The Compassionate-Mind Guide to Building Social Confidence: Using Compassion-Focused Therapy to Overcome Shyness and Social Anxiety


Shyness is a universal human emotion, a blend of fear and interest, and is associated with many positive personality traits: a considerate nature, thoughtfulness, and the ability to be a good listener, to name a few. However, withdrawing from others has its drawbacks, and if you're very shy, it's likely that you've experienced some of them: loneliness, depression, and self-blaming thoughts that are much harsher than other people's criticism would ever be. The Compassionate-Mind Guide to Building Social Confidence...

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Shyness is a universal human emotion, a blend of fear and interest, and is associated with many positive personality traits: a considerate nature, thoughtfulness, and the ability to be a good listener, to name a few. However, withdrawing from others has its drawbacks, and if you're very shy, it's likely that you've experienced some of them: loneliness, depression, and self-blaming thoughts that are much harsher than other people's criticism would ever be. The Compassionate-Mind Guide to Building Social Confidence offers a supportive program based in compassion-focused therapy for moving past social anxiety and the self-critical thoughts that propel it.

The program in this book helps you both accept your shyness as part of your personality and challenge your social anxiety when it keeps you from living the life you want. This book also provides dozens of exercises that will help you practice mindfulness, imagery, compassionate thinking, and compassionate action-critical skills that will help you develop the ability to overcome shyness and make strides toward complete social confidence.

This social fitness training program will help you:

  • Quiet the thoughts that trigger social anxiety
  • Replace anxious thoughts with compassionate ones
  • Identify and achieve your goals for social confidence
  • Practice assertiveness skills
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"This brilliant, original analysis of the nature of contemporary shyness is a must-read for everyone interested in the human condition-shy people and the rest of us, as well."
—Philip Zimbardo, founder of the Heroic Imagination Project and author of Shyness and The Lucifer Effect

"It is so refreshing to find a book of this kind that helps and supports without patronizing or pathologizing. Lynne Henderson combines ideas from psychological theory and clinical practice with the wisdom of Buddhist spirituality to cultivate a unique new approach to understanding shyness. Principles of compassion, empathy, and mindfulness are presented as the tools with which people can better manage their shyness and live positively with it in everyday life. By nurturing self-acceptance rather than self-blame and criticism, the book shows we can promote greater tolerance in both personal and cultural attitudes to shyness."
—Susie Scott, senior lecturer in sociology at the University of Sussex, UK, and author of Shyness and Society and Making Sense of Everyday Life

"A remarkable book that turns the problem of social anxiety inside out, emphasizing inner compassion as the antidote for the self-criticism common among those who are extremely shy. The Compassionate Mind Guide to Improving Social Confidence and Reducing Shyness is a sincere, straightforward, and novel approach to shyness written by a compassionate and astute clinician. The book has broken new ground on the topic and is certain to help many achieve greater social confidence and success."
—Michael A. Tompkins, PhD, founding partner of the San Francisco Bay Area Center for Cognitive Therapy and assistant clinical professor at the University of California, Berkeley

"This book addresses the very essence of what is missing in much of the contemporary mental health treatment industry-compassion. Most books focus on theories and procedures, but it is the healing power of compassion that is the engine that makes these things work. Too often, this engine is dismissed as non-essential or not sufficiently novel to warrant discussion. This volume specifically and intentionally attempts to correct this omission. But the task is tremendous-how do you describe compassion, let alone teach one to have it? This is a valuable effort to do these very things, and mental health treatment will benefit by this book's success."
—Larry E. Beutler, PhD, William McInnes Distinguished Professor of Clinical Psychology at Palo Alto University

"Written by a highly experienced therapist, this book is an essential read for anybody who wants to learn more about shyness and strategies to deal with it by using compassion-focused therapy. Lynne Henderson integrates cognitive-behavioral principles with compassion-focused therapy, a more recent intervention developed by Paul Gilbert. The resulting book is a fascinating text that will be of great value to people who want to learn more about compassion and shyness."
—Stefan G. Hofmann, PhD, professor of psychology at Boston University and author of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Social Anxiety Disorder

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781572249769
  • Publisher: New Harbinger Publications
  • Publication date: 4/3/2011
  • Series: The New Harbinger Compassion-Focused Therapy Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 280
  • Sales rank: 472,684
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Lynne Henderson, PhD, is a clinical psychologist, founder of the Social Fitness Center, and founder and codirector, with Phillip Zimbardo, of the Shyness Institute in Berkeley, CA. She has been a visiting scholar in the psychology department at Stanford University, and is a faculty member in Stanford’s Continuing Studies program. She has directed the Shyness Clinic for over twenty-five years and is an adjunct research faculty member at the Institute for Transpersonal Psychology. Her research interests include translating the results of social psychology and personality theory into treatment methods for shyness, the influence of personality variables and cultural influences on interpersonal perception, cultural influences on self-conceptualizations, interpersonal motivation, leadership styles, distance collaboration, and mindful social fitness.

