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Shyness: A Bold New Approach

Shyness: A Bold New Approach

by Bernardo J., PhD Carducci PhD, Susan Golant

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Shy Facts

  • Shy children are not destined to be shy adults.
  • Shyness does not equal low self-esteem.
  • Shyness is not a "disease," personality deficit, or character flaw.
  • Humans aren't the only species to experience shyness. Scientists have been studying shy cattle aswell as shy cats, shy fish, and shy dogs.
  • Some of the world's


Shy Facts

  • Shy children are not destined to be shy adults.
  • Shyness does not equal low self-esteem.
  • Shyness is not a "disease," personality deficit, or character flaw.
  • Humans aren't the only species to experience shyness. Scientists have been studying shy cattle aswell as shy cats, shy fish, and shy dogs.
  • Some of the world's most famous, richest, smartest and bravest people are shy.

Editorial Reviews

"Shy people constantly fail in their own eyes. They know what's expected, don't try, don't succeed, and feel miserable that they can't accomplish what they know they're supposed to." Bernardo Carducci

If you are working to overcome shyness, have a shy child you wish to become more confident, or just want to understand shyness better, Shyness: A Bold New Approach The Latest Scientific Findings, Plus Practical Steps For Finding Your Comfort Zone by Bernardo Carducci is a great book. It is highly readable and offers great practical advice.

After twenty years of shyness research, Carducci summarizes three common shyness factors:

Shy people are trapped in an approach-avoidance conflict. They want to reach out and interact more socially, but they also hesitate to do so due to fear. Shy people must work to strengthen the tendency to approach and not be held back by avoidance.

Shy people are slow to warm up to new people and places. While all people feel this to an extent, shy peoples' prolonged warm-up period makes a feeling of fitting in difficult. More time must be allowed to acclimate to new people and places.

Shy people need to expand their comfort zone, which represents the places and people with whom one feels comfortable. Carducci breaks a person's comfort zone into three main components-a physical comfort zone, a social comfort zone, and a personal comfort zone, consisting of activities you are comfortable doing.

Most shy people have difficulty with the initial contact in meeting new people. However, after that, they often have successful relationships. Rather than becoming an extrovert, shy people can become "successfully shy" as Carducci calls it.

In the Chapter, Shyness of The Body, Carducci discusses the physical process of shyness. The body senses a new situation it deems could be hostile and the fight-or-flight, physical response begins. Carducci says to remember that these stress reactions are short-term responses to fear. By dwelling on your physical reactions, you only make the situation worse. Refocus your attention elsewhere.

Carducci also offers many long-term strategies for controlling the fear response. He recommends shy people Persist, Stop Avoiding, Act Now, and do "Social Reconnaissance."

For example, Carducci writes "Stop Avoiding. If Public speaking makes you nervous, create plenty of opportunities to do so. Practice at home, in front of close friends, or join a speech-making club such as Toastmasters. Your goal is to turn an anxiety-provoking activity into a routine one."

In the Chapter, Shyness of The Mind, Carducci discusses how shy people think about themselves and their shyness. In particular, shy people tend to have a pessimistic attributional style, where they view awkward social encounters as being their fault. Further, they attribute failing to their own ingrained, personal flaws. Successful personal encounters tend to be attributed to luck, the social skills of the other person, or some other external factor beyond the shy person's control. How you label and interpret encounters affects how you feel about them and how they will affect your future behavior.

Carducci discusses the narcissistic paradox, which says some shy people hold back because they have greatly elevated expectations for themselves.

Rather than comparing themselves to the majority of reserved people, shy people tend to compare themselves to the most socially successful and outgoing. Then, they rank poorly by comparison. They tend to have great conversational responses, unfortunately, after the conversation has ended.

"Shy thoughts follow a progression. If the body is aroused and tense, you focus attention inwardly. Concentrating exclusively on your own reactions (the narcissistic paradox) leads you down the primrose path of self-criticism, objective self-awareness, and pessimistic attributions. That gives rise to further arousal, which induces even more discomfort and uncertainty. You make unrealistic comparisons and begin to believe, as my correspondents do, that you will never succeed. As a result, you withdraw," writes Carducci.

