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Elisa Goldstein, Ph.D.Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.
A blog about mindfulness, stress-reduction, psychotherapy and mental health.

Taking a Mindful Path Through Shyness

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. Updated: Nov 14th 2009

In our culture, shyness seems to be perceived as something of a deficit in character. Steve Flowers, author of The Mindful Path Through Shyness, explains that shyness can also be seen as a human temperament that can be regarded as positive, being modest, quiet, and demure.

However, he goes further to say:

"Some aspects of shyness aren't positive and create what I'll refer to as problematic shyness. These aspects include feelings of being unsafe in interpersonal relationships and feelings of social anxiety, which lead to protective behaviors."

So when shyness becomes a problem, people start looking inward for problems and become more self-critical and isolative. Eventually, this could lead to what's called Social Anxiety Disorder or a social phobia.  What happens here is people become paralyzed with intense fear of being humiliated or embarrassed when in relationship to others. The reason this is called a disorder is because it causes so much distress that it greatly impairs someone's life toward feeling well.

However, make no mistake, shyness does not equate to a disorder.

However, these self critical stories we begin to identify with about our personalities, appearance and behavior are just that...stories. However, we consider them our identities, defining who we are. So we thoughts come in our minds that we are "weak" or "a loser," we really believe that is who we are.  

Flowers says, "We all live in mental and emotional worlds that we essentially create and perpetuate with the habits of mind or stories that we tell ourselves. We tend to identify completely with the stories we repeat to ourselves and others and create afflictive mental and emotional states that bring much suffering into our lives. "

Mindfulness has the ability to observe these thoughts habitual patterns of the mind without getting caught up in them and without falling in the trap of berating yourself in the process. In doing this, you begin to come to terms with what is really true for you and expand the opportunity to choose where to invest your mental energy, rather than it being chosen for you.

Click here for a brief YouTube mindfulness practice video to have the experience.

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction here provides a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles and is author of the upcoming book The Now Effect, co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, Foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of the Mindful Solutions audio series, and the Mindfulness at Work program currently being adopted in multiple multinational corporations.

Check out Dr. Goldstein's acclaimed CD's on Mindful Solutions for Stress, Anxiety, and Depression, Mindful Solutions for Addiction and RelapsePrevention, and Mindful Solutions for Success and Stress Reduction at Work. -- "They are so relevant, I have marked them as one of my favorites on a handout I give to all new clients" ~ Psychiatrist.

If you're wanting to integrate more mindfulness into your daily life, sign up for his Mindful Living Twitter Feed. Dr. Goldstein is also available for private psychotherapy.

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