Introverts, It’s Time to Turn Down the Volume on Self-Doubt

by | May 22, 2024

I recently had the honor to be interviewed on The Quiet and Strong Podcast, Especially for Introverts. The host had read my blog post, 10 New Year’s Resolutions for Introverts: Planning for Professional Triumph in 2024, and was intrigued by the strengths-based lens that I use with my coaching clients, who are all introverted professionals. 

Despite my nerves and hesitations, I went through with it. If my goal is to support more people with my tools and coaching, then this type of “self-promotion” was a pill I needed to swallow.

As I typically do for any speaking engagement, I prepared ad nauseum. The host had given me – and I had suggested to him – questions to guide our conversation, and I knew my stuff. I rehearsed up until the last minute and knew I had done all I could to get ready. But I still found myself riddled with self-doubt and some meaningful imposter syndrome as the recording light turned on.

When it was over, I felt good, but not great about how I had done. I wished that I had said things differently, more smoothly, more humorously, more…lots of things. 

After the podcast came out a few weeks later, I “did my duty” as an entrepreneur and shared it on social media, to my email newsletter list, and with family.

But you know what I didn’t do? Listen to it. Still haven’t to this day.

I’m so worried that I won’t like what I’ll hear that I’ve avoided that recording link like the plague. This is despite the fact that colleagues, friends, and listeners I’ve never met reached out to tell me how impactful they found the discussion. This “surprising-to-me” outcome led me to a reflective question: What if I had approached that interview with the belief that I was going to absolutely kick ass? How much more impactful could my performance have been?

The experience hammered home for me how damaging our negative self-talk can be. It doesn’t just affect our state of mind; it actively holds us back from achieving—and recognizing—our full potential. As introverts, this habit of underestimating ourselves and even accepting undue blame can be particularly ingrained and detrimental, not just to our confidence, but to how we are perceived, our effectiveness at work, and our overall career trajectory.

The Impact of Introvert Self-Doubt

When we constantly sell ourselves short, our confidence erodes. This isn’t just about feeling insecure; this type of self-deprecation is often visible to others. It can drive people to doubt our capabilities, which might lead to receiving fewer opportunities to take on challenging projects or step into leadership roles. It’s like wearing a sign that says, “I don’t believe in myself”—not exactly the message you want to broadcast to your boss or your team.

This habit can also make you hesitate more, take fewer risks, and generally be less proactive. Imagine being at a crucial team meeting and holding back a game-changing idea because you’re not sure it’s worth mentioning, or worse, worrying it might fail. Or being invited to be interviewed on a podcast and saying no.

Why Do Introverts Doubt Themselves?

Introverts are often reflective, which can unfortunately translate into overthinking and focusing too much on what could go wrong. Plus, as we introverts may not be as vocal or outwardly enthusiastic as our extraverted peers, our successes can go unnoticed, which only reinforces our belief that we aren’t contributing effectively. This can create a vicious cycle where we feel responsible for failures but hesitant to claim successes. UGGH!

Breaking the Habit of Introvert Self-Doubt

So how can we break this cycle? Here are five strategies to try:

  1. Recognize Your Patterns: Start by catching yourself in the act. Are you playing down your achievements? Are you carrying the weight of a project failure all on your own shoulders? Noticing these patterns is the first step towards changing them.
  2. Ask for Feedback: And not just any feedback—the constructive and detailed kind. Sometimes our own perceptions are skewed, and hearing from others can give us a more accurate picture of our contributions and how we handle challenges.
  3. Set Realistic Expectations: No one is perfect, and expecting yourself to be so sets you up for disappointment. Set achievable goals and celebrate when you meet them. This builds a track record of success that you can look back on for a confidence boost when self-doubt creeps in.
  4. Be Kind to Yourself: Imagine your best friend is having a rough day at work. Would you tell them they’re not cut out for their job? No, you’d likely offer words of encouragement. Try to treat yourself with the same kindness and understanding.
  5. Showcase Your Successes: It might feel uncomfortable at first, but start sharing your wins. Completed a project successfully? Share it in a meeting or an email update. Little by little, make your contributions visible.

Embrace Your Introverted Confidence

As I reflect on my podcast interview experience and the positive reactions it sparked, I’m reminded of the power of mindset. The internal narratives we hold about ourselves can shape not only our own beliefs but also how others see and respond to us. As introverts, we need to be especially vigilant about turning down the volume on self-doubt and turning up our self-belief. Speaking from experience, this is a change worth making. 

(If you’re curious about the podcast, and want to listen to it before I do, click on Amplify Your Introvert Strengths for the Workplace on The Quiet and Strong Podcast, Especially for Introverts).