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061: Embracing Your Superpowers as an Introvert – Chelsey Brooke

Chelsey Brooke is a professional counselor, published writer, blogger, Pathfinder Coach and internationally known figure helping introverted women strip away everything they were told to be, uncover who they REALLY are and guide them to find their authentic path in life. Chelsey specializes in the areas of introversion, career achievement and brain-based mindset success strategies. Chelsey shares powerful and relatable insights about life, introverts, mindset strategies, success tips and how to find your path and passion while staying authentic to who you are. Chelsey is well-known for her original and inspirational content, including her featured article, “Why Introverts Fail to Live a Passionate and Purposeful Life”, which dives into the real reason introverts struggle to choose a career and lifestyle they love, plus three simple steps that show introverts exactly how to create a life that’s authentic, purposeful and fulfilled. She has written several detailed articles on topics such as introversion, mindset, career tips for introverts and many more! Chelsey provides introverted women with fresh, informed and practical guidance on how to pursue their biggest dreams and goals with authenticity, confidence and resilience. 

In This Episode, You Will Learn:

  • The challenges that introverts often face in an extroverted world.
  • How to embrace your super powers as an introvert.
  • How to advocate for yourself among extroverts.

Connect with Chelsey:

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Interview Transcript

Well, Chelsey, thanks so much for taking some time to hang with me today.

Yes, thank you so much for having me. I’m so excited.

Yeah, so we’re talking about introvert, extrovert, all those good personality topics today. When did you first begin to recognize yourself as an introvert?

Yeah, great question. Well, always, I’ll say. I never remember a time that I didn’t know there was something kind of different about me. I had been called, at least sometimes, awkward, withdrawn, anti-social, quiet, all those things. I was encouraged to speak up, participate more, all the lovely things that introverts get told. It really makes you feel like, “Okay, what’s wrong with me then?”

Yeah, and it’s not motivating at all.

No, it really doesn’t make me want to participate more when you’re telling me my behavior is off and you feel like I’m being anti-social. But I was fortunate enough to be raised by a mom who’s an introvert and an empath, and so she always encouraged my quiet strengths but we didn’t know to call it introversion. So, even though I had her support in it, I still received all this feedback from other people; friends, family, that, “You need to participate more. You’re awkward. You’re too quiet,” and stuff like that. I remember a specific story when I was a teenager and as a teen, being able to navigate complex social relationships is pretty important. It’s a hard time in and of itself no matter what personality type you are.

I have two teens – well, my daughter just tuned twenty this past month, so it is so challenging as a parent to help them navigate that. Yeah, it’s really brutal.

Yes, exactly. So, I remember I was hanging out with my friends all day and I really thought I was doing well. I thought I was successfully kind of faking being an extrovert. I thought I was participating. I was doing great and then it’s toward the end of the day, so my social batteries are really drained at this point but I was feeling pretty good. I thought I had done well, and then one of my friends turns to me and says, “Chelsea are you okay? You’ve been so quiet today. Is something wrong?” And I was like, “Are you serious?”

At first, I just felt such shame, in my head of course, I’m not saying anything. All this is going on in my head, I’m like, “Why can’t you just participate more? Why can’t you just talk? Why can’t you be normal like other people?” And then I feel kind of angry because I’m like, “Really? I’ve been making good eye contact and laughing and smiling and nodding the whole time. Am I not participating?” Because as an introvert, so often that’s what we do. We participate through our observation, our non-verbal. But yeah, that was just one of many awkward social moments that I had that definitely made me feel like I didn’t quite fit in. So, I’ve known for a while that I’m an introvert and that that can be challenging.

I have had a giant smile on my face, which people can’t see if they’re listening to the podcast, the entire time you’re talking about this because I relate. People don’t necessarily think of me as an introvert because I have been kind of an up there, out there personality, speaking or all of this. But you can turn things on and turn things off in terms of needing to perform or something. But man, I relate to that. The feelings of awkwardness.

I was just telling this story to somebody the other day. I remember, I think I was in kindergarten or first grade, we were in K-Mart as a family because K-Mart was big back then, Chelsey. I know it’s not cool now but it was the Target of the day. The blue light special, everybody went running for it. I saw a classmate, I didn’t say “Hi”. I don’t know if I didn’t even acknowledge them. I got in so much trouble by my parents because I didn’t acknowledge them, talk to them. So, I get it. It started early.

