The Shyness Project

Archive for the tag “overcoming shyness”

2015 Has Been an Awesome Year

http://thespiritscience.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/o-HAPPINESS-facebook.jpgTo my surprise, I have accomplished and brought back almost everything I wanted to in my vision board so far. I firmly believe a key part of this success was intention setting- I wanted it to be an awesome year, so I made a specific plan for how I wanted to make it happen.

This year I’ve really cultivated an active lifestyle. I’ve gotten back into dancing regularly, have been playing tennis again with a consistent partner, and I’ve started playing a new sport- ultimate Frisbee. I’ve made an effort to start cooking more of my meals. I have looked out for new experiences, such as going to a mosque to observe a prayer, going to a goth club, and exploring outdoor cliffs barefoot. I’ve developed more of a positive outlook, have reduced my stress, and have increased my compassion for others. Now that I’m in a healthy and stable place, I have been better able to be a rock for others who have not been as fortunate. I’ve learned how to let go of things that weren’t meant for me, even though it is still not easy.

Something that has really helped me get back on my feet is that I’ve started putting myself out of my comfort zone again. I’ve gotten reacquainted with that feeling of discomfort that I get when I first take on something new. Some of the things I’ve been doing have included driving more places and on my own. Even though I still have fears with driving, particularly at night, I have gotten braver with this and have managed to keep calm. Another thing I’ve done is continue to show up to ultimate Frisbee even though I felt like I was one of the worst players there at first; now through consistent practice, I’m a valued player. I also have gone out of my way to participate in class again, and I developed meaningful relationships with two of my professors by going to their office hours. Through adding on a Counseling and Social Change minor as well, I’ve realized that I want to focus my efforts on becoming a counseling psychologist.

I have also prioritized working on and maintaining my mental health this year. I’ve experienced a lot of benefits from doing yoga- it has helped me sleep better, have better posture, and feel much calmer and composed. Recently I’m trying meditation as well to see if I can add in that practice. I feel much more emotionally stable, happier, calmer, and healthier now.

I think having a regular exercise schedule, and making it fun through activities like dance, ultimate Frisbee, and tennis, has really made me a happier person. Occasionally, I do fall back into old patterns and anxiety does creep in, but overall I’ve been doing really well. From here, I would like to focus on babysitting my nephew every two weeks (or at least more often), learning how to be more comfortable on a bike, improving my confidence and voice level, and continuing to work on managing my emotions. I am thinking of making another vision board for the rest of the year for what I would like to add in to my progress. I hope you all have been taking care of yourselves, and that your year has been a good one so far!

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Don’t Be Afraid to Try

I met Patti in late March when she came across my site and left her first comment.  Since then she has continued to read my blog and leave comments on my posts.  Here she shares one of her own experiences with shyness, and some of the realizations she had when she made the effort to try doing something she thought she couldn’t do.  It just goes to show that it’s never too late to try doing something that you’ve always wanted to do.

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When I was a teenager, I really liked to sing and I liked the sound of my own voice and knew I could follow music well – but I was always too timid to try out for any school musicals or even for choir – simply because I would have to sing in front of people by myself. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I couldn’t bear the thought that others would judge me as “not good enough.”

When I in my mid-30s and my son was 10 years old, I saw a sign for tryouts for a community Gilbert and Sullivan group and thought it would be so much fun and I really wanted to do it. I was still afraid, but I realized that if I was going to be a good example for my son, I had to try – because it was too awful to think of him asking me why I hadn’t tried something I really wanted to do just because I was afraid.

I tried out and made it and had the time of my life. I realized how silly I had been when I was younger – realizing in looking back that I was as good or better than a lot of people who performed in front of others – but I lost out because I was afraid. I’m not big on regrets – what’s done is done – but I hope others won’t waste years losing out on useful, rewarding, or just plain fun experiences simply because they can’t bring themselves to try.

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 To read more of Patti’s writing, visit her site.  She is a lovely woman who is very down-to-earth, and you will enjoy getting to know her like I have through reading her posts. She is a talented writer and often sprinkles in a good amount of humor in her blog.

When Shyness Stands in the Way of Love

Doug was my very first blogging friend.  He welcomed me into the blogging world and was always more than happy to answer any questions I had about blogging.  He allowed me to write my very first guest post too which helped me get started.  I’m very grateful for his friendship and hope to make a visit to his farm in Iowa the next time I’m in the area.  I asked if he could share some of his journey of overcoming shyness for my blog, and within a matter of hours he had a response ready for me!  Hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

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My journey out of crippling shyness

Looking back, there are several   things that contributed to the shyness that gripped me throughout my days in school and into adulthood

I hated my name.

I  thought my ears were too big.

I was small for my age, wore glasses and  felt like a nerd.

My  mind would freeze at the thought of talking with a pretty girl.   I can count on one hand the number of one on one conversations I had with girls throughout my high school years .  Laugh all you  like, but if you struggle with shyness you know what I’m talking about.

Quick story.

When I turned 16, I remember thinking if somehow I didn’t get a handle on this problem, I was destined to turn out just like a guy who worked for my dad.  His name was Lowell Smock.  Nice guy, hard working,  but still single @ age 40.  I DID NOT want  to turn out like Lowel!

