Shyness, Introversion and Social Anxiety, What Is The Difference?
If you are a shy or introvert person, you don’t need an article or test to tell you that you are because it is just part of your personality. While this article talks about the similarities and differences between these conditions it must be noted that people who are Introverts or Shy have so many good qualities and strengths which make them great people and loyal friends.
Best Qualities Of Being An Introvert Or Shy Person:
- Calm/Quiet Temperament
- Good Listeners
- Can Focus well
Challenges of Being An Introvert Or Shy Person
In my career as both a coach and therapist, I have worked with many people who struggle with shyness and feelings of social anxiety. This can affect their daily lives in the form of avoidance of certain activities, excuses, or even argumentative behavior. As a result, they experience negative feelings and thoughts and judge themselves harshly, which affects their self-confidence, sense of identity and self-esteem. If you feel like your introversion or shy behaviors are getting in the way of your relationships, work or career I would urge you to consider coaching. In coaching, we help you figure out what is going on for you so you can begin to use proven strategies and tools to get back to your true self, one free of harsh judgment, and negative thoughts and beliefs that hold you back. What follows is a brief description of each concept so you can begin to make sense of what you might be experiencing.
Introversion vs. Shyness
The terms Introversion and Shyness are often used interchangeably to describe personality characteristics we all understand to mean those who are less outgoing, more reserved, and socially more isolated than others. It can be confusing to distinguish the difference between the two terms so I pulled together some information that I thought might be helpful in enabling you to distinguish characteristics of each.
What is Introversion?
The 20th-century Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung created the basic theories of personality using the types Introvert and Extravert. According to these theories, an introvert is a person whose interest is generally directed inward toward his own feelings and thoughts, in contrast to an extravert, whose attention is directed toward other people and the outside world. The typical introvert is shy, contemplative, and reserved and tends to have difficulty adjusting to social situations. Excessive daydreaming and introspection, careful balancing of considerations before reaching decisions, and withdrawal under stress are also typical of the introverted personality according to Jung. The extravert, by contrast, is characterized by outgoingness, responsiveness to other persons, activity, aggressiveness, and the ability to make quick decisions. Jung, however, originally intended the words to have an entirely different meaning. He used the words to describe the preferred focus of one’s energy on either the outer or the inner world. Extraverts orient their energy to the outer world, while Introverts orient their energy to the inner world.
A modern-day application to determine if one fits this personality type is by taking the Myers-Briggs, or Keirsey personality tests. The test taker is given a higher rating on the Introversion scale if they get energy from solitary activities such as reading, writing, and reflection. It is believed that Introversion is a biological and personality trait, and people who are introverted are typically able to adapt to new or unfamiliar social situations. They typically have a few, close friends due to their thoughtfulness, loyalty, skill at being a good listener, and their empathy. They are usually fine with the amount of socialization they do and the number of friends they have.
One of Jung’s and Isabel Myers’ great contributions to the field of psychology is their observations that Introversion and Extraversion are both healthy variations in personality style.
What is Shyness?
In contrast, shyness defines how a person deals with others and manages new or unfamiliar situations. Shy people have a more difficult time than others talking to and meeting new people, and as a result, tend to be more uncomfortable and may struggle with anxiety and avoidance of new people or situations. Shyness has varying degrees but can become so severe and so crippling in certain situations that it can actually be diagnosed as a mental health problem. A person who is severely shy may feel socially awkward, and can find it difficult to form close friendships; even among people they have known all their lives. Shy people typically are not happy with the amount and nature of their socialization and friends they have but have difficulty being able to do anything about it because of their anxiety and avoidance.
What Is Social Anxiety?
According to the Social Anxiety Association, Social anxiety is the fear of social situations that involve interaction with other people. You could say social anxiety is the fear and anxiety of being negatively judged and evaluated by other people. It is a pervasive disorder and causes anxiety and fear in almost all areas of a person’s life. Paradoxically, people with social anxiety want to make friends, be included in groups, and be involved and engaged in social interactions. But having social anxiety prevents people from being able to do the things they want to do. Although people with social anxiety want to be friendly, open, and sociable, it is fear (anxiety) that holds them back.
When Shy Introvert or Socially Anxious People Seek/Need Help
Shy people, Introverts, and Socially Anxious people seek help with our Shy and Introverts Coaching program in a number of key areas of their life:
- Managing negative thoughts that are holding them back. They may avoid situations or not be able to do things they need to do for work or other areas of life.
- Participating in social activities and networking events with more confidence and less anxiety and fear
- Learning how to communicate better with others to increase and improve relationships
- Projecting more confidence and having a less anxious image of themselves
- Having more realistic expectations of themselves and others, increasing acceptance, reducing judgment
- Setting Limits With Others: They need help learning how to not allow others to control or take advantage of them
- Advocating for themselves: They need help in understanding what is important to them and expressing their thoughts and feelings in a confident and convincing manner at home or work
- Spending less time in their head and more time on planning and action
- Understanding and going after what is possible in life, learning how to remove barriers, and fulfill their potential
To learn more, call us at 781-325-8186 or use the blue Contact pop up tab at the bottom of the website to set up an appointment.