As an introvert, I used to think that confidence was elusive and reserved only for the extroverted.
A lot of factors go into success and happiness. Some will say luck, hard work, relationships, talent, and more. However, I submit that the single biggest component is confidence.
As an introvert, I used to think confidence was elusive and reserved for the extroverted. However, as I learned about my introversion and embraced my true self, I realized I have every bit as much claim to healthy self-confidence as anybody else.
For me, low self-esteem started early in life. It was closely attached to my misunderstanding of introversion as a curse — that something was “wrong” with me — along with a lack of family and school support for my personal journey.
However, as an adult, I began to explore my introversion in a healthy way. I realized no one “overcomes” or “gets rid of” introversion — and that it is actually a blessing. My journey had begun to discover that introverts can be proud, strong, and confident. I realized that introverts like me can have their dreams.
This evolution took a lot of effort and patience. But there are ways for us introverts to increase our self-confidence and accelerate to our own place of happiness, comfort, and success. Here are a dozen tactics you can try.
12 Ways for Introverts to Increase Their Self-Confidence
1. Find your passion and leverage it.
Remember when you were a kid and your parents shuffled you off to gymnastics, Boy or Girl Scouts, tee-ball, basketball, dance, music, and on and on? They were trying to help you find something you really loved. They knew that when we truly have a passion for something, we do it most energetically, we become good at it, and we learn to be proud of ourselves, as well as confident.
As adults, we should keep enjoying our passions and also search for more hobbies to love. Many introverts have several relaxing and reflective hobbies, like exploring the outdoors: new parks, camping, and canoeing. If you enjoy journaling, consider writing editorials, blogging, or writing your own memoir. Leveraging your current strengths is a great way to grow and boost your confidence in a certain skill or hobby.
2. Start with small steps vs. immediately jumping into the deep end.
When you find new adventures, it can be exciting and scary. Rather than set ourselves up for failure by jumping immediately into the deep end, break it down into small steps. If you want to meet new people, buddy up with a friend and start with small groups (perhaps via Meetup.com) in which you have a hobby in common rather than join a large cocktail party of strangers.
This way, incremental stretching of your comfort zone may lead to significant accomplishments. Introverts often ruminate over imperfection, but remember — it’s the journey, not the destination. It doesn’t matter how far you go. Take pride in the fact you are trying something new and scary. Be self-compassionate as you expand your skills by journaling about the positives of the experience and celebrating the attempt at something new.
3. Learn more about yourself through examining your introvert strengths.
Rather than be envious of others, learn about your own strengths. Many introverts are kind, curious, creative, team players, resilient, and great planners. These are traits that make them great friends, partners, and business leaders. Be proud of your strengths — practice them and share them with the world!
I used to consider my passion for organization and structure as OCD characteristics, but I later realized my preparation and planning helped me excel in meetings and with work projects.
4. Manage your energy levels throughout the day.
Introverts gain energy by using our strengths and enjoying our hobbies. Our energy drains in uncomfortable social situations, debates, or if we are put on the spot. As our energy drains, our confidence drains, as well. So be aware of what drains and energizes you.
For many introverts, small and familiar social engagements can be soothing for a time, but larger, extended gatherings are quick energy zappers. So make sure to monitor your energy level during the day, adapt situations to meet your strengths, and take breaks to avoid an energy crash.
5. Focus on the “now” instead of the past or future.
Introverts can dwell on the past, ruminate over their perceived shortcomings, or fear stressful situations that loom in the future. Often I would come out of meetings and lambast myself for having deviated from my script or injecting some “umms” and “ahhs.” I have since learned to first recognize my efforts and then focus on celebrating imperfect success and the insights that come with it.
Limit those energy-drainers and keep your mind in the present. This will help you focus on using your strengths, managing your energy, and accomplishing your tasks. If you find yourself distracted, jot down the ideas, concerns, or dreams rattling around in your head so you can address them later, and focus on what is before you now.
