5 Ways I Get Myself to Do What I Don't Wanna

Sometimes I choose not to indulge my introversion.

Posted Jun 11, 2018

Image Point Fr/Shutterstock
Source: Image Point Fr/Shutterstock

My plans this weekend were so antithetical to everything I am as an introvert, I wanted to fall to my knees and sob.

I did it to myself when I volunteered to do a political canvass — as in knocking on strangers' doors and talking to them about my candidate.

Can you imagine?

I have collected signatures on a petition in public places. That was hard enough. This sounded harder.

But because one-on-one voter contact is crucial to the things I want to accomplish, I decided to swallow hard and give it a try. But saying I was going to do it and then actually doing it took some serious nutting up and motivational self-talk.

This is often the case for me, for activities ranging from parties to business or political meetings. I want to do them as much as I don't want to do them. And I know I'll be ashamed if I blow them off. It's happened many times before; I've blown things off and then felt bad about myself for that. It's a feeling I try to avoid as much as possible. 

So, how do I get myself to do things I don’t want to do? I have a few strategies. 

1. Laser-focus on the reason I’m doing it.

I wasn’t knocking on doors because I like meeting people, or because I needed something to do on a Saturday morning. I knocked on doors because I believe in the candidate I’m supporting (and strongly disapprove of his opponent). In addition, I don’t want to be an all-talk, no-action person. I respect people who get out there and do what needs to be done, and I want to be one of those people.

If it's something less civic-minded, like going to a party, I might keep in mind my feelings about the person who is throwing the party or the importance in maintaining social ties. Sometimes going to parties is medicine: It might not taste great, but it's good for my overall mental health. (Same with not going to parties sometimes, but that's a topic for another post.)

2. Trash talk.

I can be motivated by a challenge, so I might give myself a little grief. “What are you, chicken? Are you gonna believe people who insist introverts can’t do this kind of thing? Are you gonna give them the satisfaction of being right? Don’t let them define you: Show them what you’re made of.” I get all riled up by the sympathetic, patronizing eyes with which people sometimes regard introverts, so I like to prove as often as possible — to them and myself — that I'm capable of whatever I decide I want or need to do.

3. Ego strokes.

I can also be motivated by praise, so I lay that on, too. “If you do this, you will be Wonder Woman. You will be stepping out of your comfort zone in a big way, and I, for one, will be impressed. Show yourself, and show the world, how powerful you really are!”

4. Visualization.

Before the dreaded event, I visualize myself showing up and doing whatever it is I have to do — whether canvassing or party chitchat — with style and panache. I visualize myself coasting through that which frightens or appalls me. I visualize myself succeeding.

5. Visualization II.

I also visualize the sheer, unmitigated bliss of getting home after completing whatever it is I’m doing so reluctantly. This may be most motivating at all. Because staying home is nice, but getting home is transcendent. I think about getting in my car after completing the chore, driving home, going inside, and collapsing, knowing I did what I had to do, and it's over now. Gosh, that's a good feeling, even as just a visualization. 

So, how did that canvassing thing go?

It was OK. It is not and never will be my favorite thing in the world to do. I hated knocking on doors, but once I got conversations going, I rather enjoyed myself. After all, this was not chitchat. I had specific, substantial topics to address. It helped that I believe in what I’m doing, and it helped that I was only knocking on doors of people who would be inclined to agree. (It also helped that nobody was home at most of the houses on my route.) Still, I talked to maybe a dozen people, and nothing terrible happened.

But believe me, the very best part of the day was getting home: The quiet hush of my own house. The loving embrace of my sofa, where I spent the rest of the day. The satisfaction of knowing I’d done it, I’d proved myself, I succeeded, I didn’t humiliate myself (that I know of), and I am, indeed, Wonder Woman.

Now I have to do it again next week. So here we go again.