Those of us who are tooting the Team Introvert horn, loud and proud (relatively speaking!), have a few shared core messages:
- Being an introvert isn’t a liability, it’s an asset.
- Honor your need and desire for alone time, no apologies.
- Don’t let the noise of the outer world drown out your inner voice.
- Your energy and power comes from within.
- You have innate strengths that enable you to be a successful leader, entrepreneur, whatever you can dream of.
- Take care of your introversion, and it will take care of you.
- Accept yourself for who you are, rather than trying to conform to what others think you should be.
Carl Jung is the Swiss psychiatrist provocateur who, in 1921, gave us the phrases “introvert” and “extrovert” (he spelled it “extravert”). And with this quote – “The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely”- he is inviting us into a place that many people fear to tread.
Because, as Canadian cartoonist David Sim said, “Once a profound truth has been seen, it cannot be ‘unseen’.”
Here’s my interpretation of Jung’s remark: Once you start to understand and accept yourself, you can’t go back. It’s almost impossible to un-see the truth of who you are. For introverts, that self-acceptance can be terrifying because it means:
- We have to start asking for what we want/need – even when it’s hard – in order to be healthy: solitude. silence. space.
- We’re probably always going to feel a bit out-of-step with our bigger-brighter-bolder mainstream culture.
- We most likely won’t ever meet society’s (or our boss’s/partner’s/friend’s) prevailing “extrovert expectation.”
- We have to accept our darkness and our lightness, which means acknowledging our shadow side.
- Now that we know that there’s nothing wrong with us, we have to drop any self-deprecation, apologies, or excuses that keep us from action.
In short, ignorance is no longer bliss.
With the recognition that introversion isn’t a disorder or disease (I wonder… if there was a way to inoculate babies against introversion, how many parents would do it?), we have to embrace the idea that it might just be a positive thing to be introverted. I’m not just talking to the introverts who’ve felt they needed to deny their introversion; extroverts need to embrace this, too.
It’s a stereotype that introverts like to hide, hang out on the edges, and not be seen. We think we’re retreating from people, but what if we’re also retreating from ourselves? What if we’re playing the introvert card? Because with all this talk these days about how – breaking news! – introverts can be brilliant entrepreneurs, leaders and performers, we have more than enough information and support to help us step up to the plate and bring those internal hopes and dreams to external life.
Which is… terrifying.
So if you’re like me and on a continuous journey of evolving self-acceptance, take heart. Be compassionate with yourself. I often see and accept that “I can do this” or “This is who I am” long before I’m able to act on it. It has to simmer and seep deep into my soul. Accepting ourselves and then acting in alignment with our truth is vulnerable stuff.
But once the terror has passed, you’ll come out the other side. You’ll feel peace, confidence, grounded and centered and solid.
Now that is bliss.
Please share: What’s helped you in your journey of self-acceptance? How have you moved through any fears or doubts along the way?
Jennifer Johnson says
Wow, this is so true for me. What has helped me? Therapy. Honestly, it’s taken a lot of work and some very difficult life situations to begin to learn to honor who I am, and especially to validate and understand and not judge what I need to stay mentally, emotionally and spiritually healthy. I had to go through a lot of pain to get here. Is that true for everyone? I don’t know. But having a few key people help me see myself in a different light and support me while I explored different topics was key. It is terrifying to learn who I am and what I am capable of (in a good way) and you’re right, it takes a lot of time to simmer and bubble up to the surface of my life. But once it does, I do sense the power. And that power can be scary as well as uplifting.
Jimbaux's Journal says
And when something pops into your head, it’s important to record it! That’s why I usually carry around an audio recorder. I’ll read this after I take my walk in a little while. Thank you, Beth.
Dianne Juhl says
Who helped me was my maternal grandmother, Mary Grabau Affeldt, and then my high school debate, speech, theater, journalism and college athletes coaches who helped me understand that introvert stereotype and work through my performance fears. Then there were my hi tech corporate mentors who hired me because I was the “tempered radical” for whom they had been searching. Finally, during my graduate school training in psychology, there as an incredible therapist who helped me with decoding my own nightmarish performance dreams in sleeping life.
Veronique Hoebeke says
Great article! Accepting myself as an introvert has been challenging. I’m super grateful for this article and for this website because I’m sick of people thinking you have to be an extrovert to succeed. In my recent blog post (link at the bottom) I mention how one of my college professors told the class that introverts couldn’t succeed in business. I’m no longer letting people like that tell me what I can or can’t do based on my personality traits. Self-acceptance is so important.