Here is the transcript for Episode 15- Is Being Shy Being Selfish?
There’s a story from my childhood that my mother told over and over again to embarrassment. And now I get to tell it. So I guess it wasn’t that embarrassing. But when I was a little kid, and I guess I must’ve been, I’m not sure how old I was, three, maybe three or four. We’re going to a birthday party. It was me and my older brother and my mom, my dad, and we’re going to a birthday party where my parents knew the people at the party, but we didn’t. So it was our first time meeting the people there and my brother was about a year and a half older than me. We pull up to the party and I’m all nervous and I’m shy and I’m keeping to myself. And my brother was more outgoing and we walk into the party and we walk around to the backyard and my brother goes running ahead and he goes running towards the party.
And My mother said to him, where are you going? And he said, “I’m going to go play with my friends.” And then she said, “But what friends, you don’t know anybody yet”. And he said, “The friends that I’m going to go meet.” He ran off into the party and next thing you know he’s with these different kids and they’re playing different games. So Steve ran off into the crowd. What did I do? I went off on my own because I was shy and I was worried about what shy people worry about, which was I was embarrassed or how I was going to be perceived or, or people looking at me the wrong way or whatever it is. When you’re insecure and you’re shy, so as my brother’s playing, they couldn’t find me. They couldn’t find me at this party. So my mom’s looking all around and other people are looking all around.
Finally, at some point somebody found me and I was way in the back of the yard and there are all these trees. I was sitting underneath one of the trees with one of those wind up Happy Birthday musical toys and I was twisting it and it was playing the music and it was over and over again and I was singing Happy Birthday to myself over and over again. My parents love that story because my mom was like, me being the shy one, oh he’s probably going to be the one that moves away to California. And it turned out that I was the one that moved away because my brother stayed home and I moved away and I haven’t lived back in New York for almost 20 years now. But it’s a funny story and it’s a cute story about our personalities back then, which I have eventually changed from and Steve is still as outgoing as he used to be.
What I had to learn was when you’re shy, you get a lot of attention for being shy and people are so worried about, oh, but they’re shy and we have to accommodate the shy people because they’re scared or they’re nervous. When it turned out though was that I was being selfish at that age. You can’t figure it out, but as an adult you can and when you’re shy you’re being selfish because you’re making everything about you. You’re making everything about how you feel, you’re making everything about your insecurities. You’re not making it about anybody else. Actually. You’re making it harder on everybody else. When you say you’re shy, you’re not welcoming, you’re making everybody else work harder. You’re making other people try to have a conversation with you. You’re making other people have to think of ways to communicate with you or to accommodate you or to make you feel better.
It’s very selfish to be shy. That was something when I figured that out, it really changed the way I viewed my own shyness and my own insecurities where I was. I was making other people uncomfortable. My shyness was making them uncomfortable. It was making them have to do things they wouldn’t normally have done, but because I was so wrapped up in myself I made life harder for them. Because thinking about it this way, when you are shy, who are you thinking about? Are you really worried about how the other person is feeling? Are you really worried about how you are making other people feel? You’re shy because mainly your focus is on yourself. So when you’re in that spot, your focus is completely on yourself. So what can you do? What did I have to do to get away from the shyness to get away from my own selfishness, to get away from my own self involvement, I had to train myself to be more interested in what other people are doing.
Now that sounds really basic and simple, but think about conversations that you have even as adults. When people talk about themselves endlessly and they’re not curious and they’re not interested, that’s the opposite of shy, but it’s the same thing. Whether you’re shy or you’re talking all the time, it’s all about you. It’s all about how you feel and when you can change that to, I’m thinking about what other people think. I’m thinking about what other people are going through. I’m curious about what’s going on here. I’m interested in what that person’s doing. I’d like to ask them some questions. I want to know how I could fit in better to what they’re doing. What are they interested in? All the things that people like to hear, which is interest in them you’ll be doing, and when you make it about them and not about you, there’s really no judgment going on there.
They’re actually just thrilled that somebody is interested in them because so few people actually are. If you are a freelancer and entrepreneur and you’d say that you’re shy and you have a hard time connecting with people or networking or going out and having these conversations or doing genuine connections with others, think about this for a minute, that you might be being selfish. And the reason why it’s not working is because you’re so worried about what you’re going through and you’re so worried about how you’re going to be perceived that you’re not at all thinking about how you can connect with others and being curious about what’s going on in their lives. If you start doing that and you start putting the focus on them and less on you, you’re going to see your network build quicker. You’re going to see your business build quicker, and you’re going to see your insecurities go away because it’s really not about you. Because honestly, people aren’t really thinking about you because they had their own insecurities. You think you’re the only one there feeling the same way and you’re gonna make their life better too. And you’re gonna have more friendships, you’re gonna have more connections, you’re going to have more business, you’ll have a better life. Again, thank you so much for listening. I so appreciate taking the time out of your day to listen to be involved, and I’m just grateful to you. Thanks so much.