Especially when we exist in a world where extrovert qualities—being audacious, outgoing, and the life of the party—are esteemed.
No one feels inspired by the sensitive shy guy standing by the wall. Sure they feel sympathy. But it stops at that.
Social events, festivities, outings with friends. Extroverts are always front and center. Their ability to engage and entertain a group is enviable.
So the big question.
Does being an introvert mean you’re screwed? And that you’ll never wield the same power extroverts do?
But maybe not.
How do I know? Because I was once that shy guy, standing by the wall, feeling out of place…
…and now I’ve tapped into different side of myself. I’ve turned my introvert “weaknesses” into strengths. And as a result I’ve become infinitely more magnetic.
But before I spill the secrets and share how YOU can do that, it’s best to first learn…
What Being An Introvert Is All About
To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom.
Understanding your introvert nature is what lays the foundation for one thing:
Discovering how to maximize your introvert traits and thrive in this extroverted world.
Learning how to do this isn’t hard.
However it does take effort.
And what’s more—it has very real consequences for your ability to feel self-competent.
Why? Because if you can’t function in all facets of the modern world—your life satisfaction can only reach a certain point. You must know, deep down, that you have the chops to handle what life throws at you.
If you want to be happy, that is.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
First, know thyself.
And that starts with understanding the fundamental difference between introverts and extroverts:
One major difference between the brains of introverts and extroverts is the way we respond to the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical released in the brain that provides the motivation to seek external rewards like earning money, climbing the social ladder, attracting a mate, or getting selected for a high-profile project at work. When dopamine floods the brain, both introverts and extroverts become more talkative, alert to their surroundings, and motivated to take risks and explore the environment.
It’s not that introverts have less dopamine present in their brains than extroverts do. In fact, both introverts and extroverts have the same amount of dopamine available. The difference is in the activity of the dopamine reward network. It is more active in the brains of extroverts than in the brains of introverts.
At the expectation of, say, getting the phone number of an attractive person or earning a promotion at work, extroverts become more energized than introverts. They buzz with an enthusiastic rush of good feelings, while introverts feel overstimulated.
Why Introverts and Extroverts Are Different: The Science
Being an introvert means you’re more sensitive to rushes of dopamine.
This means busy environments—those with lots of commotion, noise, and bright lights—have an overstimulating effect that drains an introvert’s energy.
To recharge that energy an introvert needs time away in a low-key environment—nature, reading a book, working alone, etc.
Anyhow, I want to sidestep quickly and make a point, because this is crucial to understand.
Nothing is wrong with being an introvert.
We live in a world of opposites. Yin and yang. Dark and light. Up and down. Introvert and extrovert.
Being an introvert signifies one thing: you’re wired differently than an extrovert.
But why, then, does society associate being an introvert with being shy and socially awkward?
Highly sensitive people.
Research reveals that 15-20% of the population has a personality trait called sensory processing sensitivity. These people have a “hypersensitivity to external stimuli, a greater depth of cognitive processing, and high emotional reactivity.”
What’s more, with introverts making up nearly half the population, it means 30-40% of introverts are also highly sensitive.
Some traits of being highly sensitive:
- You’re easily overwhelmed in large crowds—movie theaters, restaurants, concerts.
- Being the center of attention causes sensory overload.
- You blush easily when embarrassed.
- Loud noises startle you.
- You avoid fighting and confrontation whenever possible.
Highly sensitive people are the reason introverts, as a group, get stigmatized.
In social situations, the social pressure that is exerted is often overwhelming for a highly sensitive person.
Especially in the spotlight. Being the center of attention puts tons of social pressure on a highly sensitive person.
And if they’re not accustomed to that pressure… the end result is usually a nervous breakdown.
That’s why highly sensitive people are often confused with being shy and socially awkward.
Do highly sensitive people have hope?
Learning social skills, for them, is a catch-22. They of course want and need social interaction. But they also want to avoid being overstimulated and having all their energy drained.
So is there hope?
Yes, there is.
Sensitivity and social pressure are only barriers. And as I’ve learned, these barriers can be broken with enough diligence and determination.
And you too, can learn…
How To Turn Your Introvert “Weaknesses”
1. High sensitivity
Having highly attuned senses when you’re immersed in nature or solitude is great.
But put those same highly attuned senses into a loud, commotion-filled environment? It quickly becomes sensory overload.
That is, if you haven’t yet increased your nervous system’s ability to tolerate stimulation.
No. You can’t change your inset biology. If you’re a highly sensitive person—that’s the way you are.
But you can increase your body’s ability to handle highly stimulating environments and social pressure.
Just like in the gym when you lift increasingly heavier weights, your nervous system adapts to handle the heavier loads…
…the more you socialize and put yourself in uncomfortable situations, the more your nervous system adapts to handle stimulation and social pressure.
How long does it take?
You can diminish your sensitivity to social pressure in months… or years. It all depends on you.
If every day you expose yourself to social pressure—you can become desensitized quite fast.
The best way?
Jobs with lots of interaction—waiting tables, cashiering, sales, and retail jobs—are the best way, in my experience, to better cope with social pressure.
That’s because they force you to interact with people (which is often what’s needed for a highly sensitive person—that extra push to socialize).
But there’s other ways also:
- Public speaking (Toastmasters).
- Making more small talk (strangers on the street, cashiers, classmates, etc.).
- Approaching girls.
- Improv class.
- Meetup.com groups.
2. Losing energy
Too much dopamine for an introvert is overstimulating and causes fatigue over time.
