For My Fellow Introverts: How Spending Time Alone Makes Us Better Friends

Have you ever agreed to going out after a super long day? If you’re like me, that doesn’t go well. The key to handling introversion is to prioritize time to re-charge, even if that means skipping out on an outing with friends.

Have you ever agreed to going out after a super long day? If you’re like me, that doesn’t go well. The key to handling introversion is to prioritize time to re-charge, even if that means skipping out on outings with friends.

I know, I know. It’s hard to say no! Considering the current circumstances around COVID-19, many of us don’t have a choice. So here are a few ways this time alone can help you be a better friend.

1. Spending time alone gives you energy

Being introverted doesn’t automatically mean you hate being around people. It means that you need alone time to recharge. Has your social battery ever died while you were out? Not a good feeling.

When we don’t have enough time to recharge, we’re burnt out, and we aren’t able to contribute in meaningful ways. And if my word isn’t doing it for you, here’s a professional opinion: Psychologists agree that you’re better off staying in every once in a while, because going against your natural inclination to be alone isn’t what’s best for you or the group.

I often feel pressured to say yes to plans when my heart wants to be solo. And in these cases, my attitude isn’t great. I’m thinking I’m doing my loved ones a favor, instead of enjoying the gift of their company. That isn’t fair.

2. Spending time alone gives you an opportunity to think about what you want

I tend to go along with what other people want. They want to eat at Zaxby’s, so I go along for the ride. I need to process my thoughts and feelings alone. It’s hard for me to process how I feel and endure the feelings of my friends and family. That’s a lot!

When I prioritize my alone time, I give myself a chance to reflect on what I need.

When I know what I need, I can make clear requests. Remember: clear is kind. Making my requests clear to the people in my life is easier for me and them. They know how to show up for me and can trust me to communicate authentically. Sounds like a recipe for a strong friendship!

3. Spending time alone gives everyone a break.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Take one for the team and create the absence that’s necessary to strengthen your bonds. Spending too much time together can drain everyone. It’s good to take a break, so you can remember why you’re friends with these awesome people in the first place.

And if you’re worried that taking time for yourself might hurt your relationships, you might want to reconsider whom you’ve chosen to be in your life. Just saying.

The more in touch you are with yourself and the more aware you are of your needs, the better you are at being a friend. There will be another event. Trust me.

What’s been your experience with taking time for yourself in relationships? Do you know when you need a break?

5 Practical Ways to Build Confidence

We all know confidence is important, but how many of us were taught how to get there?

Trigger Warning: the first sentence of this post is a blanket statement.

We all know confidence is important, but how many of us were taught how to get there? In my post, “What are you made of?” I talked about how our level of confidence affects the way we respond to life. Now, let’s discover how to actually build that confidence.

Maybe many of us really are confident. However, I’d be willing to bet that some of us are faking it until we make it. Look – this is a judgement free zone – we all fake it sometimes (ha).

I don’t think pretending to be confident is bad at all. There’s actually evidence that shows that just sounding more confident can improve how others perceive you – makes sense.

But if the goal is to actually be confident, some work has to be done. Here are 5 Practical Ways to Build Confidence:

1. Help someone else.

Volunteer. There’s nothing like experiencing how much you have to offer others. Sharing your gifts is a great way to acknowledge your unique strengths and abilities.

2. Don’t be afraid to say, “party of one.”

Spending time with yourself is a sure way to develop confidence, because you realize how great your company is! The first time I took myself on a date was during my freshman year of college. I saw The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. I absolutely enjoyed the way I talked to the screen, gave unsolicited advice to Katniss, and jumped dramatically during all the intense scenes. If I was with someone else, I’m not sure I would have noticed these quirky and super wonderful things about myself.

When you take some time to enjoy your presence, you begin to develop your interests and find out more about the activities you enjoy.

3. Establish a self-care routine.

The key word here is routine. Regularly meeting your own needs is a great way to make sure your confidence is in-tack. Self-care looks different for everyone, and it’s important to find what’s best for you. If you’re new to this, here are some activities that work well for me:

  • Going for a run
  • Practicing yoga
  • Writing in my journal
  • Lighting candles
  • Dancing to my favorite tunes…solo.

4. Make a mistake, and learn from it.

Perfectionism is tough. Unattainable expectations take a toll on self-esteem. Mistakes are signs of growth. I like the phrase, fail forward.

Reconstructing how you view failure can boost your confidence. Did you see Will Smith’s video on failure? He talked about how the most successful people fail a lot, take the lessons, and consider them added wisdom. Think about the last mistake you made. How are you better now because of it?

5. Say Yes!

It’s an easy word on paper, but putting it into action can be a beast! If we pay attention, we’ll notice how many opportunities come by and how many we pass up because of our fears. Saying yes, even when your comfort zone screams in agony, is the one of the best things you can do to boost your confidence.

What’s your confidence level? What are some things you do to keep it sky high?

What are you made of…?

“Confidence and a made-up mind are the stuff kings and queens are made of.”

(Vanzant, 2018).

I studied Psychology in undergrad, and I learned a lot about perspective. I remember being amazed to learn how two people could experience the exact same event, but interpret it in completely different ways. Usually, how someone interprets something is directly connected to what that person is made of.

Here’s a scenario: Let’s say Confident Cathy and Insecure Isaac walk into a crowded classroom and see people smiling at them.

  • Confident Cathy’s Experience: “Oh, people are smiling at me. They must want me to join their table.”
  • Insecure Isaac’s Experience: “Here we go again. I knew I shouldn’t have worn this shirt. They’re laughing at me.”

