How to become more assertive as a shy introvert

how to become more assertive as a shy introvert

Have you ever wondered how you can become more assertive as a (shy) introvert? I have, too. My whole life, basically.

In my natural state, I’m probably the least assertive person in the world. I always try to accommodate others, will never give my opinion if I’m not asked, and take things people say to heart way too much.

I’m an introvert with the remains of the social anxiety I’ve combatted for years – what do you expect?

Things first started to change when I got IBS, then even more once I decided to turn my life around and create my own business. People don’t tend to approve of such “atypical” decisions. They start to criticise, give their opinion without being asked, and generally disapprove.

Whether I liked it or not: I had no choice but to become more assertive. And today, I want to share all the things I’ve learnt throughout my journey.

Good communication doesn’t equal good ideas

One of the major reasons why I struggle with assertiveness is that I tend to think too highly of others’ opinions, and not enough of my own. Imposter syndrome is real, you guys!

Maybe it’s because I’m not that good at verbal communication as more extroverted people are. They’re better at convincing others, and they’re better at convincing me. But as Susan Cain clearly stated in her book “Quiet”, extroverts might be better at communicating their ideas, but this doesn’t mean that their ideas are actually better.

In order to become more assertive as a shy introvert, especially in discussions, you have to accept that your point of view is just as good as anyone else’s. 

The next time someone tries to convince you of something, take it with a grain of salt. Yes, their argument might be valid. But there’s certainly more to the story. And it sure as heck doesn’t mean that your opinion is less important!

Accept that no one else knows you better than you

Like I said before, you need to accept that other people’s opinions are not necessarily better than yours. But when you (or your life) are the topic of discussion, your opinion is by far the one that matters most. 

Just think about it!

Firstly, you know yourself better than anyone else. Not one other person spends as much time in your mind as you do!

And secondly, only you can know what you are capable of. Especially when it’s something you haven’t done before.

Do you remember Sigmund Freud’s definition of the mind, divided between Id, Ego, and Superego? 

(If not, you can read about it here.) 

Well, the things people say to you often sound like your own Superego talking. You know, that part of your mind that tends to cling to society’s ideal: finishing school, getting a decent job, getting married, having a family, paying taxes…

Whenever you try to break out of this outline and do you own thing (the stuff that’s right for you, because not all of us are made for a 9 to 5 life), you will always have that little voice in your head telling you that that’s not the way you’re supposed to go. And other people’s arguments might reinforce that little Superego voice, making you feel like you’re doing the wrong thing.

Well, there’s a reason why the Superego doesn’t make the decisions. It’s because society doesn’t take into account your dreams, aspirations, hurdles you have to face. 

Surely, 9-to-5 jobs weren’t designed for people with IBS. Therefore, I consider that I have every right to create my own life that actually works for me. And allows me to be happy.

And so do you! 

Yes, the Superego arguments do sound valid. But that’s only part of the truth. In the end, you are the one who decides what you need – and this should not be based on what others expect of you.

In order to become more assertive as a shy introvert, start speaking up for yourself.

“Your arguments might be right for you, but I’m a different person. And I need to do this to be happy.”

“I know we were raised that way, but it just doesn’t work for me. Do you want me to be unhappy, just so I look good on paper?”

Just try it next time, instead of letting someone criticise your choices.

People are selfish – why shouldn’t you?

Are you the type of person who always tries to accommodate others? Who’d rather miss out on things they want to do just to make other people happy?

If you are, welcome to the club. We meet on Wednesdays and discuss all the opportunities we’ve wasted so far.

Sometimes, I missed out on something I really wanted to do because my friends convinced to go somewhere else. Other times, I ended up in situations that didn’t work for me at all, just because I wasn’t strong enough to say no.

Even now, having it my way is associated with so much stress. What if my way sucks, and others get mad at me? What if they stop being friends if I say no too many times?

But the truth is, humans are a selfish species. Everyone looks out for themselves. And so should you.

Seriously, how many people do you know who would do something they hate or forgo something they love, just to make you happy? Probably not that many.

So, just act the way they do! And I mean that in the most positive way possible.

If they say no to you, you have every right to say no as well. Not out of spite, of course, but when something really doesn’t work for you. Just explain why to make sure that you don’t create a conflict!

In order to be more assertive as a shy introvert, you need to learn to put yourself first sometimes. And your friends will understand because they would have done the same.

To make it easier, just imagine what they would do or say if the situation was the other way around. If it wouldn’t be weird coming from someone else, it’s not weird coming from you, either!

Sometimes, you can just walk away

No matter how much you work on becoming more assertive as a shy introvert: sometimes, it still won’t work. Some people don’t listen to what you say. Others don’t care.

The good thing is: no one forces you to spend time with those people.

Part of becoming more assertive is choosing who you want to spend your life with. And if someone makes you feel like crap, you are free to just walk away.

How to become more assertive as a shy introvert

I really hope that you liked this post and found it helpful in some way! If you did, please share it on social media. 🙂

Now, let me know: what do you do to become more assertive as a (shy) introvert?

2 Replies to “How to become more assertive as a shy introvert”

  1. What you said about being selfish resonated so much with me. I used to accept invitations for things I didn’t even want to go, as well as doing things just to fit in or so others wouldn’t think less of me. Learning to stand up for myself definitely made me more assertive in life. Making ourselves a priority is one of the best things we could do for ourselves.

    1. I’m glad that it resonated with you! If we don’t make ourselves a priority, no one else will.

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