Do you feel guilty for being an introvert? Do you feel ashamed for choosing alone time over social interactions? Introvert guilt is a real thing and here’s how to deal with it.
Why introverts feel guilty
All introverts, including me, love their alone time. We love spending time with ourselves in our home and in our bed, reading, listening to music, watching movies, thinking & reflecting or just simply being. However, this blissful experience can often turn uncomfortable as we soon start feeling guilty about it. Of course, we love our family and friends and we do enjoy socializing at times, but incessant social invitations make us feel stressed and compelled to say ‘yes’.
Marketing expert Marilyn Rogers explains “When you’re an introvert, it’s challenging to live in a world where extroverts set the social standards.” So we simply choose to bail out of these social gatherings. However, when we constantly keep declining countless invitations to parties, events and hangouts with people we love, it can often lead to an excruciating feeling of introvert guilt.
Professor and author Christina Berchini writes “Meeting an introvert’s needs for quiet and privacy, for many extroverts, has become a zero-sum game. Moreover, meeting an extrovert’s needs, and failing to, can result in considerable guilt on the part of the introvert who fails.” We end up feeling like a bad person for avoiding the people we care about, for disappointing them, for choosing our own company and not around others. We feel selfish, ashamed and downright terrible. And due to this guilt, we often end up in events and around people we would have just avoided otherwise. This can have a negative impact not just on our relationships with our friends and family, but also on our mental health.
Don’t be driven by introvert guilt
“Introverts spend a great deal of time and energy feeling guilty,” writes introvert author, coach and entrepreneur Michaela Chung. For some unknown reason we tend to believe that enjoying our alone time is nothing but a selfish act. We believe that a selfish person is a bad person who doesn’t deserve to be loved. We often feel guilty for avoiding the social norms established for and by extroverts. In her book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, author Susan Cain explains “Now that you’re an adult, you might still feel a pang of guilt when you decline a dinner invitation in favor of a good book. Or maybe you like to eat alone in restaurants and could do without the pitying looks from fellow diners. Or you’re told that you’re “in your head too much,” a phrase that’s often deployed against the quiet.”
So we struggle all the time between paying attention to our own needs for solitude and other’s needs for being social. This guilt often makes us wonder if we are a failure for not being able to enjoy the life that makes extroverts feel so alive. We wonder if something is wrong with us. “We feel bad for not being extroverted enough. Perhaps, our guilt pushes us to do things that we normally wouldn’t do. Maybe good things happen as a result. Fine. But do we really want guilt to be our primary motivator? We should be driven by our convictions, not by guilt,” adds Michaela.
We need to realize that being alone is a crucial aspect of our introverted being, says Michaela. When we allow introvert guilt to dominate our thoughts and emotions and influence our decisions, we fail to embrace our most authentic and genuine selves. Solitude allows us to recharge ourselves, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. It allows us to face the extroverted world once more and overcome the challenges it throws at us.
How to deal with introvert guilt
If you want to overcome your feelings of guilt for being an introvert and enjoy your solitude, then here are a few ways to get started, as suggested by Michaela Chung:
1. Identify your guilt
If you want to cope with your guilt, then you need to start by finding the reason for it. Why do you feel guilty? Is it because you think spending time alone and avoiding others is a sign of selfishness? Do you think that repeatedly isolating yourself will alienate you from your friends, family and others? Do you believe that people will judge you for being who you truly are? Calm your mind and think about which particular aspect of being an introvert gives rise to your guilt.