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Thread: I'm too shy

  1. #1

    I'm too shy

    Not sure if this is the right place to look for help.

    As my username suggests, my problem is that I'm very shy, symptom is flush and not-fluent speak.

    I'm not very sure when I started to care about it, probably in a meeting, after that, I feel very nervous before I gave a presentation, and gradually, feared the meeting, more and more serious...

    My problem is still limited in meeting (it also happens somewhere else, but I don't care about it), especially in meeting room.

    Any suggestion to my problem? Thanks!

  2. #2

    I'm too shy

    Self-consciousness or anxiety in public speaking is more common than you might realize. I used to get quite nervous before speaking at professional conferences. There was an older psychologist who I really admired, for his work but also because he was an excellent speaker and I wished I could be as relaxed and comfortable with public speaking as he was. One day, while waiting for him to give a talk, I decided to run to get some coffee before it started. As I left the meeting room, I passed a small coat-room sort of place and saw him in there pacing back and forth and looking almost ill. I stopped to ask him if he was okay and he replied, "Oh yeah... I'm always like this before I give a talk".

    What I learned from that was two things: first, that just because I am nervous doesn't mean "everyone can tell and will think less of me", and second, that being nervous doesn't mean that I won't do well. Later, after I became more experienced, I actually had an incident where I was NOT nervous before a lecture -- that was probably the worst talk I ever gave, and it taught me a third lesson: A lot of what we label as nervousness really isn't nervousness so much as adrenaline, getting the mind and the body ready for the tasks we have to do... without that preparatory reaction, our performance is probably going to suffer. That told me that the "nervousness" was actually a friend, not an enemy, and that how we label emotional reactions has a huge effect on whether we perceive it to be a good thing or a catastrophe.

    I'd also suggest books on cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) -- this one has sections relevant to shyness and public-speaking anxiety: David Burns, The Feeling Good Handbook (Penguin, 1999).

  3. #3

    I'm too shy

    Thank you very much for your reply!

    My problem started about 5 years ago (I'm 30 now), I thought it might improve as I was getting older, but only got worse. My main problem is flush at the beginning, I can clearly remembered when I flushed, but I didn't feel nervous at all. After I started to worry about it, it gets much worse, more often I'm too nervous to speak well. Sometimes I really wish my face was very red or black. I had a serious illness last year, I thought I wouldn't fear anything, but I was totally wrong. I have given up several good career opportunities because they will involve more meeting/speaking, maybe I have to work at home soon.

    Is there any research on the reasons of this problem? for example:
    Bad experience, personality or family environment in childhood?

    Thanks again for your help!

  4. #4

    I'm too shy

    Is this the only situation that triggers anxiety for you? or does it or something similar happen in other contexts? Are you a worrier generally? A perfectionist? IS there any family history of anxiety or OCD or depression or anything similar?

  5. #5

    I'm too shy

    I think only this situation is a problem, I'm a little shyer than others in some situations, but I think it's in a normal scope and don't worry about it so much, also I can change people's focus when I feel uncomfortably, which not like the meeting room, everyone are watching at me, I can't say: "please turn around."

    Maybe I care about how others think about me too much, my father is a very very strict person, often scolded me unreasonably.

    I used to be quite active in the informal places, for example, in a party with colleagues, friends or strangers. After I have that problem, I think it's better to keep silent, compared to in the meeting, at least more consistent. Most friends of mine don't know my problem if I didn't ask them for help, they would think it's unbelievable.

    I tried to persuade me that no one cares about me, it may work several times, but it suddenly happens again (I feel it by flush), which completely ruined my built confidence.

    I'm definitely not a perfectionist, but care about how others think about me very much, on the other hand, I don't think I care about it at all(I do think that way), which should not exist on one person, right?

    Is there any tip to keep my face not flush? It ruined my life!

  6. #6

    I'm too shy

    I'm not sure how often you have to give one of these presentations at a meeting -- talking to a counsellor about some strategies for preparing yourself for these meetings would probably be helpful -- talking to your doctor about some medication to reduce your anxiety might also be helpful (a mild fast-acting tranquilizer, or a beta-blocker... there are other possibilities).

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