Shyness and Introversion
By Crystal Tsui
We all know someone who prefers to stay in rather than go out and party or someone who barely talk in a group setting. We may call them shy, quiet, or maybe socially awkward. But they may just be an introvert. Introversion and shyness are often times used together. However, shyness revolves around the fear of negative judgment while introversion is the preference for quiet, minimally stimulating environments. So it is possible for a person to be a shy extrovert, where the individual is afraid to speak up, fearing negative judgment, more so than exhausted in a certain social situation.
Despite the difference, there is also an overlap between shyness and introversion, e.i. many shy people are introverted. Some people are born with “high-reactive” temperaments that predispose them to both shyness and introversion. A shy person may become more introverted over time, motivated to discover the pleasures of solitude, other minimally stimulating social environments, and to move away from judgments. On the other hand, an introvert may become shy after continually receiving the message that there’s something wrong with them.
There’s a shared bias in our society against both shyness and introversion. Neither trait is welcomed in our society because studies have shown that we rank the fast and frequent talkers as more competent, likeable, and even smarter than slow and quiet talkers.
Here are 5 ways introverts can spend time that is deeply fulfilling and socially connected:
- Reading. Books transcend time and place. Studies have shown that reading fiction increases empathy and social skills.
- Enter a state of “flow” by doing work or a hobby that you love. Flow is the transcendent state of being, in which you feel totally engaged in an activity. People in flow don’t tend to wear the broad smiles of enthusiasm. When you watch them in action, the words “joy” and “excitement” don’t come to mind. But the words “engagement,” “absorption,” and “curiosity” do.
- Keep an informal quota system of how many times per week/month/year you plan to go out to social events and how often you get to stay home. This way you can plan which parties or get-togethers you can truly enjoy and which you don’t. So you are less likely to drive yourself mad thinking you should’ve stayed home.
- Have meaningful conversations.
- Spend time and show affection to the ones you love, whose company is so dear and comfortable that you feel neither over-stimulated nor anxious in their presence.
If you or someone you know is dealing with social anxiety or suffering from a disruption of their social life, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/ .