The Struggles of an Introvert:  Your Life is Shaped by How People See You

It should come as no secret to you, my fellow introvert, that people’s opinions of you—of the things you do, the things you say, and the things you like—has a very real emotional impact on you. People that showcase a positive response to you almost always become friends (or at least a person we hold in high regard). Those who let slip even slightly negative impressions fall somewhere on a spectrum that spans between Minor Annoyance to Mortal Enemy.

man looking through thick glasses

While many of us learn to devalue other people’s opinions at a surface level and insulate ourselves from harmful negative energy, what we don’t often see is how that negativity insidiously inserts itself into our brains. Even as we tell ourselves that we don’t care what people think, we’re reevaluating ourselves at a deeper level and are much more likely to shield our true selves from people in the future.

But that’s not just a grumpy introvert talking. Science (specifically psychological studies) have shown that the opinions of others are massively important in our lives even if we don’t realize it.

“Humans and animals use the reactions of others to help determine what is valuable: what to eat, what is dangerous, what is attractive, and (for humans) what to wear, what medicine to take, and for whom to vote—to give but a few examples. Each object, from food to parliamentary candidate, has a perceived value, which can be changed through social influence. Consequently, understanding how our values are changed by social influence is of considerable importance. We have shown that, when effective, the opinions of others alter a very basic mechanism of the human brain that reflects an immediate change in our values. Social influence at such a basic level may contribute to the rapid learning and spread of values throughout a population. These values could range from the quality of food to race and gender stereotypes.”

How the Opinion of Others Affects Our Valuation of Objects – PMC (

Negativity Breeds Bad Results for the Introvert

This goes far beyond Herd Mentality (or The Law of Social Proofing). We’re talking about when a negative attitude or idea can literally reshape your future.

Some of this negative energy is couched in what is subjectively seen as positive reinforcement and often comes from our closest family and friends. In fact, these close relations often have the most impact on our own mental state and can—without knowing it—create life-altering crossroads at which we make decisions not with our own best interests at heart but with the advice of those other top of mind. (Want to read more about how friends and family teach you to fail?)

Indeed, sometimes the opinion of others about us affects us via proxy. The Extrovert Bias that Susan Cain writes about at length in her book Quiet:  The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking is essentially culturally-adopted stigmatism of introversion as a personality type and introverted people as members of society.

This stigma is founded on the belief that an introvert is somehow less important or valuable to society than an extrovert. This belief is erroneous. Objective studies have found that introverts perform just as well (or often better) than extroverts in important leadership roles. This, it is believed, stems from the fact that an introvert’s ego isn’t as big as that of an extrovert. Essentially, the quiet folks are pleased when we get results rather than when we get pats on the back.

Unfortunately, because this bias is so widespread, it impacts your life as an introvert at many levels.

  • It changes the dynamics of your relationships
  • It minimizes your chances of being promoted at work
  • It skews your pool of potential romantic partners
  • It makes you work harder to see the same sort of success
  • It equates to roughly $500,000 less in your pocket over the course of your lifetime

(Curious about how your introversion has affected your life? Many of the ways in which it has will shock you.)

But, if you are an introvert and you’re fighting this uphill battle just to be accepted as equal to an extrovert, what can you do to get any traction?

Three Ways to Crush the Stigma that Every Introvert is a Second-Class Citizen

Number one: Stop being shy

Not all introverts are shy. However, a good many of them are. And even if you aren’t chances are people will describe you that way. Why? Because your natural introverted personality traits like rejoicing in solitude, cherishing quiet moments, speaking only when you have something important to say, and either refusing to engage in confrontation of refusing to let that confrontation visibly raise your perceived emotional distress level makes you seem shy to everyone else.

Number Two:  Learn how to communicate better

Communication is a two-way street. Unfortunately, introverts and extroverts communicate differently. Extroverts tend to spout half-formed ideas from their mouths, looking for input to complete them. Introverts tend to wait until they’ve made a decision or formed a complete thought before speaking. Extroverts have a much harder time listening and digesting what anyone else has said. Introverts tend to be very analytical and do well at perceiving and remembering facts but often miss emotional clues to the meaning behind the words.

The easiest way to break free from this social stigma and be successful at work and happier in your personal life is to learn to communicate better. My book, An Introvert’s Guide to Wealth, has an entire section about communication skills including:

  • Active listening techniques
  • Tactical conversation tools you can use to guide communication
  • Non-verbal techniques that help extroverts understand the words coming out of your mouth better
  • Tips about perception that will help you understand how different types of people communicate and how you can shift your style to meet everyone’s needs

And there’s so much more.

Number Three:  Have faith in yourself

Like, unreasonable amounts of faith. Not to get too weird on you, but there may be evidence out there that the metaphysical realm can actually influence your life in very real ways (spotting synchronicity, and understanding the strange ways in which your mind actually creates its own subjective reality through perception).

When you understand that your thoughts may have very real and measurable effects on the outside world, then it’s not too far of a stretch to think that positivity begets positive results. Learning how to chase those negative thoughts away and replace them with faith that’s founded in understanding your own strengths and the power of the skills you possess can have amazing results!

