Overcoming Shyness

We are born social creatures and the need for human contact never ceases. But it can sometimes be painful. Research shows that emotional and physical problems are frequently related to those with interpersonal disabilities. Here are thoughts for overcoming shyness.

Adjust your attitude. When entering a room with conflicting emotions of connect-with- me-but-do-not-draw-attention-to-me, we send an avoidance message. Instead of “here I am so you notice me”, let your mind-set be “There you are and I want to connect with you.”

Speak first. Be proactive with the greeting and introduction. Do not waste time in uncomfortable silence. Make it simple, such as “Hi, my name is Mona, how are you?”

Names are important. During the course of conversation make it more memorable by using the person’s name once or twice. Use it sparingly as too much seems fake.

It is more about listening and thinking than speaking. Rather than worry about how to keep the conversation going, intentionally listen to what is being shared and respond by asking appropriate questions or making relevant comments. Not as an interrogator, but as an interested friend. Keep them talking and be at ease with not having to come up with a topic. As odd as it may seem, listening translates as you being good conversationalist.

Interject naturally. As you become comfortable with focused listening, allow your mind to remember personal reflections that would add to the topic. Speak up and be a contributor.

Be others focused. Ironically, as you lose self-focus and become interested in people - their stories and needs - you become the center of attention.

Although many things impact shyness, including personality type, parenting skills, environment and lack of social opportunities, change is possible, it is easy to learn, and it is permanent. Go for it.


Personal Boundaries

Royal George, New River, WV 2016

Personal boundaries are the rules you set for what others may or may not do around you. Weak boundaries cost us our identity. Just as the havoc of a tornado invites looting by dishonest people, so too, weak boundaries attract needy and disrespectful people. Failure to set boundaries and failure to respect boundaries goes hand-in-hand.

Boundaries are complex and multifaceted.  A boundary is an imaginary line that defines, protects and establishes identity and scope (person, family, city, nation, culture, faith, time).  A plot of land without boundaries (fences, tree lines, highway, river) becomes an open plain for any and all.  

Without boundaries, its essence ceases to exist. Neither good nor bad of itself, a boundary provides essential limits.  Without personal boundaries, we lose who we are and become enmeshed in others; we cease to exist and in essence, anything goes. 

There are four essential areas in which to set personal boundaries:
1) Emotions - How will you communicate your needs or your feelings when offended?
2) Time - How much time and to what are you willing to commit? 
3) Values – What is your our highest ideal of you and how will you display it?
4) Possessions - What and how will you share?  Hint:  It is important to own before you can give. 

Give notice. Muster your courage and speak up. Inform of your boundaries and/or newly formed principles. Let people know you are learning new concepts and putting them into practice.

Enforce. When your boundary is disrespected, graciously make a clear request to stop.  Be firm, yet kind. Firmness shows respect for you and kindness shows respect for the perpetrator. Do not mistake kindness for weakness or passivity.

Disengage when necessary. It takes two to argue.  For the sake of wholeness, be willing to lay aside your opinions, your rights and your gloves. Do not be ruled by your emotions. Find the inner strength to detach from other peoples needs.  Not necessarily from the person, just from his/her neediness

Be assertive. Assertive is acting in your own best interest without harming another. Do not mistake assertive for dogma, anger or force.

Know who you are. When asked to prove his existence, the French philosopher RenĂ© Descartes, responded, “I think. Therefore I am.”  Get in touch with the wonderful human being you are, think positive thoughts of overcoming and stand in amazement at your new existence. This is not to promote an over-inflated ego but a healthy self-love.

Change your environment. Indifference is contagious.  So too, success is contagious. It is not easy to change behavior.  It is easier to change your environment, which in turn will change your behavior. You decide what is normal by looking around you.  Keep an eye on your social environment, the one you are keeping and the one you are projecting.

The clean up after a natural disaster is time consuming and costly but well worth the effort. So to is the project of establishing personal boundaries; it is an investment in wholeness. 


Eight Ways to Improve Your Life

Little things mean a lot. In striving to achieve the bigger goal, do not lose sight of today. Go ahead and vie for the corner office, get a college degree, design and build the new home or establish your own company. Here are a few thoughts while doing and getting that will aid in the vital role of being.

Smile Research shows it takes fewer muscles to smile than to frown, thus is less wrinkle producing. Smiling gives your face a pleasant expression, aids in stress reduction, cultivates acceptance and makes others wonder what you are up to.

Walk it off. Whether it’s fat, fatigue or frustration a walk works wonders. The philosopher Kirkegaard said, “There is no problem in the world so great that it cannot be solved by a brisk walk.”

Family dinner time. At least once a week make it a priority to sit at the table as a family to eat a meal without interruptions from anything technical. Tune in to each other and share positive experiences. Research shows that families who share one meal a day on a consistent basis become aware of eating disorders, substance abuses and behavioral manners before they become major problems.

Read a book. Reading takes you to worlds otherwise inaccessible, allows you to go on adventures only imagined, and introduces you to people, cultures and customs. Reading merely one book a year places you in an elite percent of the world’s population.

Have a weekly no-tech day - including e-mails, i-pods and cell phones. Connect with the music of singing birds, rustling wind and the sound of human voices. Allow your mind to think without mechanical noise vying for your attention. Get in touch with your inner self by disconnecting from the world wide web.

See pictures in the clouds. Get in touch with your inner child and set your imagination free by gazing into the sky and finding wonderful objects. Use your creativity. It is a great way to connect with your children or to converse with a stranger.

Become a positive parent. Be a good finder and commend the child’s correct behaviors. Give specific praise such as “I appreciate the way you shared with Jamie”, rather than the blanket statement of “You’re a good boy.” Specific praise rewards appropriate behavior that sets the child up for repeat positive actions.

Volunteer. A basic human need is to be needed. Expand your horizons by stepping outside your comfort zone and reaching out to others. It is a given that you will receive more than you give.

At the end of life’s journey the haunting question is “Did my life matter?” By regularly incorporating the above suggestions for improvement, the answer displaces the question.