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Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

hand on faceMany of my clients tell me that they’re shy yet they’re outgoing and it confuses them. I think of myself s shy too. I recently heard an interesting discussion on The Today Show about the difference between being shy and being introverted. I recognized that while I’m a bit shy in situations where I don’t know anyone, I’m more of an introvert.

Shyness is usually emotional, often triggered by fear. I think that everyone has a little shyness. Walking into a room full of strangers can feel scary. Having to speak to a group be intimidating. That’s normal and can be dealt with.  But being a shy person can affect your day-to day dealings if you have negative feelings about interacting with people. Being shy can:

•    Make you avoid activities involving groups of people
•    Cause physical discomfort when you have to interact with people
•    Motivate a job choice solely based on being able to work on your own
•    Give co-workers a bad impression of you if you never speak up at meetings
•    Create stress whenever you have to deal with people

Often people like me who say they’re shy are really introverts—people who tend to like to be in their own company. That’s me! Because my personality is bubbly and friendly, most people see me as an extrovert. I do like people and enjoy time spent with friends. But the things I enjoy most are activities I usually do alone. I think it’s a result of getting over needing people so much in my DoorMat days. When you spend years needing to please everyone to avoid being alone, it can be joyous to enjoy doing things solo. I’ve had friends complain that I don’t make enough time for them.

Being introverted doesn’t create the kind of negative emotions that shyness does. I’m happy to be introverted because I like my own company. DoorMats don’t. So the next time you think of yourself s shy, consider that you might be an introvert and just like flying solo. Do you have a big emotional response when you’re around lot of people or do you just wish you could be home snuggled up with good book? If you’re painfully shy, identify what scares you and work on it. When I go to a networking event, I force myself to smile and introduce myself to people. It usually works out fine so I’m more comfortable with it.
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