Take Your Future In Your Hands

Your life won’t change unless you change it.

But change can be scary.

I created and wrote An Introvert’s Guide to Wealth to help you overcome those fears, take those steps to reshape yourself, your life, and your career in ways you previously would have thought impossible.

I did these things because I changed my life in very real ways—going from super-shy introvert to successful retail leader, doubling my salary in just three short years, earning promotion after promotion, accolade after accolade . . .

And I did it all without throwing away my introversion or forcing myself to fake being an extrovert. Instead, I embraced the very same (very quirky) traits that had set me apart from family, friends, and my peers all my life. I flipped them around and used them as tools to get the results I wanted. I know you can too!

Let’s do this, together.

Start here.

An Introvert’s Guide to a Wealthy Life is now available in Kindle, Paperback, and Hardcover editions!

The Frustrating Necessity of Making Time

How To Fight Your Way Through a Jungle of Priorities

Garonzi Stefania, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Time is something we only have a finite amount of. As much as time is a human construct and as elastic as it is (according to the physicists), it limits how much we can do in a day. And as much as we’d like to, we can’t make time, can we?

A Little Story About My Personal Grievance with Time Management

I worked in the retail (grocery) industry for 26 years. Over that illustrious career, I worked with and for some of the best people I’ve ever met—manager’s that would bend over backward to help you out, make you laugh, or just feel respected.

I’ve also worked for some toolbags that shouldn’t have ever been elevated to a managerial position. Period. Selfish, arrogant, dweebs who come in to work with a coffee in their hand, telling “locker room” jokes, sit in an office all day, and do anything they can to get out of actually doing work. (I wish I had known these tricks for spotting and dealing with difficult people back then!)

One such disaster—a man who shall remain nameless here—said the one thing to me that has pissed me off more than any other remark a boss ever laid upon me in those 26 years.

A Little Context . . .

At the time, I was running a dairy department single-handedly. My daily routine went something like this:

  • Wake up at 3:30 to be at work by 4 AM
  • Pull all the outdated stuff from the entire department
  • Order tomorrow’s load
  • Put up 300-450 cases of dairy product
  • Fill 7 milk racks floor-to-ceiling
  • Fill three doors of eggs
  • Order the next day’s milk deliveries (from three vendors by phone!)
  • Take care of all the damaged items
  • Clean up the cooler and get it organized for the next load coming in that night

If I had any time leftover, I’d pretty up the department, straightening shelves and such.

The company had set metrics that applied to all associates to see how effectively they were working with expectancies about how many cases you should be able to stock in an hour, how long it should take you to do an order, etc. I was hitting 130%-150% effective every day without fail—doing the work of one-and-a-half employees and providing 12 hours of billable labor in an 8-hour shift.

One thing I was constantly failing to do, however, was check the dates on the drinkable yogurt the company thought it was a good idea to merchandise in with the sodas at the register coolers. When the boss called me into the office to talk about it, I explained exactly how much work I was doing (with the company metrics provided).

Instead of thanking me for the effort, looking for ways to leverage more help in my department, or even offering a solution to our outdated yogurt drinks, he simply told me that I had to “make time.”

He wanted me to do even more work in the same eight-hour shift! I was pissed beyond belief.

How the hell do you “make time?”

I held that conversation in my mind for the next 15 years—bringing it up in gripe sessions with my fellow employees—and it still irked me up until a few months ago. What changed? I read something that forced me to shift my entire perspective on how I viewed time.

Time Is a Human Construct—It Doesn’t Really Exist!

I picked up a copy of Jen Sincero’s You’re a Badass at Making Money a while back. It was in that book that she reiterated something I’d heard time and time again but had never really understood until those bold words were before me on a page.

Time is a human concept. We created it so we could segment our days and wrap our monkey brains around our perceived realities.

Sincero went so far as to mention a tribe of First Peoples here in The United States have no concept of time. For them, all of time—the past, the present, the future—are all happening at once!

Before we get too far out into the weeds and start talking about how Marty McFly zipped back to 1955 to save his own parent’s marriage by rocking Johnny B. Goode on a high school stage three years before Chuck Barry recorded it—let’s get practical.

In an interview with Zibby Owens, Jen Sincero cleared up her perception of time as it applies to our daily lives nicely. She said bluntly that if something is important to us, we have to “make time” for it.

“Time really is, as Einstein — was he the one who said that it’s a concept? It really is a concept. You can’t wait for time. You have to make time. Make it happen for yourself because it is there if it’s important. It really is”

Jen Sincero

This skewed my whole bent on this decade-plus long grudge I’d held against an old manager. I still think he’s a jerk, didn’t handle any situation well, and should have done a lot differently, but maybe I was wrong too. Because if something is important to me, I do “make time” for it.

I carve out hours a day to play video games. I lop minutes off my life droning in front of Twitter or Tik Tok. I mindlessly watch TV to unwind after a stressful day. I make time for all these activities even when they fail to add value to my life or get me any closer to my professional goals.

Realigning Your Priorities—Take Time to Make Time

Suddenly, it dawned on me—I was repeatedly failing to make the things I held as important actually important.