Yeah, we’re so encouraged to be so social and outgoing. I mean, that is the key word. You have to be outgoing and energetic and you’ve got to talk to people, and if you don’t then people are really worried about you. Especially parents can feel very worried that their kid isn’t going to get out there enough, that they’re going to be shy and awkward and quiet and that we really need to get this out of them. And that’s so the wrong way to approach it. We could go on a whole parenting rant.

So, what would you say are some of the super powers of those of us who are more introverts? And I think of these super powers in several categories. One is just life in general, experiencing of life, maybe relationships also, and then also in the work place. How do those super powers play out in those contexts?

Yeah, I’m so glad you asked that question because a lot of times introverts, we can feel like we’re focusing on our weaknesses too much but we definitely have a ton of strengths that we bring to the table as well. So, some of them that come to mind for me is definitely the power of observation. In our crazy, chaotic world today, we’re not always taking time to reflect and I mean, that is so important for personal development – to grow as a person and in your relationships and everything.

So, having that time for reflection and being okay with silence. I know introverts are naturally okay with silence. We’re kind of told that we’re not supposed to be quiet in conversations and it’s awkward and nobody wants the awkward silence and all that. But if we’re genuine with ourselves, introverts are okay with that and I think that’s such a gift because that is where creativity thrives. There’s so much research that suggests that being alone and having that silence, even for extroverts, actually brings about more creative ideas than if we’re all in a group. Because then we just get in this group thing and we’re not being unique individuals.

Also, a lot of times introverts will be some of the most prepared people because we don’t want to be caught off guard and we’ve had so many kind of awkward situations that we’ve encountered that we don’t want that. So, we try to be as prepared as possible. We like to be organized. And I think one of the things that really stands out to me is, if an introvert speaks, then you know it’s from a thoughtful place. Like they’re going to give you a thoughtful response. It’s not just going to be, “I hear that,” and here’s the first thing that I’m thinking of. They’ve thought about it. They’ve thought about the response and what the best way to come about it would be. And those are just a few of the strengths that come to mind.

Yeah, so the first one was – the audio broke up just a little bit, I want to make sure people get that – is the observation. The power of observation. That an introvert can quietly look and see a variety of things that are going on. The second one that you mentioned was the creating space in conversation.

Yeah, being comfortable with silence.

Comfortable with silence, yeah. Go ahead, sorry.

No, I was just going to say as an introvert, you kind of crave that – having silence and solitude. And in conversation, when you’re with people, we don’t always feel like we have to talk. We’re encouraged or we’re told that you always have to have a conversation going, you’ve got to be social and make connections. But we’re okay if we’re just hanging out and you’re over here doing your thing and I’m over here doing my thing, that can be spending time together. We don’t have to be having a constant conversation for us to spend time together. So, just being comfortable with silence both in relationships and personally. Being okay to take time away in solitude, I think that’s a huge strength that we have.

I have found over the years that I work best in silence in the work environment. So, the whole idea of a co-working space, oh my gosh, I just want to stab myself in the eye. Just the worst ever. Like, I’m hanging out with strangers that I don’t know. No, I want to be in my own office, quiet, doing my thing, making it happen. Have one or two meetings in the day but I get it. Okay, so power of observation, there’s not a concern about silence, what was the third one? Remind me again.

I think being prepared.

Prepared, yes.

And organized, yeah.

Yes, definitely need to be prepared. I feel that way. I don’t like to be caught off guard. I feel embarrassed if I’m not prepared for something. Oh, it’s the worst.

Yeah, it’s such a vulnerable feeling. We don’t like to feel that, so a lot of times we won’t. A lot of extroverts are like, “Ah, I’ll just wing it,” and we’re like, “I can’t do that.” So, a lot of times, that’s why we give thoughtful responses. If we’re giving you information or we’re having a dialogue with someone, we’re listening. So, it may take us longer to respond to you because we’re actually listening and that’s another huge strength. We’re awesome listeners and we’re okay with that role. And that’s a huge part of communication, being able to be a good listener. We hear so much about that and I don’t think introverts are given enough credit that we do that naturally. So, that’s another big one too.

Yes, listening. I listen to so many people, Chelsey. And I don’t feel the need to necessarily share my part. Sometimes I’ll share. I even have a friend who is a definite extrovert and she will stop the conversation on the phone and she’ll say, “Okay, what do you want to tell me?” But I love it because then it’s like, “Oh, okay. Here’s my prompt. I’m going to now talk about what I want to talk about,” because she knows, otherwise she’ll just talk the whole time.

