I circled you as an introvert…you are one…right? He asked, with a look of apprehension and slight nervousness. I responded in the affirmative and was met with “Phew! I was a bit scared to choose that one!”
This happened at a training event I attended where the attendees had to describe their partner by selecting a few adjectives which were given to us. What struck me about that encounter was how nervous the person was to describe me as an introvert, in case he offended me…but wait…when did being called an introvert become something offensive, an insult almost?
The thing is, if I wasn’t comfortable with myself at that point, that comment probably would have made a dent in my confidence – like it used to.
Introverts who lack confidence are often unhappy with their introverted characteristics. We live in a society where extrovert qualities are encouraged and accepted easily (at least in the UK, where I live). Introverts are usually seen as un-confident and shy and extroverts as confident and happy, however that is not true. Introverts can be just as confident as extroverts.
And here are some tips which may help:
1) Accept yourself
Like any other change we want to make, we need to take a first step. Introverts can feel like there is something wrong with them, perhaps because they feel like they don’t fit into a society which seems to place higher value on extrovert qualities and behaviors.
The first step is to ease up on yourself, relax and accept yourself just the way you are. Now you may be thinking “well I am unhappy with myself, I can be more confident, I don’t want to accept the way I am right now”.
Accepting yourself doesn’t mean that you are not going to improve and move forward. Do you ever wish you could be someone different, feel you are unintelligent or that you are not good at anything? If so, this kind of belief puts a huge amount of pressure and stress on yourself. Accepting yourself means taking away these negative thoughts and feelings about yourself and working towards being confident in a better, more relaxed way.
Working to improve self confidence means taking care of yourself, and let’s face it, it’s hard to take care of something you hate.
If you want to get results, you have to change the relationship you have with yourself and accepting yourself is essential if you want to see lasting change.
2) Make your worries work for you
We all worry from time to time but if you lack confidence, the time you spend worrying may be significantly higher.
Verbalizing your worries out loud to yourself can help. Repeating positive affirmations instead of worries may make more sense. However, acknowledging your worries can sometimes be even more useful, profound and powerful, leading to greater clarity and positive outcomes.
Like many introverts, giving on the spot answers makes me a little uncomfortable. I like to collect and organize my thoughts before replying. I used to feel the pressure when colleagues would ask for my advice or input on something.
Repeating this worry out loud allowed me to realize I needed to inform my colleagues that I would like a moment to think and will get back to them soon, instead of thinking about the worry over and over again and letting the anxiety build up. This was a small realization but it set me free from the stress and pressure I was putting myself under. It also allowed me to have confidence in my ability to get back to them with a helpful and useful response.
3) Relax in large social gatherings
Introverts generally don’t like big social events as they deplete their energy and can leave them mentally exhausted. For an introvert who is anxious, nervous and apprehensive, these events can further drain their energy and enhance these emotions.
Apart from limiting my attendance at big events, one thing which has worked for me is allowing myself to step in and out of conversations. Being fully engaged in the conversation doesn’t mean you must always offer your opinion on the subject matter – engagement is also listening, asking questions and learning from others. This may not make these gatherings more enjoyable but it may help you to relax a little and thus help in being more confident.
4) Hang out with good friends
When it comes to friends, most introverts prefer quality over quantity. We love to form deep, lasting friendships. Friendships which are real and genuine can have huge positive effect on us, they make us feel good about ourselves. Friends who allow us to be completely ourselves can do wonders for our self confidence. So make more time for friends who know and understand your struggles and accept you for who you are.
5) Find out what confidence looks like for you
Sometimes when we lack confidence we look to our society to see what kind of behaviors are accepted as being confident and then imitate them. This can get you results and can get you through certain situations.
However, this approach is not sustainable and most likely you will be working against yourself and doing yourself a disservice. The problem is we live in a society which makes us believe that a loud, talkative, very social person is a confident one. However many introverts are just not this way and confidence for introverts looks different to this.
It’s important to get clear on what it means for you to be confident. One of the greatest strengths for introverts is our ability for deep introspection. Use this to speak to yourself, and find out what does a confident you look and feel like.
This is important for you to live a authentic, happy life.
Enjoy these tips for introverts? Share them on Twitter so all introverts can learn to be confident!