I was prioritizing leisure activities over productivity. I was swapping mindless entertainment for self-enriching learning. I was letting honest-to-goodness money-making time slip through my fingers while I chuckled at dogs riding skateboards and people getting hit in the genitals by various objects.

So how do you “make time?” You take back your life from all the little routines you’ve slipped into that don’t add value. Identify them. Eliminate them. Be ruthless.

And just like that, you’ll find yourself making time.

That doesn’t mean that occasionally droning in front of social media or playing video games or watching TV should be completely excised from your life—relaxation and mentally checking out have a quantifiable value too! However, the majority of that time should be given to the activities or goals that you repeatedly tell yourself are important in your life.

Making more money, improving your interpersonal relationship, realigning your career path for a more rewarding experience, investing in a hobby you’ve always secretly thought frivolous, even finding the time to figure out what really is important to you—all of these are made possible through making time for them.

Your assignment is to look critically at your life.

  1. Write down the things you’ve always considered important but never seem to have enough time for.
  2. Track your time daily. Use a phone app or a notebook and jot down how much time you spend doing anything.
  3. At the end of the day or the week take stock. Identify those time-wasting activities that consume your day.
  4. Actively eliminate or reduce those unnecessary time-wasters.
  5. Reprioritize those things you identified as actually important and start spending that newly-minted time wisely!

An Introvert’s Guide to a Wealthy Life is now available in Kindle, Paperback, and Hardcover editions!

How Has Your Introversion Affected Your Life?

Your Innate Personality Type Impacts Your Life at Every Level

Even If You Realize It or Not!

Introversion has been in the spotlight a lot recently. Mostly, the books, the blog posts, the websites, and such have been about how you too can succeed as an introvert! While that message is great (and completely true) it strikes me funny that it seems to miss the point. Why do introverts need to be told they’re good enough to do anything they want to do in life?

your introverted personality type can impact everything from your own perception of yourself to your paycheck.

The Extrovert Bias

The introduction of Susan Cain’s groundbreaking book Quiet:  The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking is all about how her life and the lives of other introverts she’s come across over the years have been molded and impacted by our society’s inherent extrovert bias. It’s something that we’ve all internalized as a result of overt and subconscious exposure over the course of our lives—starting at a very young age.

This extrovert bias essentially boils down to the idea that extroverts are basically better at more important things in the real world—leading companies, making money, managing people, running households, being role models, and so much more.

Cain points out not-so-subtle brainwashing that occurs even in children’s cartoons that lead us all to buy into this fallacy and (as introverts) subjugate ourselves automatically to the extroverts that run the world.

The Extrovert Bias Impacts Our Ideas About Success

Cain traces the birth of the extrovert bias to sometime around the Industrial Revolution and its infancy stretched into the 1920s and 30s. When our world’s societies changed from agrarian lifestyles of subsistence to industry-driven lives of relative luxury, we also elevated a certain type of person above all others. We’re talking about Men of Industry! Explorers! Radio and Movies Stars! Inventors (and people, like Edison, who stole from them)! Robber barons! Industrialists! The World’s First Millionaires!

These individuals (both men and women) had big personalities, took bold risks, made big moves. They invented new things. They changed cultural norms. They created new habits, hairstyles, and fashion. And how could they not? Our collective consciousness was obsessed with them. They were plastered all over newspapers. Everything they did made it into radio broadcasts. They were the Reality Entertainment Stars of their generations.

Woman walking toward the Hollywood Sign

The names that stick out to me are big ones in history:

  • Charles Lindberg
  • Teddy Roosevelt
  • Thomas Edison
  • J.P. Morgan
  • John Jacob Astor
  • Henry Ford
  • Douglas Fairbanks
  • Bonnie and Clyde

Because so much attention was focused on these audacious people, Western Society began to associate with their success (real or perceived) with their personality rather than their actions. This divorcing of success from action makes no logical sense as those successful people still had to put in hard work to get where they were. However, in our collective Zeitgeist, these individuals became celebrities. Hence, we have the first real modern rise of The Cult of Personality.

This is the point in history which created our modern views about how personality integrates with admirable traits like:

  • Innovativeness
  • Courage
  • Charisma
  • Intelligence
  • Power
  • Wealth

And, unfortunately, these connections persist today and impact us all in very real, very measurable ways.

“The Extrovert Ideal has been documented in many studies, though this research has never been grouped under a single name. Talkative people, for example, are rated as smarter, better-looking, more interesting, and more desirable as friends. Velocity of speech counts as well as volume:  we rank fast talkers as more competent and likeable than slow ones.”

–Susan Cain

The Extrovert Bias Impacts How People See Us

the bias against introversion can change how people feel about us--even if they don't know us.

Because of this inherent bias in how people perceive introversion and those of us who were born with these types of personalities, we’re often categorized as lesser citizens. Consciously or not, people will rate introverts as:

  • Weaker
  • Less intelligent
  • Less successful
  • Less attractive
  • Less interesting
  • Less desirable as friends

This skewed perception of introverted people has been spotted in anecdotal studies but also confirmed with experimentation. Researchers have devised ways of removing this bias or skewing people’s perception by priming their mental pumps in such a way that the end up rating introverts higher on these subjective scales of success.

