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55 of 56 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
Help is available for shy people!
Triumph Over Shyness points out that shyness is a trait that almost everyone shares to some extent. But we differ in the degree of that shyness and what causes it. For some, shyness closes off options. It may make a person nervous or uncomfortable with others, and keep a person from being able to act in the ways they would like to act. When that occurs, many people will want to become less shy. This book is very helpful for those who want to change.
Let's start with terms. "Shyness refers to a tendency to withdraw from people, particularly unfamiliar people." "Social anxiety refers to the special kind of anxiety or discomfort you may experience when you are around other people."
The causes are rooted in biology, learning, and experience. We react to situations we fear with strong hormone discharges that make us ready to flee. That saves us from danger, but becomes inappropriate when there is no danger. Bad experiences with other people may cause us to associate danger to being with strangers. That experience can become learning that triggers more hormones when the appearance of that situation recurs. Also, we can develop fear from seeing others in fear . . . especially parents and friends. So, you can get caught up on a negative cycle of self-reinforcing fear. Sometimes the symptoms themselves make it worse. For example, you may perspire when feeling anxious, and that also makes you concerned that others may notice.
People with social anxiety issues are likely to have other problems including marital discord, depression, alcohol or drug abuse, or other anxiety disorders. One-third have major depression. These issues arise with youngsters as well as adults. The book deals with both.
You can treat the problem, which is the good news. You can use self-help, talk-based therapies, and medications. The book suggests that you pick the one that best fits your situation, and try it out. Based on the results you get, then try the next logical one if you still need help. For example, those who are only anxious some of the time might start with self-help. Then, they could use talk therapy to relieve the areas where self-help didn't cause enough progress. Some medications have short-term effects, and could be used if talk therapy failed to cure a remaining few areas.
In part two of the book, you get extensive information on how to employ self-help techniques. These focus on helping you identify the source of your social anxiety problems, change your thinking in anxiety-causing situations, and change your behavior when you feel anxious. The book is filled with questionnaires, diaries, and suggestions for how to diagnose and treat yourself. I suspect that most will improve from using these methods, for at least their minor issues. There are many helpful suggestions. Basically, most people start out pretty shy and experience reduces that effect. This section is attempting to create those positive experiences and enhance your skills.
The final part of the book works on improving your people skills. Those with excess shyness and social anxiety probably are a little behind the curve here. You are given simple ideas for how to handle eye contact, smiling, listening, starting conversations, small talk, being a better conversationalist, telephone calls, criticism, praise, and meeting people. You are encouraged to set simple goals, track your progress, and keep practicing.
At the end of the book, you are encouraged to begin by deciding you want to do something, choosing a treatment, being flexible in pursuing the treatment, being patient, practicing, and opening up your life to others.
The book has a nice, gentle tone that puts you in charge of your shyness. "There's nothing wrong with being shy." Unfortunately, as the authors note, "Many people aren't happy about being shy." This book is for those in the latter category.
I have known some people who have been treated for social anxiety, and everything the book said certainly was reflected in what I observed. The book is also filled with case histories of people with fairly difficult problems, so you don't have to feel weird or unusual. If you are experiencing panic attacks and extreme symptoms of shyness, I suggest that you consider trying the medications. Many people are helped by them, and some have few side effects. With that boost, you may be able to do more with self-help and talk therapy.
After you finish this fine book, you should take an area where shyness is holding back your progress and commit to using at least some of the self-help methods to improve. Be sure to hesitate to procrastinate in overcoming any shyness that bothers you.
Imagine all the wonderful experiences you will have with people you have yet to meet! The best part of your life is ahead of you!
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on March 21, 2002
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Clear, step-by-step guide for shy individuals who want to help themselves
Drs. Stein and Murray have written a well-organized book that covers the subject matter well without being overwhelming. For individuals who desire more detail on specific areas, there is an appendix that refers the reader to appropriate books, organizations and Internet resources.
The book is divided into three sections: The first, "Understanding Shyness and Social Anxiety" defines the problem and explains how social anxiety fits into one end of a continuum of human behavior. It helps one determine whether one's shyness is a benign personality trait, a moderate inconvenience, or an urgent clinical problem. Bulleted lists enumerate specific symptoms that may be associated with social anxiety. I particularly liked the subsection on other conditions that are commonly associated with social anxiety. In this and other sections, they discuss how self-medicating with alcohol or drugs can lead to chemical dependency. There is a section on choosing the right treatment. I mostly agreed with this section but would have liked to see more on choosing the right therapist. Too often, people start work with a therapist without inquiring into the therapist's credentials or finding out whether the therapist has any way of being reached after hours.