Shyness: A Bold New Approach devotes a chapter to the question of whether people are born shy. Two of my favorite chapters were The Successfully Shy Lover and The Successfully Shy Worker. Carducci shows how shyness can adversely affect the quality of life and tells how to prevent shyness from limiting your happiness and potential.

Shy people (about half of the population) will benefit from reading Shyness: A Bold New Approach and, then, acting upon its recommendations. The book is jam-packed with useful advice, insight, and understanding of shyness. You, too, can become successfully shy. Highly recommended.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
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5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)

Read an Excerpt

Welcome to the Successfully Shy Life

"When I speak to someone, I usually get nervous and uncomfortable. I talk very fast, mumble my words, stutter. I don't talk loud enough for others to hear, so I'm constantly repeating myself."

"I egotistically take other people to be noticing and criticizing my behavior much more than they probably do. I set excessively high standards for myself, expecting a smoothness, quality, and ease of interaction that a nonshy person wouldn't dream of expecting."

"When I was younger, I was very quiet with strangers and in social situations. I was a completely different person when I was with my family and friends. I have a great sense of humor and a lot of personality that seemed to disappear in public. Today there is an ongoing struggle and inner badgering during social situations."

"Life is hell, when you cannot even talk because of fear of saying something dumb."

"When I was younger, people thought I was stuck-up, and they didn't like me. That hurt a lot."

"A couple of years ago, I had gum surgery. I found this prospect less nerve-wracking than going to a party that was held at about the same time!"

These are the voices of people whose shyness causes them pain and limits their choices. But shyness is a multidimensional, multifaceted personality trait. Since no two shy people are alike, your experience of shyness need not be as distressing. Throughout this book, you will hear from other individuals who, like yourself, are trying to understand their shyness in order to live a successfully shy life.

How does one lead a successfully shy life? It doesn't mean becoming an extrovert. Rather it means understanding howshyness influences the most important aspects of your daily life and what you can do about it. Living the successfully shy life is no different from other successes; it is full of risks and possibilities, new experiences and defeats, challenges and rewards.

Part I of this book will give you a basic understanding of shyness in general and help you interpret your own unique experience. In Chapter 1 we will deal with the most frequently asked questions about shyness in order to penetrate its mysteries. In Chapter 2 the Shy Life Survey will help you explore the various dimensions of your own shyness; such self-awareness is the first step toward self-confidence and living a successfully shy life.

In Chapter 3 we will investigate and debunk the most common myths and misconceptions about shyness. Interestingly, I have found that shy individuals in particular give these much credence, seriously hindering their ability to live successfully shy lives.

Chapter 4 offers a new view of shyness based on three underlying principles. These principles can form the basis for decisions you make to ensure that you live a successfully shy life.

Shyness is not about changing you; it's about helping you understand the unique experience of your shyness. Reading it will be like any other life-altering journey—starting a new job, visiting a foreign country, moving to a new neighborhood, initiating a romance. You may feel a sense of uncertainty but also hope and excitement. I am here to offer you a road map and serve as your guide.

Welcome to Shyness: A Bold New Approach.

Meet the Author

Bernardo J. Carducci, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Indiana State University Southeast and a fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, draws on more than twenty years of research to penetrate the many myths and mysteries surrounding shyness. His principal mission is to promote "the successfully shy life"—one of self-awareness, self-acceptance, and self-confidence—helping to enlighten and encourage shy people who feel isolated and misunderstood. Shyness: A Bold New Approach is a comprehensive presentation of the latest discoveries and numerous self-help strategies and self-assessment quizzes. Dr. Carducci explains the basic principles of shyness; discusses the physical, mental, and emotional expressions of shyness; and explores the biological, psychological, and societal roots of this trait. Dr. Carducci lives in Jefferson, IN.

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