Some people naturally prefer quiet settings and spending time alone or in the company of only one or two other people. Thirty to fifty percent of the population is like this. This is introversion, a common and naturally occurring personality trait. However, sometimes introverted folks can start to feel like there is something wrong with them.
Our society promotes the idea that everyone should be outgoing and gregarious, with a large group of friends and a busy social schedule. Because of this, introverts may start to feel like they need to change who they are in order to be accepted and successful. This can lead to self-doubt, anxiety, and a neglect of the gifts that come along with introversion. Here are some tips to help introverts accept and care for themselves.
Understand introversion. There is nothing wrong with you!
A common explanation of the difference between introverts and extroverts revolves around where people get their energy from. Introverts tend to lose energy when they are around other people and gain energy when they are alone. Extroverts are the opposite – they gain energy when they are around other people and lose energy when they are by themselves. There is nothing right or wrong with either of these ways of being in the world. What is important is that you know how to best replenish yourself. It is also important that the people in your life understand and accept how you function best, allowing you to recharge in quiet when needed.
How many of us live every single day with nagging self-criticism? For those of us that can say yes to that question, it’s a nasty secret to carry around, smiling on the outside but beneath the surface, there is a near constant sense of dissatisfaction. “If only” this had happened, “I should have” known better, “what’s wrong with me”, “of course” that happened.
I know from where I sit, self-criticism works at deflating my motivation, I get discouraged. On the other hand, If I try and use that criticism as motivation, as in “get it together”, any progress comes with a sense of irritation rather than reward. It’s kind of a lose-lose situation, but what can be done about it? It’s so automatic, and the thoughts are in my voice, coming from me, right?
Are you familiar with the T.V. show “The Big Bang Theory”? The show is in its 10th season and nationally syndicated, so it seemed like a reasonably good reference point. If you are familiar with the show, you are likely well acquainted with the character Sheldon Cooper. Sheldon routinely offers his thoughts and evaluations, mostly unsolicited, as if they are fact. As viewers, we are “in” on this gag that Sheldon has a blind-spot when it comes to empathizing, and that his comments aren’t necessarily true or helpful. The fact that Sheldon is “off” is much of what makes the show work.
What made you decide to become a counselor?
Seeing a counselor helped me get through a rough time in my life. She showed me the power of being present with another person and help them embrace themselves in the here and now. Counseling is my life’s passion and I love my work.
If you could teach the world one skill or technique to improve their lives, what would it be?
I would teach self-compassion and self-acceptance. Many of us constantly compare ourselves to others and inwardly demean ourselves and our bodies for falling short. We struggle to please others so that we can feel good about ourselves but later we find that we have lost ourselves in the process. Only by learning to embrace ourselves - flaws and all – we can fill our own well with compassion and give to others freely from the overflow.
What is the most common problem your clients bring to you?
Are you plagued with negative thoughts that keep coming back no matter what you do to try to stop having them? Do you avoid things, places, or situations that tend to trigger those thoughts? Do you try distracting yourself from them by watching TV, staying busy, drinking? Do you try to tell yourself the opposite to counteract or cancel out the negative thought? Have you noticed that whatever strategy you’ve been using hasn’t really worked in the long run?
A few months ago, I had a heart attack. I’m 42 and in relatively good health. And I meditate! This isn’t supposed to happen to people like me. Well, it did and I’m learning how to be with that fact day by day. Statistically speaking, I will have another heart attack sometime in the next 5 years. Now I have that thought in my head . . . Every. Day.
About Our Blog
Here you will find articles contributed by members of our team. We hope to provide helpful information here to inspire mindful living and general wellness. The information provided here is not a substitue for professional mental health advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you need to speak to a professional regarding your mental health, please make an appointment.