6. Maintain a task list in order to get more ideas out of your head and onto paper.
Lean on the common introvert comfort of planning. Even a simple task list will help declutter your mind by getting ideas or deadlines out of your head and onto paper. Thus, you can focus more on the present. You can also review your task list throughout the day and, at the end, regale in your accomplishments (rather than fixate on the tasks of tomorrow). There are many organizers out there, from simple paper planners to flexible apps. The key is to find one that works for you without overdoing it.
7. Compete with yourself and focus on your goals, not others’.
Too often, we set goals in comparison with others — we want to be faster, richer, and at a higher level at work. But these are often largely out of our control and degrading.
Instead, set goals that you control, that reflect the aspired quality or quantity of your work. For example, maybe you want to learn a new skill, share knowledge in a meeting, or accomplish a task by a certain deadline. That way, you can push yourself to improve and celebrate your successes, regardless of what others are doing, and how. This encourages us to cheer on our coworkers while we focus our attention on our work and goals. That’s something to be proud of!
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8. Evaluate situations as they are and take the emotion out of them.
We can sometimes get very wrapped up in the emotion of the moment. It can bring us down and suddenly we are doubting everything, especially ourselves. If someone else loudly vocalizes their position on something while I’m still in the process of thinking on it, I can quickly feel inadequate.
However, if we just pause, peel back the emotion, and evaluate the situation as it is, we will find the situation is not so bad. In fact, introverts often recognize that our more paced approach actually produces more balanced, impactful, and successful solutions.
9. Explain your introversion to others, from friends to coworkers.
Many introverts have felt a bit second-class — and subservient at times — to our extroverted cohorts when others appear to dominate a meeting or smoothly navigate a social scene. This has been supported by our culture, our schools, and workplaces, and even our families and places of worship. It’s time to push back on those stereotypes and boldly flaunt our introversion.
Start with friends and one-on-one conversations with people you know well, which will build your confidence. Then, you can share about your reflective introverted nature with coworkers and managers. Tell them you are an introvert, and before they share a sympathetic eye, pronounce how you embrace your introversion, love your hobbies, and exert your strengths! You aren’t looking for pity. It’s not we who need to change, but others need to realize the introvert stigma is old, worn out, and in the past. You may also want to consider mentoring other introverts who are seeking a strong role model.
10. Journal your successes as a way to celebrate your accomplishments.
Journaling is a great way to park your worries, but an even better way to celebrate your accomplishments. Don’t let your triumphs be fleeting. Write them down. For instance, you might write: “Today at work, I finally networked with a new manager” or “Today, I prepared well for a contentious meeting, got my voice heard, and made a positive impact…” Reread them. Tell others. Journaling your success is a great confidence-booster.
11. Surround yourself with supportive people.
Protect your turf — and yourself. Surround yourself with positive supporters who will help you on your journey. These can be friends, coworkers, family, or spiritual leaders. However, some people from these groups can be depressing, which is why it’s important to be your own bouncer: Get rid of the naysayers, the critics, the doubters.
12. Give yourself some Positive Self-Talk (PST).
Too often, we introverts are our own worst critics — we belittle our accomplishments, we rip into our brave attempts, and we compare ourselves to others with harsh words. But remember: Our words are powerful. Replace the severe condemnation with Positive Self-Talk (PST). Be your biggest cheerleader. Encourage yourself before meetings (“I know my stuff and I’m well-prepared”) and social calls (“I am excited to share about my latest vacation or passion project, and I’m curious to learn about others”). Celebrate your efforts and accomplishments. Spinning your mindset from the negative to the positive can immediately boost your confidence.
When we fill our lives with our own passions, champion our successes, and surround ourselves with positive support, our confidence blooms. With higher self-esteem, we are poised to pursue our dreams with vigor. Time teaches us that life is, indeed, short. We don’t need to wallow in self-pity, but instead, build our confidence, embrace our introversion, and become our best selves! Let’s go kick a$$!