Introversion is all the rage right now.

‘Introvertedness’ is still regarded as something of a deficiency, or even a taboo, particularly in the extroverted ‘West.’ 

If you’re not outgoing, smiley, and not always seeking out new experiences with friends and new people, you’re, well, a little strange, and quite possibly a serial killer.

At least that is how introversion appears to be presented in the spheres of media, in our schools and in the gossipy torrents of conversation.

Introverts, however, are enjoying something of a resurgence thanks to the web, and a renewed interest in the powers of introverts in the mainstream.

This is a good thing. It is important for highly sensitive introverts like me to know that we’re not unworthy for preferring to be alone with a book, over standing around at a drinks party.

It is crucial for us to understand why introversion isn’t a flaw, but a trait — an advantage even — bringing with it a host of benefits, many of which the more extroverted among us will never honestly know.

The positives introverts can bring to the world, and those around us are immense and well documented. We must cherish this nature in us.

But we need also be careful about the gaps in the pavement, threatening to catch our foot as we journey through the matrix of plan-cancelling, solitary walks, deep-thought, and feverish, coffee-fuelled note-taking.

Below are four pitfalls of which introverts like you and I might be wary.

1. Jumping on the Rumination Train

Us introverts are internally-oriented. We take cues, make decisions and are inspired mostly by the internal. We love to think.

Introverts tend to have a powerful imagination, and, owing to a sense of feeling apart from ‘normal people,’ are often drawn to creative, out-of-the-box, and innovative pursuits.

The danger lies in the downward spiral driven by the combining of a negative outlook with obsessive imagination. This is rumination, and it can negatively charge us, making us depressed and anxious.

Your powerful ability to think deeply is a double-edged machete. So we must stay in the positive lane and out of the worrying.

That’s easier said than done, but I’ve found that avoiding rumination takes practice. It is a habit like any other.

What does this habit look like?

It takes awareness and redirection of attention. Catch yourself when you worry and get off the thought. Redirect your attention to positive thoughts, or, if you can’t do that, get into your body.

This means focusing on your breath, for example. Meditate to train the mind to be un-reactive to rising thoughts. Exercise. Be in nature and feel the ground at your feet. When your body is back in sensation, you give your thoughts a rest. You create a gap.

There is power and creativity in that gap.

2. Living the UBER introvert hermit life

When an introvert has accepted that he is an introvert, identifies with it, and even prides himself in it, there is the risk that he can be restricted by the label.

I have fallen into this cavern. Knowing that I deal well with solitude, too often gives me an excuse to avoid going out and interacting with people and living according to my full potential in ALL areas.

Yes, I have traits of introversion, but that does not mean that I, or any other introverts, do not gain tremendous value in the company of others, and pushing our limits beyond our crania — and our front doors.

Rather than taking the ‘introvert’ label entirely at face value, see how you can introduce balance, by exploring your extroverted-side, which, believe me, does exist.

A lot of the positive experiences I’ve enjoyed, as with many other introverts I’ve worked with, do indeed come from doing things that many would describe as ‘extroverted behaviour.’

Some of the most excellent communicators, leaders and public-speakers have been introverts.

It might just be that the troubles introversion may have brought for someone in their early life can be used to drive a healthy obsession towards developing the extroverted side in us.

Extroverts, because they tend to be comfortable in many of the situations that make introverts uneasy, will often be less inclined to improve that area of their life, whether it be public speaking, communicating, speaking with groups, and so on.

But an introvert, if and when they make a commitment to improving in something they are not comfortable with, will often be more driven to move beyond the pains of the past, and develop extremely proficient ‘extroverted skills.’

For example, if I had the choice, I would spend all of my time painting pictures and writing, rarely speaking to people.

But this would also make me miserable because there is no balance. It is not a wholesome and connected way to live.

So I push myself to explore my extroverted side, improving my communication skills, meeting people, talking to my followers, coaching and public speaking.

Be careful with the attractive pull of living a hard-core hermit introvert existence forever.

Though it is vital to do things you love and enjoy, your most profound bliss is found in moving through those things you fear.

“What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do.” ~Tim Ferriss

The trick is to include both parts. I enjoy plenty of solitude. I love to make art, to read and write, alone. Sometimes you may not see me for weeks.

But I make sure to extrovert to the degree that my thirst for doing so is quenched, either in my personal or business life and in a way that I can enjoy that side of life too.

At the very least, don’t lose touch with those who matter to you.

Be part of a community, even if this is initiated on the web.

Find a group of people that support you, to whom you bring value. Do this in small steps if you need. Start by getting your voice heard, perhaps through a podcast.

