The world is full of people who like to spend a lot of time alone, immersed in their own thoughts. Throughout history many of them became brightest thinkers, probably because they had a lot of time to ponder on complex subjects. You can’t do too much high-quality thinking if you’re always distracted by people, media, phone, your cat, etc.
These introverts brought and still bring powerful contribution to society. You don’t need to feel bad if you like to spend time alone. In fact, I think you should feel bliss. I do too because, in part, I’m an introvert. Okay, probably most part 🙂
I don’t care when people don’t understand why I like to spend time all by myself. I do a lot of thinking and get loads of work done when I’m alone and undistracted. Would I care if someone gets it or not?
Besides, I don’t feel like I need to explain myself in front of others for who I am. I do not seek validation and approval to be who I am.
The Thing with Introverts and Max’s Plan
I’ve written about introverts a couple of months ago. See here. Recently, I’ve been reading Psycho-Cybernetics, an impressive book by Maxwell Maltz. At a particular point in the book, Mr. Maltz talks about disinhibition and how to do it if you feel like it. I’m gonna go briefly into each of the steps.
1. Don’t wonder in advance what you’re going to say
If you feel like you wanna say something to someone, just do it. If it’s not right, you will improvise as you go. You’ll have to if you’ve embarrassed yourself.
This way you’ll increase your self confidence in the process and be ready to tackle any similar situation in the future. It’s like body building through heavy lifting. When you do heavy lifting, you break the muscle fiber and in the resting period your nervous system signals the repair and build-up of more muscle fibers for you to be better prepared for the next workout.
You’ll have created a precedent. I’ve been doing this quite a lot over the past few years and often what I said was inappropriate (the least to say) or it didn’t sound quite right. In the beginning I was usually getting panicked for the moment and remained breathless, but realizing that I have to get out of the situation or die, I was scrapping my mind to find the appropriate words to repair the damage.
This exposure to such situations helped me a lot in increasing my self-confidence and be ready to speak for myself whenever I have to. I’m still not a public speaker though.
Better say whatever (mostly) crosses your mind, improvise, and increase your self-confidence in the process than not say a word and regret about it in the future. Time is irreversible (yet).
2. Don’t Plan
This is similar to the first step. I usually take this for granted because I know that one of the most important things in life is to have a purpose. To know the destination of your ship. We are goal seeking creatures.
I usually visualize my future goals and I try to feel what I would feel when I accomplish them. Then, I step forward, without careful planning. I usually take the first step as the one that seems more natural to me. I do not quantify, measure or plan everything in detail. It would take me nowhere.
If you do not make plans, but you have goals and you go after them, you should use the feedback mechanism.
Maxwell says that you should act and correct your course as you go along. Having a plan and sticking to it rigidly is self-jeopardizing. Be a smart disinhibited introvert!
3. Stop Criticizing Yourself
Some of the most negative traits of introverted people are: excessive self-criticism, anxiety, and the fear of failure. These are deeply rooted into the comfort zone.
Look, it’s okay to analyze your past actions and behaviors. In fact, if you can do it as objectively as possible, it would be a great self-development tool. However, judging all your actions and attaching negative emotions to everything that did not work out well is both time consuming and it can also suppress your motivation for future action.
Just act and allow yourself to fail. Accept it. Take the good lessons from it. And do it smarter next time. If you’re doing the same thing all over again, if you follow the same rigid plan recurrently and if for some reason you’re expecting different results, you’re insane (as Einstein brilliantly put it).
4. Make a Habit of speaking Louder than Usual
Mr. Max says that inhibited people are notoriously soft spoken. So, they should raise their voice as an aid for disinhibition.
I find this as fantastic advice because I’m aware of its neurological implications. This is kind of a personality hack (from the outside in).
Just try it. Be aware of your tone of voice when you talk to someone. If it’s soft, gradually increase it. But don’t shout! You don’t wanna be called hearing impaired. At the same time, adopt a straight body posture and sharp look. Something like this guy here:
You will instantly increase your self-confidence, proprioception, and the perception that others have on you.
5. Let people know when you like them
It’s the same advice that Dale Carnegie gives in his How to Win Friends and Influence People. That is:
“Praise! And praise specifically!”
If you just praise and you don’t do it specifically, it will be easily perceived as cheap flattery and have the opposite effect than intended. It could be easily perceived as “ass kissing”.
If you praise specifically, the act itself expresses sincerity and can bring you wonders. Now, let me illustrate.
Instead of saying: “Renee, you did a great job. Thanks!”
Try something like:
“Renee, you’ve really outdone yourself this time. The reports you provided which show the total cost of each transaction have brought strong insight to the meeting. The board members have been pleased and I appreciate you for that.”
See the difference? One is flattery, the other one is specific appraisal.
These 5 steps alone are very powerful if you feel the need for disinhibition. Their mechanism works because they move you toward higher self-confidence. As you adopt them constantly (first few times will be harder, then it will start coming more natural), you will enforce them into your new behavior. In time you could switch between moment of introversion and disinhibition as easily as counting to 3.
There’s no fixed character type that you were born with and which will be your burden or lucky shot throughout your entire life. Personality tests are bullshit. Anything can be change as long as you put your mind to it (Thanks Doc. Brown).
If you feel the need to add or request something, please do it in either of the comment sections below. If you don’t, it’s okay. I understand. I’m an introvert too.
1. Maxwell Maltz – Psycho-Cybernetics
2. Dale Carnegie – How to Win Friends and Influence People
3. Dr. Joe Dispenza – Evolve your Brain
4. Edward de Bono – Lateral Thinking