Went to my wife’s school’s Christmas party last night (large room full of Primary teachers, from various local schools). I am surprised at how shy I can still be in some situations. Seems one to one things are okay, but if there’s a group of people then I will still talk but find it a lot harder to vocalise thoughts, having to really think of questions and subjects to engage in conversation about. Perhaps somewhat of a paradox for a counsellor in training? If I shut out everyone else, focusing on the person in front or next to me found it a lot easier to converse. So why?
Guess if it depends all on past experience or not. Or are some people just born that way or is it learned behaviour, as a way of protecting one’s “Self”? I wonder if in my case it is learned defensive, protective behaviour? I can recall sitting in a room full of dope heads (yes, I was joining in) having the mickey take out of me by a couple of them. Happened when I was between 15 and 16 years old. Can’t recall the actual insults, as to what they were about, but I do recall just sitting on the floor smiling, seemingly not being too bothered about it, not replying while the other couple of people got quite upset at not being able to upset me. One time someone did tell them to leave me alone, which made me smile even more at the time. In looking back at this, was that probably a defensive behaviour developed due to previous experiences? So perhaps need to look further back than my teens for those previous experiences. Or was I just enjoying tormenting the others, while they were seeking a response from me that they were never able to produce? If that was so, where did that come from?
The more you look back, it can end up circular as a cause and effect is sought. A bit like the chicken and the egg question, which came first? But then does it really matter? If you know there is a relationship between events does it really help to know which came first? I suppose, in order to break the cycle, it does?
So where dos the group shyness come from? But then, when in the experiential group there is no shyness now. Maybe there was at first, but once I got to know people then I felt able and willing and wanted to open up, once I felt I could trust everyone.
Is that the reason then for the shyness, not trusting strangers or other people in general until they have proved themselves somewhat?
So is the basic problem not trusting people straight away? Have I ever been let down by someone who I trusted in the past? Well, yes, by the man who abused me, he being in a position of trust, as a leader in a church youth organisation. However, I’m also sure the shyness was present before that experience? So did that abuse reinforce a previously developed shyness?
Whatever the cause, if a cause can be specifically attributed,which I don’t think it can, I need to convince myself now that it does not matter if people break my trust, that is their lose not really mine. There may be a short period of regret over a trust being broken, but it does not destroy me, unless I let it. As “What does not kill me, makes me stronger” (generally attributed to Friedrich Nietzsche 1888, but a web search also shows Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote it – who died in 1832) says. A whole discussion can be had arguing for and against that statement. Indeed what does not kill us can harm us. The discussion is perhaps how much harm is done and whether we can then benefit in some or any way. Our body muscles get stronger by their use. Do our emotional muscles? I would say they do. Though, even body muscles if faced with too much stress, will tear (rip) and breakdown, becoming almost useless. So with our emotional muscles, if we are faced with too much emotional stress will tear (weep or cry) and eventually break down.
So, do I just need to tell myself not to be shy in groups – to not worry what others might say, think or do – to bear with the experience, as it cannot be life threatening? Or can it? If this is all related to trust then maybe it could emotional kill you, if someone you trusted so deeply broke that trust? I’m not sure it could emotionally kill you, but certainly cripple you for some time.
I miss the experiential group. Feedback on these thoughts would be great, whether in agreement or disagreement.