INTROVERTS HAVE this one the worst. When you’re out there with the gregarious, the ebullient, the always-delighted, and you are forced to play along, you are likely to tell yourself you should be like them, that your life would be easier or better if you were that way. You might even think there’s something wrong with you.

Making yourself wrong and beating yourself up internally is a pointless thing to do. It’s a repeat of the familiar – what you get from your parents as children you take to be love. If your parents – with all the good intentions in the world – constantly compared you to others or to some standard, you’ll be living with this self-abasing internal voice.

The great thing in midlife is that the energy behind that voice starts to dissipate. The problem becomes, what do you replace it with? Can I trust myself when I say I’m OK? Can I just leave myself to be the way I am? It seems so wrong, so irresponsible, so unfounded!

Those old thought patterns are just habits, a painful memory that we replay like a sad, old song just because it’s familiar. Becoming aware of them, then replacing them with something else – something you choose – is a process; it can take years, and I can honestly say that a separation is possible between the automatic internal voices and a conscious awareness that can make choices about itself – who it chooses to be, and how.

So you don’t have to change your personality. You can learn to love the one you have. Great rivers of peace flow from this.