Why Are People Shy?

So a lot of the time when I talk about overcoming shyness I talk about first understanding it. So how about we start from the start and answer the question why are people shy?

shy people

why are some people shy









First of all I just want to clear this up. People are not just ‘shy’. Are you shy around your family and best friend? Probably not. You might be shy around strangers or large group but that narrows it down – you’re shy in certain situations. So rather than taring the entire idea with ‘you’re shy because you’re a shy person’ lets actually look at a common situation where you might feel shy.

why are people shyHere’s a common one – talking to a stranger.

Now some people might not think anything of this. It’ll be second nature and some will even talk to a stranger the same as they would with an old friend. But it’s a common situation to feel shy in.

Now you find yourself talking to this stranger – why do you feel shy?

As I’ve mentioned before in the how to overcome shyness article feeling shy is the lower levels of your brain trying to protect you from a perceived threat. So for some reason the lower level of your brain is interpreting this situation as a threat and it’s because you feel inferior somehow to this person. You might have noticed this yourself but sometimes you don’t have a problem talking with some people while you have problems talking to others. Commonly this happens when talking to someone you find attractive but it can actually happen with anyone.

If you’re focusing too much on what this person might think of what you say or do then you’ll generally find yourself struggling to communicate properly. You might struggle to avoid eye contact, you might start mumbling when talking or even panic and seize up entirely.

So you feel shy because your brain is registering your current situation as a threat and wants to get you out of there. But why is it registering it as a threat in the first place?

Shy People

Well there was a study out a while ago (I’ve actually linked to it somewhere before but I can’t seem to find the link at the moment) which showed a pattern for shyness to be more prevalent for some people. So part of it is down to genetics and some people are born with a higher likelihood for it – but that’s not why people are shy.

Whether you were born genetically predisposed for shyness or not. If you feel shy in situations then it’s because, at some point during your life, you’ve learned that it’s a situation to worry about. You’ve learned it through social learning and the lower levels of your brain just remember that perceived threat and want to get you away from it.

It seems people commonly assume this happens during your childhood but actually it can affect you at any point during your life. I know plenty of people that were complete extroverts as children but became shyer later in life. It’s hard to determine exactly it happened because it’s usually slowly over time.

It can also be easily affected by self esteem problems. In the how to be more social guide I took a closer look at how self esteem issues can affect you and how you can get started to overcome them.

Survival in Evolution

Studies have shown that the same kind of personality present in shy humans is present in various other species from Penguins to Fruit Flies. In this case though it doesn’t affect them going to parties or making friends – it a matter of who jumps in first. The shyer animal introverts will tend to use their brains rather than their limbs.

The extroverts will dive straight in and hope for the best while the introverts will think it through or wait for others to go in first and see if it’s safe. From a survival standpoint the introverts are at an evolutionary advantage here because, while they might be last to the food, they’re going to get eaten a lot less often.

Overcoming Shyness

So you might be the type of penguin who isn’t going to dive into the water first – but that doesn’t mean you have to feel shy. I don’t know if it’s possible to remove this genetic predisposition for survival. I don’t even know if I’d want to if it was. But it’s certainly possible to overcome shyness.

When looking at why are people shy – we’ve found the root of your shyness. At some point you were extroverted and ‘exposed’ being active or social – and it was met with a negative response. Probably on more than one occasion. Perhaps you’re focusing too much on something which you think everyone else see’s the same way and you can’t get past that.

So all we need to do to overcome your shyness is to work backwards and retrain yourself. I don’t mean crack open a textbook and learn about it – I mean retrain the lower levels of your brain through social learning. Basically just undoing whatever it’s previously learned.

Now I go into the full details of this but that pretty much answers why are people shy – just keep in mind that you’re never stuck with it.

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Tagged As: shy, shy people, shy people facts, shyness

8 Responses to “Why Are People Shy?”

  • Rosy

    I actually think understanding why I feel shy is just as important as getting the advice on how to beat it.

  • Tausha

    Thank you so much for this…

    • Danny

      I got some advice from a friend once “Don’t be afraid nobody is going to eat you… you’re all bones”. It kind of stuck in my head because it was pretty strange but I think I prefer your advice.

  • Hurtige

    It is funny to think of animals being shy. I think we just think of it as being a human thing but it makes sense from an evolution standpoint.

  • Clara

    Good to know it is more than just ‘bad luck’ to be shy

  • Dee

    I have been shy my whole life. I think reading about “why people are shy” helps to understand. I know it is holding me back from so many things that I would love to do but being shy and not knowing how to make conversation or keep up a conversation with people. As I have become older an my children have grown I have a harder time with shyness. Having children helped me some because I would have that in common with other mom’s but believe me it still was very hard. I hope to learn a lot in my futher reading.

  • David

    i have a friend with this kind of problem, well he doesnt talk to anyone he cant make new friend and i whant to understand him. This is great help for me, and i will help him^^

  • Emani Johnson

    I really need help with shyness

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