Why Am I Shy?

Understanding shyness – why am I shy?

We have all experienced shyness, but some of us feel it much more deeply and almost all of the time. It’s like being trapped in a box.

In social situations like meetings, group conversations, parties, and other events, you feel like a bystander – you feel like you can’t say anything out loud. It feels like a mental block stopping you from speaking up. I’ve experienced this myself time and time again. Sometimes it felt so strong that it would feel like a physical block as well. It was like the words just wouldn’t come out!

“Why am I shy?” I would ask myself. Why can’t I think of anything good to say? And even if I did have something good to say, I wouldn’t speak up. I would just stay silent. I wished I could say what was on my mind, but it just wouldn’t come out. Eventually, I would got labeled as a quiet person by the different groups I was a part of. It was irritating.

It’s especially irritating when you are labeled as quiet and then people still have the nerve to ask you “why don’t you talk much?” in front of a group of people. Thanks a lot buddy! Maybe you’ve experienced this as well…

I didn’t understand why I was so shy and anxious around other people, but I wanted to find out and I was willing to do anything to get through this roadblock because it was starting to impact nearly every part of my life. If I could understand shyness, then I could overcome it.

Your level of shyness depends on the situation

Understanding the psychology of why you are shy is the first step in overcoming your shyness.
First and foremost, you must understand that your shyness is situational. Ask yourself, are you shy all the time and with every person? Even if you answer that you are shy with everyone, there are certain people you tend to be more shy with than others. Additionally, certain situations will elicit a different level of shyness from you.

How shy do you feel talking to one person vs how shy do you feel talking to a group?

How shy do you feel around a girl or boy you like vs how shy do you feel talking to a close friend?

Some people feel shy around their crush, some people feel shy at school, some people feel shy at work or in a meeting. Everyone is different and their shyness depends on certain situations and/or certain people.

With this knowledge and understanding, it’s easy to see that shyness is in fact situational.

Think about how you would respond in the following situations:

  1. At a party, standing next to a girl you like.
  2. In class at school or in a meeting.
  3. With a very close friend playing games or talking about something you’re passionate about.

When I was shy, situation 1 would have left me frozen and with a blank mind. Situation 2 would have left me thinking, “please don’t call on me!”. But, in situation 3 I wouldn’t shut up. I could go on and on talking with a close friend about video games or just joking around.

The truth is, you’re not a shy person, or a quiet person – you become shy and anxious in certain situations. Maybe it’s a lot of situations, as was the case for me, but it is still situational.

So, instead of asking “why am I shy?”, You should instead ask, “why am I shy in certain situations but not in others?”

There are several reasons why you are shy in certain situations or with certain people:

1 – You need acceptance/approval from the other person.

We all want to be accepted and liked. In shy people, this need to be liked and accepted is magnified. When you are around someone you need approval and validation from, you will naturally get nervous. You will feel anxious and won’t want to do or say anything stupid, so you literally do nothing at all and censor everything you say. This causes tension and stops you from saying what you really want to.

You care too much about what other people think.

This need to be liked actually has the opposite effect! It causes you to censor everything you say, come across as awkward, closed off, and less engaged in the conversation.

When you don’t feel the need for people to like you, then you become more open and honest. You become more relaxed, act natural, and actually act like your true self. What’s really interesting is that acting like yourself instead of the overly censored and uptight version of you will attract more people to you. You will be much more likable.

A lot of times, this need for approval can stem from childhood, so it can be difficult to overcome… but with some time and patience, it can be done. You essentially need to rewire your brain and take control of your habitual thought patterns. More on that later.

2 – You think the other person is higher value than you.

Another potential reason for shyness around certain people is because you think they are more attractive, popular, dominant, confident, or authoritative then you.

Everyone evaluates people, and we all assign a value to people. You probably don’t even realize you do this, but pay attention to who you act shy around and you will see what I’m talking about.

