It strikes me that these are the two classic paths for introverts, which I’ll outline below. One path leads to pain and anxiety. The other leads to ease and confidence. Your choice.
While introversion doesn’t change, our response to it can change, and it makes a big difference.
These scenarios below also help to explain the connection between introversion, shyness, and anxiety.
Of course real life is not so linear as these models describe, but this makes a good bite-sized model. I hope you find this helpful.
The Path of Increasing Pain (All Too Common)
If there’s no understanding or consciousness of one’s introverted temperament and how our brains work, introversion can lead to anxiety like in this example:
perfectionism and self-judgment
believing the negative stereotypes about introverts
shyness (fear of being seen as imperfect)
avoidance and/or wearing an extrovert mask
increasing fear and exhaustion
anxiety and low self-esteem
trapped in worsening anxiety and burnout.
Ouch, I’ve been on that path. It didn’t have to be like that. Finally I learned about introversion and that made a huge difference.
This painful path is more likely or worsened in cultures that tend to look down on introversion, such as in the U.S. But even in cultures that appreciate introversion, the introvert’s brain is still prone to over-thinking which can lead to anxiety if left unchecked.
The Path of Growth and Ease (Very Doable)
If an introvert learns about introversion, this is a more likely path:
learn about introversion
tap into introvert strengths
manage introvert challenges
fulfillment and ease, in social situations and beyond.
The moral of the story: Self-awareness is critical.
I’ve taken this path and it has paid off for me. I see it pay off for others too.
Now that I feel more confident and comfortable speaking up when I want to, some people think I’m an extrovert. They confuse confidence with extroversion. You CAN be a confident introvert.
Of course everyone, including me, still has their shy moments or anxious moments. I’m not talkin’ perfection. I’m talking about making choices that support more pain or more growth. Ya know?
I know these paths I’ve drawn are quite simplistic, like a view from 1000 feet up, of a typical scenario. There are other paths, but in my observations (and I’ve been a studious observer on this my whole life), they have a similar flavor to them.
Do you recognize parts of your story in there? I hope it’s helpful for you. I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments section below.
Want To Stick to the Path of Ease?
Start with learning. I recommend this starting place for learning about introversion.
You can also join me in The Caring Introvert Clubhouse (free online group). It helps to connect with other people who want to be on the growing path. And I’ve got more treats in store for my Introvert Inspiration subscribers.