Are you Introvert or shy? Is so, this is becoming your world. Currently, 50% of the population is classified as Introvert (seeking energy within) while 50% are classified as shy (strongly sensitive to the social environment). As technology grows, and people do more things from home, we’re becoming a more internal species—spending a great portion of our time on our technological devices and in our own thoughts.
Introversion and shyness are somewhat different. Introverts have a limited amount of social energy to spend, yet they can be sociable in smaller doses. In fact, they can be very good leaders because they often take the time to listen to people carefully and encourage them to keep improving. A shy person, on the other hand, is an individual who is very sensitive to the environment, and who may have a self-conscious side—worrying that they will be rejected and criticized by others. Although being shy can have its challenges, in my book, The Gift of Shyness (rb.gy/l7zjmm), I talk about the positive traits of the shy person. Shy people are often sensitive, good listeners, reflective, and loyal, among other positive traits. The key for the shy person’s success and happiness is for them to reduce the self-conscious (self-critical) part of their mind while increasing their spontaneous and natural side.
Here are some tips for you to claim your shyness or Introversion as a superpower that you can utilize for your good and the good of others:
If you’re shy:
*Become the Actor. The Actor is the part of your mind that is spontaneous, natural, and confident. Think of your favorite actor—how they act, walk, talk, and dress. Imagine that you are that actor. At home, practice, talking, acting, and walking like them—feeling their confidence and charisma. When you go out socially, imagine that your Actor is alive within you. You are ready to meet any social challenge because you have the Actor inside you as your best companion. In Israeli culture, children are encouraged to have Chutzpah, audacity or social courage—to go for what they want, to speak their mind—without the fear of failure or rejection. Chutzpah is a good skill for shy people to develop—to know that there is nothing to fear when they take a social risk. To develop Chutzpah, keep expressing your actor, the powerful and spontaneous part of you, regardless of how others may react. When you do this, you will eventually find people who resonate with your style and will want to be connected to you in a quality relationship.
*Start with small human exchanges. If you’re shy, you may feel awkward breaking the ice and starting conversations. To become more socially fluent, begin small in your conversational exchanges with others. Start by looking people in the eye, smiling, and saying “Hi,” even if you don’t know them. Progress to making a few observational comments; for example, to a passerby, you can say, “It sure is windy (or sunny) today.” Or, you can try paying a sincere compliment, “That color looks good on you,” when you see someone who looks friendly. Think of each conversational exchange as a social experiment in which you gain more knowledge about human interaction as you grow your conversational muscles. Talk to someone every day and you will get better at it.
*If you’re an Introvert:
*Embrace your internalness. Even before the virus, you may have been the type of person who did things alone—and enjoyed it. Whether it was going out to eat, walking around, or even watching a movie, you enjoyed your alone time—to think, observe, and reflect. At the same time, as an Introvert, you can enjoy the special company of a few long-term, loyal friends. The important thing is for you to embrace your Introvert nature, and don’t wish that you were more Extraverted like a lot of society appears to be (remember they will soon be in the minority). Accept and love yourself as you are—a proud Introvert—and realize that you may not need a lot of people around you, but you can do just fine with a few close friendships. Enjoy your internal nature—that is who you are.
*Manage your energy. As an Introvert, you have a limited amount of social energy. You can even be the life of the party for a certain amount of time: talkative, outgoing, and very social as long as your social energy lasts. At a certain point, however, you will have used up your social gas tank, and you need to get away from the environment to recharge your batteries by yourself (hot tub, anyone?). Therefore, as an Introvert, your best approach is to measure your social energy carefully. You will only say “Yes,” to the social engagements and activities that mean the most to you, while saying "No" to less impactful or meaningful social obligations. As you free up more social energy, you will only participate in social activities and connections that fulfill you and help you become your best self (maybe you join a writer’s or reader’s club).
For both Introvert and Shy people:
*Offer loving energy without expectation. This is one of the greatest secrets of social success: Give loving energy to others without expectation. Help someone with their groceries or opening a door; assist an elderly person cross the street; listen attentively to people when they tell you their problems. Help friends connect with each other. Volunteer for a charitable or humanitarian organization that helps the disadvantaged. When you help people and give love without expecting anything in return, you unleash a tremendous positive power in the universe. Often, even though you weren’t expecting anything in return, people will come out of nowhere to help you. Your life will become more pleasurable and exciting, and you will be happier and more content, when you extend your loving energy to the world because that is who you are inside (love).
As more people are forced to stay home because of the virus, there is a silver lining: We’re learning new ways to connect online: virtual activities, groups, and events; video chatting and video conferencing. At the same time, we’re learning how to value our private, alone time—how to think deeper, understand others and ourselves more thoroughly, and love more deeply. Now we can no longer take the ordinary good things in life for granted—time spent with loved ones at fun outings; the ability to explore the world and see its beauty. Regardless of whether you’re Introvert or Extravert, shy or nonshy, the key to happiness is to embrace your nature and love yourself. When you do that, you can love others and a Higher Nature (God, spirit) with all of your heart and soul. Yes, the world—both inner and outer—can be yours. Enjoy it.