Many introverts feel shame ABOUT being introverted.

To Be a Healthy, Happy Introvert, You May Need to Address Shame

Shame is a powerful, debilitating force in the lives of many introverts. It’s that damn voice that keeps saying “something must be wrong with me”—and it’s got to go.

I have read all 7,629 (and counting) Amazon customer reviews of Susan Cain’s bestselling book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.

Call it field research. Or obsession. Maybe a bit of both. But I wanted (and still want) to know:

What is it about Cain’s book that has touched so many people so deeply and so permanently?

The answer is obvious once you’ve seen a few thousand reviews, the vast majority of them positive.

It boils down to just one word—the essential gift so many long-confused introverts are getting from Quiet and similar books:


The Introvert Shame Phenomenon

Here’s a portion of what one Amazon reviewer wrote (under the apt headline of “Validating”) about his/her experience reading Quiet:

“I had moments of joy and moments of cathartic tears, and my world grew brighter with each passing page.”

Powerful words.

Inspiring, hopeful words.

But as I think about it more—especially as I immerse myself in the work of shame researcher Brené Brown (author of I Thought It Was Just Me [But It Isn’t] and several other illuminating books), I am beginning to see that these words are crucially revealing, too.

Because when you read between the lines, you find expressed a typically unarticulated, damaging opposite of validation.

You uncover a malady that millions of us introverts struggle with in our largely extroverted world.

It, too, can be described in one word—Brown’s area of expertise:


That is, shame related to being an introvert in an extroverted society.

I call it the Introvert Shame Phenomenon.

Shame: An Attack on the Self

Here’s another part of that same “Validating” review on Amazon:

“I had powerful ‘a-ha’ moments where I said to myself ‘oh my God, there is nothing wrong with me’ after a lifetime of thinking that many of these traits were bad.”

And here are a few similar comments from other Quiet readers:

“I have been on the journey of self-discovery for some time now, and this book has confirmed many of the truths I came to learn about myself: There is NOTHING WRONG WITH YOU…”

“If you’ve ever felt like something was wrong with you because you don’t like socializing as much as everyone else or you just prefer to have alone time, this book will prove just the opposite is true.”

“[E]xperiences I’ve had as an introvert leave me … [with] the constant question: What is wrong with me, because I just don’t fit in…”

Notice that these last few readers aren’t talking about their actions; they’re not saying “something’s wrong with my behavior[s].”

They’re saying “something’s wrong with me.”

That belief, troublingly widespread among introverts, is the fundamental description of shame.

Just look at how Brown defines shame in I Thought It Was Just Me [But It Isn’t]:

“Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing we are flawed and therefore unworthy of acceptance and belonging.”

If this sounds like you—if your introversion leads you to think that “something must be wrong with me”—you’re battling shame; shame you feel about being an introvert.

That is the Introvert Shame Phenomenon.

And if you’re experiencing it, you need to confront it, for two critical reasons:

  1. Like everyone else, you deserve to just go ahead and be who you really are in life.
  2. If the shame stays with you, you risk losing yourself—and not giving yourself what you need in life to be truly healthy and happy as the introvert you are.

Think Work-in-Progress, Not Quick Fix

You can’t just say “I’m going to get rid of my shame,” of course, whether it’s connected to your introversion or something else. It’s deep-seated and many-pronged, after all.

So if you’re experiencing the Introvert Shame Phenomenon, seek help from a therapist. Or read about shame and reflect carefully on how it might be affecting you, especially when it comes to its connection to your introversion.

One way or the other, you need to be you—to be the introvert you are.

Shame, unchecked, won’t let you.

2 replies
  1. Tracy Hodge
    Tracy Hodge says:

    I agree with how important validation is. I was 40 before I realized that there was nothing wrong with me. I was just an introvert? This knowledge freed me from the shame I was carrying for 40 years because I seemed to be so different from everyone else around me. It did not erase the feeling of being different and sometimes wishing that I were not always that way, but it gave me relief from my own self-deprecating inner voice that constantly told me to find a way to fix myself. Now I try to find ways to focus on my gifts and not spend all my time trying to fix something that is not broken.

    • Peter Vogt
      Peter Vogt says:


      Thank you so much for this comment!

      You have articulated so beautifully the same general journey I have taken where the Introvert Shame Phenomenon is concerned, and the one that millions of others have taken as well—once, of course, they have come to the same realization as you have and changed how they think about themselves and feel toward themselves as introverts.

      It is so incredibly difficult to even see that this is happening in one’s life, let alone do something about it (or even know what to do).

      All I—and you—know is that the Introvert Shame Phenomenon is real. It’s “a thing,” and many of us introverts experience it.

      It’s time to name it and talk about it, and acknowledge we can push back—as you have!

      Thanks again for reading and commenting!



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