Leave an extrovert alone for two minutes
and he will reach for his cell phone.
In contrast, after an hour or two of being socially “on,”
we introverts need to turn off and recharge.
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My own formula is roughly two hours alone
for every hour of socializing.
This isn’t antisocial.
It isn’t a sign of depression.
It does not call for medication.
For introverts, to be alone with our thoughts is as
restorative as sleeping, as nourishing as eating.
“I’m okay, you’re okay—in small doses.”
Many of us are die-hard introverts and have no desire to change. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that! But there are some introverts who really want to learn to be more comfortable in social situations and have a different, perhaps richer social life. If this is you, the good news is that you can become a little more extroverted with a little time and practice. The first step in any process, whether its starting a new business or working on your personality, the first step really is to evaluate your motives and to know yourself.
What do you want to happen and why?
What is true of social styles is also true of most things. When you are trying to attain a goal, there will always be a certain degree of internal motivation and resistance that you have to deal with. You can think of the motivation as the motor in your boat and the resistance as the wave you are trying to power over or through. If you can work to reduce the size of the waves, the journey will be that much easier.
Pressing beyond your introverted self
1. Polish your social skills. Many people who are introverts are truly interested in being a part of group social activities if they could only feel more comfortable about what to say and how they should behave. But having a conversation with a stranger and feeling comfortable about it is something that most people can learn to do.
The key is to attend these social events repeatedly, then evaluate yourself. The most important thing is to work toward progress, not perfection.
Remember that you should only compare your results to your previous results, not to the results of other people. They may have had a lot more practice, or have been in environments that helped them cultivate those skills. Cut yourself some slack.
2. Small or nonexistent social circles. If you have largely kept to yourself for the last 10 years, you are really going to have to do some brainstorming. Ideally, you want to seek out people who share the same or similar interests. Join a basketball team at the YMCA. Join a book club.
There are plenty of people who would love to have a friend or activity partner. You might even meet another introvert like yourself, and you can learn the ropes together and share a lot of the quiet mirth about it along the way! And there are many active social groups that would love to have another person.
3. Get offline!!! Yes, I said that. Socializing online is not the same as socializing with real face-to-face people. In fact, studies have shown that the users that spend the most time on sites like Facebook report the highest levels of loneliness.
Unplug and get your butt out there. Ten years from now you will remember the canoe trip you took, not the online chat you had. You will also find that if you have more meaningful relationships in the “real world,” you will have far less time, if not interest, in spending all of your free time online.
4. Fear. “Fear is the mindkiller…” People are almost universally lousy at assessing risk and reward. Consider the amount of fear the average guy has just walking up to a female and saying ‘hello’. What’s the risk? There is no tangible risk. He will be safe pretty much regardless of what her response happens to be. And what’s the potential reward? Nearly unlimited.
Almost all of us are uncomfortable in similar situations. Sometimes you can gain a lot by stepping back and intellectually examining your feelings. And then you can go ahead and do the thing that frightens you.
After experiencing and actually living through a few “failures,” you will quickly learn that it is not much different than being afraid of the dark. When you turn on the lights, there isn’t anything there.
Being a lifelong introvert doesn’t cast your social future in stone. Changing yourself is always a little uncomfortable, but if you believe you want to change, and can change, you are halfway there.
Focus on all the benefits you will receive and the ways in which your life will blossom. Even if you take small steps, as long as you continue, you can accomplish almost anything you put your mind, heart and spirit to over time.