That’s why developing a strategy, before going into social situations, is prudent. The more energy you have going in—the longer you can last without feeling drained.
How does one acquire more energy?
I urge you to read one book: Primal Endurance by Mark Sisson.
You’ll learn several crucial things inside, which will certainly boost your energy levels. Namely:
- Becoming fat-adapted (why high fat, low carb is the best diet for sustained energy).
- Intermittent fasting.
- Best ways to exercise throughout the week.
- Ideal sleeping environment for restful sleep.
Since I’ve implemented what I’ve learned in Sisson’s book—I’ve dropped lots of belly fat, I eat considerably less, and I rarely get hungry.
And the big one: I have sustained energy throughout the day with no blood sugar crashes.
3. Transmute fatigue
Obviously having lots of energy is ideal.
But what about the times you don’t have energy and you still have to socialize because of work or other obligations? Do you just have to accept the fact you’re gonna be miserable?
As I’ve discovered, no.
And that’s because you can “transmute” the fatigue. Let me explain.
I’ve had nights working as a waiter where, for the first several hours, I’ve had tons of energy.
Then out of nowhere—that energy plummets.
At that point I experience a divide. I feel low energy. Yet my mind still wants to be high energy.
What happens next? I spend the remainder of the night resisting my feelings and wishing I still had energy.
That only serves the purpose of wasting what energy I have left and making my night miserable.
But what I learned, after struggling one too many times, is that by embracing the fatigue and accepting how I feel…
…I can continue socializing and still feel good regardless. It doesn’t have to ruin the rest of my night.
4. Feeling anti-social
Being an introvert—it’s natural to spend time alone to recharge.
But a side effect of being alone is that you might not feel social the instant you’re around people again.
Two things help solve that.
The first: be congruent with your feelings.
Society conditions you to feel like you must be a certain person around people. Someone who is happy-go-lucky and always in a good mood.
But that’s often not the case, in my experience, after being alone for a day or two. It takes time—15 to 30 minutes—to warm up socially and get into a flow state.
That’s why you should give yourself time to get into a social mood. Don’t paint a mask over your face and be someone you’re not.
Because, when you can’t meet those lofty expectations, it only makes you feel worse about yourself.
The second: warm up your voice.
Your vocal chords are a muscle. And just like any muscle they need to be warmed up before heavy activity.
If you jump into social situations without your voice being warmed up—it can thwart your ability to speak freely and make you feel hesitant.
That’s why warming up your voice is imperative! Five minutes of this simple technique usually does the trick:
5. Deep cognitive processing
Do you express thoughts better when writing than talking?
And when you do talk, do you like to explore topics deeply and take your time to mull it over?
If so it’s probably because of your greater depth of cognitive processing.
While this trait is great in the above situations; it’s not so great in social situations—such as work and school—where you might make lots of small talk.
How do you skirt around this obstacle? The fact that you like to take your time and go deep? And that extroverts like to keep it light and breezy?
You might feel compelled to simply adopt extroverted behavior—to talk fast and try to be quick-witted.
But when you do this you’re not honoring your inherent nature. The fact that your brain needs time to assess and assimilate incoming data.
That’s why you should be comfortable with taking your time.
Take your time before responding. And take your time when you speak.
Don’t feel it necessary to spit out your words, as fast as you can, just because that’s what other people are doing.
6. Trapped in thoughts
Introverts are known to have rich and complex inner lives. The outside world often pales in comparison to an introvert’s inner world.
But being an introvert in social situations? It can put you at a disadvantage—only because you don’t want to be in your head.
And that’s because when you’re lost in thoughts—you’re not in the present moment. And when you’re not in the present moment—there’s a disconnect to everything that’s unfolding around you.
You’re significantly less sharp-tongued. And you miss social cues when you’re not in the moment.
In music terms, you’re off-beat and out-of-sync.
That’s why you should strongly consider a meditation practice to get more into the moment.
Something simple is all that’s needed.
My favorite way to meditate is 10 minutes focusing on my breath, while listening to alpha binaural beats.
Because being in your head, and thinking a lot, is associated with high amounts of beta brain waves.
In social situations, having excessive beta waves can cause stress and anxiety.
You want more alpha and less beta when socializing. That’s because alpha brain waves promote feelings of relaxation and calmness of mind.
7. Embracing introversion
Many people, including myself at one point, go through life unhappy with the person they are. They look through a lens that constantly reveals their every flaw and insecurity. They can’t ever appreciate themselves and find the good qualities.
Whether that’s because of critical parents, being religiously indoctrinated with self-damning beliefs that you’re never good enough, or constant comparison to other people who look like they have it all together—it doesn’t matter.
What matters is that, from this point on, you appreciate and give a damn about yourself.
Why? Because no one will give a damn about you until you give a damn about yourself.
You’ll find, as I have, that once you respect and appreciate yourself—being around people is remarkably more enjoyable.
When you’re not berating yourself, rather, you’re enjoying who you are—your life takes on a whole new meaning.
After all, why shouldn’t you love yourself? There’s no one like you on this earth.
That gives you every right to unabashedly be yourself.
That’s one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned (and a lesson I’m still learning).
I have every right to act with confidence and be myself around people. I don’t have to hold back any part of myself.
So that’s my journey being an introvert and learning to function in this crazy extrovert world.
What about yourself?
Are your experiences similar to mine?
Have anything you’d like to add?
Either way let me know by leaving a comment below