Could an introvert, even extrovert, be their own worst enemy?


introvert enemyOn a recent radio show guest appearance, helping introverts to sort out their ability to succeed in sales, it occurred to me how the label is not effectively serving some introverts. Then as serendipitous events go, an online training course came my way bringing up this issue in another way. With continued misconceptions, whether we are an introvert or extrovert we might be our own worst enemy.

Introvert label enemy

When you look in a mirror do you stop and think, “Hey I’m an introvert,” or maybe an extrovert? I sure as heck do not. I’m looking for those friendly frown lines, that stray eyebrow lash, and in a full-length mirror looking at how I like the color of the shirt I picked for the day.

But step away from the mirror and you will find a different kind of thinking. It’s those thoughts, ideas and ramblings in your head of another kind.

Like, “Hey, I’m an introvert and I can’t succeed in sales,” or “My introversion doesn’t make it possible for me to enjoy networking.” If you want to believe these labels you are carrying around, then they have boxed you in.

Just who is in control of what we believe? We are!

If we let these labels define who we are, it’s bunk.

What we believe can define or create our life.

We are not our beliefs though. Even though our beliefs do create our life.

What would you be if you dropped the label?

Who or how would you be?

Something must explain why my friends and business connections who emphatically declare to me, “No way you are an introvert!”

It could be several things including having learned some extroverting along the way in my years in business. It could be my Italian descent. It might be learning to be heard in a family of three daughters. There are many influences outside introvert preferences that help to get our voice heard.

But I think the biggest, I had a distinct advantage because I did not learn until late in my career that I was a so-called – introvert. I had no label. There is no mistake it is helpful to our own self-development to know about our behavior and personality preferences.

Labels are definitely useful for easier understanding and communications. It’s just that too often, someone might take that label and carry it around as if it is a hindrance.

 Why knowing you are an introvert can hurt you

I cannot speak for extroverts but I suspect, moving away from the label, a similar case could be made.

If we carry the label in a way that keeps us stuck, it’s of no value to us. If we carry the label to help us value ourselves, it’s entirely helpful.

The recent radio show interviewer asked me the question, “

What do you think at first? Be honest.

If you hang that label around your neck, it might be a “Woe is me, that’s me, an introvert, just cannot sell. I’m too this and that.” (Introverts fill “this and that” here in with your own label.)

I’m taking a stab at this (I am not an extrovert) but if you are more extroverted you might believe, “It’s easy and fun for me.”

But here is the truth, as relates to selling, because you don’t know what you know.

On the surface it seems like sales is a lot of extroverting – meetings, presentations, and a degree of assertiveness.

But the truth is, the most successful salespeople also put in a lot of introverting – often research is involved, meeting one to one is usual, listening is a must, thinking things through is a major asset.

While it may appear on the surface likely from what you know about sales from being the buyer in the worst sales experiences you can recall, even the label, salesperson, makes the hair on your back stand up.

My point is, with the label that you may be toting around, you could be hurting yourself from being the best you. Whether it’s sales or service is irrelevant.


Not being friends with yourself (limiting beliefs)labels as limiting beliefs

“I’m not good enough.” Coaches, and others, listen for limiting beliefs in clients. We each carry around our own in our head as thoughts. Then they become feelings. And then they affect what happens to show up in our life.

Do you ever have this thought, “I’m not good enough?” Or when you are alone with your deepest thoughts, do you ever come up with the idea that you are missing something?

Maybe it’s not that particular belief but few of us escape these and most of us have some.

Before you can change whatever limiting belief you have, you must be friends with your self. Actually, you’ll have to be your own best friend.

 Consider taking away these lessons to defeat being your own best introvert enemy:

–       I am not the label I’ve given myself.

–       I’m 100% responsible for my happiness and success.

–       I’m as good as anyone, period.


If you’re an extrovert, I’d love to hear your take?



If you’re an introvert, what do you think is your most limiting belief?