Do what you can to stay sharp and connected. You are only damaging yourself in your avoidance of staying connected.

“It is the individual who is not interested in his fellow men who has the greatest difficulties in life and provides the greatest injury to others. It is from among such individuals that all human failures spring.” ~Alfred Adler

3. ‘Following what you love.’

Many introverts who follow this cutesy phrase to the letter usually end up depressed.


Because if we all followed what we loved to do, we’d never do anything that challenged us.

Those who understand that hardship is an integral part of maintaining passion in something will be immune from the dangers of such a saying, but others will not.

Introverts need to be particularly wary here.

Following this advice means we’d always be set back by the obstacles we never saw coming. We’d pollute our passions by associating pain with what we expected to be bliss.

Instead, follow your potential.

The concept of potential brings into it the requirement that we are continually challenged to build our value and our resilience. With such growth and more value to give, we feel more alive. We sense our ability to help and connect with others.

This is not to say we can’t fill our lives doing what we are drawn to — what we are fascinated by — be that writing, art, film-making or sculpture.

It does mean that if we are pursuing ‘potential,’ we will go further than the creative process in making an impact. We will bring on challenges in the form of promoting our work, speaking to people, getting on film, and persuading patrons to hand over their money for what we create.

It means finding the thrill in self-growth and the sense of enlightenment this brings with it.

4. Regretting the past

A lot of introverts had a difficult past. Schools and society, no matter how ‘tolerant’ they claim to be, don’t often provide the ideal environments in which introverts can perform well, let alone thrive.

Ask 96% of introverted adults, and they will tell you that they had a tough and often alienated early life.

I went to boarding school in England, where I had to share dorms with other lads for five years. Classes were often over thirty students, making it stressful even to consider speaking up, despite the constant pushing at the back of my mind to do so.

Those early years were difficult. There would be little encouragement for the ‘quiet kids’ beyond telling us to ‘talk more’ in school reports or publicly shaming us in front of the class for being quiet. 

I would be criticised by school mates for the shyness brought on by the overwhelm of all of this, and this would send me even further into my inner cave.

Many introverts feel like outsiders growing up. Many of us take a very long time to adapt to this world, and we are slow to bloom if we do at all. Many of us are pushed further into the internal, or we isolate ourselves from reliving the hurts that were previously endured.

The worst thing I did in my twenties was to regret my past continually. Of course, I’d brilliantly side-step all the good things that had happened in my mind, focusing on the failures. I wished things were different; that I asserted myself more at school; that I wasn’t such a nerd.

But this only kept my attention on the negative, exasperating my anxiety and making it harder to live life right now, today, with purpose, playfulness and fluidity.

I have since learned to reframe my unfair beliefs about myself, to accept me for who I am, to explore and love my gifts, and to chuckle at the embarrassing moments of the past.

I try to see the good in all that felt awful back then, as forced as that can sometimes feel, to take the edge off the shame, which continues to diminish.

I no longer ruminate on what happened (as much). Those regrets no longer have such a hold on me, and I am free to focus on doing good work that others enjoy today.

Do not allow the past to interfere with your right to live well.

Your aspirations are all that defines you.


If this stirred up something in you, please write a comment, and I will read it.

I coach ambitious men to reach their full potential. 

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Join the conversation! 23 Comments

  1. Hi Alex,

    thank you for writing this. I can totally relate and it makes me happy that I am not the only one feeling like that. I also love the time when I make art alone but I also have to present it and therefore I need to have this balance that you have written about. My childhood was also not easy – do you think that this is related to being kind of introvert?

    • Thanks Mariya, glad you were lifted by the read. I think having predominantly introverted qualities can contribute to a difficult child-hood, yes, but it’s not something to get hung up on – rather something to turn into a positive. Alex

  2. I’m nearly 68 and have beaten myself up all my life because of several of the traits you mention. Your 4 points are like a biography. Some further struggles have developed due to illness and age. Ailments of Rheumatoid Arthritis, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Oh, and hearing loss.

    • Sorry Don. Keep soldiering on.

      • Hey alex, I just wanted you to know that I’m always getting bullied in yhe internet. Every time it happens, it always make it harder for me to think about the positive side of every incident.

        • Getting bullied on the Internet and in real life are different things. Online you have the choice of what you can view, so turn it off. Keep away from places where you are open to bullying. Does that help?

  3. Hi Alex,
    Although I enjoyed reading this a great deal, I wasn’t going to leave a comment, because I usually just don’t.

    But almost every word resonate with me, so it was as though you asked me personally to leave a comment, so here I am.

