Shyness: Genes and environment

The environment has a large effect on personality and mental health. However, genetics may drive us to extract aspects of the environment that match our actual predispositions.

Genes and the environment work together as a dynamic system. Because of that, you can always change it through psychological therapies that can teach you techniques to cope.

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Shyness

If the idea of mingling at a party or giving a presentation in front of people make you feel sick, you are not alone.

About 30% of shyness is because of genetics. The rest comes about as a response to the environment.

Shyness in itself is quite common and normal, but it can become a problem if it develops into social anxiety where you avoid things that need to be done. You might not be able to talk to people at work or have difficulties socializing.

CBT is the most effective psychological therapy for people who have shyness and social anxiety.

CBT enables you to identify negative thoughts. It helps you realize what behavior is unhelpful, such as avoiding eye contact or rehearsing what you're going to say.

To overcome shyness, focus on your audience and what's happening around you, rather than on your anxiety. You will be less caught up in whether you stumble over your words.

Challenge yourself by being more open to new situations. The more you can involve yourself with social situations, the more confident you'll become.

Shy people are often introverted, but they might also be extroverts who allow their anxiety to get in the way. Non-shy introverts might be socially adept but prefer their own company.

The Western world places value on confident, extroverted behavior over introversion, but in parts of Asia, being quiet and reserved is preferred.

In the West, good eye contact is praised and expected, but in other cultures, it is a sign of disrespect and challenge.

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