Foreword writer Paul Gilbert, PhD, is a professor at the University of Derby in the United Kingdom, director of the mental health research unit at Derbyshire Mental Health Trust, and author of The Compassionate Mind.

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Table of Contents

Preface vii

Acknowledgments xi

Introductory Note xiii

Foreword xv

1 Understanding Shyness 1

Ordinary Shyness and Problem Shyness 3

Shyness and Social Anxiety Disorder 4

Negative Stereotyping 6

Positive Aspects of Shyness 7

Famous Shy People 9

How Shy People Think 12

Shyness, Competitiveness, and Bullying 13

When Shyness Becomes a Problem 15

The Three Cycles of Shyness 19

Blame, Shame, and Fear 22

Steps to Helping Ourselves: Social Fitness Training and a Focus on Compassion 25

Key Points 29

2 The Way We Are: Shyness and How We've Evolved 30

Taking Responsibility 31

Anxiety and Social Rank: Do We Need Hierarchies? 32

How Humans Think: The Sense of Self and Needing to Be Liked 34

How Our Emotions Work: Three Systems 39

How Shy People's Emotions Work 45

What Do You Really Want? 50

The Perils of Thinking Ahead 51

Cultivating Compassion 53

Key Points 57

3 Developing Your Compassionate Mind 58

What Is Compassion? 59

Taking Control: Understanding and Compassion 63

The Compassionate Mind in Action 64

Compassionate Mind: The Bigger Picture 67

The Compassion Circle 74

Key Points 76

4 Switching Our Minds to Kindness and Compassion 77

Some Practical Preparations 78

Introducing Mindfulness 78

Developing a Mindful State 84

Soothing Breathing and Relaxation 86

Sensory Focusing 89

Caring for Yourself in Everyday Life 90

Feelings that May Arise During Mindfulness Exercises 94

Key Points 95

5 Compassionate Mind Training Using Imagery 96

The Desire to Be Happy 97

Contentment and Pursuing Goals 99

Living Fully: Love Without Self-Sacrifice 106

Imagining a Compassionate Perfect Nurturer 108

The Compassionate Ideal Self 111

A Note on Intrusive Images 114

Showing Yourself Compassion Under Threat or in Distress 115

Training Ourselves in the Use of Imagery 116

Key Points 118

6 Developing Compassionate Ways of Thinking 119

What is Compassionate Thinking? 119

Ways of Seeing the World and Ourselves 120

Shame and Self-Criticism 122

A Key Principle: You Are Not Forcing Yourself to Give Up Anything 130

How Compassion Can Help Us Think Differently 131

Developing Compassionate Thinking 141

Balancing Your Thoughts 147

Key Points 149

7 Taking Compassionate Thinking Further 150

Generating Alternatives to Threat-Based Thoughts 151

Finding Out Where Fear and Anger Come From: Another Example 155

The Compassion Coping Card 161

Compassionate Self-Correction 162

Standing Up and Fighting Back 167

Mirror, Mirror: Correcting Images as Well as Thoughts 168

Getting a Dialogue Going 170

Coping in the Present Moment 172

Getting Help 173

Compassionate Thinking Toward Others 174

Key Points 175

8 Compassionate Behavior 176

Compassionate Action: Moving Toward Our Goals 177

Being Assertive 182

When Compassionate Behavior Requires Courage 187

Coping with Bullying 190

Dealing with Assertiveness in Others 194

Exploring Possibilities for Leadership 196

Resisting Negative Stereotypes of Shyness 197

Dealing with Ambiguity 199

Key Points 203

9 Putting It All Together 204

Moving Ahead: What to Do Now 205

When Compassion is Hard 208

Appendixes 210

1 The Estimations of Others Scale 211

2 The Henderson/Zimbardo Shyness Questionnaire 213

3 Thinking Patterns in Painful Shyness 217

4 Self-Critical Thoughts and Fears 221

5 Compassionate Alternative Thoughts 224

6 Compassionate Self-Correction 226

Useful Books and CDs 228

Helpful Organizations and Websites 234

Notes 236

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