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Getting Deep #37: Overcoming Shy, Racist Friend, Finding Balance

Q&A with Dr. Dorothy: Your tough questions answered

dorothy ratusny
Dorothy Ratusny is a Certified Psychotherapist specializing in Cognitive Therapy.

I’ve always been known as a pretty quiet kid and now I’m going into my first year of high school with all new people. I want to show them that I’m not a shy person and that I can just be fun. What can I do to get rid of the shy person I used to be.

Start taking chances. Step outside of your comfort zone and practice new behaviours that you see other, more social kids doing. It doesn’t mean that you won’t still feel most comfortable when you are being quiet. But by stretching yourself to develop new skills and behaviours, you will have the enjoyment (and freedom!) of being able to choose how you want to be—based on your inner and outer needs at any time. Every day you can choose one small new action-step which helps you practice being more outgoing!

Shy Girl

I have a lot going on in my life right now: new boyfriend, schoo, a part-time job, the soccer team and a social life. Sometimes it’s way too much to handle and I feel like there’s no way for me to stay on top of it all, but I could never choose one of those things to drop completely. Am I taking on too much? Where should I draw the line?

The key in a healthy, full life is B A L A N C E. You have all the key pieces that bring much enjoyment and fulfillment to your life. Your biggest job will be to keep everything in balance. Certainly there are times when one aspect of life takes priority, but then you resume by bringing everything back into balance again. It’s also okay to let one or even two things become a smaller part of your life for a certain period of time if you need to focus on other aspects of life. The most important thing is to make sure “alone” time is included in all of this! You need time with yourself to rejuvenate, decompress, breathe and simply “be.”

One of my really good friends has girl that she brings out with her sometimes. But after hanging out a few times it’s become obvious that her friend is kind of a racist. She’ll make racist comments and jokes in subtle ways, but I’ve noticed them and they’re starting to bother me. I like her personality otherwise, but I feel uncomfortable talking to her about it. Should I try to just ignore it?

My question for you is: if you just ignore these comments, what message are you sending to this girl? Are you quietly saying that you agree with her? Or that she is right in her ideas? Often it is best (and kindest) to simply point out what you have noticed as truth. This means sharing a real life example of something you know about or have personally experienced that refutes or contradicts the racist assumption that is being made. In this way, you can honestly and gently explain another (likely more truthful) point of view without having to tell the girl that she is blatantly wrong in her racist comments.

If she doesn’t respond well, you might be brave (and wise) to make a general comment that “you value all people” and explain why. This may help her to see that, at the core, we really are all more similar to one another than different.

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