Right, that’s a good friend to have. Sometimes we need that prompting. It’s not that we don’t have anything to say, we’re just kind of waiting to be asked because we think that’s polite.

Yeah. Oh, man, I listen to a lot of people. Alright, so you spend a lot of time an energy coaching extroverted women to find their passion and their purpose. We’ll obviously list your website, it’s www.thepathfinderforyou.com. It’ll be in our show notes of course, and you have lots of great content. You’re an excellent writer by the way, which oftentimes introverts are excellent writers. So, how is your coaching process unique for an introverted woman versus maybe working with someone who is extroverted? How is that unique?

Yeah, that’s a really good question. Well, obviously personality affects a lot. It kind of affects everything that you do. It affects your thoughts, your behaviors, how you interact, what kind of activities you like, what kind of environment you’d like to be in. And I think a lot of times our passion and our purpose comes out of who we are. And so, for introverts, that’s a unique process because we kind of have to unlearn what we’ve been told all of our lives.

Even if you’re fortunate enough to have parents who understand that you’re introverts, chances are you’re not going to grow up and not have anyone – your peers, your teachers, friends, family, somebody’s going to make comments that suggest that you’re not being social enough or you’re not getting out there, some kind of negative comment. A lot of times, one of the first things I work with on with my clients is to kind of unlearn what you have maybe thought about yourself before, and then to take off all those labels that have been placed on you.

Sometimes introverts are like, “Yeah, I’m just shy.” Well, actually shyness is a social anxiety and it’s not even a personality type at all. You can be an extrovert and be shy. So, we can unknowingly take on these labels that have been given to us, that of course affect our self-esteem, our self-belief and then what career we would choose. So, I think unlearning the wrongs that we’ve been told to get to the core of who you actually are, not what you think you should be. And then another part of that is really understanding the introvert brain. I know for me, when I learned more about that, I learned that we actually use a longer pathway in the brain. The way that introverts and extroverts respond and process to outside stimulation and conversations and things like that is different.

So, understanding what’s going on in your brain, it gives you so much more confidence to know what’s going on and that is also going to help you release the limitations that you’ve probably put on yourself. Like a lot of introverts think, “I can’t respond quick enough. I’m not witty enough,” or whatever it is. And re-framing that to realize, “No, actually I process information deeply and I really give thought to my answers.” So, learning to re-frame all of that, I think makes it a very unique process because introverts have to unlearn some of the things that they’ve been told and then learn who they really are and learn to appreciate those strengths.

Yes, so unlearning and re-learning. Re-learning even the way that our brains are uniquely wired and how that’s different, okay. How many parties have you been to recently, Chelsea? In the last seven, eight months – 2019, we’re having this conversation, how many parties have you been to? You’re a younger person, you probably get invited to lots of parties.

I work so much. Do family events count?

Sure. Sure.

Well, probably at least ten I would say.

Okay, when you have someone invite you to a party, maybe it’s a birthday party and you don’t know many people, are you excited? Are you fired up? Are you ready to go or are you dreading it?

Yeah, I think that’s an important point for introverts. Even for events that we might be looking forward to, there’s a part of us that secretly hopes it will be cancelled so the pressure is taken off of us. It’s not that you don’t want to do something, I think it’s the anticipation of the energy that you know you’re going to have to expend there. That is what makes it draining. So, you could be thinking about a party that’s next week and you already feel drained today when you think about it.

Yes.

That’s a good point.

I will go with my wife, she’s a teacher, so we’ll go to the end of the year parties – Christmas parties and I’m just dying. I end up in the kitchen of somebody’s house working, because if I have a task, then I feel like I’m participating. If I have a task, then I can talk to people and I feel less uncomfortable. I’m talking about the task, I’m talking about the food. But man, you put me in a room with people I don’t know and if I don’t have a purpose or a task, I’m just going to shrivel.

Yeah, that’s such an important point. That’s true. Introverts feel so much better when we kind of have something to occupy ourselves. That’s why you’ll see introverts at parties, they are taking care of something or they’re over in the corner just playing with the cat or the dog or whatever that they can do to look like they’re still participating but then have that safe zone that they’re in. That’s so true.

