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7 Steps To Embrace Your Inner Introvert And Not Feel Bad

7 Steps To Embrace Your Inner Introvert And Not Feel Bad

Have you ever done a personality test? When I got the results of my Myers-Briggs last year I had an epiphany. INFJ all the way. Of course, I’m an introvert! Are you an introvert as well?

Unfortunately, the excitement over my new insight wore off quickly and was replaced with worry: Does that mean I suck at networking? How can I ever be successful if I’m not a people person? Will all my friends abandon me if I embrace my introvert personality?

If you’re an introvert like me, you probably feel bad about yourself quite often, because you think your personality is holding you back in life. But over the course of the last 9 months I found plenty of reasons that that’s not true. I discovered 7 ways how you can embrace your introverted personality and feel great about it, here they are.

1. Listen to music when you leave the house on your own

As an introvert, I often walk around outside alone, for example to the pool to go for a swim or to shop for groceries, or even just take a walk. I found that listening to music makes me a lot more confident. You can listen to your favorite songs and get pumped on the way to the gym, or play a funny game called eye-gazing: you look people in the eyes as they pass you. Don’t look mean, smile, but look them in the eyes and don’t look away. You’ll see most people will avert their gaze faster than you do!

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It’s a great way to boost confidence and make you feel great about who you are. Dance your way through the streets, not caring what anyone thinks. You’re an introvert and you’re just fine.

2. Use social media. A lot

Remember how everyone always says social media aren’t all that social, because now people just stay in and socializes on their computer? This is what makes them perfect for us introverts! You can talk to and connect with millions of people – without having to leave your living room.

Imagine having 20 people in your house, exhausting, right? But talking to 20 people throughout the day on Twitter, Facebook and even Skype, that can be fun! You can reach out to old friends or get to make new ones, learn tons of new things and find mentors, without having to say a single word, if you don’t want to.

3. Start something creative, and be bold in creating

Have a passion project, for example a blog, an Instagram account where you take photos, or write a book. When you create you can be as bold as you want to be. Your imagination knows no limits and none of the limits that others might put on you matter when you quietly work on something that shows your genius.

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I chose to start a blog and it’s been great fun to write for myself, for other blogs and try all kinds of content to grow it and create something valuable that helps people. This is your chance to show the world your brilliance, passion and even become an authority. Those who teach are always perceived as experts. A lot of people who might criticize you at work, will commend you for what you write on your blog, giving you a confidence boost and showing you that you DO have a story that’s worth telling and showing the world.

The world is split into consumers and creators. Becoming a creator is one of the best ways to feel great about yourself (whether you’re an introvert or not).

4. Pick up a solo sport

You know exercise is important, and maybe you even do sports with your friends on occasion already, but chances are a team sport is not for you. Even if you play one, a solo sport can be a great way to balance things out.

For us introverts exercising solo is one of the best times to think, so get a treadmill, buy a ticket to the pool or pick up yoga, running or another sport you can do all by yourself. It’ll just be you, your thoughts and maybe some music – you’ll feel great during and after!

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5. Say no to meetings you don’t want to do

Especially for business, people love to do in-person meetings. Everyone just gets together and chitchats. These meetings are often much more about socializing, than they are about solving a problem. Often there’s a much faster way that doesn’t even require a meeting to take care of the problem.

So when you feel like a meeting won’t help you make any progress, politely decline and suggest an alternative solution. The same is true for meeting with your friends. Do it as often as you like, but never be afraid to say no when you don’t want to. You’ll always be glad you did it afterwards.

Do you know that awkward feeling in your stomach after you said yes to something you didn’t want to do? This will make it go away.

6. Inspire yourself by reading books about famous introverts

You’re not alone. There are many introverts out there in the world, who have become wildly famous and successful. You just need to surround yourself with them. Books are a great way to do this. For example “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill, “Quiet! The Power of Introverts” by Susan Cain or the Sherlock Holmes series by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle are a good start.

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All of these people are introverts, but they didn’t let that stop them and neither should you.

7. Come up with a powerful mantra

A mantra or affirmation is a short little statement you can recite to yourself over and over again. For example this can simply be you, standing in front of your mirror in the morning, telling yourself: “I’m an introvert, and I’m great the way I am. My life is my message to the world and I’m going to make it inspiring in my own way.”

You can also develop a very short mantra that you can repeat to yourself before difficult situations, for example when you’re about to enter your office in the morning, such as: “I am strong.” or “What I do matters.” Just repeating this one sentence over and over again for a minute or so will program your subconscious mind to live the words throughout the day.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via images.unsplash.com

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Niklas Goeke

Student, Technical University of Munich

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Last Updated on January 15, 2019

How To Stop Negative Thoughts from Killing Your Confidence

How To Stop Negative Thoughts from Killing Your Confidence

To have negative thoughts is to be human. The story of humanity is the story of an epic battle with negativity.

This is perhaps the most important question in existence: How do you conquer negative thoughts that are stifling your confidence and bringing you down?

