company, although your shyness may not allow you to see this. 

So, would you like to shake shyness? Would you like to leave behind the loneliness, the lack of firm friendships, the trouble speaking with others, the trouble you have presenting yourself positively to others although you are truly a wonderful person (and you are), and throw aside your desire to avoid intimate contact. 

Well, here are things to do: 

  • Stop making negative statements about yourself, to yourself and others. It is not modest humor; it is destructive.
  • Practice speaking and thinking well of yourself.
  • Slowly, carefully develop appropriate social skills (and this is where social media can help, gradually)
  • Work at noticing when your heart rate and breathing are climbing and recognize that it is stress related. Breathe deeply and try not to give it undo concern. It will pass. Tell yourself that and turn your attention outward. (Unless of course you are carrying very heavy objects or climbing steep staircases and then you may want to pay attention and stop for a breather.)
Working on those social skills can be truly difficult for the shy. So, start with baby steps. Set yourself up a Facebook page, inviting people you know to join your page, liking sites with interests similar to yours (which will give you topics of conversation ready made for social functions you need to attend) ... and there are tons ... through which you'll meet like-minded folks, and start your own blog site based on some subject that interests you (and do not judge yourself by low attendance to your blog site at first ... there's huge numbers of them out there and it takes time to get noticed ... do not use this as an opportunity to judge yourself). 

In these ways, you will slowly start to interact with others. You will get used to expressing yourself in small ways, at times very small ways, and learning that the results of doing so are not devastating rejection (if someone treats you cruelly in response to something you say, you may have found a troll. Use that as an opportunity not to wither under the wrong-headed and cruel critique, but to say (if only to yourself for now) that person has no idea what he/she is talking about and I will not give his/her idea any weight in my life or make me assess myself negatively. The blog will help you present yourself and your interests in a positive light as well. Give yourself strong guidelines to follow in relation to what you say about yourself from the bullet points above. Also follow a simple rule: don't say anything about yourself that you wouldn't tell a perfect stranger on first meeting (and since you're shy, you know how limited that is [joke from someone who knows]). 

In time, and it may take years, doing all these things together, you may one day discover yourself inviting a friend out to lunch ... probably via Facebook messaging ... and be excited and pleased when they accept. In time. Give it time. In the meantime, social media is a good way to practice those healthy social skills that you will later use in public when you meet people face to face and stand up for yourself. 

Good luck. Remember, you are far from alone out there! 

[Information provided by the Dictionary of Pastoral Care and Counseling, pp. 1165-1166]

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