As an introduction to #SilentVoice campaign, started on LinkedIn, today I chose a topic often times overlooked, but which makes the main object of the mentioned helping event.
Shyness, as presented by Wikipedia, is a state of fear. Fear of rejection. Fear of disappointment, constructed on a ground of low degree of self-esteem. Some people may say this is inherited. Maybe there is a spark of truth in this. But I would rather go for the developed part of it. Why? Because 99.99% of fears are not inherited, they are developped.
I once had the honor to know a great little man, as I like to lovingly call him, who passed away in October 2016, but left a great legacy of writings behind him. And his words, on the topic of infantile fears, were:
“The only fear kids come to this world with is the fear of strong sounds. All the rest are developed in early ages.”
If we give this a bit of thought, we could easily draw a possible cause: during pregnancy, the embryo is exposed to vibrations only (mother’s voice, mother’s movements, external events, etc). And sounds are vibrations.
However, shyness is not considered something really worth paying attention to. But this is how introverts are “born”…
As many other things in life, parents take their kids for granted, most of the times, and can’t cross the barrier of childish communication ways (e.g: we use tons of diminutives). But child behavior specialized psychologists recommend talking to kids like adults, without expecting the same outcome as they would for a grown-up. Because they can’t reply the way we want, as they have no box, thus they’re completely unpredictable. Which, from my point of view, should not be incarcerated by criticism, yet encouraged.
So, talking to kids as with adults and explaining everything you do, instead of using the comfortable phrase “because I said so” will help the kid develop some kind of first layer of self-confidence, as they receive information and are not being scold for asking. Also, asking the kid – when making a mistake – “Do you think it was the right choice to do so?” or “Did you like seeing the other suffer because of your action?” brings an important contribution to his future adult behavior. The same for asking logical questions when they go for “because that’s the way I want it”.
The first question empowers the kid to THINK about their actions and understand what a choice means and where can it lead to.
The second question drives the basis of developing empathy skills, by putting the kid in the situation of interpreting the effect their actions have over the other kid.
The third approach gives the kid an occasion to think about what comes out of their mouth.
These are just some examples of how can we help our kids to grow up differently.
Going back to shyness… What are its traits (as I witnessed them) ?
- Limited interaction with others – they would rather build their own world, where they’re always safe from being mocked;
- A never-ending feeling of anxiety in regards to exposing personal ideas – as people are quick to judge; silence doesn’t harm;
- The preference for solitude – if there’s no one there to talk to, there’s no deceit;
- Trembling trust – towards others; because of point number 2; trusting means breaking down the wall and makes them feel vulnerable to hits;
- Day dreaming about actions one would love to go for – low-level of self-confidence blocks real actions;
- Feeling powerless in front of a challenging situation – meant to cross the borders of comfort zone.
Paradoxically, some people choose to build up a shield around their shyness (most of the times perceived as arrogance) by shooting knowledge bullets or displaying and exquisite sense of humor. But, let me tell you that these people make the best, most loyal and beautiful friends you could ever come across! They’re golden-hearted beings, that never appear on the radar of the fake. And pretty selective, due to trust barriers. And because gossip is just another type of psychological abuse… Oh, not to forget how reliable and skilled listeners they are!
Shy people would rather run things from behind the curtains. And, believe me, their work will always be done in perfect detail, in a timely manner and with the best of intentions. They know for sure what does being overlooked mean, but they have the loudest of minds.
If I were to answer the question “How would you help a shy person come out of their shell?” I would say: with small steps, as an invasive way would only push them away. Gaining their trust, so that they let one find out where they come from. For, if we know the source, we know where to work for a self-confidence boost. And by NEVER betraying their trust. (The line is too smooth to cross. If we do, they’re gone for good.) And by sending songs with an uplifting message!
I’ve been doing this (trying to boost self-confidence) for the past 9 months with a beautiful soul. This person has real issues when it comes to revealing the true self. Because of childhood hardships and mis-perception. What I can tell is that their mind is absolutely brilliant, the heart that beats inside that chest is absolutely stunning, but the shield built around all of this is so powerful that not even the mirror can pursue them to understand the strength and shine that can be found within. Profound talks (on any possible topic you may think of) and small kind gestures is what define this person, buy they’re afraid of real exposure and taking charge of their own life, due to failure. No, not failure itself, but the wrong reactions people have when it comes to missing the target (e.g: acid jokes that step over confidence).
As you can see, the shy ones are not born like this. They become as such, due to the plastic society we live in (which would rather mock such a person) and the strong lines drawn around rusty doctrines. If we would listen to the shy, there would be so many lessons to learn. They have an amazing power of building wonderful things. But the pressure we, the others, put on their shoulders is too heavy to them. Their silence speaks so loud… But our ears are so deaf…
Freelance writer & editor | Storyteller | Interviewer | Published author | Co-Founder of afsyn.com | Podcast host & producer