If you’re shy, you know the discomfort such bashfulness can bring. When you must step out of the shadows and speak up, you may experience a racing heart, dry mouth, and butterflies in the stomach. What others seem to take for granted can become a miserable experience for you.
All sorts of social situations can trigger a bout of self-conscious shyness. Some people find themselves not speaking up for themselves at work. Others find it makes them anxious to introduce themselves to others at a bar or the gym. Or they avoid social situations all together, becoming isolated at home. And more people fear public speaking engagements than fear snakes or spiders.
All of us find ourselves a little shy at times, especially if we’re introverted by nature. But when the problem starts to really interfere with the enjoyment of day-to-day life, therapists talk about the problem as social anxiety. Well-meaning friends may tell us to get over it, buck up and “just do it” when faced with a situation that causes us embarrassment. Sometimes that works, but often it’s too simple an answer. If we’re not prepared, we may put ourselves in a situation where we’re overwhelmed with anxiety, only to find that all our self-doubts rise up like dragons and overwhelm us.