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Published by: astrosue on Mar 24, 2008
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Dying of embarrassment: overcoming shyness
Do you perform required social tasks only when absolutely necessary? Do meeting, greeting, andmixing with others make you feel apprehensive and self-conscious? If so, this class is for you. Stopwatching life from the sidelines! You'll learn a simple, proven, systematic method for dealing with avariety of social situations. Gain new confidence and self-esteem, and find genuine enjoyment ininteracting with others.
Understanding the problem1. After getting some background for understanding the source and degree of your fears, you'll explore some beginning steps for overcoming your social phobias.Building a foundation for change2.Find out how to take the first steps toward self-improvement using the three keyfactors that result in positive changes and the Social Success Cycle.The Social Success Cycle3.Learn how to gain the courage needed to attend social functions, then learnsome strategies for handling potentially awkward situations you mightencounter. Applying the model4.Building on what you learned in Lesson 3, learn how to bolster your confidenceand manage apprehension when dealing with others.Changing for good5.Gain a better understanding of the concept of relapse and what to do to preventit. Learn the importance of a balanced lifestyle and develop skills for continuingyour growth beyond this course.Where do I go from here?6.Evaluate the progress you have made, and examine the options of professionalhelp and medication. You will also learn how to handle a potentially shy child.
Understanding the problem
 After getting some background for understanding the source and degree of your fears, you'll explore somebeginning steps for overcoming your social phobias. 
Giving fear a name
Public speaking is the number one phobia in America. The common symptoms associated withpublic speaking (cold sweats, dread, and avoidance) have a name: social anxiety. More than 15million Americans experience similar reactions to a variety of social situations, exhibiting symptomsof the third largest psychological problem in the United States.Fortunately, there is a solution for this phobia. Through this course, you will learn to conquer your fears of public speaking and social interactions through positive thinking and learning how to takecommand of the situation.
Fear goes public
We're assuming that you enrolled in this course because you also are suffering from the effects of social anxiety. Maybe you don't call it that. Maybe you say you're shy, bashful, or reticent, or likethe late great George Harrison, you are just quiet. As we go through this course, we will be usingthe terms "shy" and "socially anxious" interchangeably. Regardless of what we call it, we don't haveto tell you how potentially crippling it can be. It fogs your mind, ties your tongue, and keeps youhome when you could be interacting with other people. It can even wreck families, ruin careers, andcan lead to a host of secondary problems such as depression and drug abuse. Worst of all, it robsyou of a sense of well-being.RealMediaPromo
Until relatively recently, social anxiety was an invisible epidemic. No one talked about it. Shy peoplecertainly were not inclined to bring it up -- further increasing their feelings of isolation and being"weird." Even now, people with severe social anxiety are misdiagnosed almost 90 percent of thetime as "schizophrenic," "manic-depressive," "clinically depressed," "panic disordered," and"personality disordered," among other damaging misdiagnoses.The stigma surrounding social anxieties is lifting, thanks primarily to celebrities like Carol Burnet,Johnny Carson, and recently Donny Osmond who have spoken candidly about the torment of beingsocially anxious. With this openness has come the development and dissemination of improvedmethods for dealing with the problem. Best of all, each success story has added new evidence tothe fact that the fear of social things can be overcome.
 About this class
This class is a practical guide for improving your social effectiveness. Reading the lessons will getyou some progress toward where you want to be. But to gain even more from the program, you willneed to practice what you have learned.We will begin by understanding more clearly what it means to be socially anxious. We will talkabout shyness as a kind of stress and some of the more common misunderstandings people haveabout personal growth. The heart of the program is something called the Social Success Cycle.You'll learn about each of the four principles of the cycle, the barriers to achieving each principle,and how to remove these barriers. And in later lessons we will discuss the issue of relapse, the useof medication, if needed, and other tips for staying on track.What you learn in the lessons is just one part of the program. Some of the best ideas in the classcome from participants, like you, posting their ideas on the Message Board. We hope you willregularly check what these other participants are saying as they move through the program. Andwe hope you will take time to share some of your own insights or to seek clarification on points inthe lessons.Think of this class as a journey of discovery and development -- a journey you are taking with acommunity of learners interested in achieving the same things that brought you to the program.Let's begin now with a better idea of shyness. 
Types of shyness
One of the greatest tales of survival in expedition history is Sir Ernest Shackleton's 1914 voyage tothe Antarctic. After almost two years of unbelievable hardship including the lost of his only ship andbeing stranded for months on a drifting ice floe, Shackleton returned safely to England withoutlosing a single member of his band of explorers.Shackleton needed 28 men for the expedition. To recruit them he ran the following ad:Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages. Bitter cold. Long months of complete darkness. Constant danger. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition incase of success.Whether inspired by a spirit of adventure or driven by desperation, over a hundred men applied.The criterion Shackleton used to narrow down the numbers was not technical talent. In fact, onlyone member of the final group had any prior experience in dealing with sled dogs. Shackletonselected the men on the basis of their optimism. To succeed, his crew had to consist of individualsconvinced they would prevail, no matter what.Optimism is an essential ingredient for any journey of personal growth, but unbridled optimism canlead to recklessness. It is important, therefore, to have realistic expectations about the process of change. How much time and energy you will need to expend to put shyness behind you dependson how far you want to go, where you begin, and how much of a problem shyness has been for  
you. As we mentioned earlier, millions of people report difficulties with social situations. Withinthese millions, there are vast differences. This matrix provides a view of some of the different facetsof shyness. Let's begin by considering the two dimensions of shyness.
Two dimensions
There are two dimensions to consider in sizing up your shyness. Each of these dimensions can beconsidered in terms of a question.In how many situations do I find myself having difficulty?1.How much distress do I experience in these situations?2.The first dimension deals with the number of situations that you find difficult. Some people havedifficulty with just a few social settings. Other are troubled by a multitude of situations.The second dimension focuses on the intensity of stress and emotional discomfort you experiencewhen your shyness is acting up. Different situations evoke different levels of discomfort. Think of intensity of discomfort as ranging along a ten-point continuum. A 9 or 10 on this scale wouldindicate a high level of distress. A 3 or 4 would indicate only mild distress.
Situational shyness
You are situationally shy if you have difficulty in just a handful of social events. Charles, for instance, has a problem with family reunions. In other social situations at work or among his ownfriends, he has no difficulty at all. Charles' shyness is situational.Charles' situational shyness could be either mild or severe depending on the intensity of the stresshe experiences in the situation.Certain life events are common causes of situational shyness. For instance, don't be surprised if your outgoing nature changes to feelings of uneasiness and self-consciousness following any of these live events: relocation to a new community; divorce or separation; promotion at work.
Chronic shyness
Charles and his sister, Stephanie, are very different. For Stephanie, a family gathering is the onlyplace where she feels comfortable.She finds almost every other social experience to be at least a minor challenge.Stephanie's experience of shyness would place her in the chronic side of the matrix. Whether her shyness should be called mild or severe depends again on the intensity of distress and emotionaland behavioral impairment she experiences.
Social anxiety disorder 
There is a special case of social anxiety that needs to be discussed. Some individuals findthemselves regularly experiencing intense distress in a wide range of social situations. Thiscombination of intense distress and the frequency occurrence is an indication of a possible clinicaldiagnosis called social anxiety disorder.In her book, Painfully Shy, Barbara Markway lists four criteria that must be met for a clinicaldiagnosis of social anxiety disorder.Show significant and persistent fear of social situations in which embarrassment or rejection1.

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