I try to be a good person. I really do. In the past, I would take cues from other people and society to tell me what I “SHOULD” do in order to be a good person. But after being at a job where I was constantly told that I was “too quiet”, I have begun to re-evaluate that thinking.
So, why do us introverts need to stop saying “Should”? Oh, let me also say that other similar words to stop saying include “must”, “have to” and “need to”. They all produce similar results.
One, telling yourself that you “should” do something will only bring a heavy weight to your body and your mind. If you are doing something because you feel like you “should” be doing it will probably mean that you have to force yourself to do it. Instead, ask yourself if you are living life in an authentic way? Or are you living your life according to the expectations of others?
Two, using the word “Should” is a form of self-criticism. When you tell yourself, “I should be (fill in the blank), you are creating negative emotions, stress and anxiety. When faced with these negative emotions, it is hard to create a positive behaviour. Even if it does work, and you do something because you think you should be doing it, you are more likely to feel relief once it’s done. I don’t know about you, but for me, that’s not the feeling I want to have. I want to feel satisfied or happy once I have finished a task.
As an introvert, there are some things that we absolutely NEED to stop thinking we “should” be doing. Here are the top five “I should” that we need to stop and why.
I “Should” be More Social
Society often makes us feel like we “should” be going to lots of parties and events where there are large groups of people. Introverts are often told we “should” or need to be more social. However, large groups are particularly draining on an introvert. We can even feel “lost” among all the other people. Instead, focus on small groups or one-on-one get togethers. If you do have to go to a large event, find an extrovert that you can hang out with (the extrovert will do all the talking) and give yourself permission to leave early.
“Introverts don’t see life as one big cocktail party. We’re content with just a few meaningful relationships.” – Jenn Granneman
I “Should” Talk More
As an introvert, we hear the phrase “you’re too quiet” much too often. The more you hear it, the more likely you will have these responses:
- We do try talking more. However, it leaves us exhausted. Or worse, what we do say sounds so unintelligent. We know our words can have more impact, but by talking more, our words actually have less impact.
- We start to believe that there is something wrong with us.
As introverts, we love listening. It lets us understand other viewpoints and makes other people feel like they are appreciated and understood. Listening is a valuable skill in building meaningful relationships.
“One of the risks of being quiet is that the other people can fill your silence with their own interpretation: You’re bored. You’re depressed. You’re shy. You’re stuck up. You’re judgmental. When others can’t read us, they write their own story – not always one we choose or that’s true to who we are.” – Sophia Dembling
I “Should” Give an Answer Immediately
Extroverts say whatever is on their mind – as soon as it enters their head. They have this ability to give answers right away when asked a question. Since extroverts are able to do this easily, they can’t understand why introverts need time to think. Therefore, extroverts often pressure introverts for an immediate answer. Remind yourself that it is okay to reply with, “Let me get back to you on that” and follow up with an email later in the day.
“If you ask an introvert a question, wait until she thinks about it. Introverts think before speaking, not through speaking. If you want to get to the good stuff, you need to slow down.” – Laurie Helgoe
I “Should” be Around People More
We introverts like to be alone, but it does not mean we are lonely. We like people but being around other people drains our energy. Alone time is how we recharge our batteries and re-gain energy. Schedule alone time in your calendar every day and treat it like an appointment that can’t be cancelled. Then, when we are around other people, we’ll have the energy to be present and enjoy our time with them.
“I am lonely, yet not everybody will do. I don’t know why some people fill the gaps but other people emphasize my loneliness.” – Anais Nin
I “Should” Change My Personality
Introverts often feel pressured to change their personality and to act more extroverted. Introverts don’t need to be fixed – there is nothing wrong with us. Introversion is a part of your personality. You are born with it and it will not change over time. You can learn skills to be more “extroverted” when you need to be – whether it is for work or social gatherings. It is good for everyone to get out of their comfort zones in order to grow personally. But it is equally important to use your introversion as a strength. That’s when you will thrive, be happy and live your best life.
“If you’re anything other than an extrovert you’re made to think there’s something wrong with you.” – Emma Watson
What is something you think you “should” do? Whenever you feel like you “should” be a certain way, question it. Is it aligned with your introverted personality? Will it make your life better or will it just leave you exhausted?
Until my next blog post, here’s wishing you lots of joy and happiness!