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Understanding shyness: Why am I so shy?

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Shyness is a condition in which a person feels inhibited, anxious and uncomfortable in social interactions.

Shyness can lead to feelings such as lack of confidence in social situations, fear of criticism, fear of rejection, excessive worry about negative thoughts from others and embarrassment. These feelings may contribute to the person avoiding social activities such as meeting new people, participating in group activities or speaking in public because of their shyness.

What are the symptoms of shyness?

Symptoms of shyness can include:

Social anxiety

Shy people have low self-confidence and excessive fear of themselves in social situations. They may also be overly concerned about other people’s negative opinions and fear being criticised.

Lack of self-confidence

Shy people may lack confidence and feel inadequate in social interactions.

Limited social interaction

Shy people often prefer to be alone and their social interactions are limited. They find it difficult to meet new people and avoid group activities.

Physical symptoms

Shyness can also cause physical symptoms. For example, sweating, rapid heartbeat, trembling, blushing, etc. may occur.

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What are the causes of shyness?

Shyness can be caused by a combination of factors. These factors are:

  • Genetic factors: Some studies have shown that shyness may be linked to certain genetic traits. It is thought that some people have innate personality traits that make them more shy or anxious.
  • Psychological factors: Psychological factors that cause shyness include low self-esteem, hypersensitivity to criticism, fear of rejection, social phobia, social anxiety and feelings of shame.
  • Social factors: Difficulties or negative experiences in the family or at school can lead to a lack of self-confidence and social anxiety. In addition, social expectations of the society in which one lives, social pressure from the media, cultural factors and life experiences can trigger shyness.
  • Environmental factors: Environmental factors that play a role in the development of shyness include economic conditions, the environment in which the individual lives, life experiences and other environmental factors.

Each of these factors can play a different role in the development of shyness.

How does a shy person behave?

A shy person often shows reluctance in social interactions. They may act anxious and withdrawn. They may lack self-confidence and have difficulty feeling comfortable in social settings. Shy behaviour can take the following forms

  • Difficulty meeting new people: Shy people often have difficulty meeting new people and need time and familiarisation before they feel comfortable.
  • Difficulty speaking in public: Shy people may avoid or need to prepare for social occasions such as public speaking or presentations in order to feel comfortable.
  • Limited social interactions: Shy people may have limited social interactions, preferring to spend time with people they already know rather than meeting new people.
  • Body language: Shy people limit their body language and gestures and adopt postures that make them appear smaller.
  • Speaking less: Shy people may prefer not to talk much in social settings and may remain silent if they cannot find something to talk about.
  • Avoidance behaviour: People who are shy may show avoidance behaviour during social interactions and avoid participating in social activities.

The behaviour of shy people can vary depending on their personal characteristics and experiences. However, they usually show shy, anxious and withdrawn behaviour.

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Am I shy? Take the test now!

You can ask yourself some of the following questions to find out if you are shy:

  1. Do you feel comfortable in social situations or are you anxious or reserved?
  2. Do you feel uncomfortable meeting new people?
  3. Do you avoid social activities such as public speaking or presentations?
  4. Do you feel insecure when comparing yourself with others?
  5. Do you avoid expressing your ideas or thoughts for fear of negative reactions?
  6. Do you use alcohol or other substances to feel good in social situations?
  7. Do you feel unnecessarily anxious or restless around people?

The answers to these questions can help you determine whether you are showing signs of shyness. However, it is better to talk to a psychologist or therapist for a more comprehensive assessment.

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7 tips to overcome shyness

  1. Build confidence: To build confidence, focus on activities you are good at or enjoy and use positive self-talk. Accept your mistakes as part of who you are without judging them and think positively about yourself.
  2. Get involved in social activities: Taking part in social activities can help you meet new people and improve your social skills. In particular, getting involved in music, drama, sports or other clubs can help build your confidence.
  3. Try to make friends: If you are shy, you may find it difficult to make friends. However, making new friends can help boost your confidence. Try to meet people around you with similar interests and do activities together.
  4. Improve your speaking skills: Improving your speaking skills is important for building your confidence. Use a strong voice to express yourself, watch your body language and maintain eye contact.
  5. Watch your body language: Mastering your body language can give you confidence. Adopt a posture that makes you look taller, maintain eye contact and speak with your hands.
  6. Avoid self-judgement: Don’t compare yourself to others and don’t judge yourself constantly. Admit mistakes and support yourself with positive self-talk.
  7. Get a therapy: If you suffer from severe shyness, therapy may be helpful. A therapist can offer you a tailored treatment plan to help you manage your shyness and teach you strategies to build your confidence.

Overcoming shyness can be a process that takes time. However, if you take your time and follow the advice above, it is possible to overcome your shyness and gain confidence.

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Why does your face turn red when you feel ashamed? And how does it go away?

The redness of the face when embarrassed is caused by a dilation of the blood vessels, which is controlled by the sympathetic nervous system. This leads to increased blood flow to the facial area and reddening of the skin. Embarrassment is associated with feeling uncomfortable in a social situation and this blushing reflex is actually a defence mechanism.

If you feel embarrassed, take deep breaths to relax and calm yourself. Help yourself by talking to yourself in a positive way.

Control your body language to feel more comfortable. Adopt a posture that makes you feel taller and stronger, make eye contact and use your hands when talking.

Feeling ashamed is a natural feeling that everyone experiences from time to time. However, it can be a symptom of a more serious condition, such as frequent embarrassment or social anxiety disorder.



  • “Shyness and Sociability Reexamined: A Multicomponent Analysis” von Cheek und Buss. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 1981.
  • “Shyness and Embarrassment: Perspectives from Social Psychology” von Crozier. Cambridge University Press. 1990.