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  1. Hi Patricia; This is some good timing as I have recently had several conversations with friends sighted and visually impaired over the decision to use the blind blogger as the url for my new website. I never had a second thought about it. I chose it because many of my blogging friends have referred to me that way on groups like bloggers helping bloggers. I figured that if I am the only blind person they know blogging its quite natural for them to address me that way. However, it has been pointed out to me that this name is limiting. The sighted friends in question say max you are to good too talented to take a cheap short cut by playing the blind card. The blind friend emailed me instead of leaving a comment on my guest post because she wasn’t happy with being seen as the blind person commenting. the posts have ben well received both my own and the rent guest post. The new site is getting solid traffic, so I’m not about to change it now. I just thought you would find it interesting that a guy who mentions his blindness in many of his comments must not always see himself as blind any more than you always see yourself as an introvert. Hope I’m making sense. And since you have obviously spent more time studying the subject of labels than I have, I’m definitely looking forward to your thoughts. Thanks and take care, Max
    maxwell ivey recently posted…First listings first big sale and first hard lessonsMy Profile

  2. Jacqueline Gum (Jacquie)

    I loved this Patricia! Very valuable, not putting a label around your neck. Like you, I didn’t discover until later i life that I am a closet introvert. I’ve been trying to determine, since I read your post, if knowing has affected me and I think in some cases it has provided me with an excuse NOT to step out of my comfort zone. I’ll be more mindful of that now. Thanks:)
    Jacqueline Gum (Jacquie) recently posted…Time…Where’s The Justice?My Profile

  3. Wow, Patricia, I can really relate to this post. Not on the introvert/extrovert level, but on the putting labels on ourselves. Mine has always been the dyslexic label. If I had let that label limit me, I never would have had the courage to really go forward with my blog. Your take away lessons to defeat being your own worst enemy are almost identical to what I told myself when I finally had my “ah-ha” moment when I decided, You know what? I’m going for it! I can do this. 🙂
    Susan Cooper recently posted…Marshmallow Caterpillars: #RecipeMy Profile

  4. Hi Patricia,

    Good to be over at your blog as well 🙂

    Interesting topic of discussion! I think we all are made up of a mixture of introvert and extrovert into one’s personalities. In many of the cases, we are introverts, while in many cases extroverts, or is it just me?

    Some time I feel I am an introvert in cases where I have fears or am hesitant, and it takes me lots of time to break from my shell and go out there to get it done, but I do it eventually. While at other times I find I am an extrovert and pretty bold about the way I handle some issues. So, I guess I am never labeled as anything much so far.

    Thanks for sharing. Have a nice weekend 🙂
    Harleena Singh recently posted…The Aha!NOW Chat with Berry Fowler [Interview]My Profile

  5. Labels can really ruin a person’s life. And when we give ourselves labels they are created in our mind and may not have anything to do with reality. If you want to ruin your life, go ahead and label yourself a failure, ugly and someone who will always be poor. Being your worst enemy and doing so applies to people from all walks of life. The main reasonfor it is low self esteem and fear of failure.

    What’s imporant is to understand that those labels only exist in our mind and have nothing to do with our potential.
    Catarina recently posted…How many people live in shantytowns?My Profile

  6. I do not like labels, but one label doesn’t fit everyone. I do think we are our own worst enemy because we expect maybe more of ourselves than the next person even thinks about. My parents used the term to us a lot. When we would get upset over something that we wanted to success, they would say you know you are your own worse enemy because your expectations are your own, If you are using labels I would say I am an extrovert but there are introvert tendencies.
    Arleen recently posted…How TD Bank Shows Customer AppreciationMy Profile

  7. I am an introvert, and I know I am my worst enemy. I think I lacked confidence in my earlier life, I would be considered a “late bloomer”. I do know that it was this lack of confidence though, that drove me later one to improve myself. Having little confidence, made me drive to develop the skills that I did not have. I think being confident earlier, I would have been more complacent and not have that drive for self-improvement.
    As always, your blog is a joy to read.

  8. Kate F Eaton

    Self-limiting belief = I’m too old to “succeed”. I think the other type of labels that hold us back in our minds are our definitions of concepts like success. I’ve helped raise a blended family of five children who are now balanced, exceptional adults. I’ve survived loss of loved ones and relationships and reinvented myself many times as the corporate winds have blown cold. So the mission now is to stop feeling less than just because I haven’t published fiction.

    I do, by the way, agree with your assessment that holding up our introversion like a scar is only by choice. We can understand how we work differently than others without seeing that as wrong. Just takes practice. Thanks for your usual perceptive comments!
    Kate F Eaton recently posted…Rising Above – Ending Client RelationshipsMy Profile

  9. Donna Janke

    People are seldom single-faceted. Labeling them can result in suppressing the other facets.

  10. It would never have occurred to me to go into sales. I “started” in sales at 20 when I was cast in a local tv show. The show was so small that it had to sell its own commercial time and the actors had to spend a couple of hours a month calling local businesses. I didn’t want to do it, but I wanted to be on the show more I didn’t want to do it. I didn’t think I was really expected to sell a commercial but I was expected to try. I started selling commercial time and realized I could do this. If I had sat around wondering if I could do this, I probably wouldn’t have even tried.

