Despite making up an estimated 20% to 40% of the population, it is no secret that introverts and natural-born homebodies tend to get a bad rep within this highly extroverted world. After all, successful people are often viewed as confident, assertive, and excited to stand out from the crowd to make a statement – which just so happens to be an introvert’s worst freaking nightmare.
In short, introverts are often portrayed as those monotoned, anti-social folks that simply hate connecting or interacting with others (not true). We are also seen as the societal outcasts, that strange group of people who could easily change our inadequate views/approaches to become a “normal” human in society (also not true). Overall, there is a whole lot of stigma and misconceptions revolving around being introverted, which inevitably leads to introverts feeling intense shame and guilt for thinking something is wrong with them.
But here’s the zinger – There is absolutely nothing wrong with you. Seriously.
The biological differences between introverts and extroverts
Believe it or not, there is nothing wrong with wanting to turn to your own mind to recharge rather than seeking out others to meet your energy needs.
It is also not wrong to prefer solitude or small groups of good friends over large crowds/events. Why? Because it is in your biology to be that way.
You see, introverts and extroverts have very different brain pathways and chemical sensitives. In fact, psychotherapist Marti Olsen Laney states that introverts have larger blood flow to the internal experience areas of their brain (remembering, planning, and problem-solving), whereas the same blood flow in extroverts was shorter and less complex.
That just means we process and absorb information differently. Even more, introverts were found to need less dopamine to feel good than extroverts do. So, what happens when there is too much outside stimulation? Extroverts clearly thrive and take all the dopamine they can get, and introverts get a chemical overload that requires a weeklong seclusion session to recover.
In summary, introversion is not something that can be outgrown, changed, or “fixed.” It is who you are, and that on its own makes it such a beautiful thing to embrace. Because despite what society tends to drill into you, you don’t need to change, you have so much to offer, and it’s about time to start gaining the newfound confidence, self-appreciation, and internal calmness to finally recognize that.
And now for the tips …
1. Prioritize your mental health
When it comes to mental health, including social, psychological, and emotional wellbeing, it can significantly affect how we feel, think, and act. It is the very thing that can help you recharge your social battery, feel good in your own skin, and be prepared to handle life’s far too many curveballs. Basically, get going on eating better, sleeping more, drinking water, meditating, or doing whatever self-care thing you need to do to run well on all cylinders. It is not selfish to care for yourself.
The best part? Prioritizing your mental health not only leads to boosted confidence, higher self-esteem, and energizing happiness, it can also benefit those around you, like your loved ones and coworkers. Remember, happiness and positivity are super contagious, so the more you focus on that internally, the more it will illuminate and bleed into your external surroundings and brighten up the day for everyone.
2. Set boundaries to protect your wellbeing
However, what is even more awful is having to deal with the repercussions of not doing so. I know it can be a hard line to cross, but it is necessary if you want to have others respect what your mind and body need to excel each day.
For this, make sure you remind yourself that there is nothing wrong with you or setting boundaries, you are not alone in how you feel, and sometimes the rules that extroverts set do not align with what you need. That is perfectly fine, and the best thing you can do to get started here is write down what drains you, come up with solutions on how that can be fixed, and then communicate to others what your expectations are moving forward.
And most importantly, STAND by them and your introversion because drawing that hard-line is the cornerstone for lasting change. PS: It will also inspire other introverts to do the same – introverts unite!
3. Be honest No Matter WHAt (Yes, it's hard)
Oi, the honesty card. With introverts being naturally afraid of judgment or misunderstandings, being honest under all circumstances can be a tough habit to get accustomed to. But as difficult as it can be getting started, being honest and saying exactly how you feel will pioneer new levels of happiness and confidence in you while simultaneously helping others understand introversion better.
So instead of masking behind a persona of an extrovert or coming up with fake excused not to do something, be honest and upfront on what you are thinking and feeling.
For example, say “No, I do not want to go to that party because my social battery is too low for that today.” instead of “Sorry, I have to help my chicken cross the street.”
In a nutshell, live your life more honestly, stop pretending, be open about your needs and let your introverted personality take the driver’s seat for once. Heck, even start dressing in the clothes you feel reflect who you are rather than what others expect you to wear. All of this will enable you to feel much more authentic, calm, and in-tune with yourself and can even result in higher appreciation from others because of your honest nature.
4. Use introvert communication hacks to boost your social confidence
This one is a bit of a different angled tip, but one that can drastically bolster your confidence during those “oh crap” conversational moments.
For starters, introverts tend to have a massive mixture of ideas, emotions, and thoughts swirling through their heads at a given time, yet no energy to actually convey them. Normal, and nothing to be worried about.
However, as a person operating in society, you will need to interact in various social situations – a cringe-worthy reality. To help with this, don’t try to embody an extrovert’s personality, but use some of these introversion tips to converse with confidence without feeling panicked or drained.
- Deflection – If you are in a conversation and have no idea how to keep it going, simply ask an open-ended question so they do more of the talking. Ask them to expand on an idea they said before or ask a question you prepared beforehand. This helps you become more engaged and approachable, all without sacrificing your introverted personality.
- Allow Yourself to Think – Random pauses can be the death of a conversation. If it is your turn to reply and still need time to process a thought, all you have to do is say you need a moment to think about that, and it immediately takes the awkwardness away from the pause. You can also couple it with another question for the other person to answer to give you more time.
- Talk Slower – Talking slower makes a huge difference in how people interact and perceive you. People who talk slower tend to be viewed as people with authority and confidence, which leads to others wanting to listen more. With that being said, next time you are at a social event, try talking slower and watch how others listen differently. You feel more in control of your thoughts and more empowered in social settings because people are taking the time to hear what you have to say.
5. Work on accepting that not everyone will understand (and that's okay)
Not everyone will get why you would rather stay home on a Friday night or avoid small talk at all costs. Furthermore, not everyone will understand that introverts and shyness do not go hand-in-hand and that it’s just a matter of selective/mindful communication.
In general, not everyone will be on the same page as you, and yet again, that is perfectly okay. You are still a good person, there is nothing wrong with who you are, and you are not obligated to try and convert” every prejudiced person. That is not your job.
Stay true to yourself, be okay with not being understood all the time (extroverts face this too!) and keep living your life the way that makes you feel utterly happy, confident, and fulfilled.
Summary: Am I busy? That depends.
In the end, recognize that you don’t need to be loud, assertive, or pretend to be someone you aren’t to get ahead or be seen as an equal.
So, what’s an introvert to do?
Use your unique introversion to your advantage and begin taking the baby steps towards developing mental strength and rooted confidence in yourself. Manifest your thoughts and actions to grasp that being an introvert is an extraordinary thing in its own way.
Lastly, find peace and calmness in who you are as a person and leverage your energy to achieve your own version of success at your own time. Because if there is one thing for sure, the world NEEDS introverts just like you to keep spinning, and if you truly want to live a life filled with genuine happiness, then the only way to achieve that is by embracing the pure awesomeness that you innately are.