The following is a guest post by Glori, who has an awesome introvert blog of her own! You can find out more about Glori in the author bio at the end of the post.
In the first chapter of Susan Cain’s book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, she pointed out “Yet today we make room for a remarkably narrow range of personality styles. We’re told that to be great is to be bold, to be happy is to be sociable.”
How Do You Plead? Guilty or Not Guilty?
We live in a world where to be ideal is to be extroverted. It is no wonder that many of us introverts feel this introvert guilt. That strange feeling that rears its ugly head when we try to claim time for our introvert recharge, our alone time, the solitude we so value.
If you’re an introvert, you may have felt this yourself. In fact, you may have said yes to that party this Saturday night or that big barbecue next Sunday because you felt guilty at not trying to spend more time with people, even when every fiber of your being wants to stay at home with a good book.
Most of the time, we feel obligated to attend big social gatherings we would rather not go to and perform bold acts we would rather not do because saying no elicits reactions such as, “What’s wrong with you?,” “Are you sick?”, or “Don’t you want to have fun?”
Another experience many of us are familiar with is when most of us reason out that we’d rather go home and rest or read a book, we are met with a strange look, and soon enough, labels such as “anti-social” and “weird” pop out, sometimes, unfortunately, behind our backs.
Society seems to teach us that wanting to be alone for a certain amount of time, that is, seeking solitude, is a bad, selfish, and a pathological thing. So all along, we are made to feel guilty and crazy for not wanting to go to that awesome noisy party.
Let’s not feel guilty anymore, shall we?
I Plead Not Guilty, and Here’s How I Do It
So how exactly do you get over this guilt? Here are my 5 S’s for beating introvert guilt.
Self-awareness. Knowing yourself is the key. When I realized that I was an introvert and I started reading a lot about it, I became more accepting of my traits and my quirky habits. There’s nothing wrong with me. There’s nothing to feel guilty about when I know I have different needs than the extroverts around me. I became more comfortable with who I am and so I became more comfortable with people and new experiences.
Say No, and mean it. Contrary to popular belief, we don’t need to say yes to everyone and everything. We can say no to parties or events that we are not obligated to go to, and we don’t need to give people a reason for it. If they ask for one, be honest and tell them that you need time alone, and don’t feel guilty about it.
Schedule your introvert recharge time. Making your alone time a party of your daily and weekly schedule is important. Not only will you get the recharge you need, people around you will tend to get used to this, lessening the questions and helping them accept your need.
Slip yourself permission. This is a favorite tip from Marti Olsen Laney’s book, The Introvert Advantage. For example, when invited to a party I do not want to go, I permit myself to just check it out for fifteen minutes or so and then leave. You can make your own “permission slips” and draw upon them when such situations arise.
Seek other introverts, but only if you want to. We do prefer to spend time alone, but when you need company that can understand your needs, seek fellow introverts. Sometimes, we also feel that introvert guilt when we fail to live up a conversation with small talk. But when we’re with others like ourselves, we do not feel the pressure to be conversationally savvy.
Most of us introverts are so commonly misconceived as aloof people, the kind that don’t want to experience the joys of life. We do want to enjoy life. We just don’t want you forcing it down our throats. (And making us feel guilty for spitting it out.)
Not only does this introvert guilt make us very uncomfortable in our skin, it also hinders us from growing and learning. When we are forced to do things out of guilt, we associate those experiences with negative feelings and we are less likely to do them again, so we end up staying in our comfort zones.
So let us let go of this guilt because once we do, we can appreciate new experiences more positively.
Glori is a nurse turned copyeditor and part-time freelance writer. She writes about her crazy introvert life, and all its ups and downs, on her blog, Crazy Introvert, in the hopes of connecting with other introverts like her. She likes ideas, fiction books, dogs, and life in general, and she won’t try to sell you stuff.
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