  11. William Butler

    Hi Patricia,
    No, I’ve never looked in the mirror and asked myself whether I’m introvert or extrovert. No sense carrying an albatross when it’s unnecessary. In the final analysis, I think it comes down knowing who we are and how best to relate to others; minus the labels, misconceptions, and stereotypes.

    Even when we are our own worst enemy, at times, it is because we need to do further work on understanding ourselves.

    Enjoy your week!

    William Butler recently posted…53 Proverbs That Can Help You Live A Happier LifeMy Profile

  12. Hi Ms. Patricia, I think your blog absolutely is for me! I always thought that I am an introvert, I worked as a dealer coordinator (coordinates the bank i am working and the car dealer for auto loans) and i felt i was not doing the job well so i quit. I felt I was not fit for those kind of jobs, meeting people, sales etc, especially i can’t move with so many boys around ( i am the only girl in the bank/office) I always go out and spent my time in the car dealers and chatted with girls there and my boss said i was not showing up in the office and always saying that i didn’t get the sales target blah blah blah… it’s not for me… and it made me happy though there’s always regret on my mind… now i enjoyed my work as a part-time freelance virtual assistant!
    Maan recently posted…What is assimilation?My Profile

  13. Beth Niebuhr

    Like so many other people, I have both introvert and extrovert traits. It depends on where I am, who I am associating with. I do know that different people I’ve interacted with have various opinions of the type of person I am. When I’m “on” I seem quite extroverted, and when I’m just blending in I can seem to be quite shy. Once I was talking to someone at a family camp that I attended with my children. I was using the week as a quiet, restorative time and didn’t voice my opinion too much. When I told the person that I owned and ran a flight school, he insisted that I was much to unassertive to do that. I’m not.
    Beth Niebuhr recently posted…Let Your Blog Boost Your BusinessMy Profile

  14. Yes, yes, and yes. Labels certainly have there place but i think, like you, I benefited from not knowing of my introverted ways until I was much older. Certainly past my teens and early twenties. In fact I think since I have known I have become more-so. That can’t be a good thing to be influenced by a label. A label should fit you if there is going to be one at all, not you fit the label because you may have the definition of the label all wrong. I think I did.
    Tim recently posted…Disappearing LisaMy Profile

  15. My most limiting belief as an introvert is that nobody will notice me or care about what I say when I speak. Which is just utterly insane because I learned a long time ago just to open my mouth and I would do fine. I need time to think before I speak though and have always envied those who can quip at the drop of a hat.
    Jeri recently posted…PNWA 2014: Writing Conference HighlightsMy Profile

  16. I think most people will be best off by not labelling themselves. As soon as you attach a label it kind of becomes a justifiable limitation, as in, of course I didn’t do this very well, I’m an introvert. If I try to apply this to myself I find that I seem to be introverted in certain situations but an extravert in othes.
    Ken Dowell recently posted…Monster Trucks, Freaks, Creationists and Other Things You Don’t Usually See in New JerseyMy Profile

  17. Well, I am definitely an extrovert, although I do doubt myself sometimes but manage to shine in the moment. Someone last week said to me, “you are the most consciously confident woman I know.” Hmmm.. I took that as a compliment, because deep down inside I am shy and question my decisions, but on the outside, I never let on to that side of me. I have never been shy in my work, but very shy, quite often mistaken for aloof, personally. Very interesting to me, indeed. I rarely think about others’ opinion of me – I just stay true to who I am. So far, that seems to have worked – and I am very blunt and outspoken, but never rude or insulting.. some self-analysis going on here. Thanks, Patricia, for making me think a bit!
    Laurie Hurley recently posted…7 Ways To Respect Your Social Media Marketing ManagerMy Profile

  18. I have a son who is developmentally challenged but he is amazing. He belongs to a self-advocate group that is working hard to do away with labels and they have shown some progress in this area – unfortunately, I sometimes need to use the label (as in here to provide background) in order to protect him. But even at school, the label kept him from being taught, even though he was quite capable of learning. So I’m all for using labels as a tool, just not as a box to keep people in.
    Lenie recently posted…Culinary, Cosmetic, Antiseptic and More…..BASIL Does It All.My Profile

  19. Jeannette Paladino

    Pat — while all the standard tests show that I’m an extrovert, I can actually be shy in certain situations. I believe we all have some introvert and extrovert traits. You’d think that as an extrovert I’d be comfortable in networking events. But I’m not. It takes effort for me. I’ve learned some tips from a good friend who has literally written books about networking. So I set the manageable goal of making one new contact that I will connect with later. That’s setting a low bar, but it works for me. I am more relaxed when I don’t feel I have to connect with everyone in the room.