Again, it could be based on their looks, authority, confidence, popularity, and so on. It’s different for everyone. When you are around someone who you perceive to be of higher value than you, you will be nervous, quiet, and shy around them. It may happen when you’re around someone of the opposite sex who you find attractive or it may happen around authority figures. For me, it was both.

Now think about the opposite type – the people who you consider to be equal or of lesser value than you. You may not realize you assign values to people, but you do. The people that you think of as lower value may be people you find less attractive, lower wage employee, or someone who is even more shy than you. How do you act around them? I bet that you are not as self conscious around these people. You are probably a lot more open, not at a loss of words, and more confident when conversing with them.

You don’t need to impress the people you consider to be lower value because they have nothing you need. On the other hand, the higher value people (boss, attractive girl, etc.), do have something you need or want (better job, relationship, sex, connections, etc.).

There are basically two ways out or this dilemma.

  1. Knock the high value people down a peg or two.
  2. Place more value on yourself – build yourself up. Increase your confidence and self-esteem.

Finally, let’s hit on the third reason

3 – You’re uncomfortable with yourself.

You may feel insecure about yourself which leads to a whole host of issues. When you feel insecure about yourself, you feel like you have something to hide.

You feel like you have this secret, so you avoid attention and are not open with others. You don’t want them to find out what flaw you’re hiding because you will feel embarrassed and ashamed! What you’re hiding differs from person to person – it could be physical, your lack of social skills, or the fact that you’re shy or socially anxious.

A lot of shy people feel like they are boring, dull, awkward, or that they are losers because they lack friends, and they don’t want anyone else to find out their secret. Usually, you will have one specific thing that you focus and obsess over.

You will do anything to hide this specific thing from other people because if they find out, then they might not accept you. Most of the time we hide our true selves and act like the person we think they want us to be. This comes across as awkward and unauthentic.

So, when you’re uncomfortable with yourself, you will be afraid to share your true self. When you hide something, it usually comes across to others no matter how hard you try to fake it. People are able to pick up on lots of things, it may be under the radar, but subconsciously they are still able to sniff it out. Secrecy is not your friend – try your best to be more open and people will accept you. If they don’t, then why waste your time trying to please someone like that?

It’s important to accept yourself, to be yourself, and be true to yourself not just for building social connections but also for your own mental sanity! This of course is easier said than done. Social anxiety and shyness can be overcome but I won’t sit here and say it’s going to be easy. It won’t happen overnight, but you can start working towards it now!


Shyness and social anxiety can really stop you from living your life. It can penetrate all aspects of your life if you let it – it did for me. It literally impacted my whole life, from girls, to work, to friends and family, and so on. It can stop you from living to your full potential.

I used to be very shy and my social anxiety was also through the roof, but with some techniques I was able to get over this disorder. You can do the same as long as your willing to work at it. How long it will take depends on how severe your condition is on the spectrum – shyness, to extreme shyness, to social anxiety.

Related: Shyness vs Social Anxiety

Just remember this, shyness is situational, but like I said, it can spiral out of control and invade all aspects of your life. The shyness becomes a repetitive pattern, and then you try to hide it or stop yourself from acting shy, and then this becomes a vicious cycle of anxiety. That’s how it happened for me.

Part of getting over social anxiety and shyness is to try and understand a little bit about the condition and examine yourself.

What are you hiding?

What are you not comfortable with about yourself?

When exactly do you get shy and why?

Did anything happen in your childhood to make you fearful of strangers?

It could be that you’re looking for acceptance, or that you value the other person more than yourself, or when you feel uncomfortable with yourself. Examine all of these possibilities and narrow it down. Once you narrow it down, you can get to the root of the problem instead of trying to cover up the symptoms.

I hope I have given you some insight why you are shy. Check out some of my other articles to learn the best ways to get over shyness and social anxiety and sign up for my newsletter so you can get my best tips on overcoming this very debilitating condition.

2 thoughts on “Why Am I Shy?”

  1. Pingback: How to Overcome Social Anxiety with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – Wisdom For Life

  2. Pingback: How to Calm Down When Anxious – Wisdom For Life

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