“I wish I could stop being introverted!”
You might have found this article because you’re searching for a solution to the “problem of introversion”.
I bet there have been moments in your life when you have had this thought…I have, and do.
Moments when I “hit the wall” and need to go home, even when I’m enjoying a great gig or evening with friends. Times at conferences and festivals when my energy levels have depleted by the end of day one and I’m desperate to escape.
I guess I’ve probably thought it most when someone else decides to highlight a common introvert trait that annoys them most:
‘Why don’t you answer your phone when I call? Why do you like spending so much time alone? Why are you being so quiet? Why don’t you like meeting new people?’ etc
When people pick out aspects of who you are at your core, it can be hard to not feel like you’re broken in some way. I’ve felt this a lot.
I received an email that brought all of these thoughts into sharp focus. It was from an online friend thanking me for the work I do through my website for introverts and highly sensitive people. ‘Just one more thing…’ they went on. ‘How can I stop being so introverted? Any advice would be very welcome.’
My heart kind of sank. What a question! I hit reply and started to formulate my response. But in so doing it turned into something of a blog post. So I’m sharing it here instead. It might be a helpful message for others who have the same self-doubts and questions about themselves.
I believe that many of the things people pick on as introvert faults are actually the very source of our gifts and strengths. It is not introverts that need fixing, it’s the way we you perceive your introversion. And this is heavily influenced by the way you feel society and your social circles perceive it.
Are You Looking for a Fix?
Many people end up on this article because they want to stop being an introvert. If that is you, I want to reassure you. You don’t need to stop being an introvert. In fact, you can’t stop being an introvert.
But you can learn to accept and embrace your introversion. You can learn to use your amazing quiet gifts to live the life you dream of. And you can overcome any limiting beliefs that you hold about what think your natural temperament is blocking you from doing.
There are a lot of misconceptions about introversion. It is not the same as being socially anxious (shy), anti-social, or afraid of people.
Rather, it is the natural way we are wired and how we are orientated towards energy. Introverts create our own energy by going inwards and our energy is spent when we go outwards on stimulation like social situations, events, presentations, busy places etc. This DOESN’T mean introverts cannot do these things.
In fact they can be just as good as extroverts in all manner of situations and activities.
But it does mean is that we need to be aware of the impact these activities have on our energy and motivation. And to manage our relationship with that energy so that we can maintain a solid balance between creating and spending it.
If you were seriously going to stop being introverted then you’d need to do the following (n.b. I’m not sure any of it will actually help):
1. Stop Spending Time Alone
Solitude provides an opportunity to feel ourselves again and the chance to clear our minds and work through solutions for questions that we can bring back to the group later.
Introverts get their charge from connecting inwards (solitude, creativity etc). Extroverts on the other hand draw their energy from being around external sources of stimulation (people and activities).
Stop being introverted: when you feel tired and overwhelmed by the world find a crowd of people to immerse yourself in. (n.b. this will leave you even more drained)
2. Use Your Phone More
Not all recharge time is equal. I don’t know about you but I sometimes spend time in solitude, assuming I’m recharging my batteries, but I end up feeling even more drained and isolated afterwards.
My phone has significant responsibility in this. Well actually, I take responsibility because I choose to use it. But I’ve found that turning off push notifications, and turning off the sound makes it a lot easier to remain distraction free when engaging in activities that will actually feed my soul.
In this age of modern technology we’re never truly unplugged, so we need to be hyper vigilent about how we are caring for our inner introvert at recharge time. If we allow the prevelent voice to dictate our lives then there is no excuse for missing a phone call or not responding to a text/email/social media message immediately.
Stop being introverted: switch your phone onto the loudest setting, turn on all push notifications and spend all your moments of solitude keeping in touch with people. (n.b. this will render your recharge time ineffective).
3. Turn Up YOUR Volume
‘Why are you so quiet?’
You’ve probably been asked this. It will certainly have been observed of you at times, perhaps when you’re tired or taking in a new situation/group of people. You may believe that to be less introverted you need to stop being shy and anxious. But how?
Stop noticing the world. Stop processing the things that you see, hear, smell, taste, and feel.
There are studies that show highly sensitive people (70% of whom are introverts), will pause to observe before getting involved in new situations. This is often interpreted as shyness, anxiety, and fear, but brain scans have proved that these responses are not actually present. The quiet pause is a natural instinctive reaction that allows the individual to process as much information as possible before acting.
Stop being introverted: throw yourself into new things without thinking. Don’t assess the situation or the people before speaking out or acting, just go with the flow and deal with consequences later. (n.b. this goes against every natural instinct you carry and will leave you alienated from yourself).
4. Think Out Loud
Has anyone ever asked: ‘what are you thinking about?’ Annoying isn’t it!
Introverts process the world internally, extroverts process it externally. In other words introverts think quietly, extroverts think out loud. It can be a cause for irritation to both when encountering the other.
Stop being introverted: stop thinking in your head and speak up. If a thought comes to mind open your mouth and allow it to come out. (n.b. you’ll feel shame because the things that you say are not what you believe – you need time to process and consider what you think before you share it).
5. Obsess Over Expanding Your Social Circle
Introverts are usually happier with a few close friends. They don’t have a natural need to connect into an ever increasing network of people. They prefer to go deeper with a small pond, than shallow upon the surface of a large ocean. However, because of societal messages and the “extrovert ideal” the belief that we must be forever broadening our reach and catching more friends, whether in real life or online, can create a disconnect within ourselves.
Stop being introverted: stay in the shallows. Don’t engage in deep conversations that might put people off. Gossip is usually a good option for making people enjoy hearing what you have to say. Judge your self-worth by the quantity rather than quality of your relationships.
(n.b. we all need social connections, but if you have too many as an introvert and you try to be vulnerable with those you don’t know so well you will feel alienated from yourself).
Still Want to ‘Stop Being Introverted’?
Your introversion is a beautiful part of who you are. It’s the foundation of your rhythm. It’s what drives your hopes and dreams. When you stop believing it to be something that needs fixing, you will learn to see it as a gift.
It’s not something to be less of, but something to be more understanding and nurturing of.
I hope I’ve helped you remember that when you experience those moments of doubt. When you wish that you weren’t ‘such an introvert’ that you remember and enjoy the amazing blessings of such a temperament. It doesn’t stop you from doing anything you WANT to do, once you begin to live in a positive relationship with it.
When people want or expect you to be different just remember that you’re not alone and that in time the world will come to fully accept the quiet and gentle rebels that make up 50% of it.
…it might also be worth remembering that on occasion extroverts wish they were less extroverted. In fact a few days ago I heard someone lamenting the fact that they think out loud. They were wishing they could think things through first.
Many people with curly hair wish their hair was straight, and many with straight hair wish theirs was curly. The desire to be different to what we are comes very naturally to human beings.
Over to You
Do you ever wish you could stop being an introvert? When do you feel it most? I’d love to hear your experiences, please feel free to leave a comment below.