    My mantra when I’m in a new business situation is “They would be lucky to have me.” I really mean it, too!
    Jeannette Paladino recently posted…Are You Your Own Best Brand?My Profile

  20. Patricia – Not sure what I would label myself. I like to think that I have confidence in dealing with any situation as long as I have my friends and family supportig me.

    • Well without labeling and saying what your PREFERENCE is, if you find that you get over stimulated, maybe even like me exhausted, from networking, parties or events of larger number of people, likely your preference is to introvert. Extroverts get charged up with all kind of outside stimulation. But introverts, even with support from friends and family, we’re going to need that downtime by ourselves.

      Thanks Mina.
      Patricia Weber recently posted…Top BS Facts about Introvert Experiences You Might Think Are TrueMy Profile

  21. A great reminder that we are not the only ones who have these thoughts. Simply putting it in the context that “it is common to think like this” takes the sting out of thinking something limiting about oneself. Just allowing yourself to be vulnerable – just most other people – eases the pain behind the thought.
    Sue Hines recently posted…Your Genie-us BrandMy Profile

  22. I found your post to be quite thought-provoking. Before I started reading your blog, I had never really given much to thought to whether I was introverted or extroverted. But I could sure tell you how I would react and feel in different situations, or that I like these social settings but not these. Then I began to do more research about the real differences in extroverts and introverts and realized that I possess qualities of both, which made me go hmmmm! I don’t give much thought to choosing one label over another, but I do think that it can be detrimental for some who stay pigeonholed into what that means yet for others it can be the way to personal growth and progress.

    When I was in radio, I hated sales. I usually held other positions so it didn’t matter, but when I was the co-owner of a station, I had to be as dutiful about sales especially in the beginning as any salespeople we hired. I used to think there was no plausible explanation except that I just didn’t enjoy it. But I’ve since questioned whether that situation brought out the introvert in me. And forget about cold calling. That just sounded like personally-inflicted torture. But the few real relationships I already had with clients, was pleasant and mostly maintenance which I had no issues with.
    Pamela Heady recently posted…Celebrating National Farmers Market Week!My Profile

  23. I am an introvert to the core, but have always had jobs that have more of an extroverted component (tour guide, teacher, trainer). Some of my limiting beliefs have been caused by the labels others put on me because of being an introvert. They want me to do it exactly their way, which doesn’t work for me. It goes against my grain and my inner core. It reminds me that whether an introvert or extrovert, it’s important to open lines of communication and gain a greater understanding of working styles and play to/highlight people’s strengths.
    Christina recently posted…Photography Tip: Turning Photobombs into Photostars!My Profile

  24. Claire Cappetta

    I think we all struggle with the idea of not being good enough. I know I do. I’m now thinking of setting up a evening for people to meet over coffee one evening a month which should take me out of my shell! lol

  25. I absolutely love this quote from you: “What we believe can define or create our life.” That is true in so many ways, and this is just one of them. I’m an extrovert by nature (meaning I get energized by interacting with people) but I’m also very shy and timid around new people. I was a terrible salesperson, and I’m horrible at networking. So I’ve always felt a little mis-labeled. I think the truth is you can be great at whatever you set out to do, as long as you don’t limit yourself. Great article.
    Meredith Wouters recently posted…Stay Nine-and-a-Half ForeverMy Profile

  26. I think my biggest inhibition is nervousness when around others. Even though I handle teaching with a minimal degree of nervousness, I seem to struggle with my peers. I’m not really sure any amount of booze or nicotine habit will ease these nerves.
    Carl recently posted…Summer AngstMy Profile

  27. Niekka McDonald

    I really don’t like labels. Sometimes they are given to us and sometimes we give them to ourselves. Once we have that label we seem to believe it and live our lives with it until we decide not to. Now I do understand that knowing if you are an introvert or extrovert can be a good way for you to know so you can figure out how to communicate effectively. We put so much pressure on ourselves to try and be a certain way that I do believe we are our own enemies.
    Niekka McDonald recently posted…Making AdjustmentsMy Profile

  28. I’m not an introvert but I find it very fascinating to read your post about them. I’m also not the biggest fans of labels either.
    Jason B recently posted…Saving Money On College TextbooksMy Profile

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