Ask people what they fear the most and many of them will answer, “speaking in public.”
In surveys that ask people about their fears, about one person in five reports an extreme fear of public speaking. Shyness and other forms of social anxiety are common – and they prevent people from fully experiencing life.
Shyness refers to a tendency to withdraw from people, particularly people who are unfamiliar. Everyone has some degree of shyness. In fact a person without any shyness at all is probably one who does not make good judgments about maintaining appropriate boundaries between people. A bit of shyness is a good thing. But when a high level of shyness prevents a person from engaging in normal social interactions, from functioning well at work, or from developing intimate relationships, it presents a problem – which, fortunately, can be alleviated.
Shyness is one form of the broader term, social anxiety.
This concept, also known as social phobia, refers to a special kind of anxiety that people feel when they are around other people. It is associated with concerns about being scrutinized. Shyness and social anxiety are closely related, but social anxiety includes other situations such as speaking in public, taking tests, sports performance, and dating. Closely related to the concepts of shyness and social anxiety are embarrassment and shame. Embarrassment is what a person feels when something unexpected happens and draws unwanted attention (such as knocking over a glass of water in a restaurant). This creates a temporary feeling of discomfort. Shame, on the other hand, is more long-lasting. Shame is a feeling that comes from being disappointed in oneself.
Dr. Baya Mebarek, Psy.D.,LMFT
San Diego Couples and Family Therapy provides counseling in the convenient area of Sorrento Valley Road.
We also serve the surrounding areas of La Jolla, UTC San Diego, Del Mar, University City, Rancho Santa Fe, Rancho Bernardo, Rancho Penasquitos, Poway and Escondido.