The Introvert’s Easy Path To Going For It… Without Getting Overwhelmed

One of the main worries I hear from introverts sounds like this:

“How am I supposed to put myself out there when I’m too introverted for that?”
OR
“How can I move towards what I want when it feels overwhelming just thinking about it?”

Have you said anything like that to yourself?

I’m an introvert too and I know I’ve said those things. Luckily, I have learned through experience that phrases like “I’m too introverted for that” or “I won’t be able to handle it” are false. Not just for me, but false for all of us. I’m not saying you need to become someone other than yourself either. In fact, don’t do that! It won’t help or feel good. I’ll explain.

The truth is that you don’t have to get overwhelmed or drained when you go for something you want. No matter if you’re introverted, extroverted, or in between. Really.

Our human brains play a trick on us, trying to keep us safe, by telling us that if we leave the comfort zone of the known, we’ll freak out or get overwhelmed, like in the image below. So we feel stuck and we stop moving forward. It’s very common to get stuck right there.

Comfort zone vs overwhelm zone image

This is what your brain tries to tell you, to stop you in your tracks: “Don’t leave the comfort zone or else.”

I’ll explain in the video below with a simple diagram that will give you a big Aha moment. (Making the video was outside my comfort zone so you can watch me facing my discomfort zone in real life.)

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How Do I Answer “What Do You Do?” When It’s… Complicated?

“What do you do?” seems to be one of the most dreaded questions. Especially for people in transition or who feel like what they’re doing might be judged. It makes us squirm a little…. or a lot.

It can be especially hard for introverts and perfectionists who like to think before talking and then speak in a thorough way. It’s hard to find a good simple answer!

And yet, we are faced with this question so often. It might sound like this in your head when you get that question:

  • “I better have something good to say, Now!”
  • “They’ll think I’m a freak if I tell the truth!”
  • “They’ll think I’m a loser if I don’t have a ‘legitimate’ answer.”
  • “I feel like I have no clear identity like other people have.”
  • “I don’t want them to know I have family money to support me.”
  • “Staying at home with kids doesn’t seem like a real answer. Maybe I should do more.”
  • “I have tons of ideas but they’re still messy and I hate talking about it at this stage.”
  • “I don’t want to tell them I’ve been sick for a year. Ugh.”

Can you relate? It’s… Complicated.

Even people who know what they do for work can get nervous with this question. It almost feels like the asker wants us to define ourselves, right now, in one sentence. It’s just impossible to summarize ourselves like that.

Since I talk to so many people in transition, I get this question about how to answer “What do you do?” all the time. I want to share some things I’ve found helpful. Continue reading

Introversion and Shyness: The Connection

[Image: Ever feel like you don't want to come out and be seen? That's a shy moment.]

[Image: Ever feel like you don’t want to come out and be seen? That’s a shy moment.]

Even my friends who hear me talk about introversion all the time will ask me, “Isn’t introversion the same as shyness?”

No, they are not the same thing.

And yet, shyness and introversion can be connected, and they can look the same on the outside. That’s why we confuse this all the time. It’s very important, for everyone’s well-being, that we understand the difference.

Let’s clarify this…

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The Introvert’s Path from Pain to Confidence

It strikes me that these are the two classic paths for introverts. And this description helps explain the connection between introversion, shyness, and anxiety.

Of course real life is not so linear as the models below, but this makes a good bite-sized model. I hope you find this helpful.

The Path of Increasing Pain

If there’s no understanding or consciousness of one’s introverted temperament and how our brains work, introversion can lead to anxiety like in this example:

Introversion

over-thinking

perfectionism and self-judgment

believing the negative stereotypes about introverts

shyness (fear of being seen as imperfect)

avoidance and/or wearing an extrovert mask

increasing fear and exhaustion

anxiety and low self-esteem
 ↓
trapped in worsening anxiety and burnout.

Ouch, I’ve been on that path. It didn’t have to be like that. Finally I learned about introversion and that made a huge difference.

This painful path is more likely or worsened in cultures that tend to look down on introversion, such as in the U.S. But even in cultures that support introversion, the introvert’s brain is still prone to over-thinking which can lead to anxiety if left unchecked.

The Path of Growth and Ease

If an introvert learns about introversion, this is a more likely path: Continue reading