Shyness and low self-esteem. Are they the same thing? Even if you never experience shyness or low self-esteem yourself, you may know or be aware of someone who does. It can create discomfort for the sufferer and awkwardness for those trying to engage with them.

Most children will experience some degree of shyness from about the age of two. Having no life experience, they can be fearful or wary when encountering new people or situations. It’s something that most of us grow out of as we develop and gain confidence, however, it’s not the case for everyone. A feeling of shyness and low self-esteem can make one’s life miserable and social occasions can become nothing short of a nightmare.

Shyness vs Low Self Esteem

Someone who is shy will be more visible in social situations as opposed to someone with low self-esteem. A shy person will find it difficult to make eye contact, will stare at the floor and appear disinterested. It does not mean that they have no social skills, they just don’t have the confidence. The thought of engaging with people can lead to panic but being quiet and introverted does not mean that they are shy.

A person with low self-esteem will believe they are unworthy, incompetent, uninteresting and a failure. Their negative opinion of themselves won’t allow them to accept a compliment as true, and they’ll exaggerate any perceived negativity about themselves.

Where both shyness and low self-esteem are concerned, the sufferer will be very uncomfortable in social interactions and will want to flee at the first imagined misunderstanding or situation when the focus will be upon them.

What Causes Shyness And Low Self-Esteem?

  • Lack of knowledge on how to deal with new situations and how to participate.
  • Negative experiences in the past such as teasing, bullying, or threats.
  • Inconsistent parenting or a lack of involvement from parents.
  • Shyness and low self-esteem could be learnt from a parent who suffers from the same condition.

How Can I Overcome This?

  • Visualise how your interactions would be if you were confident and comfortable in yourself. It might seem far-fetched, but running through a scenario in your mind of of how things could go well can really help.
  • Make eye contact, even if it is just for a short time.
  • Practice talking with people you trust and know well.
  • Try to remain present and show that you are interested in what is being said.
  • Ask follow-up questions
  • Practice talking about a few things that interest you, or that you are proud of.
  • Good posture exudes a positive attitude. Stand tall and proud.
  • Smile, this can break the ice and lead to conversation.
  • Realise your strengths and what you are good at, believe in yourself.
  • Remember that the other person can not see all the thoughts running through your head, nor can they feel all the discomfort or worry that you might be experiencing. They are likely to be enjoying their conversation with you!

Practice as often as you can. The more experience you have interacting with others, the easier it will become.

Sydney City Psychology can help you take the first steps towards overcoming your shyness and low self-esteem.