It is common knowledge that many of us are very outgoing while many of us are rather shy and like to stay to ourselves. A small number are so shy that they cannot effectively carry out their jobs or enjoy life as they would have wanted to? So is this normal or abnormal? More importantly, is there a way to change it, and if yes, how? That is what we will be discussing today!
The extent of shyness varies from person to person - so too, the exact nature and cause. In a lot of people, shyness is their nature, a part of their personality, whereas in others, it is a psychological disorder. In still others, it is a combination of both a personality with a superimposed disorder.
Let us consider the personality part first.Interestingly, a section of people who keep to themselves are not really keen on meeting others – they are quite happy with themselves and do not feel the need to meet others. This kind of personality is often called a schizoid personality. They may seem rather cold and unemotional to others, and often have few or no friends. But then there is another section, who would want to be amongst others, want to go out but their anxiety and apprehension prevents them from doing so. The same anxiety often interferes with their academic, career and romantic pursuits. . This kind of personality is often termed as an anxious-avoidant personality. This section of people often suffers a great deal without realizing that this aspect of their personality, although natural and common, can actually be changed and improved upon.
Now for the disorder part; social phobia or social anxiety disorder is now gaining increasing attention by the day. People with this disorder are otherwise rather normal, but are plagued by marked anxiety in social situations. In the more severe instances, persons may be unable to talk even on phone or make simple conversations with people for daily needs. Unlike an anxious avoidant personality where the ‘symptoms’ have been present since childhood (and hence part of the nature), in case of a social anxiety disorder, there is often a change from one’s previous self. Such a change, many a time, is precipitated by an important or not so important incident.
But irrespective of the debate on what is normal and what is abnormal; what is a personality issue and what is a disorder, it is quite clear that a lot of people would want an improvement in this kind of a situation. So what are the options? Broadly, the options can be divided into medicines and non-medicine based strategies.
Medicines are useful only in the moderate to severe forms of social phobia and very severe forms of anxious avoidant personality disorders. Even in these scenarios, they need to be combined with other modalities such as psychotherapy.
The non-medicine related aspects includes several strategies such as cognitive behavioral therapy, behavioral therapy, behavioral activation, structuring of routine, relaxation exercises, regular exercise and yoga. In fact, it is often the combination of many of these medicine and non-medicine strategies that often works best.
Therefore the bottom-line is this: If one loves to be alone, does not want to change it, that is alright and fine. But if one is distressed and wants to change the scenario, it is quite possible. So don’t wait and suffer alone! Seek help and enjoy life!