You’d be surprised to know the answer to this question is much simpler than it seems.

Yet even the simplest things can easily drown beneath the roar and constant cascade of negative thoughts that seem justified. If you could ignore that roar, what would you do? Pursue a new career? Make new friends? Go on a date and begin a relationship with a person who seems unattainable?

To read on is to know you can do any of these things, and more — but at the same time, this is a dare: to read on is to accept the dare and choose a confident approach to actions that terrify you.

This article will help you stop negative thoughts by teaching you strategies to cope with them in actionable ways. You’ll learn how to view your thoughts differently, how to calm your mind, and how to be confident in your actions. Most importantly, you’ll step away from the page empowered and ready to pay attention to the world around you in a non-judgmental way.

1. Uncover the Root of Negative Thoughts

Here’s a revelation: four different studies showed that people who are unskilled tend to grossly overestimate their abilities. The studies measured humor, grammar, and logic. Participants who thought they were great were in fact incompetent.[1]

This shines a light on the root of your negative thoughts about your own abilities. Your self-doubt is a result of your intelligence. Instead of assuming you’re good, capable, skilled, and born ready to tackle any challenge, you analyze yourself and the situation. Past failings come to mind.

You think — you don’t just act — and when the brain gives itself time to think, any number of unwanted thoughts tend to pop up.

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There’s a good reason why: early humans evolved in a dangerous environment. We had to think about what could possibly go wrong almost all of the time. We were threatened by wild animals, natural disasters, rival tribes, and competitors in our own camps. Our brains are hardwired to look for danger, and when a challenge arises, instinct tells us to either fight or flee.

You have negative thoughts because your intelligent brain is considering all of the possibilities. Although the challenges you face may not be anywhere close to the extremity of a wild animal attack, they’re challenges nonetheless, and a muffled version of your fight-or-flight instinct kicks in.

2. Value Your Emotional IQ

We’ve established that your intelligence is contributing to negative thoughts, the type of thoughts that can kill your confidence if you focus on them. But have you ever thought about your emotional intelligence?

Otherwise known as EI, this is a quality that goes a long way in the professional world, where it’s extremely important for people to possess it. In a survey, 71 percent of hiring managers said EI is more important than IQ, and 58 percent won’t even hire somebody with a high IQ and low EI.[2] The University of Maryland identifies the following important aspects of EI:

  • You recognize your emotions.
  • You register the emotions of others.
  • You can figure out what’s triggering your emotions.
  • You “manage emotional info,” meaning you don’t just react when emotions flare, you are able to control yourself.

We’re taught to value the intellect from a very young age. We don’t place very much emphasis on the ability to recognize emotions and use them in effective ways. It’s this lack of balance that leads many of us to stumble.

Negative emotions cause negative thoughts, and emotion is triggered by something you can’t control. Likewise, the internal verbalisation of an emotion happens almost instantaneously — you don’t even notice when it happens. You feel sad because you didn’t get invited to a party. Suddenly, you start thinking you’re inadequate, and then defensiveness kicks in and you think, “I don’t like those people anyhow.”

Instead of reacting to emotion negatively, cultivate your EI. Recognize the emotion and understand that an emotion of this type is likely to cause negative thoughts. Also, recognize that the emotion is natural — it’s not right or wrong, it’s just a feeling you have.

Be there with the emotion, give it a name, give it a color, find a way to express it externally. Be creative, and if your expression feels sad, that’s because it’s authentic.

3. Recognize Unhealthy Actions That Reinforce Negative Thoughts

We thrive on stimulus. Basically, this means you seek out things to help you feel good. A lot of times, when kids are very young, parents do them a disservice by offering a stimulus at the wrong times. This carries through to adulthood.

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For example, when you were a kid, you were sad because kids were making fun of you at school. Negative thoughts surfaced almost immediately, like buoyant objects on waves of emotion. Instead of sitting with you in your sadness and helping you express it, your parents gave you something to eat, sat you down in front of the TV, and then put you to bed.

What’s wrong with that? The first thing to provide comfort was an external stimulus in the form of food. The psychology of food[3] is such that,

“We can form unhealthy relationships with the thing that is supposed to aid in our well being.”

Food — especially processed, sugary food that delivers a dopamine kick — is a powerful substance that engages all of the senses. When you learn to turn to an external stimulus like food as a way to make yourself feel better, you create a negative feedback loop. Down the line, you develop a stimulus habit, and then when you indulge in the habit, you get down on yourself after the initial satisfaction is gone.

Identify unhealthy habits and remove them as an option. They’re confidence killers. Replace them with healthy habits such as exercise, art, journaling, and caring for a pet or visiting relatives and old friends more often.

4. Make Regular Deposits in Your Confidence Account

You need to do little things that increase your confidence. That way, when discouraging thoughts rear up, you have a reservoir of confidence to rely on.

