A mentor made a pronouncement recently that caused my introvert ears to perk up.
To paraphrase him, a lot of people – including and particularly introverts – don’t want to be with other people, not because they don’t like other people, but because they haven’t learned to be themselves around other people.
In social interactions, we’ve learned to please, placate, and calm others in order to belong.
That’s why we don’t want to be there.
It’s not because we’re introverted.
We just haven’t yet learned to express ourselves fully, comfortably and confidently.
He has a good point.
Imagine if we felt free to just BE ourselves as we are, instead of being self-conscious and awkward because our mind is filled with thoughts like these —
- “I wonder if I look okay.”
- “Is my accent weird?”
- “Should I have said a different thing instead of what I just said?”
So how do we learn to be ourselves?
This is the part where the inner work comes in.
It’s not as simple as flicking a switch and being suddenly at ease with showing the world who you are.
I see it more as the outcome of daily, consistent, small practices that reinforce and build self-love, self-acceptance, self-esteem, and self-worth.
When we are comfortable and at peace with ourselves
and have a strong sense of our own worthiness and value,
we will be less hung up on what others think,
be more present,
enjoy the moment of interaction more,
which adds up to a much more positive social experience.