Skipping a Level Isn’t the Same as Beating It

-by Wes Colton, Introvert Unbound

Skipping-levelI get it. You’re not where you want to be in life and you’re overwhelmed by all the hard work it’s going to take to get there.

You’re constantly bombarded with advice from friends, family, coaches, therapists, and gurus: Read books. Socialize more. Lift weights. Take classes. Change your diet. Find a new career. All of these options—many of which aren’t right for you now or contradict one another—no wonder you’re starting to tune them out.

Obviously, you can’t do everything at once. The key is to pick a single area and make that your focus for a while.

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Why Most Advice for Introverts is Dead Wrong

– by Wes Colton, Introvert Unbound

Danger Bad Advice AheadI love everything about being an introvert, from my thoughtfulness, to my preference for deep connection, to my appreciation of solitude. As a writer and musician, introversion is central to my being and I wouldn’t change it for anything.

Writing about and working with other introverts, I’ve come across countless introvert books and blogs, videos and podcasts, Facebook pages and groups, and Twitter accounts. I’ve learned so much great stuff from these sources, including the science behind introversion, the need to accept the way our brains work, and of course all the funny cartoons.

However, there’s one rotten thread I’ve found running through most of them: encouragement for introverts NOT to push our comfort zone. Either implicitly or explicitly, the message is all too often that because you’re an introvert it’s okay to avoid socializing. And that if people think you’re weird because you never talk to or hang out with them, it’s up to them to change.

For fifteen long years, I bought into this terrible advice, not realizing how much this mindset contributed to my depression and anxiety. Only when I started to question whether being a virtual hermit was good for my mental health, did my life change for the better.

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Reframing Small Talk

– by Wes Colton, Introvert Unbound

small-talkOne of the biggest introvert pet peeves is “small talk.” That’s usually because deep-delvers such as ourselves don’t want to waste our precious social energy on petty topics like weather or sports scores, but instead connect on issues that matter to us.

This quest for meaning is one of introverts’ most admirable traits. Unfortunately, with most people, it’s not always possible to get into such weighty matters right off the bat. For example, it comes across as a little weird to introduce yourself for the first time to a stranger and then immediately ask, “So, do you think there’s such a thing as pure good and evil?”

When people get together with strangers, they’re sussing one another out. So it’s understandable that a lot of folks are wary about baring their souls to people they don’t know the first thing about. And that’s really what small talk is about.

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A Woman’s Take on “Cold Approach”

– by Regina Hopkins, Introvert Unbound

chivalryIt’s rare for a woman to approach a man. But, should you be such a lucky guy who does get approached your odds are better than not that the woman is definitely interested and probably feels at least some attraction for you (and more than likely, quite a bit of attraction!). I know because I’m a woman and this scenario happened to me this past week.

I’d like to tell you about my recent experience where I was the one to approach a guy I was interested in at the gym.  As a more “traditional gender-role” person, I do tend to prefer to ascribe to the customary roles of the man approaching me, however in this particular case, I didn’t sense that I might get a chance to talk to this guy if I wasn’t the one to open that door first. I also know enough about myself that I sometimes can self-sabotage my own natural body language and suppress it, especially with guys I may actually be interested in. Because I would say I do not naturally display those typical subtle female flirting signals, I decided I needed a slightly more direct approach to indicate I was open and receptive.

After I share my story, I’ll break down my own approach technique so that you may learn from what I did and use it in your own approaches with women. And if you’re anything like me, approaching somebody you’re actually into is a nerve wrecking experience. But, on the other hand, if you don’t do it, you might let a fantastic opportunity slip through your fingers.

Now, I also realize that the tactics for approaching women versus men can be different, however the initial greeting won’t be all that different. So I will give you some general “guidelines” to follow whether you’re a man or woman (whoever is doing the initiating) or opening the conversation “cold approach” style so that you may hopefully be successful and have a positive outcome.

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Ditching the Introvert Crutch

– by Wes Colton, Introvert Unbound 

3d-happy-man-jumping-throwing-crutches-3d-illustration-of-person-joyful-jump-throwing-crutches-3d-drawing_csp17031606-2Sorry to break it to you, but being an introvert isn’t an excuse for sucking at conversation. All too often we introverts let ourselves skip social engagements by pretending we weren’t born to interact with other humans. But that’s just a crutch and leaning on it keeps us from standing on our own two feet.

Accepting and embracing the fact that we’re introverts is key. But so is recognizing that we live in an extroverted society where regular socializing is crucial to our friendships, love life, and career. And, believe it or not, developing social skills can actually make the process a lot of fun.

If you find it impossible to strike up a conversation with a stranger, it’s simply because you haven’t tried it enough. Granted, it’s way easier for extroverts to practice this skill because not only do they enjoy blabbing about whatever crosses their mind, they’re addicted to doing so. While introverts recharge by reading a book, watching a movie, or going on a hike, extroverts get their energy by talking to people.

But just because it’s harder for us introverts, doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Socializing is really just a habit, so as soon as you start doing it, it becomes routine. And if you do it long enough, you’ll feel weird if you stop (the same thing goes for hiding at home, of course).

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Introverts & Dating Apps: 5 Tips to Help You Stay Sane

– by Regina Hopkins, Introvert Unbound

tinderHow long have you been on Tinder, Bumble, OkCupid, Match, eHarmony, POF, Coffee Meets Bagel, Happn, Christian Singles, MeetMindful or Grindr? If you have used any of these for any length of time, your answer would probably be, “Way too long!” Being on these apps produces the illusion that there is an endless stream of new faces and bodies and the person on your screen is as quickly replaceable as the changing the song on your car radio. “Just swipe left if you don’t like them,” boast these apps.

Many introverts have an issue with these dating apps because introverts tend to value deep and meaningful human connections and dislike shallow and surface level interactions. However, these apps can be helpful, and as somebody who’s used them at various points, I can’t say they are all bad. But, they are a double-edged sword, to put it kindly.

With the sometimes limited focus on the person behind the face/body, it seems that dating apps promote an environment of expendability. And for introverts who crave deep meaning and connections when they do choose to expend their usually more limited social energy reserves, I can see why so many introverts in particular find dating apps to be disheartening at best and resentment/contempt-prompting at their worst.

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Weathering Breakups as an Introvert

– by Wes Colton

heartbrokenIt doesn’t matter who you are, breakups suck. You invested anything from months to years in this person, sharing your body, heart, and mind, and now they’re gone, possibly forever. It’s almost as if they’ve died, but worse, in some ways—at least if they were dead you wouldn’t have to worry about running into them with their new “bae” at the grocery store.

But breakups are typically worse for introverts than extroverts. It’s not that extroverts don’t miss their exes just as much as introverts do, it’s that extroverts’ addiction to socializing means they’ll be out playing the field again in no time. In fact, they’re probably looking forward to getting out there again.

Introverts, on the other hand, tend to compound the heartbreak with crippling, existential dread. “You’re saying that I’ve got to sift through dozens—if not hundreds—of incompatible, draining humanoids before I find another of those rare specimens I can actually stand?”

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