After countless years of being relegated to the back burner of society, introverts are finally getting their moment in the spotlight. That said, misconceptions still abound, and we’ve yet to shake the common admonitions to “come out of our shell” and “step out of our comfort zones.”
Introverts differ from extroverts in that we gain energy from spending time alone, rather than through social interaction. The traits that separate us from extroverts are hardwired into our brains — it’s not something we can simply change at whim.
But there’s nothing wrong with being an introvert.
We don’t need to be fixed — we’re perfectly fine just the way we are. Trying to change or be someone we’re not is a waste of energy. Besides, introverts have a lot of value to offer the world. We’re introspective, full of insight and reflection. We’re self-aware and observant. We’re caring and loyal friends. We focus on projects intently, think creatively, and solve problems— we’re excellent employees and empathetic leaders.
It took me a long time to embrace my introversion. Like many introverts, I thought my preference for staying in with a good book on a Friday night meant there was something wrong with me. However, once I educated myself on introversion and its special qualities, I was able to accept myself for who I was and better maintain my work and personal relationships.
It’s not always easy moving through the world as an introvert. If you’re struggling to embrace your introverted nature, consider incorporating the following three methods of self-care into your daily life.
When you’re feeling down and someone tells you to “count your blessings,” it’s hard not to tell them right where to shove it. Empty platitudes rarely make us feel better—in fact, they often end up making us feel worse. That said, gratitude does have a surprisingly powerful impact: studies have shown that people who practice self-care through gratitude have fewer health issues, feel more positively about the future, are more satisfied with their lives, get more sleep and feel more refreshed upon waking.
Keeping a gratitude journal — a daily or weekly diary of things you’re grateful for — is a fantastic way to embrace being an introvert. Here are a few examples of things I’m grateful for from my own journal:
- Being able to binge watch all six seasons of the Venture Bros. on Hulu
- The writings of George R.R. Martin
- Ridiculous BuzzFeed quizzes
- My dogs
- Free two-day shipping from Amazon Prime
- Too Faced Melted Matte Liquid Lipstick
- Friends who don’t pressure me to go to bars and clubs
- My therapist
- Working from home
See a common theme? There’s television, books, and the internet (things that I enjoy doing alone), not to mention my dogs, friends, and therapist (the people and creatures in my life that ease my worries). If you take time to write down the things that make you truly happy, you might be surprised to see how much your introversion shines through!
Talk to Someone
We live in a society where introversion is viewed as something that needs to be overcome. As such, we often grow up ashamed of our introverted nature, constantly fighting against ourselves in a desperate attempt to be more extroverted. We’re told we’re lazy, needy, antisocial, high maintenance, withdrawn, and selfish. We’re laughed at, called reclusive and boring. Unfortunately, this ridicule and shame often leads to low self-worth and a lack of confidence in our abilities.
Therapy can be extremely helpful for introverts who have trouble connecting with their thoughts, feelings, and needs. My therapist has helped me to understand that a) I am not alone, b) there is nothing wrong with being an introvert, and c) it’s okay to need to spend time alone. With her support I’ve become aware of my introverted tendencies, and I finally understand why my brain works the way it does.
Unfortunately, therapy isn’t attainable for everyone. Some can’t afford it, while others simply can’t obtain it—as it stands, 80 percent of rural communities lack access to qualified healthcare professionals. For those who can’t access a therapist, talking to other like-minded introverts can be just as helpful. There are multiple books and online communities geared toward introverts where you can find a feeling of understanding as well as an awareness of what’s possible when you do embrace your introversion.
Charge Your Introvert Battery
Quiet time alone for introverts is as necessary as oxygen is to life. Giving yourself the time you need to recharge is incredibly important to both your mental and physical health. As an introvert, there are a few things you must do to find inner peace:
- Plan downtime every day or week, depending on your needs.
- Balance out periods of socializing with time alone to recharge. This will help you avoid stretching yourself too thin and burning out.
- Brush off any feelings of guilt when you do spend time alone—focus instead on what this time does for you.
- Give yourself space when you begin to feel exhausted or overwhelmed.
- Educate your loved ones on what introversion is, what it means for you, and how it may affect your relationships. Keep an open line of communication at all times.
Being an introvert can be a wonderful thing, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it. Embrace your introversion by giving yourself permission to be still and reflective, allowing yourself down time when you need it, and setting social boundaries. Take the world by the horns and live according to your own rules. As psychologist Arnie Kozak said, “ Celebrate your introversion! It is your greatest gift and also your greatest challenge. We need to learn to embrace who we are and take exquisite care of ourselves at the same time.”
Are you an introvert or an extrovert? What gives you the most energy?
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