Psychological explanations for why people are shy about putting themselves “out there”Fear of speaking up is a universal experience we’ve all had at one time or another.
So what’s behind this reluctance to share our ideas?
Often it’s social pressure that keeps people from sharing their opinions. They’re afraid of what others might think, or like George McFly in Back to the Future, they just don’t think they’d be able to handle rejection if they threw themselves out there, and other people said, “nah.”
People fear doubters. Granted, that’s only going to be the “lion’s share,” of reasoning behind keeping bright ideas private. Other common reasons exist as well.
For example, sometimes people keep ideas to themselves because they know they’re not just dealing with doubters, but outright enemies. Imagine what it must be like to live in an overtly authoritarian state. In that situation, bright ideas could be seen as seditious, and that may lead to incarceration or worse.
We’re not looking at that situation here. Most of us live in a free enough society that we can share ideas without fear of public recrimination at the state level. The issue most of us face is peer pressure involving self-doubt. It all boils down to social pressure, but there are distinct kinds to consider.
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That Old Adage: Once Bitten, Twice Shy
Sometimes social consequences come in the form of fallout from previous efforts to educate or contend with the status quo. Even if you know you’re right, should you have the memory of people refusing to listen, it will make you hesitant to offer to deliver your nuggets of truth again.
If you’ve experienced fallout from going against the grain before, it can be hard for you to stand up for what you believe again. For most, the incident which made them shy in this way happened years ago, probably during childhood. A lot of people get “shut down” by peers or friends when young — perhaps in elementary or high school.
It can only take one traumatic experience for someone to erect a psychological block that impedes them throughout life, and quite unnecessarily. What’s necessary is realizing the issue and addressing it, but that’s a lot easier said than done.
If you’re having trouble overcoming doubt or doubters, it might be in your best interests to read this blog article from Kara Goldin. You are not alone. Wherever there have been humans, there have been abstruse social pressures acting on the minds, emotions, and drives of people; impelling and sometimes limiting them.
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Mental Health Issues
Startlingly, around one in five people in the United States suffers from some form of mental health issue. Cognitive dissonance tends to develop from social disagreements. If you’ve ever had a great idea, only to have someone else shoot it down, it may have caused cognitive dissonance.
Sometimes just the prospect of a potential confrontation, one which never even occurs, can cause enough mental anxiety for some people that they totally shut down and refuse to let their ideas be known. An overabundance of shyness could be defined as a mental health issue.
Social awkwardness is unfortunately quite common today, and when people become more interested in digital interaction than physical interaction, this condition is likely to compound. It’s hard to understand social situations if you’re always on some sort of device.
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Don’t Fear People, Share Good Ideas
It may seem trite and obvious to simply say “don’t be afraid,” but if you practice positive talk, it can help you build confidence in yourself. When you remind yourself there is really nothing to be afraid of, it can help you overcome social issues which may well prevent you from sharing great ideas. It’s something you have to practice, and a good way to practice such fearlessness is putting yourself in situations where it’s “okay” if you fail.
If you’re socially awkward and you can work up the courage, for example, find social settings where you’re anonymous and force yourself out of your comfort zone. Unless you’re dealing with such substantial mental health issues the medical professionals you work with advise against this, simply “putting yourself out there” can often work wonders.
Mental health and challenging past experiences are issues everybody has to deal with at some point. At the end of the day, you’ve got two choices: be overcome, or be an overcomer. You can be an overcomer if you set your mind to it. When you’ve got a good idea, know that you’re not alone in being afraid to share it. But don’t let that knowledge keep you silent.