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The Homeopath’s Cure for Shyness

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My professional association is having their international conference in my home city next month. I’ve volunteered to help out because volunteering is a wonderful way to give back to the community and, oh, who am I kidding? I get to see some sessions for free and add to my resume.

One of my assignments is to introduce the speakers for a session on online marketing. Now that I’ve researched and written the intro, I’m beginning to remember that I will need to actually say it in front of a room full of hundreds of people, all looking at and listening to me. So all I can focus on now is what the HELL was I thinking?!

But then that’s exactly what I was thinking. I’m doing it because the thought of doing it terrifies me, but not as much as it would have years ago, since I keep doing things that terrify me. It’s part of my homeopathic treatment against shyness, where doses of what ails me are used to cure me.

I was a timid kid and I moved a lot, so I have a lot of memories of painfully acute shyness. Adults who were shy as children tend to think of themselves that way long past any outward indications of it. (Then there are the ones who call themselves shy because they don’t feel entirely comfortable in every social situation; that’s called being human.) Though I’d still insist I’m not only very shy, but come across that way to others, enough people have told me I don’t, that I suppose I have to admit I’m possibly, finally, one of those adults.

My impression of my own shyness gets muddled by the fact that I am undeniably an introvert, which isn’t the same thing, but has some of the same social limitations. We did a Myers Briggs exercise at work and the facilitator divided us into the introverts versus the extroverts. He then got us to ask questions of each other. Mine was this: “Do extroverts feel pressure to be less extroverted, the way introverts feel pressure to be more extroverted?” My extroverted colleagues said no, but these are people who have chosen a career that has elements of public and media relations, so it’s not exactly a random sample. Still, I think it’s undeniable that extroversion is valued far more than introversion in our culture.

I do value introversion; I like a lot of alone time. But I don’t value shyness. At all. It was a conscious choice in my late teens to beat it out of myself. Since actual beatings seemed painful and counterproductive, I decided to put myself in situations where I simply couldn’t be shy or I couldn’t function.

That led to decisions like spending a month in high school living with a family in France, moving to a French area of New Brunswick to teach English in front of a class of skeptical teenagers, choosing that career involving public and media relations, packing my bags for a life in Mexico without knowing anyone and before learning Spanish, requesting interviews with people I was sure would scoff at me, and taking on volunteer assignments with public speaking. The bonus has been that these decisions are the ones I look back on as some of the most memorable times of my life. That’s memorable in the good way, not in the doomed-to-spend-eternity-thinking-of-past-torments kind of way.

Over 10 years ago, an obnoxious classmate told me shyness is a form of conceit. The comment still festers in the recesses of my brain. I was offended, I rejected the idea, but those brain recesses keep coming back to it because I keep realizing there’s a morsel of truth to it, one I don’t want to recognize.

Part of my shyness is — was? — the thought that people analyze every word I say and movement I make with the same scrutiny my critical brain turns on myself. There is definitely something egotistical about that, even if it’s the ego of thinking everyone thinks I’m an idiot. The truth is, everyone isn’t thinking anything at all of me. Part of it’s also the thought that failure or rejection would be devastating. It’s okay for others, but not for me – yeah, that’s not conceited at all.

By forcing myself into situations outside my comfort zone, I have experienced enough failures and foolishness to demonstrate that I won’t actually die of shame and enough moments of realization that other people don’t care as much as I do about me. The shyness is still there, every day, but I think I might have come to a place where it isn’t really obvious, at least to strangers. I might have succeeded in turning it homeopathic – so diluted there’s no detectable quantities of it left.

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About Diane Kristine Wild

Diane travels. She doesn't tan.
  • I am a bit disappointed that for someone who appears so knowledgeable, you have not even touched the heart of the matter – “homeopathy”!

    I am an experienced homeopath myself and was searching for articles related to treatment of shyness homeopathically when I came across this article.

    You are absolutely right when you say that “shyness is NOT a form of conceit”! I agree 100% however if the comment of your “obnoxious classmate” still rankles in your mind after all these 10 odd years, you need a homeopathic remedy – “Staphysgaria” πŸ™‚ Take 3-4 drops of Staphysgaria 30 in ΒΌ glass of water, preferably empty-stomached, 3 times daily for 3 days. You will find yourself rid of that feeling of rancour.

    Well! the point I am making is that although shyness is not conceit however excessive shyness is an inhibition or a condition and as such is treatable and the title of your article is crying for a treatment!

    Keep up the good work!

  • I’m an introvert who also wants to be sociable. What bugs me are the extroverts who can’t keep their thoughts to themselves – if they can’t say their thoughts out loud, apparently they don’t exist.

  • that obnoxious classmate was wrong — and therefore all the more obnoxious…

    that something is done of and/or by the ego doesn’t automatically translate into conceit…

    while shyness and conceit may both be based in shame, they are manifested in very different ways…the shy person doesn’t start out thinking less of themselves…this is taught to them by a world that can’t/won’t appreciate differences…while the shy person of low self-esteem assumes a nothing-about-me-is-good-enough-for-the-world stance, the conceited assumes a stance of everything-about-me-is-too-good-for-the-world…

    some people are simply shy; perhaps less because of a lack of self-esteem and more because many introverts find a certain measure of stimuli overstimulating and thus uncomfortable…it may well be one day found as a form of attention deficit — the other side of the spectrum from hyperactivity…where the hyper try desperately to assimilate stimulation, the shy try desperately to get away from it…
    while it may be necessary to gradually increase the tolerance level of a shy person, it’s certainly jumping the gun for anyone to assume a shy person is a conceited person…