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12 Reasons You Should Stop Feeling Guilty Of Being An Introvert

12 Reasons You Should Stop Feeling Guilty Of Being An Introvert

When you’re an introvert, it’s challenging to live in a world where extroverts set the social standards. I know this first hand because I have an introverted personality. It’s not that I don’t like people. On the contrary, I love to socialize and to hang out with friends and family, but for an introvert it can be mentally and physically draining.

If you’re an introvert, you might analyze and judge your actions because you feel as if you don’t fit into the same mold as extroverts. For example, in the past I’ve felt guilty about my actions, such as avoiding eye contact, escaping small talk or screening calls. I worry that I’m offending others or that I’m perceived as being socially awkward. However, when I learned that we as introverts have unique qualities that are just different from extroverts, I began to accept my ways of interacting with others.

If you’re like me and you occasionally feel guilty about your actions from your introverted personality traits, here are a few things you should know about introverts that make us unique, extraordinary and purely awesome people.

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1. We might think we’re outsiders, but up to 50% of people are introverts.

Nobody wants to feel like an outsider. Introverts like spending time alone, but we don’t want to feel alone in our world. It’s comforting to know that up to 50% of the United States population are introverts. Thus, we as introverts are in good company. Many of the most successful entrepreneurs, actors and politicians are introverts including Mark Zuckerberg, Meryl Streep and Hillary Clinton. Hence, it’s not necessary to be an extrovert to excel in fields that are typically perceived as only suitable for those with outgoing personalities.

2. While we might be quiet, it doesn’t mean we’re not great listeners.

Introverts are phenomenal listeners. In my experience, colleagues, friends and family members often approach me to express their feelings and to request assistance. Introverts carefully examine situations before speaking. When we’re ready to speak, we’ve considered all the views and alternatives. Our responses might not be lengthy, but they’re right on point. Because we vigilantly assess what’s being said and study non-verbal cues before expressing our views, we’re solid partners when solving problems, generating creative ideas, making plans and working in teams.

3. We don’t always do the happy dance, but we’re genuinely happy and appreciative.

I have an extroverted friend who will bust out in a happy dance just from hearing a favorite song. Everyone knows when she’s feeling joy because she openly demonstrates it. We as introverts are not as gregarious when we’re happy. We might even appear ungrateful and this can make us feel guilty. Understand that we have the same deep feelings of joy and appreciation of extroverts. However, we’re more reserved and show our feelings within the boundaries of our comfort zones.

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4. Just because we don’t tell stories at parties, it doesn’t mean we can’t script an epic tale.

The author, John Green is quoted as saying, “Writing is something you do alone. It’s a profession for introverts who want to tell you a story but don’t want to make eye contact while doing it.”

Green nailed it. Writing requires quiet, solitary surroundings, such as musty libraries and closed office spaces where we can conjure up deep thoughts and reflect intensely. Introverts are excellent storytellers, but we tell our stories through writing. Brilliant writers such as Edgar Allan Poe and William Faulkner were introverts and in some cases were considered reclusive, but it never stopped them from being thought-provoking storytellers.

5. Even though we avoid phone calls, it doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy conversations.

For introverts, making and receiving calls requires a lot of energy. Many of us screen our calls, even from friends and family, and we feel guilty about it. This action results from our need to conjure up the energy to have a conversation, especially when we’re over-stimulated from a busy day. If you can relate, accept that you just need some downtime to prepare for your calls. Understand that once you’ve mustered up enough energy, you’ll be happy to spend the time conversing.

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6. We might spend time alone, but it’s not because we don’t have mind-blowing relationships.

What’s fantastic about being an introvert is we’re very comfortable spending time alone. In my own personal experience, solitude helps me to be more self-aware. Introverts can form terrific relationships because our frequent introspection supports our ability to form an accurate perception of our character, feelings and behaviors. This self-awareness helps us understand how our behaviors affect others and we become less guarded. In turn, this knowledge and understanding feeds and grows our relationships.

7. While we tend to be less social in person, we rock it online.

Introverts can have serious swagger online. Whether it’s on social media, blogging, gaming, online dating, email or other online outlets, we’re typically comfortable when using these channels. It’s just easier to be sociable online than it is face-to-face. Why? These interactions are less draining to introverts because non-verbal communication is detached, we have more time to process our thoughts and we can write our views instead of verbalizing them. In fact, introverts can outshine their extroverted counterparts online because of these dynamics.

8. We might be guilty of not joining the company softball team, but it doesn’t mean we’re not athletes.

As an introvert, when someone mentions bowling I want to hide in a corner. Many introverts tend to shy away from high-energy team sports, such as rugby, softball, basketball or even bowling. While we might not enjoy team sports, many introverts are excellent athletes. We have outstanding hand-eye coordination and we enjoy complexity. Golf, track, cycling, archery and tennis are ideal for introverts. The lesson? Stop feeling guilty about declining the company team invitation, and pursue sports that suit your introverted personality.

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9. You might think we’re snobs, but we’re actually just happy being in our bubble.

Many times in my life I’ve felt guilty about being labeled as a snob or stuck-up because I’m not the most social person. However, after people get to know me, they understand that I’m just comfortable in my own bubble. As it might be more difficult to get introverts to open up, once you pop our bubbles, look out! We’ll share our deepest thoughts, tell jokes and talk up a storm. Introverts are very loyal so you might even find a best friend for life.

10. If we decline your invitation, it’s just because we need to recharge.

The energy of an introvert is comparable to our cell phone batteries. After a day of email, texting and talking our battery simply dies. We need time alone to meditate, exercise, be with nature or just think. If you’re an introvert and you feel guilty about declining an invitation, understand that you’re doing the right thing. Accept that being overstimulated can take a toll on your mind and body. If you need the time to recharge, take it.

11. We avoid big music festivals, but it doesn’t mean we don’t like concerts.

Austin, Texas is a mecca for live music and the Austin City Limits music festival is one of the most exciting music festivals in the world. When I lived in Austin, I felt guilty because I only attended this festival one time. Introverts like me don’t like crowds and attending a festival with 450,000 people is overwhelming. I learned to accept this personality trait and I no longer feel guilty about it. When I attend concerts, I don’t purchase general admission tickets. I splurge on VIP or seats up front where I know the crowd will be controlled so I can make an easy escape if I get overwhelmed.

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12. Our circle of friends is small, but our relationships are meaningful.

As an introvert, do you ever feel guilty that you don’t have a large number of Facebook friends? The reason for this is introverts focus on fewer, more meaningful friendships, rather that hoarding shallow ones. Stockpiling friends doesn’t make us better and more interesting. Thus, being popular is not always something for which we need to strive. What’s important is we have a few friends that we can call at any time of night or day and get help if the need ever arises.

Featured photo credit: 162/Mitya Ku via flickr.com

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Marilyn Rogers

Marketing Consultant | Content Strategist | Freelance Writer

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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