The Second Section was my favorite. If you do not have the time or energy to read this entire book, focus on this section. The book is mostly oriented toward self-help, so this part includes specific techniques to help the individual deal with both the physical and the mental aspects of the anxiety. There are several simple worksheets and instructions on how to use them. The authors give examples of clear useful goals and also give examples of goals that are too vague or are unattainable.
The third section deals with ways to enhance one's social life. This is something often not seen in a clinically oriented book. Once an individual has overcome his or her initial shyness, he or she may still be left with social deficits. Because of long-standing shyness, the individual may not have had the opportunity to learn and practice starting a conversation or asking someone for a date. This section is only able to cover these issues with a broad brush. However, the appendix lists several sources of more detailed information.
I would recommend this book for individuals who want to take the first steps to overcome their fear of social situations. The book may also be helpful for professionals who want to learn more about how their patients can actively help themselves.
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on April 3, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This is a very good & new contribution to the American self-help tradition of 'conquering shyness' ... But there are other approaches that might be considered by shy people -- approaches which actually dare to question the anti-shy ideology of American popular culture. Three I see on Amazon currently are: "My Shyness, My Self" ... "The Gift of Shyness" ... and "The Highly Sensitive Person" ...
Shy people, and friends and family of the shy, might want to explore these books for their "shy-positive" outlook. Self-acceptance and a proper understanding of individual temperament are, after all, among the criteria for positive mental health.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on January 18, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I had no idea I even had social anxiety until a doctor suggested my stress and depression might be related to that. This book does a great job of explaining the condition and suggesting a whole range of ways to find help, including a great reading list. But the best thing about it is the refreshing sense of humour they bring to the subject (the authors are Canadian, which might explain it). Such a change from the usual upbeat earnestness you tend to find in self help books, and what's more, a great way of taking the sting out of what is ultimately a rather painful and embarrassing subject.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on June 6, 2006
Format: Paperback
I bought this for myself and also for my parents to read to understand my social anxiety. It's a good "first" book to get an idea of what you need to do to overcome shyness and self-esteem issues. It presents the topic in clear, simple English without much of the medical mumbo-jumbo. However, I don't expect anyone to truly "Triumph over shyness" just by reading this book. However, I still recommend this book to those that have just decided to do something about their shyness or social anxiety disorder.
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26 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on October 9, 2002
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
The entire book is very short and can easily be read by anyone in just a couple of days. By the end I was thinking to myself "that's it?". In all those pages, this is all they can come up with, after all the years of experience? The book could have been a little more deep and went a little further. To be really honest, I could pretty much describe to you what the entire book tells us in just a few sentences. I guess I don't know what I was expecting. All of this to me is common sense information most everyone already knows. Like, if you want to swim, you've got to just jump in the water. I wouldn't expect anyone to agree with me, but this is just one person's opinion. I'm sure it might be very useful for some people.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on January 6, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Dr. Stein is a pioneering researcher in social anxiety. This book gives up-to-date information in a very readable style. It provides a good summary of cognitive therapies and medications.
Greg Markway, Ph.D
co-author of Painfully Shy
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on March 31, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This book get 5 stars from me. It is very well written and offers great advise on how to work through this crippling disorder that affect so many. As a mother of child who suffers from selective mutism, I appreciate the authors touching breifly on this issue in the book. I love the authors' sense of humor as well, throughout the book. I will recommend this book to many others.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 20, 2008
Format: Paperback
i found this book to be really helpful. i also did the mindfulness based stress reduction program and they reinforced each other. after a doctor told me i showed signs of social anxiety disorder, i went into a funk and became terribly afraid of having people to my home. then i read this book and started following some of the techniques suggested. i realised i needed to have people over again. the way to do this would be not to get into any anticipatory anxiety. so i just started to do this. it was helpful. a few months later a family event demanded that i have party.....this was my top listed fear! i decided to be really strict with anxious thoughts and stopped them immediately i thought them. i also focussed on pen and paper planning, and a friend helped me with planning, prep, and hostessing. i was able to host the party without flipping into anxiety and it was successful beyond my expectations. i have to thank this book!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 29, 2007
Format: Paperback
Undoubtely the best treatment of this subject I have ever read. Anyone who thinks they may suffer from social anxiety should read this book.
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