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The Introvert’s Path from Pain to Confidence

First of all, you can be a confident introvert. But many introverts have concerns about confidence and I’ll explain why and what to do about it.

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, which are different things.

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:

Introversion

over-thinking

perfectionism and self-judgment

believing the negative stereotypes about introverts

chronic 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:

Introversion

learn about introversion

tap into introvert strengths

manage introvert challenges

confidence
 ↓
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 subscribers.

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Val Nelson

Val Nelson

I’ve been a self-employed career/business/purpose coach since 2009. I help introverts and HSPs (like me) who want to make a difference — in a way that fits our practical needs too.
[More about Val, coaching, and courses.]

I appreciate feedback, good and bad. You can comment below or contact me privately.

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2 thoughts on “The Introvert’s Path from Pain to Confidence”

  1. Michael Lapointe

    Yes … I recognize the path of increasing pain since I was on that path for over 30 years. Then the unthinkable happened … loss my job to my narcissist boss to save her own arse in a toxic work environment. “WHY?” I was loyal and a hard worker. But I was on the wrong path. The pain of that experience forced me to look and truly accept my introversion for what it is … TOTALLY NORMAL. From that acceptance, I rebuilt my soul and it is stronger than it was before. I challenge anyone to say that I’m not normal ’cause I’ll get up right in their face’ and challenge their over-inflated ego. Too many times I’ve seen people with lots of self promotion to be shadows of what they promised. I’ve even hired a few of those types as a supervisor (yeshhh). I’m on the right path now … the path of growth and ease. Don’t think its a leisurely path … its a path of continuous growth and curiosity about you and the world but that makes life worth living.

    1. So glad to hear you’re now on a path of growth and ease. You’re right, not leisurely. It’s a conscious effort, that pays off internally and externally.

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