    When I discovered the term introvert, I felt like I suddenly wasn’t actually “broken”, I wasn’t “never going to be good enough”. There were lots of people like me and it was okay and legitimate and amazing.

    Everything you wrote – it’s all things I have known and worked on since finally escaping the teenage years.
    It was wonderful seeing them voiced, described and explained in precise detail.

    Thank you! I’ll be keeping this handy from now on.

  4. I’m an extrovert with all close family as introverts. I’ve had more than enough issues in my life and have had to fit in to into introverts my whole life. I’m v interested in personality types, but if introverts want respect, then so do I. I have spent years trying to understand them, but they still take very little interest in my personality. And even mentioning that I have a.d.d to my parents still feels like a taboo, aged 37. Extroverts dont need to be loud all day long, they just like being with people as life seems a lot less depressing. And I’m s good communicator. There are many things introverts will never understand either (using your way of speaking) about extroverts, and it’s excruciating. I doubt my family will truly ever care about that.

    • Thanks for the thoughts David. This article was aimed at introverts, but it’s not to say that I don’t care about extroverts. You come across as having a victim viewpoint to me in this instance, and that is probably why you suffer more than you need to. My article was about identifying ways to make the most of introverted traits. Perhaps you could pass it on to your family members, but I don’t see why this has given you an opportunity to complain. Perhaps you need to write the article that extroverts like you need to hear.

  5. Hey Alex I’m 15 and I’m introverted it’s really hard for me to go school and now am depressed and I go to a therapy school with other depressed children and its really hard to be with the others I can’t speak their language very well but I can understand and speak and I get really anxious when I speak so anything they say or do I only laugh or nod

    • Hi, that’s quite normal to respond that way. Accept yourself, and allow yourself to contribute here and there, regardless of what others say. Take small steps to engage, and don’t allow yourself to believe the judgements of others, just be proud to try in small steps. That school does not sound ideal, so my advice is to find a new school that isn’t full of depressed people.

  6. My name is Moward, I am currently 15, turning 16 8 months from now. I spend most of my time in the internet (Nearly 9 years now) because I do not have friends in personal, other than my family and cousins. The internet is like the only place in this planet where I still have friends I can trust. Although as time passed by, I started facing problems, people started bullying me despite of being polite to them. I never treat people bad in the internet because I am not the type of person who would call someone ugly, joke, b*tch, gay for no reason (Like they did to me) because I am the type of introvert whom you can trust because I do not betray those who has trusted me. I don’t even know if I can still smile after every single day encountering the same problems over and over again. Please, if anybody is reading this, I want you to please, at least cheer me up. I can never show my extroverted-side because people do not like my voice. When I was 3rd grade, people laugh at my voice because it’s sounds like a chicken that does voice cracks all the time, and it still does until now. I will try and follow this things, hopefully it can eventually help me out.

  7. Hi, my name is Eduardo and I’m 22 years old and I can relate with the whole article.

    I have a big brother who is an extrovert. He is a teacher in a dance academy, he likes to go to parties almost every weekend and I have always admired him for that. So for a long time I’ve been trying to be more like him and activate my extrovert side but I always fail.

    The first time I went to a dance academy was when I was 16 years old and a left it two months later because I felt so out of place, trying to fit in the whole time but I failed. And I’m ok with the dance part, I like to dance, and I’m not bad at it. So I tried it again three more times years later but I never last more than a couple of months because is always the same story. They always do the same questions about me: why are you so quiet?, why are you so shy” etc etc.

    I do believe is important to keep a balance between your introvert and extrovert side but HOW? Why do I always fail? Do you have any advice?

  8. Hey, as I am growing up I am becoming more of an introvert than an ambivert as I used to be, is that okay? Because I feel more at peace now, avoiding unnecessary conversation. But now it is becoming difficult for me to continue a conversation as compared to my yesteryear’s when I used to be a very talkative girl.

    • Interesting, Munira – it sounds like you are believing new thoughts that are not necessarily helpful to you.

  9. I’m not a man, but this article resonated deeply with me! I’ve struggled with these same issues my whole life and in my late 30s just learning to embrace my need for solitude while avoiding becoming too solitary!


  10. Thanks for writing I m glad to read this….I am now cherished and feeling good….

  11. Very articulate and well written. I’m a 46 year old introvert, a teacher, and now, at this age, working for a Masters in psychology…Yes, i have come a long way. But reading this article felt like reading my autobiography..The childhood parts specially. So to all the introverts there…A lot of love and good wishes. If possible, keep pets and plants. They are sensitive to emotions..

  12. Very interesting article! It’s definitely essential for us introverts to be mindful and avoid our “dark side”.


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