Shy or Something Else?

By Diana L. Walcutt, Ph.D.

I’ve always been very shy and find it really hard to make friends.  I don’t really have any because I’m not outgoing and find it hard to talk to people.  I think there’s something wrong with me. 

I get very uncomfortable and nervous when talking to people I’ve just met.  I stutter and look down alot because making eye contact is uncomfortable.  I want to be outgoing and make friends because I feel so isolated.  I don’t know what to do and how to get over this. 

My mom says that I just have low self esteem and I do but I’m not sure that’s the reason for my problem.  I had a rough childhood filled with screaming and violence but I don’t think that has anything to do with this either. 

I had more friends when I was drinking heavily because I was less inhibited and was more “fun”.  I quit drinking when I found out I was pregnant in July of 2008.  I had my baby 3 months ago and am still sober & plan to stay that way.  I’m really lonely and sad when this should be the happiest time of my life because I just had my baby.  I really would like some help in dealing with this issue.  I just want to be happy.  Any advice that you can give me would be great.

A: Hello and thank you for your question:

First of all, congratulations on your baby and being sober! Two great accomplishments!

There are a couple of things that came to mind when I read your letter. First, shyness is a problem that we can overcome. Sometimes it can be caused by low self-esteem, but sometimes we are born with it.  While you may have been born with it, a chaotic childhood that includes violence and screaming can cause us to withdraw, to have trouble trusting.

There was a famous psychologist who decided to overcome his shyness by talking to 100 strangers each day. Not just “hi, how are you doing?” but actual conversations. Want to know something? He overcame his shyness and became very wealthy writing about it.

Now, I’m not suggesting you go out and talk with 100 people each day (although it would work), but you can honestly get some help from a professional who specializes in social anxiety (which is what you probably have). If you do have self-esteem issues, or other stuff that is keeping you isolated and alone, a professional will be able to help you with that, too. You could even go to AA meetings and practice talking to strangers. It might help you remain sober, and you might even overcome some of your shyness.

If you want to find a therapist that is in your area, go to Psychology Today. There are even professionals who offer a sliding scale if money is tight.

I hope this helps,

Dr. Diana Walcutt

 

 

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 2 Jul 2009

APA Reference
Walcutt, D. (2009). Shy or Something Else?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 22, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/07/02/shy-or-something-else/