And then when I ended up talking to someone and we find a commonality, I love it. We’re talking and I love asking them lots of questions, but the surface conversation is really tough for me. That’s really tough.

The small talk is super draining because it’s not meaningful and so that’s something that I always make a point to point out. Introverts actually want connection but they want the real connection. They want meaningful conversation. You get them talking about something they love and you won’t be able to shut them up, but if you try to ask them about the weather, you’re going to struggle with that. And it’s because we want the real connection, we don’t want the surface level stuff.

Man, I relate to that so much – parties. My wife just had her thirtieth high school reunion.

Oh, yeah. That’s a big event.

And it was a small school – small Christian school that doesn’t even exist anymore. The school closed and so there were going to be maybe thirty-five, it was a small event. That morning we were walking through Target and I got snippy. I got a little snippy at her about something and I was like, “Whoa, what is going on inside of me?” Our daughter was with us and I said, “Babe, I’m so stressed about tonight,” and I even helped her plan the event. I helped her promote it. I helped come up with the games. I came up with the flow of the event and I’m dreading going and it didn’t hit me until that morning.

It came up through me being kind of direct with her on something and I just said, “I’m just dying.” She said, “Oh, you don’t have to go. It’s okay.” I said, “No, really. I feel guilty. I should be there. That’s what a good husband would do, is I would be there.” She’s like, “No, I realize it’s going to cause you stress. Don’t worry about it, it’s all good.” And I could feel walking through Target, the stress just release out of my body. It was just gone and I felt like, “Today’s going to be a good day.”

The weight was lifted.

Yes, isn’t that crazy?

Yeah, and you speak to another point that a lot of introverts deal with. Is the guilt that comes from not attending certain things or having to say, “No”. I think a lot of introverts struggle with that because we’re always at odds with what society expects of us. There’s events that we should go to and we feel like we should, and then part of us really just wants to say, “No” and we struggle with how to do that. Yeah, that’s another huge part; setting boundaries.

Okay, so how can introverts educate the people around them? Whether it’s family, friends, coworkers, whatever, in order to set themselves up to win? My wife knows me, we’ve been married twenty-five years, she knows, “Okay, that’s going to be a stressful situation for you.” But as you’re just getting to know people, how do you educate them in a way that’s not setting up a PowerPoint presentation for them or something?

That’s a really good question. So, it kind of reminds me of basically how can introverts advocate for themselves? Because nobody else is going to do it, you kind of have to be your own advocate. And even that word can create anxiety and stress for introverts, because we’re thinking the typical advocate or if you go advocate for something, you’re thinking you’ve got to be out there, you’ve got to give a lot of energy, you’ve got to be super social and energetic and really go speak about your cause.

So, the first thing I say is let go of any idea that you have about what it means to advocate. Because advocating as an introvert is a completely different process. So, the first step I tell people is to learn about yourself and understand yourself. That having that knowledge really is power, especially for an introvert because you’re always going to be at odds with our extroverted society. So, understanding why you feel the way you do, why you want alone time, how your brain works and why you think and behave the way that you do is so empowering. So, that’s the first step.

And then the second step is really just educating other people by just being you and making it okay. Not making excuses for why you’re not there. You can simply say, “I’m sorry, I’m not going to be able to make it,” and that can be okay. You don’t always have to have a reason. You don’t have to have the guilt that comes from feeling like you’re letting somebody down just because you’re doing what’s really best for you.

And then the third part I would say is learn how to work with your strengths. A lot of times as introverts, we feel like we have to put on our extrovert face or our extravert façade while we’re going out and about, while we’re working and then we feel so relaxed at home. It’s such a safe place because that’s where we feel like we can just be us.

So, I encourage people to figure out what it looks like to be you at work. If genuine for you is to participate more through observation and nodding and smiling and then you want to send a follow-up email after the meeting, as opposed to talking so much during the meeting, then that’s great. Work with your strengths instead of feeling like you need to change and be an extrovert.

Beautiful. Beautiful. One of the things, I’m in a leadership role in different capacities around my area with non-profits and so forth…

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So, I’m in some leadership roles in a number of non-profit organizations in my area and I am very aware of the introverts that are in those contexts at gatherings or events that we might have. And because I’m in a leadership role, I’m in an extrovert moment. I’m out there, I’m leading the charge. And I think one of the things that extroverts can do to help us introverts is to play the role of an introducer.

