Making room for moments of silence is just one small change that will benefit your day-to-day life as an introvert.
Many introverts find it difficult to fit in with society, especially if they’re surrounded by extroverts who don’t understand their need for less social interaction. After all, the world is designed to encourage socializing and lots of stimulation. There’s an unspoken expectation of abiding by these social rules, but truthfully, we introverts don’t need to give up our sense of self to fit in.
Before I understood that I am an introvert, I struggled with socializing and relationships. I wasn’t as timid as my family, so navigating the world outside my home was confusing. I didn’t know the rules. I tried to fit in with extroverts, and I could relate to a degree. But while I needed time and space to recharge, many of my friends felt slighted by it.
I didn’t know how to explain my needs to my friends, so I ignored my needs for a while and gave in to unrealistic expectations of myself. In my early twenties, I met my husband, who is an extrovert, and I often told him yes to outings when I should have said no.
Over time, I recognized some significant changes I needed to make to my life to make it more manageable. In essence, I needed to stop “faking it,” embrace my introversion, and create a healthy balance between solitude and socializing.
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5 Small Changes Introverts Can Make to Improve Their Lives
1. Set clear boundaries in your relationships to protect your energy.
When I was younger, I felt embarrassed by my introversion. I thought asking people for space meant the beginning of the end of our relationship. I hadn’t realized that when I didn’t clearly understand my own needs and boundaries, it was impossible for me to communicate them to others — so I had to learn how to advocate for myself in small ways.
Many people find boundary-setting difficult at first, but you can start small. The easiest way to begin is by setting boundaries in situations where you’re likely to be received well. Unfortunately, we all know those family members or friends who don’t understand the word no. Yet when others know our limitations, it helps them advocate for us, too.
Communicating your needs and boundaries will eventually make you more confident in yourself and your space. For example, if you change your mind about a social outing, explain clearly but succinctly why you don’t want to go. It’s okay to change your mind, but clarifying your intentions is essential so the other person doesn’t think you’re rejecting them. (Maybe you’re honestly too tired after working all week, and that’s okay! No fake excuse is necessary.)
Another obstacle to watch out for is the fallout from poor communication. Some introverts ghost their friends when they’re anxious about saying no. They also might force themselves to attend an event anyway and end up having a terrible and exhausting experience.
Remember, those who care for you don’t want you to have a bad time. Communicating your needs is crucial — and it all starts with one small change (followed by another… and another).
Here are some more tips to set better boundaries when you’re a peace-loving introvert.
2. Schedule ample alone time — and stick to it.
Along with communicating our needs and boundaries, we introverts must also remember to take alone time — and actually schedule it. If you live alone, then it’s probably easy to find the necessary time for solitude. If you live with other people, it can be more difficult.
I live with my extroverted husband, an introverted roommate, and two small children. We also have two dogs in the house who need affection and attention. I’m fortunate to work from home, so I find time in the day to take breaks and read or go on walks with my dogs. I have an idea of everyone’s schedule, so I plan chunks of time to be by myself.
Scheduling solitude is more difficult when I’m extra busy with work. Sometimes I’ll start my tasks when my husband walks out the door, and I won’t finish until he’s been home for an hour or two. This gives me less time to carve out for myself, so I’ll plan to either make up the time the next day or communicate with my husband that I need some quiet time, so I’ll be going to bed early.
The most critical element of scheduling alone time is ensuring you’re recharging often. If you feel tired, or your brain is scattered, you probably need to put some alone time in your schedule. Keep track of how often you need that solitude, and plan ahead, so you won’t find yourself strung-out and exhausted at the most inconvenient times.
And, if you’re curious, here’s the science behind why introverts love spending time alone.
Do you ever struggle to know what to say?
As an introvert, you actually have the ability to be an amazing conversationalist — even if you’re quiet and hate small talk. To learn how, we recommend this online course from our partner Michaela Chung. Click here to check out the Introvert Conversation Genius course.
3. Welcome the silence, especially outside the house.
Sound control is more manageable at home, even if it’s not guaranteed. For example, as I draft this article, construction next door is loud and disruptive. I had the windows open to let in the pleasant breeze, so I’ll have to alter my space for a quieter environment. Fortunately, I have those options here at home, but it’s not as easy outside in the wild.
You might have to commute to work or school. I rode the city bus as a teenager and the university tram as a college student. Public transit can be a loud environment, so noise-canceling headphones were essential. Sometimes I wouldn’t listen to anything, but I still had my headphones on to create a sense of calm.
For a short period of time, I worked in an office. People were relatively quiet, but I still heard coworkers talking to clients on the phone in their cubicles. There was constant typing, coughing, and other normal office sounds. In order to protect my energy, I needed my noise-canceling headphones.
Most introverts are sensitive to sound, so it’s essential to make sure you’re making room for moments of silence. It’s a small change that will greatly benefit your day-to-day life. You might find that welcoming silence outside the house gives you the freedom to go out more often, like grabbing coffee in the middle of the day or grocery shopping.
4. Make time to understand yourself more deeply through creative activities.
A significant benefit of being an introvert is that we tend to prioritize introspection. Introverts spend a lot of time analyzing themselves and others, which can make them the best friend you’ll ever have.
However, to continue to grow internally, introverts should make time to explore their creativity. We are often drawn to creative pursuits anyway, because they involve self-expression without speaking to others (most of the time). Writing, drawing, painting, and other arts are huge passions for many introverts.
If you believe you don’t have the time to dedicate to creative tasks, try to find small instances to express yourself. Journal during a break at work. Doodle during meetings, especially if it helps you concentrate. Wake up early in the morning (or stay up late at night) to write fiction. Schedule a paint night with friends and work on individual projects. You get the idea…
Any type of creative pursuit will help you understand yourself more deeply, especially emotionally. Art works as a vessel for us to solve our problems, and utilizing creative activities will prove beneficial for us introverts.
5. Open yourself up to new experiences that challenge you.
This one might be more challenging, but as an introvert, you also need to allow new experiences into your life. Above, I discussed the importance of setting clear boundaries with others and scheduling your alone time. Once those two steps have been established, it gives you the freedom to know when to say yes to new experiences – which will ultimately bring you a greater perspective.
Let’s say you decide to try something new, like traveling solo. Traveling to unknown places can be anxiety-inducing, so it’s essential to ensure you’re saying yes to the right people and situations. Knowing when an activity isn’t for you is crucial, and having your escape, or back-up plan, ready is necessary. Bring your headphones or an alternate activity in case you need it. No matter how you approach the situation, it’s still beneficial for your life to try new things and see how you feel about them.
Start relatively small by going to a new coffee shop or trying a different restaurant. Stop by that music venue you’ve passed on your commute home a dozen times and always wondered about. Or go explore a neighboring city or town. That way, after enough local experiences, perhaps you’ll be prepared to book that ticket overseas.
There are several small ways you can implement these new experiences, and they can enhance your overall quality of life. And this is what it’s all about, right?
You might like:
- The Exhausted Introvert’s Guide to Saying No
- 9 Ways to Set Boundaries as an Introvert
- Why Do Introverts Love Being Alone? Here’s the Science
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