Updated: Mar 22, 2022
How Personal Growth and Fitness Led the Way
Like most Introverts, my natural tendency was to always read a good book over going to parties. Though I enjoyed socializing and making friends, I quickly realized that I needed to recharge after a whole night out or a weekend-long event.
To add, I had a lot of family parties and events with friends to attend and often felt pressured to go even though I would be left feeling exhausted. By the time I reached my later high school years, I started to develop some serious insecurities such as the need for self-acceptance and my low self-esteem.
The Magic Pill
In order to be “liked” and accepted socially, I started to drink alcohol and experiment with street drugs in my senior year of high school. When I had my first drink, I felt like I could finally “be myself” and all the worries and insecurities I faced went away immediately. I could be as social and fun as I wanted. Both alcohol and drugs became my magic pill to turn me into a social butterfly and I kept these “tools” in my back pocket and guarded them closely over the next decade.
Romica and I met last year and when I heard her story, I knew it would be an important guest blog for the BeyondIntroversion community.
Whether you are an introvert struggling with addiction or a parent, teacher, or loved one of introverts, Romica's story is rattling and inspirational.
But this weekend magic pill, over the course of a year, turned into a daily habit. I had a sense that I might have a problem in this area but continued to ignore it because the benefits far outweighed the cost at the time. And over the next decade, I continued to fluctuate from complete isolation to being the life of the party, from happiness to low-grade depression and from having a vibrant social life to feeling chronically alone, even when in the presence of others. Further, I continuously failed all of my college classes and could not hold a long-term job. Despite all of this, I firmly held on to the hope that I could one day drink socially. More importantly, as an Introvert, I did not want to lose the enjoyment and social status my addiction had given me.
My Crumbling Life
Meanwhile, my life was falling apart. The more I connected with others, the more I felt alone because my addiction turned me into a different person. I was a product and creation of alcoholism and drugs, and the facade was losing its hold. Every waking moment revolved around my strategic planning around drinking so I can feel normal again. In 2011, I started a Business and got myself deep into debt. Though I was more “social”, I was still insecure underneath the veneer and my ability to lead, make sound decisions, and confidently communicate with others was severely underdeveloped. Eventually, I found myself getting more and more into debt, making more mistakes, and eventually being forced to bankrupt my company and declare bankruptcy personally.
In 2016, just after I attempted to build my life back up, I got a DUI. This was it. I had hit the bottom of rock bottom. This was the catalyst for me to make a change and I knew that in order to live the life of my dreams, this would mean that I would need to rebuild myself from the ground up. I turned myself into a 12 step program and began to embrace the change.
My Road to Recovery
Since then, I have dedicated a significant amount of time to learning personal growth including metaphysics and neuroscience. I became fascinated with the human mind and the human condition. I started studying different entrepreneurs, teachers, and change-makers. At this time, I was also influenced by Matthew Pollard who was an introvert and making great strides in the Business world. His book, The Introverts Edge was enormously helpful in learning my strengths.
Here are a few ways I have developed a greater self-image as an Introvert in recovery with a bigger social network than I had even in my drinking years:
1. Radical acceptance
The first step I took in rebuilding my self-image was radical acceptance of where I was and who I had become as a result of my addiction. I faced my dark side head-on and while the process was painful, I had a huge weight lifted off of me because I was no longer pretending to be anything other than who I was. I stopped resisting my current reality and began mapping out who I wanted to be and what direction I wanted my life to go.
One process I used was listing down exactly where I was at, which included:
The income I was making
The jobs I held
What I believed about myself to be true (my identity)
The behaviors that played a role in shaping my identity
The common themes in the way I was being treated and the common patterns that were central in my relationships.
I also made a list of all of the positive patterns, beliefs, and behaviors I held as well. Seeing the positive when rebuilding confidence in yourself is crucial in this stage.
Once I got a good hold on this list, I began really challenging these assumptions, beliefs, and behaviors. This was difficult in the beginning as your subconscious mind will do anything to keep you safe and I really had to push through this stage. I used Byron Katie's The Work along with a daily practice of “Ho'oponopono”, which is a Hawaiian prayer of forgiveness during this time (a practice I still use today).
2. Reprogramming my subconscious mind
The 2nd step I took was changing my limiting beliefs. I began drinking because, as an Introvert, I wanted to feel more social and confident in my own skin. When I realized that I can still have my alone time and also be a social butterfly if I wanted to, I began peeling away the layers of beliefs that were holding me back and replacing them with more positive ones through meditation, feedback loops, and heart and brain coherence (all concepts I teach my clients today).
Instead of “Affirmations”, I made my own Subliminals and recordings which were unique to my own beliefs and slept with them every night. I also made a conscious choice to be “aware” of my new beliefs throughout the day. Anytime my old thoughts would pop up, I would simply replace them. I also used the power of visualization in my meditations to further cement this new reality into my existence.