October 1, 2011

Must Hide Before They Figure Out They Hate Me!

Posted in Watermarks in Progress at 11:33 pm by Tamara

Must hide before they figure out they hate me!

I used to think I was pretty outgoing, but I feel like I’ve gotten a LOT less so over the past few years.  I think my friendliness has been sabotaged by my own insecurity.  I’m so convinced that people won’t (or don’t) like me that I shrink into myself and don’t even try.  I mean, surely they’re thinking that my clothes are so three hours ago or that my house smells like baby diapers or that they’d rather watch their hair grow than listen to my stories or that I’m too conservative or that I have the sense of humor of a toenail or the intelligence of a toothpick or….   So since I’m feeling insecure, I don’t act friendly, so I don’t feel friendly, so I don’t act friendly….  Could there be a pattern here?

I read a research study where they took groups of three people, put them in a discussion group, and told one to act extroverted, one to act introverted, and one to be neutral.  The people who were acting like extroverts were told to act “bold, spontaneous, assertive, and talkative,” and the people acting like introverts were told to act “reserved, inhibited, timid, and quiet.”  When they finished, each person had to report their mood.  Next time they came in, the roles were switched and they again had to report on their mood.

You might think that the natural introverts in the study would have found it stressful to act extroverted, but interestingly enough, the participants reported a higher mood when acting extroverted, regardless of their natural tendencies.  The writers summarized the findings: “This suggests that regardless of your natural level of extraversion, just acting in an extraverted manner can make you feel better than if you act introverted. *”  This is in no way a criticism of introverts–I would consider myself an introvert because, while I love people, I’m worn out by too much interaction.  But the point is that, even if we’re naturally rather shy, we can still act friendly and it will probably make us feel less stressed and more confident in the end.

Sometimes I think being outgoing just boils down to being others-focused.  Think about it: Out (away from myself, towards others) Going (taking the effort to move towards someone else).  When I’m sitting there, focusing on myself and worrying that everyone hates me, the message I’m probably communicating (especially to anyone else who might be insecure) is that I don’t like THEM!  Seems a tad counter-productive.  I think the people who are easiest to like are the ones who (regardless of how bubbly or soft-spoken they may be) just plain act like they enjoy being around me.  That takes just forgetting about myself and showing interest in the other person, but I can’t do that if I’m constantly worrying about myself!

The point to myself (especially as we’re about to move to a new state) is to stop worrying and just act friendly.  Smile.  Ask questions.  Think more about the things I like about the other person than the things I’m sure they don’t like about me.  Listen.  Get over myself.  As my mom used to tell me growing up, “Everyone is too worried about their own zits to notice yours.”

(*Study was in: Feist, J., & Feist, G. (2009). Theories of personality (7th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill)

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8 Comments »

  1. Mati said,

    This is a great reminder to me be feeling really introverted lately. Someone once told me that they never pictured me as nervous. I told them I am as calm as a cat in the window on the outside while a million little men are crying and shaking on the inside. Love you Tamara

    • Tamara said,

      I totally agree!! I guess I’m glad I can SEEM secure…I just go home and relive every stupid thing I said/did and vow to never go out again! Lol. It’s hard when we’re in new places and away from our “secure base,” I think. I need this reminder as we’re getting ready to move. But I have no doubt everyone you’re meeting loves you. For what it’s worth, you are one of my favorite people IN THE WORLD, Mati!!

  2. Mom said,

    Your blog posts always seem to encourage me. And this one made me laugh out loud at the end. I love the way you rephrased what “I said” when you were growing up. :-D And if you have the sense of humor of a toenail, then toenails are hilarious!

    • Tamara said,

      Well, that’s what *I* remember you saying…what DID you say??

  3. Diane Werle said,

    There is a great article (on the computer that is not yet hooked up, naturally) on a study that measured the impact of social interaction on introverts vs. extroverts. Introverts can be extremely high-functioning socially (I’m one of them – I can work a room very well when I want to do so), but after it’s all over, the introverts are completely drained. All that people stuff wears them out. Extroverts, on the other hand, thrive on all the interaction, and will come away energized.

    Your comment about asking questions is right on the mark. The most interesting person is someone who is interested in you. LOL, I’ve had entire conversations where all I’ve done is ask an open ended question to get the ball rolling, and I haven’t had to say another word – and the person to whom I was talking was left with the impression I’m the most brilliant conversationalist in the room!

  4. Mandi said,

    Wow, this makes introverts sound like bad people…speaking as an introvert…I think both types of people can show their self contentedness in different ways. Extroverts to me often seem like “look at me, look at me” but it would be unfair to lump them all in a category. But both types of people can bring glory to God with their personalities. It’s when we stop analyzing it and put others as the center that His purpose will shine through.

    • Mandi said,

      meant self centeredness…not self contentedness…though that may work too :)

    • Tamara said,

      I’m sorry, this is definitely not meant as a criticism of introverts. Extrovert/introvert might not be the right terms, but I used them because they were the terms in the study I read. My point is that I haven’t been very outgoing/friendly lately because I’m feeling insecure. I’ve known some very quiet people who are very friendly, and some very extroverted people who really weren’t. But your last sentence was exactly my point: I need to stop worrying about myself and focus on others! Thanks for the feedback–maybe I can edit this so I communicate better.


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