Usually, such experiments involve showing participants photographs of an individual and creating descriptions of them with deliberately chosen words which subtly paint the individual as either introverted or extroverted. Participants are then asked to rate the individual based solely on the photo and the description they’ve been given. The ratings vary greatly depending on the description associated with the photo.

This clearly singles out the participants’ own preconceptions about introverts and extroverts as the deciding factors for the ratings they give.

The Extrovert Bias Impacts How We See Ourselves

Sadly, the extrovert bias present in our modern society doesn’t just impact how people see us introverts, it impacts how we see ourselves as well.

Cain points to a study conducted by psychologist Laurie Helgoe in which people who had been classified as introverts via standardized and accepted methods were asked to describe themselves. These individuals used objective identifiers (like “green-blue eyes” and “high cheekbones”), pointing to specific, verifiable physical attributes.

On the other hand, when those same people were asked to describe a “generic” introvert, they used negative, almost derogatory terms like “ungainly” and “skin problems.” There’s no possibility that those same introverts don’t internalize at least some of those negative impressions!

This stigmatization of the word introvert has impacts that reach far beyond our own emotional happiness. In fact, this negative bias can literally change our lives!

The Financial Impact of the Extrovert Bias

This bias against introversion can limit a person’s professional growth, colors their professional relationships, and even cuts into their paychecks.

Introverts will make one-half million dollars less in their lifteitme than extroverts will.

For example, one study found that extroverts fill an estimated 88% of all roles at the supervisor level or higher across various industries nationwide. That’s even more shocking when you realize that only 50%-66% of the population are extroverts. Why is there such a disparity? Several management studies have found that introverts are much less likely to be groomed for promotion that extroverts. Companies and leaders are engaging in this biased behavior even when it doesn’t make good business sense. Indeed, a study conducted at Wharton found that introverts are objectively better managers and outperform their extrovert counterparts on multiple measurable level of success.

So, there are far fewer introverts in leadership positions than there should be. That means that we’re also making much less than we should be. Indeed, a study conducted by The Ascent found that the average annual salary of an introvert is $12,600 less per year than that of an extrovert! That means an introvert will make, on average, one-half million dollars less over the course of their career than an extrovert does.

But what does this really mean for you and your family? Well, what could you do with 23% more money in your paycheck every week?

What Can You Do Crush the Stigma of Introversion and Take Back Your World?

You can get those promotions you’ve been passed over for. You can get the job of your dreams. You can make people look up to and respect you. You can make more money than you ever thought possible.

All these things are within your power even if you’re an introvert.

The first step is changing how you view your personality type. You need to shed those outdated ideas and attitudes about introversion that you’ve adopted, inherited, accepted, and internalized. Learn to recognize the power in your introverted personality traits and those habits that set you apart from friends, family, coworkers, and even your boss.

That’s what An Introvert’s Guide to Wealth is all about. Unlock the power of your personality and embrace a new life.

How to Stop Being Shy

Don’t Let Your Fear of Social Interaction Dictate Your Life

I wasn’t always shy. That’s the hard part. Looking back on it now, it’s almost impossible for me to believe I was a gregarious little fellow when I was young. I have memories from when I was three or four of my friends and I playing in the kiddie pool my mom had set up in the front yard—putting ladybugs on toy boats and watching them float away and teenaged girls (my sisters’ friends) carrying me around everywhere, dressing me up like a doll. I remember when I was a little older making fast friends with the kids staying in the next campsite over, riding our bikes through the woods, crawling down bunny trails, and swimming in the pond until we were so chilled and wrinkled our parents must have been wondering if we were hypothermic.

Stop Being Shy:  Learn what shyness is, how it's different from introversion, and 5 steps to overcoming shyness.

But something changed for me around the time I moved to my grandfather’s house in 1985 and changed schools in second grade. I quickly became a very shy person. My circle of friends shrunk to a handful. I grew fearful of social situations. I had trouble speaking out in class. I couldn’t muster the confidence or the inner strength to speak with kids I didn’t know. Everyone who was larger or older than I was seemed like a giant just waiting for the opportunity to bite my head off.

This was an era of upheaval for me and my family. I didn’t know it at the time but the medical bills accumulated by me—undiagnosed asthma—and my mother—recently diagnosed diabetes—had pushed my family’s finances to the brink. We’d had to surrender the home we lived in to the bank and took possession of my grandfather’s house after he died with the help of my aunt (who surrendered her financial claim to the home without much fanfare).

For me, as a child, this financial affected me but in ways I only now understand.

  • My parents could no longer afford new clothes for me as often they’d like so I ended up in hand-me-downs and thrift store finds
  • They weren’t able to pay for cool vacations to Disneyland (or even Six Flags) like other kids enjoyed. Instead, we spent weeks in the woods at remote campsites my father had discovered decades ago as a pulp wood truck driver.
  • Activities like sports and band were difficult too because new equipment (cleats and shin guards, and saxophones) were out of the question.
  • The home we lived in had an ancient septic system that simply couldn’t handle the demands of a modern family (showers were few and far between).
  • Food was cheap-ish but mostly junky—soda, chips, Little Debbie.

