Taking the Stand on Introvert Guilt

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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.

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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.

The Verdict

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.

 

Photo credit: rgbstock

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33 Comments

  1. Love it! 😀

    Thumbs up Glori, and I’m glad to meet you on the forum! It feels so good to accept myself for who I am.

    Life is awesome now because it’s mine!

  2. Thanks for this post. You have explained fully the importance on how we should perceived introvert person. I know it’s hard to understand them, but reading your post makes me realize how hard to be an introvert.
    Charlene´s last post ..link building

  3. Oh man am I familiar with introvert guilt. I rarely ever *want* to go to a party, so saying yes is always accompanied with a cringe.

    Though I gotta say, sometimes it is good just to give yourself a chance to have fun. So often, I’ll duck out of a social gathering because I’ve already convinced myself I won’t have fun. It’s like I’m putting myself in a box by saying “I’m not social, I’ll be overwhelmed, I won’t like it.” Yesterday, I went out for a friend’s birthday – bowling and then to a bar with a group of about 10…And guess what? I had a BLAST!

    I know that for us introverts it’s essential that we have our alone time, and that constant parties are not the way to go. But I just thought I’d offer another perspective – don’t put yourself in a box because of your introversion – give yourself a chance to put yourself out there! (Kinda like that 15-minute permission slip). 🙂
    Kaylee´s last post ..Lacking Support? Why You Must Live Your Dream Anyway!

  4. Great post – loved it! If I may, I’d like to add one more thing to NOT feel guilty about. That is, doing something or going someplace by myself. If I want to see a movie by myself, I’m going. If I want to go to the beach by myself, I’m going. I don’t want to go with anyone. The ignorant might call me weird, but I am who I am and won’t apologize.

  5. This was lovely. In the last few years I have been learning not to feel guilty about things I was raised to feel guilty about when they were primarily introvert vs. extravert things. Sitting with my nose in a book on a car trip. Not rushing about helping people with things. Hating to go up to people and introduce myself. Standing aside quietly and listening to a conversation. Not being occupied all the time. All these things were labeled (or made me label myself) “lazy” and “selfish.” I still struggle with feeling that I am lazy and selfish, a bit, but more and more I am recognizing that it is not lazy and selfish to not always be rushing about doing things. My gifts are largely exercised in quiet and stillness.

    I liked this bit best and find it to be the most helpful for probably any introvert:
    “Schedule your introvert recharge time. Making your alone time a party of your daily and weekly schedule is important.”
    I have a job in which I have between ten and fifteen meetings a week, mostly work meetings, with my programming/web development team. If I didn’t take two hours in the morning and two hours at night and two days every week for time alone, to read, write, watch a movie, go to church, ride my bike to the market, go ice skating, read and write some more, study my Bible, immerse myself in cooking, I would go absolutely crazy. I’d have a nervous breakdown. As it is, I deal with the continual meetings extremely well because I always know I have my own time daily and weekly. It’s slightly flexible: sometimes I have to have a meeting on one of my days off, and sometimes I have to go to a meeting earlier than I’d want to, cutting into my morning quiet time, but I will not let it happen very often. I was not created to kill myself with a nervous breakdown.
    And yes, I do still struggle a little bit with guilt about it, because I work with my mother, and next to her tendency to have meetings six or seven days a week and work early in the morning and late at night, I still feel lazy and selfish. But not very much.

    • Hi Christy!
      I’m glad you found my post useful and relatable. I’ve also been made to fee “lazy” and “selfish” just because I did not want to go out and party. I believed it so much that it was what I’ve described myself for many years and I’ve even acted lazy and selfish because of it. And although I am slowly changing the way I think about myself now, it is actually a relief to know that I am not the only who feels this way.
      I realized too that if I’m to be useful to anyone, I need to give my needs priority every now and then so that I can function.
      Thanks for taking the time to express yourself in your comment! I really appreciate it!
      Glori | Crazy Introvert´s last post ..Why I "Remain" an Introvert, Though the Science Suggests Extroverts are Happier

  6. Hi Glori! I’m glad to read your post here. It’s really hard to deal sometimes with introvert person. But you really have to extend your patience in order to understand them. You have to learn how to deal with them too. But I like them more, they can keep secrets! lol!
    Born27´s last post ..google voice conference call

  7. i’m an introvert and i always will be, but i believe pushing myself into a outgoing personality isnt a bad thing, i need the social interaction, and just observing others isnt enough to keep me mentally healthy,

    i’ve mostly seem people complain about it, and others saying they accepted it and feel so much better, but i believe its a bad habit to look at a computer all day and developing an internet addiction isnt my goal, so i’m done spending my rechearging time on the internet

    i thhink we all now that there are other things to do when we need our alone time, but if you’re reading about introversion in your free time then you probably are not having a good day. i advice you stoo and read something or practice playing the guitar, after all, no mater what happens, you can always play the guitar, so its something i cann depend on as a balance, no mather my moods or my social life

  8. Hey Glori, Star Paws here..

    Are you getting the ‘This Page has been suspended” on the introverforum?

    🙁 Making me sad.. what’s going on? It’s been like this for the last few weeks.

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  12. What if you have a large family that values family but you only see them 1-4 times a year? They are all strangers in a way, so the small talk is insufferable. But there is a huge obligation to attend? It’s the worst of my introvert fears. I’m supposed to know these people, supposed to celebrate a kinship. Supposed to somehow relate & have this seeded common ground. But I don’t. I don’t actually know you, dear cousin. And I don’t know the names of your kids. Everyone else in the room seems to be connected, and we’re roasting nuts & doing holiday things. I just try to make myself busy by helping to clean up. That’s it, that’s all I do. I walk around picking up dirty dishes, avoiding eye contact & think to myself that i don’t have nearly enough time off to recoup my energy from this. A cousin told me recently that I’m always cleaning up & to stop it, someone else will do it. Little did she know, she was not relieving me at all. She was doing the opposite. I have been leaning on the crutch of cleaning up for a while now & she was yanking that comfort blanket right out from my little tightly wound fingers. I didn’t listen, I just smiled & said well someone has to do it & kept on my way. But, I saw that my coping mechanism was not aI bulletin proof.

    I see a lot of info & advice about saying no to non-essential events. What about advice for essential events? Those are really difficult for me. Family events – holidays, birthdays, graduation parties. Events you must go to, but are at complete odds while being there. And so, so exhausting. So taxing. For nothing! I’m not taxed because I charmed the room. I certainly did not.

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