Recovering from an addiction is a difficult enough challenge on its own but it’s especially hard on introverted or shy personalities. It can sometimes be social anxiety that initially leads to alcohol or drug abuse in an attempt to become more amiable by suppressing inhibitions.
But a reliance on chemicals to get through social situations often makes matters worse. When in recovery, social anxiety might return when the help of friends and family is most needed. However, learning to overcome solitary tendencies in a natural way will give a loner what they need to get through recovery.
Introverted vs. Shy
It may be supposed that introverted behavior and shyness are synonymous but they do refer to very different things. Shyness is a tendency to be uncomfortable in certain situations around people. Shy people may be anxious about first impressions or situations where they have to leave their comfort zones.
Generally, a person who is shy would like to engage socially but is too uncomfortable or afraid to do so. Shyness can be characterized by the conscious avoidance of people, being quite even when they might want to speak up, worrying a lot about what others think of them, and becoming embarrassed easily.
On the other hand, an introvert has a personality trait that shapes how they choose to engage the world. An introvert my prefer time spent alone over time spent in a group.
They typically don’t actively seek to avoid people; instead they just genuinely enjoy spending their free time in solitary activities like reading or painting for example. Where shyness can be overcome, introverted tendencies are part of a person and can cause more problems if forced out.
There are a lot of benefits with connecting to a network of family and friends when going through addiction recovery. You gain accountability, which means there is someone else besides yourself that is making sure you stay on the straight and narrow and you also gain support when things get difficult.
Recovery for Shy People
According to Lynne Davis-Tiedemann, Program Director for Ambrosia Treatment Centers, “A recovering addict needs to be aware of their triggers.” In the same way, it helps to identify the causes and triggers of shyness. It is an issue that can be fixed with some self-awareness and strength of will.
This first step is to recognize the cause of your shyness. What causes you to clam up? There are a few different potential reasons that may cause you to become uncomfortable around others:
- You are concerned with how you look. If you have a poor self-image it can definitely lead to shy tendencies. A negative view of yourself can sometimes be identified by spending a lot of time thinking about what you wear or look like before and during social encounters. When you are with people you may be conscious of your facial expressions or physical position.
- You think a lot about your impression on others. If you are more concerned with how your words and actions are perceived by other people this may be the root of your shyness. As an example, when you meet a new person you might be so concerned with making a good first impression that you miss it when they tell you their name.
- Shyness perpetuated by others. Sometimes when a person acts shy for any given reason in a few situations, people may label you as a shy person. Then you may perceive yourself as shy.
Once you’ve identified the causes, look for specific situations that lead to you feeling anxious just like you would look for your addiction triggers. Is it speaking in front of others, learning new things, or being with others you admire? Make an effort to conquer each specific trigger and cause of your shyness.
Remember that other people probably aren’t looking at you with as much scrutiny as you look at yourself. Focus on others more than you focus on yourself. By being a good listener, you can get out of your own head and turn self-centered thoughts into selflessness.
Recovery for Introverts
As an introvert, your solitude is not so much a problem to overcome as it is a personality trait to accommodate or find a way around. If you generally prefer being on your own but would like the idea of someone looking out for you and helping you along there are paths you can take as well.
Choose quality over quantity. Instead of surrounding yourself with a large network of friends and family, rely on a small group or even an individual that you trust and enjoy being around. If group therapies aren’t for you, try connecting with someone one-on-one.
For whatever reason you might find yourself alone there are reasons you should connect with others during recovery and ways that you can make that happen.
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