I think there’s a myth that introverts as a group lack self-confidence; our desire for being alone or remaining quiet is seen as meekness or weakness. I know plenty of introverts who are quite confident.
Still, there are plenty of introverts who feel they want to build their confidence. And to me the very first step in increasing your self-confidence is to accept yourself for who you are.
Say you want to make some changes to your house – you want it bigger or prettier or more useful. But you can’t change the color of paint in the bedroom until you know what the current color is. You can’t make a room bigger if you don’t know its current size. You can’t change the function of a room if you don’t know how it’s being used now.
Be honest with yourself about yourself. We are all unique and individual. We all have great talents and abilities and probably a few flaws. (In the interests of full disclosure, one of my flaws is that I HATE asking for help. From anybody. For anything. It is stubborn pride and I’m not proud of it. But for the time being, it is part of who I am.)
The point is you can’t change anything about yourself until you can accept yourself for who you are at this very moment – the good and the bad. Some thoughts to consider:
What kind of introvert are you?
Because it can’t be said enough: Not all introverts are the same. Look at the Myers Briggs Type Indicator. The I/E preference is just one aspect of a variety of traits being measured. And all the preferences are measured on a scale. An ISTJ and an INTP will react differently to the same situation. Your introversion – of whatever type – does not solely define you.
There are hundreds of other factors that describe your own personal brand of introversion – from how and where you grew up to what kinds of jobs you’ve had to the multitude of personal relationships you’ve established. Don’t think because you’re an introvert that everything you read about introverts holds true for you. You are unique and special. Find your own kind of introversion and revel in it.
Don’t believe the stereotypes
You know the words I’m talking about: Loner. Anti-social. Quiet. Shy.
Because we live in a world that idolizes typical extrovert behavior, it’s very easy to start to think that your natural qualities are not desired qualities. You cannot think this way. It’s the difference between perception and reality. Just because there’s a perception that you dislike people doesn’t mean it’s true.
Make sure that the flaws you perceive in yourself are actual flaws and not simply a preference for something other than the norm. Your natural introvert qualities can, in fact, be your greatest superpowers.
Be as kind to yourself as you are to others
Imagine you watch a co-worker give a presentation. You can tell he’s nervous. He trips over a few words, maybe loses his place or drops his notes. But he gets through it and you learn something.
Are you going to go up to him and point out all his mistakes? Of course not. That would be cruel and utterly pointless. So why would you focus on your own mistakes in the same situation?
It’s so easy to beat ourselves up about our mistakes. And when you’re trying something new or trying to get better at something, you will make mistakes. But that’s how you learn. Nobody is expecting you to be perfect right out of the gate (and if they are, that’s someone you don’t want in your life.)
Remember to be as kind to yourself as you are to others. You can’t feel confident about yourself if you are focusing only on the mistakes. Focus on the fact that you accomplished something. Look at your mistakes realistically and learn from them.
Confidence itself is such an individual thing and means something different to everyone. But the start of it all is accepting yourself for who you are. It’s not always easy, but it’s the start of an incredible journey.