Embrace Your Introversion & Discover a Whole New World of Possibilities
Stop wearing a mask at work or shrinking at social events. It's time to get out of your own way and embrace your introversion.
As part of our 2023 journey toward Contentment and Flourishing, in January we covered the Unaware and Uninformed phases of introversion. But the solitude and solemnness of the first two phases don't have to be a lifelong sentence. While those are not very uplifting phases, we all go through them until something jolts us into Phase 3: Enlightenment. For some, that happens as teens, for others, it may never happen.
That "jolt" from the doldrums of the first two phases can take many forms:
Your gut tells you there must be something better
You hit rock bottom and face a major life decision
You discover trusted resources that flip your script
For me, all three of these "jolts" happened in my early 40s. I was on a new work assignment overseas. Expectations were high. I was charged with turning around a team's performance. I moved to London and managed a group of over 20 scattered around the world. I also interfaced with customers, suppliers, and competitors within the energy industry. I think many introverts can relate when I say it was not just overwhelming, but terrifying. But as I'd done for the first 20 years of my career, I put on a good face and I did my best. I scheduled lots of meetings, I traveled over half the time, and I made the changes I felt the business needed.
But along the way, I was sinking. The stress was intense. I tried to cope with alcohol, food, and long hours, but these only masked my internal torment. As the angst came to the surface in the form of sciatica, shingles, and red-faced rosacea, my doctor said he could treat the symptoms but the cause...that had to come from me. So while I was pretty depressed, I knew this was not normal and life had to get better (JOLT #1).
In 2007 I was on a two-week business trip to the Far East and opted to spend my weekend touring Hiroshima. I took a bullet train from Tokyo and toured riveting museums and enjoyed watching an exhilarating game of Japanese baseball. In between, I sat on the shore of the Motoyasu River to journal. I reflected on life, my situation, and my need for change. However, I also felt the pressure to continue to provide for my family. I was torn.
After that weekend, I continued my work trip to Singapore. One evening I met an old friend to catch up. After a heavy dose of wine and sake, I passed out in the taxi, only to wake on the floor of my hotel room the next morning, unsure how I even got there. My "coping" skills were becoming more dangerous.
A few days later, I returned to my office in London and began to debrief my manager. He stopped me mid-track and told me he was going to combine my team with another and that I would need to find a new role within the company. It was time to go home to the States (JOLT #2).
Rattled by this unexpected news, my unknown future, and my withering mental condition, I enlisted the help of a therapist who helped me get to the source of my issues. She asked frank questions and helped me to find a new path. If she didn't save my life, she certainly helped transform it (JOLT #3).
I began to discover what introversion truly was. I read Susan Cain's Quiet and I reflected on how I could work and lead without the destructive stress I'd gotten so used to.
Soon we moved back to Houston. I started a new job that enabled me to lead with authenticity. I was on the road to Enlightenment.
Phase 3: Enlightenment
This phase is certainly the most exciting. The dark cloud that lies over our life to this point starts to lift. The definition of introversion shifts from one of negativity to one of possibility. We aren't the antithesis of extroverts. We aren't the wallflower destined to second-guess and follow all our lives. We have unique strengths that we should be proud of. In fact, our work teams and social circles need our talents to help develop closer bonds, discover more creative solutions, and prepare for the challenges ahead. They need our true selves, not the mask of assimilation we thought we had to wear. Phase 3 is all about discovery!
The Keys to Enlightenment
This phase could also be called the Discovery or Learning phase. It's time to rid our brains of the negativity that has bullied us around and learn:
Learn the true definition of Introversion.
Definitely check out these posts regarding the science of introversion. Understanding it's part of our brain and chemical makeup tends to normalize our introversion.
Read more so you no longer feel different or alone, but part of a wave of strength and growth.
More on my blog specifically for the Enlightenment Phase.
Susan Cain's Quiet is a bit dated but still the bible for introverts in 21st century
My award-winning memoir, In Search of Courage: An Introvert's Story, has been called "relatable and inspiring"
Join nearly 2000 people who've taken my Introvert's Talent Quiz. It's free, quick, and confidential and will highlight your greatest strengths. I believe this is the most critical step. You'll get a personalized report and I'll be diving into how to use and grow each strength in the months ahead. Rather than feeling odd and different, if we discover our strengths and talents and understand how they can contribute to more vibrant work and social interactions then we can feel confident and proud.
Shed those in your life who aren't supportive or constructive, whether "friends," co-workers, or even family. It's time to be your own bouncer. Enlightenment is about learning to stand tall!
In March, we will begin to dive into each of the 8 Strengths of introverts - how to use and apply them and how to grow them to support your journey toward Flourishing.
Take Our 3 Insightful Quizzes Today
Phases of Introversion
What phase are you in and how can you accelerate toward Contentment and Flourishing?
Introvert Talent (Superpowers)
What are your greatest introvert strengths and how can you use them at work, at home, and socially?
Are you applying your strengths to be an authentic and confident leader?
Each quiz is quick, free, confidential, and includes instant results with helpful, customized insights just for YOU!
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The Questions Introverts Ponder and The Answers Extroverts Need to Hear
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The Questions Introverts Ponder
The Answers Extroverts Need to Hear
Introversion often feels so alone; many assume no one else could feel this way. This book contains many of the questions that have been asked, often by introverts trying to understand this personality trait that can at times govern our lives.
I also hear from many introverts struggling to share their introversion with family, friends, and co-workers, either out of fear or just not having the words. This booklet can serve to educate others to understand better the many strengths and talents we have to share.
I hope you will find this booklet an informative read and reference book with a splash of light-heartedness and inspiration as well. I invite you to start with the questions you are most curious about and share them from there.
BEST OF THE BLOG: 5 Bright Ideas for Introverts