Wait, Introspection Can Be Bad for Me?
Updated: Jan 8, 2022
Why Introverts Live on the Introspective Edge between Entrapment and Empowerment - and How to Harness Introspection as a Strength
Introverts spend a lot of time in their own heads. After all, being alone with your thoughts is more appealing than being with other people. This natural tendency for solitude creates more frequent opportunities for reflection and introspection. One might conclude then, that introverts would naturally be more self-aware.
Unfortunately, this isn’t a guarantee.
Welcome guest blogger Kara McDuffee. Her approach of using questions to build awareness and confidence is inspirational. Her post today provides a unique perspective on how introverts can harness our introspection for good. -Steve Friedman
Self-awareness is one’s ability to identify and manage thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. On a grander scale, it’s our ability to understand who we are and where we fit into the world. The benefits of being self-aware are endless: stronger relationships, more success, improved wellbeing, better performances at work - the list goes on and on.
But if self-awareness is so beneficial, why aren’t more people talking about it? And why aren’t introverts naturally more self-aware?
For a whole slew of reasons, humans are wired to lack self-awareness. What’s worse, our biased brains and societal conditioning make us think we’re more self-aware than we are.
Introverts don’t escape these pitfalls when it comes to self-awareness. In fact, you may be more susceptible to some of the self-awareness traps that plague our brains. However, if you educate yourself on what to avoid, you can turn quiet introspection into your self-aware superpower.
Three primary traps that make us lack self-awareness
1. Your brain is biased.
The word “biased” gets thrown around quite a bit, and often with a negative connotation. Biases can be harmful, but the fact of the matter is that they’re inevitable. Our brains rely on biases to function. Many of our biases - a tendency to focus on the negative, disregard contradictory information, and stereotype - are founded in our survival instincts. As the human species evolved, these basic brain functions helped us to stay alive and avoid threats.
However, as our world modernized and the threats decreased, our biases did not. Your brain will still turn to its default settings when looking at the world and when looking at yourself. How does this inhibit self-awareness? As you turn inward, your brain biases will influence your reflection in inaccurate ways. For example, your confirmation bias might make you disregard facts that might make you feel vulnerable. Or perhaps your optimism bias leads you to believe you deserve more success than others.
Whatever the bias, you must understand that it is present and affecting your introspection. You may be alone, but your biases are still with you.
2. Introspection is not always positive.
Another trap of self-awareness is the idea that introspection is always positive. Many of us believe that thinking about ourselves must be beneficial to our self-awareness. After all, it makes inherent sense, right?
The problem is that how we think about ourselves drastically affects our experience. Consider a time when you couldn’t stop thinking about something you did or said (or when your mind felt like it was on a loop).
This cyclical thinking, called rumination, doesn’t give us any more insight. In fact, it leaves us moving backward rather than forwards because we can’t break free of the negative cycle.
Introverts find quite a bit of time to sit and ponder about their lives. But if that pondering isn’t helping them gain any new information, it might be doing more harm than good.
3. We need external feedback.
Because our brains are biased, and it’s easy to fall into harmful rumination, our self-awareness depends on external feedback from others. No matter how much soul-searching and self-evaluation we do, we’ll always miss something because of our brain design.
Have you ever tried to solve something for hours, and then someone walked over