While I was happy, relatively healthy, and had a huge backyard (including ledges, forest, and blueberry fields) in which to play, these things were affecting me without my even knowing or understanding.

  • Imagine being a new kid coming into a new school not knowing anyone.
  • Imagine packing on several unwanted pounds and being labelled “chubby” or “fat.”
  • Imagine dressing in outdated clothes and wearing the same ones until they ripped out or you outgrew them.
  • Imagine not being the cleanest of kids.

While this childhood is far from terrible and millions of kids have it much worse, you can bet your bippy that I was the brunt of a thousand jokes, that I got picked on by fancier kids, that I got bullied by bigger kids.

And all of this was new to me. I didn’t know what was different or why I was being treated this way. (Turns out, kids of that age are just judgmental little turds who adopt the attitudes of their parents—or maybe that’s too harsh.)

Overnight, my gregarious nature vanished. I became shy.

I wouldn’t trade a moment of my childhood though. It made me into who I am today and made me appreciate my parents more than you can imagine. But, after 30 years I’m just now starting to unpack the emotional and financial impact my childhood has had on my life since. It’s my hope that:

  • My story will resonate with some of you.
  • My successes will inspire you.
  • My advice will help you change your lives for the better.

Are You Shy?

  • Are you fearful of social interactions?
  • Do you lack the confidence to stand up for your beliefs?
  • Do you lack necessary communication skills to do more than “get by” in life?
  • Does anxiety strangle every attempt you make to break out of your shell?
  • Do you hyper-fixate on failure?

The root question is, are you shy?

That’s not really an easy question to answer. Unfortunately, shyness is a complex state of being that’s been so wrapped up with various other emotions, perception styles, personality types, and social stigmas that it would be hard for the average person to give you a good example of what shyness is.

So let’s start there.

What is Shyness?

Shyness, defined by, is

“. . . is an emotion that affects how a person feels and behaves around others. Shyness can mean feeling uncomfortable, self-conscious, nervous, bashful, timid, or insecure. People who feel shy sometimes notice physical sensations like blushing or feeling speechless, shaky, or breathless.”

Even that’s not very clear or concise. The follow up they tack on to the end of that definition is perhaps more to-the-point but it’s even vaguer. “Shyness is the opposite of being at ease with yourself around others.”

The key phrase there is “with yourself.” In essence, shyness is extreme self-consciousness—to the extent that it creates anxiety. That anxiety then shapes your thoughts, your emotions, your actions, your responses, your attitude. Sometimes that can be perceived as a lack of confidence but it’s not really. It’s more of a learned response to situations which have occurred in the past.

For me, my shyness really took over when I began to get bullied—for the way I looked, for the way I dressed, because I didn’t do cool things or hangout with cool people.

It didn’t help that I was already biologically tuned to be an introvert.

The Connection Between Shyness and Introversion

Many people confuse being shy with being introverted. They are not the same thing. Introversion is a very specific personality type (a syndrome of various personality traits) that occurs because of various biological and social stimuli. In recent years, there has been a ton of research into introversion and the biggest takeaway from it all is that introversion is likely something we’re born with, not something we acquire or learn.

Differences like increased baseline electrical activity in the brain, larger numbers of specific neuroreceptors, and variations in cerebral blood flow patterns all point to very real physical differences between introverts and extroverts. (If you’re interested, I created this blog post to help people understand just what is an introvert.)

The reason many people wrongly equate shyness with introversion is that introverts and shy people exhibit many of the same behaviors. Both:

  • Prefer to be alone
  • Avoid social situations
  • Are very self-aware
  • Don’t often speak out in crowds
  • May have trouble effectively communicating
  • Have increased anxiety when forced into interactions
  • Struggle with interpersonal relationships
  • Have to work harder to enjoy professional success

The biggest difference is that shyness is almost always a learned behavior. There is some scientific evidence that roughly 20% of the population is genetically predisposed to shyness, however, further study finds that a significant portion of those with the genetic markers for shyness do not develop the temperament.

Shyness is Not a Lack of Confidence

Confidence is your ability to be comfortable with your personal skillset as applied to whatever situation you’re in. Shyness is your emotional reaction to situations in which you don’t feel comfortable. One is a personal comfort level, the other is an emotional response to discomfort.

The difference is a little hard to understand. For example, a shy person can be supremely confident in their ability to write excellent short stories, persuasive articles, and blog posts but when it comes to public speaking, they’re an absolute disaster. On the flipside, a confident person can be at ease striding into a room full of perfect strangers but they might become shy if asked to sing a song or do a dance—even if they’ve perfected the routine in private.

There is a link between shyness and confidence. Building confidence in a certain aspect of your life will naturally reduce your shyness in that particular avenue (and those avenues that are tangentially related). So, for example, you’re extremely shy in social situations but you gradually improve your social performance (usually through what experts like to call exposure therapy), you’ll incrementally increase your confidence. With that increased confidence, you’ll likely experience less anxiety (which means you’re diminishing your shyness).