I’m always looking out for that person who’s on the margin, that is petting the dog, that is off on their own, that is looking awkward and going, “How can I draw that person in to help them make a connection with somebody that may have a similarity or something that they have in commonality?” And get them talking. Because I find that it’s just that initial hurdle of making that connection is so hard for me, but if I have someone to help me get over that hurdle and in the same way, how can I play that role for other people? Whether it’s a family gathering or a party or wherever it is, how can I muster my extrovert-ness and get in there and help people connect. I think that can be super helpful, do you find that to be the case?

Yeah, definitely. It reminds me about what we were talking about earlier. That if we can get into meaningful conversation, if we could just jump right in and forget the small talk, then we would be so much more comfortable. And I think where we as introverts get stuck is how do you make that transition from small talk to meaningful conversation without seeming like that person who just is so serious all the time and you feel like you can’t connect with them? So, that’s another important point.

I know when I was younger, I would have pre-written statements or questions that I would just kind of have in my mind if I got stuck or if I knew that I was going to be with friends or even meeting new people. Questions that went past, “What’s your favorite color?” I want to get to more, “What do you do?” “What drew you into that?” “What about that really stands out to you?” And you get to more meaningful conversations with intelligently designed questions, and that kind of takes away the anxiety as well.

Yes, so good. Okay, so what are some of the ways that people could work with you specifically? Because I know you coach people in this area and you are so thoughtful. You know your stuff. I love talking to you about this. This is so good. What are some ways that people can work with you if this is resonating with them?

Yeah, definitely. Well, one of the things is if you want to learn more about this and you feel like you are resonating with what we’re talking about, I would suggest starting with my free training series. That’s going to go over three categories. The first is how to discover your passions. So, you’re going to get a five step templet within that free training series that really walks you through everything you need to think about to figure out your path and passion. And then the second part of the training is to help you develop more self-belief and to unlearn all those labels and things that don’t fit to find who you actually are. And the final part is how to create that success mindset. How to put everything together and learn the skills, the habits, the how-to and owning your schedule and just putting everything together so you can actually achieve the life that you want to.

So, people can get that at www.thepathfinderforyou.com/free. I’m sure we can include that in the notes as well. And then if you sign up for that, there’s also a free coaching call. I offer free thirty minute coaching calls, so that link is at the bottom of that first email as well. So, those are two really good ways that I would suggest people get started.

That’s great and ultimately you work with people. You’ll coach people either in person or via Zoom video to help them embrace their introversion and make it their super power.

Absolutely, yeah. And it already is, you just have to learn how to strip away everything that doesn’t fit and uncover who you truly are.

Yeah, and as a side note for people to know, it just happens that Chelsea lives in the town that I grew up in. I now live in Southern California and you live in Bowling Green, Kentucky, which your accent is so nice. I love it.

Yeah, thanks.

You’re like, “What? What accent? I don’t have an accent.”

I know, exactly. You can’t hear it yourself.

Yeah, and that town, if you have ever been to Kentucky, most people think of Louisville where I was born or Lexington, but Bowling Green is the best. It’s like a mid-sized town. I don’t know, what is there now? Fifty, sixty, seventy thousand? Something like that?

Probably. Yeah, it’s not the biggest but it’s not the smallest either. It’s a good mix.

Yeah, and there’s Western Kentucky University where you attended. I lived literally right next door to the university. I went to all the basketball games and football games. Just a great city. I have so many fond memories. I don’t think it’s the greatest neighborhood now, but I grew up at 1415 Nutwood Street. I lived on several streets around that area. I went to T.C. Cherry Elementary School.

I go there frequently, yeah. I still do therapy as well.

What?!

Yeah, that’s so cool.

They tore down the original elementary school, I do know that, and they built a new one. There was a pool there that was a community pool and I think it was like ten or twenty bucks for the summer and I’d ride my bike there, get in the pool all day. It was a totally different world because I’d just ride my bike all over town. I’m sure kids probably still do that there but I live in Southern California, it’s a little different. It’s a little busier, a little crazier. Anyway, what a fun place. I’m glad you live there.

I’m glad we could make that connection. I know.

Okay, so www.thepathfinderforyou.com/free and we’ll put that in our show notes. You can swipe up on your phone to find that now, or you can go to www.insporising.com and you can find all of those show notes there. So, Chelsea, I really have enjoyed this. You are amazing and I want to get some more people connected to you.

Yes. Thank you so much, it was super fun.


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thank you!