Here are some confidence-building activities:

  1. Make a list of your strengths and things you’ve done (or are doing) that you’re proud of. Keep adding to the list regularly.
  2. Do a power pose every day. According to psychologist Amy Cuddy, simply standing in an open, broad stance with arms raised like you scored a touchdown will train your brain to develop confidence.[4] Do this for about a minute each day in front of the mirror.
  3. Challenge yourself with a new activity that isn’t out of reach. Take up yoga, learn how to sew or to cook a new type of food, memorize a poem or lyrics to a great song.
  4. Exercise and get enough sleep.
  5. Do the 100 days of rejection challenge. Jia Jiang, the owner of Rejection Therapy, desensitized himself to rejection and built courage by making crazy requests of people for 100 days.[5]
  6. Make self-affirmative statements in your mind and out loud. Use your list of strengths. Say, “I am a good communicator, I am smart, I care for other people.” When your inner critic speaks up, counter it with self-affirmation.

Doing confidence-building exercises regularly pays off in the long-term. You’ll feel better physically and mentally, and negative thoughts won’t have the confidence-killing effect they once had.

5. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

This is a huge one. It’s incredibly easy to compare yourself to other people in today’s social media environment. A study showed that the more time people spend on Facebook, the more depressed they are.[6]

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People tend to share their achievements via status updates and post pictures that are flattering. It’s easy to compare yourself to your friends’ Facebook façade and come up lacking. Then, you decide to post an update that makes you look good, and if it doesn’t get a ton of likes and comments, you get the impression your Facebook friends don’t like you.

This applies a great deal to people who are in relationships as well. A study showed that when people are in a serious, dependent relationship, they tend to advertise it on Facebook.[7] Oftentimes, they do so because they’ve seen their friends do the same. If you’re not in a satisfying relationship, seeing someone’s positive status in the artificial environment of social media can be a serious downer. You end up comparing yourself to them without even realizing it.

University of Texas professor Raj Raghunathan recommends an alternative approach.[8]:

“Become a little more aware of what it is that you’re really good at, and what you enjoy doing. When you don’t need to compare yourself to other people, you gravitate towards things that you instinctively enjoy doing.”

Focus on what you enjoy. There will be no room for negative thoughts. You’ll get closer to mastering what you enjoy most and you’ll be confident in your mastery.

6. Practice Mindfulness as a Way of Life

Our Western mode of thought frames things in terms of problems and solutions. It’s tempting to say, “If negative thoughts are the problem, mindfulness is the solution.”

Mindfulness meditation isn’t a solution and expectations for mindfulness creates frustration. All you can expect of mindfulness is to be mindful.

Mindfulness is a way of life. It’s the practice of paying attention, it’s the practice of noting phenomena and releasing phenomena in the same way the lungs take in oxygen and release carbon dioxide.

How does mindfulness help you cope with negative thoughts? The mind takes note of the thought and then releases it.

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That’s all, there’s no magic here. There is the recognition that your brain and its thoughts are a functioning part of a phenomenal universe. At the risk of sounding cliche, a rolling stone grows no moss. The mind that releases thoughts and lets them go in the universe does not brood on them, therefore that mind remains fresh and ready for new challenges.

7. Judge Less, Do More

When we judge other people and gossip and make negative comments about them, we give negative thoughts power. We vocalize them and let them resound. Soon, this type of thinking becomes a habit, and it turns on the speaker. It’s like a dog biting an owner who trained the dog to bite people.

Don’t give negative thoughts about other people a foothold. Don’t make these thoughts an authority. Instead, practice loving-kindness meditation or something close to it. With loving-kindness, you sit and direct thoughts of well-being and unconditional love first to yourself, then to a friend, then to an acquaintance, and then to someone you don’t like.

Next, start writing down specific, achievable checkpoints, tasks, and goals for yourself. Write down dates and places and get as hyper-specific as possible. Make sure your checkpoints and goals revolve around what you enjoy doing. Keep a laminated copy of your to-do list in your pocket. Check things off: do more and enjoy the act of doing.

By focusing positive thoughts on yourself and others, and by focusing on your object of enjoyment, you’re training your brain. Soon, you are used to thinking positively and getting things done. Oh how good this feels!

The Bottom Line

Confidence is a habit. Like any habit, you need continual practice to build confidence. It’s easy to develop bad habits because you’re not thinking of some distant goal. You’re just engaging in an action repeatedly. Hand takes donut, puts donut in mouth, mouth chews, throat swallows, repeat. Why can’t positive habits be the same way?

Build your confidence by repeating routine actions that build confidence. Go to sleep with enough time for eight hours of shut-eye. Wake up, stretch, and hold a power pose for a minute while thinking self-affirming thoughts.

If you have time for exercise in the morning, exercise in the morning. Set a realistic goal to challenge yourself in some way that day. Then, with knowledge that you will tackle an achievable challenge, go through your day with mindful indulgence in each moment.

More Resources to Help You Stay Positive

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

Reference

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