The good news is that because the vast majority of shy behaviors are learned, they can be unlearned. It’s not going to be easy because learning those behaviors was—at some level—automatic and undertaken by your subconscious mind. Unlearning those behaviors will take active mental exertion and requires personal responsibility.

Regardless of where you are on your personal improvement journey, the 5 steps to overcoming shyness below will help you claw back control of your life from the fear, discomfort, and emotional stress that your shyness has caused you.

5 Steps to Overcome Shyness

Understand Your Shyness

It’s important to recognize and understand your shyness for what it is—a learned behavior. If you continue through life thinking that your shyness is an ingrained part of your personality, you’ll never be able to root it out and change it.

It may help to take a look back through your life at the situations that likely contributed to your shyness. For me, it was bullying by kids my age and older. For you it may have been negative interactions with a parent or sibling. I’m not a psychologist and I can’t really help you unpack all of that, but I know that when I recognized these influential moments in my life, I was able to de-emphasize the power the long-lasting emotional effect stemming from them had over me.

Mindfulness techniques may be helpful to you here. Acknowledge the negative incident and the emotions it causes within you but don’t allow yourself to dwell on it or them. Let them wash over you. Let them go. We live in the moment and our past only shapes us (and our future) if we let it.

Practice Interactions with People You Trust

Exposure Therapy works because you incrementally increase anxiety-inducing situations so you can learn to cope with the stress they cause. You can do this yourself to help combat your shyness. However, I would suggest you start by working with people you trust. This may be a parent. It may be a friend. It may even be a co-worker or mentor. Whoever those people are, force yourself into those uncomfortable situations and use the mindfulness techniques above to take the power away from the negative energy they generate.

Recognize the Value of Your Thoughts, Emotions, and Opinions

Shy people often sublimate themselves to the will of others. We often go with the flow just so we don’t rock the boat. But you can’t do that forever without sublimating your life and your life is yours. It’s the only one you have and you can’t afford to waste it. Live it.

I’m going to say this now. It sounds hokey but it’s true. Your thoughts, your emotions, and your opinions have value. They are what create you. And you have value.

I mean both in the sense that you’re a human being and should be respected as such but also in the sense that your individual contributions to the world, to your family, to your relationships, to your work, to strangers even, have value.

Sometimes it can be hard to see that value ourselves. Sometimes we have to see ourselves through the eyes of others in order to recognize that value. If it’s not enough that I see your value and acknowledge it, start believing the compliments and positive feedback that people give you. Too often shy people write off those positive interactions as one-offs. “Oh, they must not know the real me.” “She didn’t really mean that.” “He just said that to be nice.”

In my experience, everybody is reluctant to give praise—even the most positive of people. So, if somebody said it, it was real enough, true enough, and powerful enough to make them say it. Believe in that authenticity.

Be Assertive and Be Genuine

Assertiveness can be hard for shy people. As mentioned above, we often sublimate ourselves to others with stronger personalities. However, when you tie that assertiveness to your genuine self, you’re tapping into a strength that reaches right to the core of you.

I’ll give you an example. I’m a leader in the retail world and have dozens of employees under me. I’m also a perfectionist and NEED things to be right. I take pride in my work being complete and the finished product being attractive, presentable, and proper. When I first stepped into a leadership role years ago, I allowed my shyness to overrule that natural perfectionist tendency. I was happy if my employees were just getting the job complete. However, that led to mediocre results, poor reviews from my superiors, and employees who were really disengaged with their work. For them, it was just a task they had to do for 8 hours before punching a clock.

One day, I decided that I could no longer stand sitting by and watching this mediocrity. I dialed my perfectionism to eleven and came to work with it blasting. At first it was hard (very hard) for my employees to buy into this new me. It made more work for them. They were getting more “constructive” feedback than they were accustomed to. They were frustrated. However, when the praise from up the ladder started raining down, when the sales figures rocketed, when customers came in to give those same employees compliments on the quality of work they were now providing, those same employees internalized that pride and that perfectionism.

My assertiveness rubbed off not because I just repeatedly beat people over the head with it. It worked because it was coming from a very authentic place within me. I was showing one of my core personality traits and how it could positively affect our entire department.

Give Yourself a Break (but Not Too Long of One)

If you’re shy and an introvert, you’re in for a long road. You will easily be overwhelmed emotionally, mentally, and physically (dopamine spikes are a real thing). It’s necessary to give yourself a break, an opportunity to rest and recharge those mental batteries. However, don’t let procrastination sit in. If you break for too long, your natural emotional momentum will kick in and it’ll be like starting all over again. Instead, give yourself a timeline—an hour, a day, a week—and then get back to work. Schedule it, if you have to. Let people know about it. Tell them you’re feeling a little overwhelmed and need to take a lunch or that you’re going to table the project you’re working on until after the weekend.

You’re the only one who knows your own thresholds. Just be sure that your threshold you’re approaching is real, not imagined.

An Introvert’s Guide to a Wealthy Life is now available in Kindle, Paperback, and Hardcover editions!

