5 Ways Introverts AND Extroverts Can Break Out Of Comfort Zones


Why some of us have a tendency to isolate and why it's important to give yourself that extra push.

"You gotta get up, get dressed and show up for life."

I love good reminders, so my friend saying that to me was truly powerful. The last time I quoted her in an article it was about getting up in the morning, getting out of bed, and getting an early start on your day. I still believe that to be true. "The early bird gets the worm," as my dad would always remind me. I do believe that getting a good nights' rest and getting an early start can be the key to success for many people. 

As of late, however, being a self-employeed therapist who often sees clients in the evening, and a musician, where a lot of work happens outside of the typical nine-to-five, I now recognize that getting up early is not feasible in every lifestyle. So, I believe that self care, getting eight hours of sleep is good, and getting up at a decent hour is also good, but the time in which you do depends on your schedule, lifestyle, preferences and your personal circadian cycles.

My attention has recently been more inclined to recognize another even more important key to success which still has to do very much with the latter part of the quote, "... getting dressed and showing up for life." The other thing I see with successful people is a dogged getting-out-there. It is so easy to become isolated and stay secluded. If you work from home, for example, as I often do, it becomes all to easy to just stay at home. Giving yourself the extra push to get out is key.

There is a pervasive fallacy in our society, I believe. It has to do with the labels of introvert and extrovert. On the surface, the extrovert is a social being who gets energized by being around others, while the introvert recharges his/her batteries best with some alone time. This does not suggest that an introvert isolates. Isolating is not a characteristic of introverts, it is rather a characteristic of some form of social phobia (aka social anxiety disorder). In truth, many introverts can be very social while many extroverts can isolate. As an extrovert, personally I know, as I have isolated before. Isolation can occur because of something simple as feeling rejected and for other reason which have a much greater effect, such as more obvious traumas. All of which can be overcome. 

Isolation may seem safe, but in actuality it is avoidance. Avoidance of social situations to avoid drama, hurt, etc may seem like a good idea. It is important to note, there are times when we do need to take a time out, and isolation, quiet solitude, soul searching, etc ... may be a great solution to heal some emotional wounds. However, letting isolation become the norm may not be beneficial either. I heard once that one of the biggest regrets people often have at the end of life is wishing they had gone out and socialized more, networked more, and made the effort to meet more people. 

If you are shy, and you have chalked this up to introversion, if you've been hurt and find yourself wanting to avoid interactions with people, if you work at home and find it easier to just stay in then this is for you, if you are in a comfortable relationship and believe everything you have is right here at home (which you are right, it is), or if you are dating and think you will find someone sitting at home at your computer, you may be robbing yourself of some pretty amazing opportunities, if not of getting to know others, but of getting to know yourself. The opportunity to grow, to learn and to change. We truly grow when we are with others. It is not always pleasant nor desirable, but it will be remarkable. 

It is important to also know this, our desire to isolate is rooted in fear. It may be a fear of letting others see you, fear of failure, fear of success, or just a fear to do anytihing outside of your comfort zone. Another cliche' quote I heard recently, that I loved, "Don't let fear become your profession." 

Being social is actually a muscle that you can strengthen. Somewhat like riding a bike. If you want it, desire it, it takes practice. It really has nothing to do with being an introvert or extrovert. So, if going outside of your comfort zone is not your thing, then I encourage you to do something outside of your comfort zone every day, by following these easy 5 steps...

  1. Recognize if something makes you nervous, anxious, gives you sweaty palms or butterfiles. This very likely means this is something very imporant to you. Thus, it is something that you need to do. As a new therapist, seeing clients in my private practice was nerve racking, I would have preferred to avoid it, but then I would have never been able to build a succesful practice.
  2. Set small daily goals. Yes, set your end goal, but remember change happens slowly. Don't try to do it all at once. Rome wasn't built in one day.
  3. Make a small change, or take a small step each day. Smile at a stranger. Call that girl or boy up you've been thinking about. Strike up a conversation with somone in line at the grocer that you normally would not talk to. Accept that invitation to the party, dinner, etc. Take the class you always wanted to take. Start writing the first page of your book. Travel. Never mind the outcome. Just doing it is success on your part. 
  4. Acknowledge the small successes. If you take even the tiniest step towards that nerve-racking end goal, pat yourself on the shoulder.
  5. Don't stop. Success includes many failures along the way. Somedays won't feel as productive nor as successful as the others. Rejection will happen. This does not mean you should stop. This may mean you should take breaks, which I wholeheatedly believe in, take some time to lick your wounds if this is the case, then dust yourself off and continue on with baby steps. 

There you have it. Whatever it is, get out there and do it! I definitely recommend baby steps, and breaks to get clarity and refocus. Do it slowly. Then the changes are more likely to stick. 

And if you feel your isolation is a bigger issue, do not hesitate to contact a mental health professional so you can talk it out. 


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