Conquering Your Social Fears
M. Blaine Smith, InterVarsity Press, 1993
(Overview of Book)
My major concern in this book is to give help and encouragement to Christians who are chronically shy. Since I lived in those shoes for some time, my heart goes out to these people.
When our shyness is serious, it does not respond well to pep talks or spiritual platitudes. What we most need is positive experiences which build our confidence and help us outgrow our apprehensions. Yet we need a lot of help getting to that point, especially if in growing up we didn't have many of those successful experiences.
Usually our first need is to learn how to handle our fears. As we discover how to manage and live with the experience of fear itself, we gain the courage to take steps to become more outgoing. Typically, too, we need counsel on how to find the best opportunities for meeting people and advice on sharpening our interpersonal skills. On our own, we would just give up.
Often we need help in becoming more assertive. And without fail we have a pervasive need to develop a more optimistic outlook, to break with our habit of always expecting the worst; we need solid suggestions on how to do this.
In the chapters ahead I will give careful attention to each of these areas and offer as much practical advice as I possibly can. Part two focuses on handling our fears, part three on improving our social opportunities and skills, and part four on learning to be assertive and optimistic.
First, though, it will help to devote several chapters to looking more closely at the origins of shyness (chapter two) and the effects it has upon our life (chapters three and four). We will note in chapter three that there are actually some surprising benefits to being shy! These can stay with us even as we become more outgoing, and appreciating them helps us gain the incentive to change.
I am also including an appendix with suggestions for handling public speaking and performance situations.
While my primary aim is to help the chronically shy Christian, many of the topics in the book are also pertinent to those who are less seriously shy or who need help in a specific area. Please feel free to scan the table of contents and pick out those portions which will most benefit you. If you are looking to this book for help in overcoming deep-seated shyness, though, I do recommend reading the chapters in sequence. They are designed to help you gain a foothold step-by-step, and each chapter provides some foundation for the ones that follow.
No matter how extreme your shyness is, I am certain its impact in your life can be substantially reduced. My own experience and that of many other Christians convince me of this. You can overcome the unhealthy effects of shyness without losing the benefits it provides and without violating the personality God has given you.
The Scriptures, especially, convince me that Christ brings significant healing of shyness--when we take those steps which allow us to cooperate fully with his grace. This book is dedicated to helping you do that. May the Lord bless you richly and give you every success as you move ahead.
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