How Friends and Family Teach You to Fail

how to spot and deal with naysayers in your life and turn their well-meaning bad advice into action

Learning to Spot the Negative Impact of Well-Meaning Advice

If you’ve ever read a self-help book or any memoir about a person who pulled themselves up by the bootstraps, you’ll no doubt have heard about that one individual (usually a family member, friend, or colleague) who was instrumental in motivating the protagonist to make that leap of faith leading to glory, wealth, and opportunity. But what you often don’t hear about are the myriad of folks who are truly trying to help but through their short-sightedness, fear, or ignorance offer bad advice wrapped in a cushion of good intentions.

Unfortunately, you’re already surrounded by these people. Worse yet, they’re often your closest loved ones—mothers and fathers, wives and husbands, bosses and co-workers. They can, with a well-meant word, cut the legs out from under you, undermine your motivation, and make your dream seem foolish or doomed to failure.

How many times have you found yourself talking with someone about a goal (or explaining a plan to reach that goal) only to have them say something like:

  • That’s all well and good but do you really think you’re going to be able to finish writing that book?
  • The market for massage therapists is really competitive right now.
  • You’ll need a lot of start-up funding to get your food truck off the ground.
  • Your last attempt at quitting your day job didn’t go so well, did it?

These people don’t really wish bad things for you (though some of them secretly might). In fact, everything they’re saying, they believe to be helpful. What they’re giving you is the guidance of the wise, the advice of the cool-headed, the perspective of someone on the outside. But these words can be much more than a buzzkill, they can be fatal to your hopes of a better life and can easily cripple any chance you had at increasing your income.

Who Are These Naysayers?

In Felix Dennis’s Best-Selling book How to Get Rich, Mr. Dennis calls these people Jeremiahs in reference to the biblical Jeremiah. This Jewish fellow—known as the weeping prophet—was a notorious, iconic naysayer who lived nearly 3,000 years ago. His legacy of lambasting Hebrews for their wicked ways and whining (for lack of a better word) about his lot in life as the unpopular messenger who had to bare the weight of the backlash against his message became so widespread that his name has become synonymous with pessimistic people.

In many cases, you can spot one of Mr. Dennis’s Jeremiahs from a mile away.  They love to pontificate on the millions things that are wrong with the world (or how you’re living in it) while grumbling all the while about how hard it is for a playah trying to preach the message of righteousness (according to them). These detractors are easy to spot and easy to avoid. You might find yourself chuckling at them (or grumbling about them) but you’re note likely to reshape your life because of what they have to say.

On the other hand, there are naysayers in our lives whom we are likely to trust. We fully accept the advice given by them as if everything they say is wholly true. To these people—these secret agents of doubt—we give power over our futures.

Spotting the Secretive Naysayers Already In Your Life

Much of the most impactful advice we get in our lives comes from our closest friends and family members. We trust that these people have our best interests at heart without ever really examining what they’re saying or why they’re saying it. We accept it so easily because we’ve come to learn through past exposure that this advice is often correct, can help us avoid pain (physical or emotional), and is given by someone to whom we have voluntarily given power, respect, and a certain amount of control.

For example, my mom once told me not to ride my Hot Wheels tricycle on the deck. I proceeded to do so (backwards) and pitched four-feet to the ground, splitting my head on a rock. She also told me not to roller skate in the hallway. I did anyway and faceplanted into the coffee table, sending my front teeth through my bottom lip.

My dad gave some great advice too! Hold the claw hammer by the head and don’t swing it—which I didn’t follow and ended up with the claws imbedded in my thigh and a scar that looks like I was attacked by a buck-toothed rabbit. And speaking of rabbits—when my father gave me a sickle and told me to harvest some grass for my rabbit, he specifically counselled me to use the blade like a knife and don’t swing the sickle like an axe. You guessed it! I cut my index finger to the bone and had to be rushed to the ER for multiple stitches while my mother cried and wondered if I was going to lose my finger!

My parents often gave me great advice (some of which I followed). Therefore, I accepted the majority of the advice they gave as gospel. (And some of which negatively shaped my obsession with working hard and my attitudes about money.)

They gave me this advice because they didn’t want to see me hurt (and possibly because they were tired of rushing me to the ER as I bled from various wounds).

Spotting the Insidious Negativity

So would I classify my mom as a Jeremiah? Would I even think to question my dad when he gave me a life lesson?

The answer to both of those is “no,” but looking back on some of the advice they gave, I realize it limited in ways that would have lifelong effects on my personality, my professional aspirations, and even my paycheck.

For example, when I told my mom I had launched a copywriting business and was making money by writing online articles for folks she said:  “that’s great. Your dad would be so proud. But you don’t want to lose your health insurance. Can you do that and still have time for your real job?”

This is an example of insidious negativity delivered with good intentions. My mother, in this instance, was acting as a Jeremiah. She didn’t have faith in my ability to run a successful copywriting business through which I could replace my income and benefits earned from a traditional job. As a result, neither did I (and I was always too scared to try).

But it isn’t Always Negativity That Hurts

Sometimes a positive comment can have a negative impact that can change the course of your life forever.