I wanted to date…..There was this girl in my homeroom I really wanted to get to know.   Problem was she sat with all the popular kids in the back of the class room and I sat in the front row, chewing on my pencil, ready to dash out the door, the moment the bell rang.   I felt like I was trapped between two  large black jaws of a vice….A life of singleness on the one hand and the crippling shyness that gripped my life on the other.  So I did the impossible.  I looked that girl’s phone number up in the phone book…over the course of several days I worked up the courage to dial it.  Her mom answered.  I remember writing out my conversation on a piece of paper.  Wonder  of wonders, when she got on the phone, I was able to stammer out my request to go to a movie..and she accepted!    Only went out on that one date because I didn’t know what to do the next Monday @ school.   She obviously had a good time because she came up to me in the lunch line.  I panicked, got out of line and left the cafeteria.  She had no idea what was going on in my head.  We didn’t talk again for 5 years.  Talk about a loser.

The next 4 years were pretty quiet.  I  did begin to go out socially after I graduated high school.  Tried every trick could imagine….asked my female cousins to set me up, went on double dates w/ friends..etc. Probably went out with a dozen girls…  I got tired of the mind games.   I got to a point of real desperation and actually cried out to God….I was not a religious person.  I honestly didn’t know if there was a god….. but I was sick and tired of the mind games, and the fear that still controlled my life….

Few weeks later, I happened to bump into that girl I had called on the phone for a date when I was 16.  She’d went away to college but came home after a semester.  She was working as a waitress in a pizza joint.  I was with my buddy Chuck that night..He said to me after she waited on our table,  “If you don’t ask her out, I will”  (He knew about my earlier panic attack with her back when I was 16). So I did…I asked her if she would ever be interested in hanging out…she said she would….and eventually became my wife.

Shyness continued to dog me until I entered my early 20’s.   At this point, I opened up to an older friend my struggles and asked her if she could help me.  Just opening up my struggles  to her did a lot to give me hope.  , I would encourage you to find someone you can trust…a mentor who you respect and seems to have their act together….you’ll be surprised at the difference that will make.  If you don’t have anyone in your life..feel free to  leave me a comment, I would LOVE to mentor a fellow shy person.   You do NOT have to live your whole life filtering everything through the “filter” of shyness and fear.

I believe shyness is rooted in how we think about ourselves.  It’s like we have a record  in our mind with grooves in it, playing the same old negative messages.

With the help of my friend and mentor, I began to literally cut new grooves in the recorded messages  of my  self -talk.

Thirty years later, I  still have  “moments” when some of that old stink’n think’n rears it’s ugly head, but it no longer controls me.

And finally, thank you Brittany for this opportunity to share my story.   DM

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*To read more about Doug’s journey, I recommend you visit this link.

This is the first post I read of Doug’s when I started blogging and my comment on his post started our yearlong blogging friendship.  I was nervous to write to him and leave a link to my blog because I didn’t know if that would be welcome or not, but I’m very glad I did.  He has become a great friend and it’s been a pleasure getting to know him.

Opening up about Myself

Over the weekend I wrote a very open, honest, and confiding email in response to a close friend.  It took a while to write, and I was nervous about sending it and I had to reread it a lot.  I was nervous about what I was saying and how it would be received, and even nervous to check my email for the response. I wrote about how I missed her and wanted to talk to her more but that I don’t talk openly in most groups and that when it comes to honest and personal conversations I’m a one-on-one kind of talker.  She opened up about something and I told her what I admire about her- her confidence, enthusiasm, humor, and how she is so fun and can draw people into her and be so open with so many people.  It turned out to be a really long email even though I could have easily made that email less personal and shorter.  But I wanted to open up to her so she could see more of the real me, not just the surface me.

After a very good response (phew!) I wrote back again, and told her about some other things that she probably didn’t know about that seemed ok on the surface.  I told her about my conversation about how my biggest insecurity is my shyness and how tired I am of being called shy or quiet after having been told that my entire life.  And again, I got a really good response and I was really relieved and happy.  She even told me that she doesn’t think that I’m shy or quiet AT ALL!  I couldn’t believe it!  I think that’s the first time someone’s ever told me that they don’t think I’m shy or quiet, and she’s a very extroverted person too!  I’ve heard so many shy or quiet remarks about me over the years that I thought it was painfully obvious that I’m shy, and that no one could ever not think that about me or I’d ever be able to escape that label.  But hearing that she thought that was an incredible feeling.  I felt like a heavy armored suit had been lifted off me, and I felt a new sense of confidence.  It’s not that being shy or quiet is a bad thing, it’s just when you’ve been told that you’re something all this time it really starts to creep into your identity.  Maybe it isn’t as obvious as I thought, and isn’t as much of my identity as I think it is.  When I saw her in person we were both really happy to see each other and hugged each other tightly.

I never knew opening up could feel so good.  I’m putting myself out there and making myself vulnerable, and it’s actually turned out to be a really good thing and I feel so much closer to her now.  We were hanging out less and less as the year was ending and I was kind of worried we might lose touch.  But now I think being so honest with each other has brought us even closer than before, and I am so happy about that.

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