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An Introverts Guide to Navigating Group Support Meetings

Introverts tend to feel drained when placed in loud or stressful social situations. Support group and self-help meetings involve a lot of emotional interactions and personal sharing. Not everyone feels comfortable interacting under those circumstances. Others may only be able to withstand it for a short period. However, you can do a few things to work with your introverted nature and still participate with your sober peers in meetings. 

Introverts fall along an introvert-extrovert spectrum. They are generally quiet, reserved, and prefer to interact one-on-one or only a few people at a time rather than in a large group setting. Characteristics of an introvert include those listed below:

  • Require a quiet environment to be able to concentrate
  • Do not feel as comfortable in large groups 
  • Feel drained of energy after long or complex social interactions
  • Are prone to “zoning out” if a situation gets overwhelming

Understanding the Benefits of Group Therapy 

As an introvert, you may feel like you would do better with only one-on-one or personal therapies that do not involve interacting with a large group of strangers. However, once you understand the benefits that you can gain from participating in this type of therapy, it can help you stay motivated to overcome aspects of your introverted nature. No matter what kind of group you are participating in, you will find yourself becoming part of a community, and that sense of belonging can be comforting. A few other benefits include the following:

  • You will gain confidence the more you actively participate and share.
  • You will learn new coping skills and tools that will help with your recovery. 
  • It is an excellent environment for discovering interesting viewpoints that can help you see your own emotions, thoughts, and behaviors in a new way.
  • You will not feel alone in your struggles. 
  • You will have people who understand be there to help you celebrate your successes.
  • You can share your views and support others.
  • You may find a sponsor to support you and keep you accountable.

There are different types of group therapy, and they also come in different sizes. Some introverts find it much easier to open up about their past and current situation if only a handful of people interact with them regularly during therapy or group. There are plenty of online directories you can use to find smaller self-help groups. That way, you can experience all of the advantages without feeling drained or overwhelmed after each meeting. 

Overcoming the Pressure to Share 

In many therapies and self-help groups, there is no requirement that you actively participate as long as you are not disruptive. However, as an introvert, you might feel passive peer pressure to share something about yourself or your recovery. Doing that in front of a whole bunch of strangers can be uncomfortable, but there are a few things you can try to make it easier. 

  • Start small and let yourself get used to how the group environment works.
  • Listen to what others are sharing and watch how receptive and supportive everyone is in that moment.
  • Have your therapist help you develop coping skills for overcoming stress related to communicating with your group. 

If you feel very uncomfortable sharing and nothing is helping, it might be better to find a group that uses learning activities. These often have group leaders who will go over specific coping skills and direct conversation while you work individually or in a group to accomplish certain tasks. Another option is animal-assisted group therapy, where you interact with a trained therapy animal. Some introverts feel more comfortable in those situations though not every city has these alternatives available. 

Build Confidence and Find Your Voice  

Group therapy can help you build confidence in yourself, your opinions, and your abilities. By letting yourself be vulnerable within a safe space, you can find your voice. Not everyone is going to get to that point right away. Be patient with yourself if it takes months or even years to grow comfortable enough to participate in each meeting actively. You can get there with time and effort. Then you can enjoy the benefits mentioned above, and you will become part of a special supportive community. 

Become an Active Part of a Supportive Community 

There are few things as rewarding as giving someone encouragement when they really need it. By actively participating in discussions and group meetings, you can be a source of inspiration and motivation for the people around you. You may not get to that point for a while, but it will be worth the energy you put into becoming part of such a life-changing group when you do. 

Introverts exist along a spectrum, so no two people have the same experience. You may feel exhausted after a short group therapy session, and it could make you feel like the effort is not worth the reward. However, there are many health and recovery benefits to sticking with group therapy. There are also plenty of alternatives if you decide that traditional self-help groups are not for you. At facilities like Everlast Recovery Centers, we have multiple types of therapy to choose from. You can find something within your comfort zone. If you do not require in-person treatment, local organizations can offer smaller group meetings that might be easier to attend. You may need to challenge your boundaries and comfort levels a little to get used to sharing and interacting with any number of strangers, but the benefits are worth it. Learn more by calling Everlast Recovery Centers today at (866) 338-6925.

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