20 plus years ago, when I was working part time at a convenience store while in college, I was taught how to cut meat (not really butchering but close enough). I still remember the pride on my father’s face when I told him. He was so excited that I was learning a trade that his enthusiasm was intoxicating. Afterall, he was a tradesman (carpenter) and it had provided him with a comparatively large income, a source of pride, and a social network for years. He felt that meat cutting would do the same for me.

My Dad’s Twin Careers–The Seductive Pride of Being a Tradesperson

But looking back on it after many, many years there were some major differences that really held me back on a professional level and stunted the amount of money I would make.

First, my father was a self-employed tradesman. He was in charge of the income he earned. I was an employee subject to the pay scale of whatever grocery store I worked for.

Second, he had the opportunity to grow significantly learning everything in the housebuilding trade from groundwork and framing through plumbing and electrical. I was never going to learn anything more than I had once I mastered cutting each piece of beef and pork. Sure, I could learn to cut faster, better, cleaner, and improve my face-to-face customer service skills but the value disparity between the professional progress my father enjoyed and that I did was astronomical.

Lastly, because he was so proud when I told him, I was forever fearful that if I looked for other opportunities elsewhere that I would disappoint him. And the thought of that crippled me.

How to Overcome Your Jeremiahs

Felix Dennis’s Best-Selling book How to Get Rich has some interesting advice about naysayers. Mr. Dennis simply says to ignore them. He even goes so far as to suggest that if a romantic life partner is identified as a Jeremiah that you’re best to either excise them from your life or give up on your dreams of getting rich.

Don't let insidious negativity derail your personal self-improvement
When it comes to Jeremiahs, Hear No Evil is GOOD advice!

Easy for him to say (and do). He’s a typical extrovert who developed a do-or-die attitude toward professional success in his twenties.

For the rest of us—especially those of us with well-meaning naysayers fully integrated into our lives—it can seem impossible to break free of their influence. This is especially hard if you’re an introvert like me because our personal circles of close relationships are so tiny to begin with that there’s really no fat to be trimmed from them. If your wife warns you that starting a website is going to be costly and time consuming, you can’t simply tell her to get lost!

The Three Step Process for Working Around the Naysayers in Your Life

So how do you work around all this naysaying and actually get the results you want to see? It starts with introspection.

As an introvert, you’re already good at this—sometimes too good so don’t overthink it!

Step 1:  Examine your end goal and assign the proper value to it.

You’ve already daydreamed about this goal, sketched out plans to get there, thought of the myriad things that could go wrong, but that goal—whatever it is—is still so important to you that you’ve held onto it this long. That means it’s valuable to you regardless of the financial outcome associated with it. You need to assign that value to it (either in a real dollar figure or an emotional currency) and hold true to that assignment.

Step 2:  Really listen to the advice you’re given

Don’t simply let the advice from your well-meaning naysayers slip insidiously into your brain and live there. Really take it in, hear what they’re saying, and examine the statement. Look for falsehoods, misinformation, misunderstanding. This will help you weed out any opinion that isn’t based on factual information.

Step 3:  Get to the heart of the matter

Identify the motivation behind the advice. Is your Jeremiah jealous of your boldness and potential success? Are they trying to keep you close to home (literally or figuratively)? Are they worried about disrupting the status quo? Is it the impact of your end goal on you they’re concerned about or is it the impact of your goal on them that made them speak up?

Need more help spotting the negative people in your life? Learn how to deal with difficult people effortlessly.

Change is Life and Regret is Eternal!

In short, your life will never change unless you change it. Most of the time, your personal Jeremiahs are simply trying to keep everything the same. They likely have personal reasons for this, but they may also genuinely believe their negative opinions and veiled remarks are helping protect you from danger/risk/emotional or financial harm.

The most important thing to remember is that your life is yours to live. You only get one and you don’t want to live with regret for choices not made and chances not taken. Don’t simply excise these people from your life (unless you want to) or routinely ignore their advice. Do what any good introvert would do and process the information, make a decision, and act!

An Introvert’s Guide to a Wealthy Life is now available in Kindle, Paperback, and Hardcover editions!

The Day a Shy Person with Introvert Traits Realized He Could Do More!

The Moment My Personal Wealth Journey Really Took Off

There I was, covered in blood, working in a refrigerator for 8+ hours per day, lifting 100-pound boxes, and slinging animal parts for money. It was the best job ever! I miss it to this day. However, life (and my boss) had other plans for me. If I could point to one moment in time when my professional life really took a turn for the better, the moment when my paycheck began its meteoric rise to figures I’d never dreamed about, it was then when my boss gave me what we in the company jokingly call “The Tap on the Shoulder.”

What made this so strange to me was that thought I was a hard worker, I was an extremely quiet introvert!

A Reprieve from Boredom and Frustration

I was working as a meat cutter at a regional chain of stores (that itself was a subsidiary of a nationwide company that was, in turn, a subsidiary of an international company). I had struggled for 8 years to get back into a meat room after changing companies—signing on with a much larger supermarket after quitting the mom-and-pop operation at which I’d learned to butcher. During those frustrating years I filled my time with stocking yogurt—quite a task for someone with mighty gorilla mitts, hanging price tags, and generally being miserable.

Continue reading “The Day a Shy Person with Introvert Traits Realized He Could Do More!”