Cathy and Isaac witnessed the same smiles, but had completely different experiences of them. Do you sound more like Cathy or Isaac?

The truth is, we don’t know which interpretation was accurate. In fact, it doesn’t matter what the smiles actually meant. We can’t control the actions or intentions of others. We can only control our response.

We respond based on what’s inside us. What would it take to make sure confidence resides in you today?

Not sure? Try the power pose! I’ve tried it before my presentation and interviews, and it actually works. For more on the power pose, click here.

The Beauty of Needing Nothing

Let’s face it. Being needy has a bad rep, rightfully so. Take a second and think about the qualities of a needy person. Are they fun to be around? Chances are, they aren’t. And if we’re being honest here, we’ve all suffered from the “needy syndrome” at least once or twice in our lives. And that’s ok.

We’re here to learn and improve. Admitting we have a problem is the first step, right? So let’s admit it. Say it with me: I am capable of being needy. GREAT JOB!

Now that we’ve admitted this less than desirable characteristic, we can do something about it.

Neediness is about fear.

The more fearful we are, the more we cling to other people, things, and ideas that leave us stuck. And brace yourself for another hard truth: our fear is usually about our insecurity. As much as some of us like to pretend, we aren’t totally secure with ourselves. Think about it. Who are we without that awesome job, impressive degree(s), speedy car, or hot partner?

The purpose of losing in life is to remind us that our identity is not in what we have or the things we lose. I mean if we can lose something, we must not be that thing – right?

Yes, You Need Food and Water

The concept of “needing nothing” can come off as quite odd. Of course we need some things – we need food, water, and shelter.

Consider Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. According to Maslow, the American Psychologist, all humans have basic needs. In short, the most basic of needs are food, water, warmth, and rest. We also have needs for safety, love, and esteem.

This isn’t about attempting to live without food and water, although some people do, which is a post for another time. What’s important is distinguishing our wants from our needs and ultimately understanding that our true identities are not found outside of ourselves. Most importantly, the more content we are with our realities, the more we attract.

Worry comes when we begin thinking about the past or the future.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting more for ourselves and our families. But becoming consumed with what we don’t have (our “needs”), produces worry and fear. And worry and fear do not lead to the awesome results we long for.

We’re human, and it’s normal to feel stressed when we go through tough times. The good news is that we don’t have to be confined to a normal life experience! We can change our perspective. In this moment, we have all we need.

Now take a second and imagine what it would feel like to be totally secure and content with who you are — right now, in this moment. Feels good? That, my friend, is the beauty of needing nothing.

Agree or Disagree? I’d love to hear from you!

The People Pleaser’s Guide

Are you a people pleaser? If you can identify with these three traits, you’re probably preoccupied with pleasing others.

Trait 1: You cannot say NO. 

People pleasers tend to avoid saying no at all costs. 

Here’s a scenario: Ann had an incredibly long day at work. For the past 8 hours, She’s been imaging going home, having a hot cup of tea, and relaxing with her pup. As soon as Ann gets off work, her sister calls and asks for her to babysit. Without giving it a second thought, Ann pushes her need for rest to the side and agrees to spend her night caring for whiny, precious babies.

Ann can say no to her sister, and so can you. I know it’s hard, but it’s possible. What keeps people pleasers stuck is putting the needs of others above their own. Does Ann sound familiar? Keep reading.

Trait 2: You don’t know what you want, and if you do, you’d never ask for it.

People pleasers have a hard time identifying what they want. This is usually because they are overwhelmed with the expectations of others.

If you have a hard time expressing or even knowing what you want, you might be a people pleaser. 

Trait 3: You’re super uncomfortable with the idea of someone not liking you.

The key word here is “super”. It’s expected to be uncomfortable with someone not liking you. As humans, we want to accepted. That’s fine. It becomes a problem when the fears not being liked cause you to pretend to be someone else.

If you find yourself worrying about if people like you before you even ask yourself how you feel about them, that’s a PPP (people pleasing problem). 

OK – so you’ve determined you’re a people pleaser. Here are some tips for you!

Tip 1: Take some time to figure out what you want. 

One of the most difficult and confusing aspects of being a people pleaser is not knowing what you want. The key is getting away from the noise and figuring out what you want. In most instances, the noise is the thoughts and opinions of others. 

Homework: The next time you have a decision to make, before running to your friends, family, or therapist about what you should do, take a day or two to write about it. Be still and listen. List out all your options or make a pros and cons list. After you develop your own perspective, ask for input from others. After listening to them, take what you like and leave the rest! The choice is yours. 

Tip 2: Set and express your boundaries.

Boundaries are incredibly difficult for people pleasers. If you’re a people pleaser, it’s likely you haven’t spent much time enforcing your boundaries, if you’ve thought about them at all. 

Master self-respect by setting healthy boundaries.

Once you establish these boundaries, stick to them faithfully. When you are clear about your boundaries, it becomes easier to see who and what works for you. 

Warning: If setting boundaries is new, it’s normal to feel guilty for abiding by them. As you continue to practice, it becomes easier. 

Homework: Work out your boundary muscle by saying no today. Here are some simple and subtle ways to say no:

  • I have other plans.
  • Maybe next time!
  • No thanks. 

Tip 3: Surround yourself with supportive friends and family. 

The key to finding your own voice and breaking free of your people pleasing ways is getting around people who love you no matter what. When your circle values you for you, agreeing about everything becomes less important.

Suffering from a PPP? Try the homework from Tip 1 and Tip 2, and tell me how it goes!