Studies (Elaine Aron PH.D. 1996) show that approximately 20 percent of the population is “shy” or “sensitive”. Amazingly, older studies (Grant Study 1938-1942) show the same 20 percent results. Even more amazingly, studies reveal that within each animal species such as sun fish, 20 percent are also shy (Aron 1996) (the shy fish were less likely to be caught and more likely to live long lives and have many offspring).
It seems then that “shyness” is a survival mechanism — for the individual — and for the entire population. Perhaps for humanity, “shyness” is also an evolutionary mechanism because people who are “shy” also tend to be searching for truth; people of high integrity; leaders by example; thinkers; advisors; healers; compassionate; fair; and have many other positive qualities and have many positive impacts on society. Shy people are greatly needed by the world!
Why do many shy people feel bad about their shyness? It is easy to feel bad when you appear different than other people because we assume different means something wrong. People who are shy have a special issue in that it is difficult to connect with other people of similar natures because shy people generally keep to themselves or a small group of close friends. The chances of meeting and getting to know someone who is shy is actually much smaller than the 20 percent figure would seem to indicate. Think about it, as a shy person, how many new people do you come in contact with each day and how approachable are you to a potential friend? Even though there are actually millions of people of a similar shy nature, the shy person’s experience of the world is that everyone else seems different than them.
To make matters even more challenging, not only are 80 percent of the population different than them, but 42 percent of the population is totally the opposite — insensitive, without the ability to understand how their words and actions effect someone else (Aron 1996). To a shy/sensitive person this is completely unimaginable and meeting such people on a regular basis, in such stark contrast to themselves, only serves to reinforce self-protecting behavior.
What will help a shy person feel better? Realize that you will need to meet many people before you find someone of a similar nature (20,30,40,50+). Seek out groups and organizations that attract caring, sensitive people as this will increase you chances of meeting people of a similar nature. Learn to quickly remove yourself from an insensitive, unfriendly situation so that you can maintain your energy and remain open to more compatible people. Also realize that balance is important, and that having friends who are less sensitive can be mutually beneficial.