Shyness or social anxiety? Which one describes you?

Shyness – I view shyness to be a part of my character that is not going away. When I am feeling shy my cheeks blush, I go blank, or a may not speak clearly. It’s a sore kind of sensitive feeling inside that is embarrassing when other people see it. What I realised about shyness eventually after trying to make it stop for many years is that actually, shyness isn’t that bad. It’s only bad when I am talking to myself like a pushy parent and taking on a hard attitude towards my own shyness. For example, when I am talking to myself like a pushy parent I might be annoyed or angry with myself for feeling shy or appearing shy in some social situations. On the other hand, feeling shy really isn’t that bad when you are supportive of yourself for at least going into hard situations and/or trying a bit more than usual socially. The most helpful attitude to take when your shyness arises is to notice it and say ‘Welcome back again shyness my old friend. Everything’s okay. I”m okay. You’re okay.’ 🙂

Social Anxiety – In my experience social anxiety is related to deeply held fears. In order to avoid strong uncomfortable feelings and fear arising in us, social anxiety may lead us to avoid certain social situations. Overtime this kind of avoidance shapes the personality. For example, you may tell yourself that you don’t like to socialise in groups because you are in introvert and this is why you tend to avoid that kind of social social situation. However, is the real reason you don’t like to socialise in groups because it triggers you to feel bad about yourself? Ask yourself why you feel bad in those situations? Is it merely because you don’t like or enjoy being in groups, or is the real reason because being in those situations triggers you, making the negative beliefs you hold about yourself rise to the surface?

The approach to take in relation to social anxiety is different to how you respond to shyness. With social anxiety you need to be more firm with yourself, or else you will keep avoiding difficult situations and your anxiety will worsen. The way to do it is to observe yourself and get to know the situations that are challenging for you where bad feelings about yourself might be activated (I’m sure you already know these like the back of your hand!). Then, you firmly and consciously expose yourself to these situations, choosing what you want to accomplish beforehand. For example, you commit yourself to asking a question in a group situation before you get there. When you go into the group situation, you are firm with yourself in the sense that you do not chicken out from doing the thing that you committed to beforehand. The important thing is not to worry about the outcome of what you did, whether it was ‘perfect’ or a success socially in your eyes. Even if you ‘messed up’ it doesn’t matter; that just happens sometimes when you are pushing the edges of your comfort zone.


(1) Take my secret shyness test (personality test) CLICK HERE.

(2) Are you secretly shy? CLICK HERE.

(3) How to speak more in class CLICK HERE.

(4) 10 way to overcome shyness CLICK HERE.




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