‘I wish I could stop being so introverted!’
I bet there have been moments in your life when you have had this thought.
I myself have experienced it…a lot.
For example at gigs when the performance is fantastic, things are swinging but I’ve had enough and am ready to go home. Residential conferences and festivals when my energy levels have depleted by the end of day one. And probably most prominently when someone else takes the liberty to highlight the aspects of my introverted temperament that most annoy them personally:
‘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
While I consider myself pretty comfortable in my own skin, when attention is brought to those aspects of who I am it can be hard not to feel like there’s something broken. That I’m just not that good at being a proper human.
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 developed into what I figured might be a helpful message for others who have the same self-doubts and questions about ourselves.
So if you want to stop being ‘such an introvert’ here are some suggestions to help:
1. Stop Spending Time Alone
Introverts need downtime to plugin and re-energise from the stimulation of the external world. It’s where we recharge as well as discover and explore our creative minds.
It 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.
Stop being introverted: when you feel tired and overwhelmed by the world find a crowd of people to immerse yourself in.
2. Use Your Phone More
It’s not always possible to surround yourself with people. There will be times when you may be forced to spend time alone. But don’t worry because most of us carry the world in our pocket. Remember that your phone can connect you to everyone and everything.
So there are no excuses for missing a phone call or not responding to a text/email/social media message.
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.
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.
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.
5. Obsess Over Expanding Your Social Circle
Why would you be satisfied with a few close friends? What good is that? The new mantra is quantity over quality. And stop wanting to go too deep in conversations, it puts people off.
Consume the popular media so you have something to talk about. Take a keen interest in celebrity culture and gossip.
Stop being introverted: go out and meet new people. Be a transmitter of news between everyone you know so that people need you. Judge your self-worth by the quantity rather than quality of your relationships.
Still Want to ‘Stop Being Introverted’?
My hope was that the friend who emailed the original question would realise that their introversion is a beautiful part of them. It makes them who they are and if they can start to see aspects of it in a positive light they will see it as a gift and not a curse.
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 (fixed) blessings of such a temperament.
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 say things out loud before thinking them through.
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.