Updated: Jul 10, 2020
Eleven Ways to Embrace Your Introversion
Perhaps you knew you were an introvert for most of your life. Though I had heard the term and received the label decades ago, I really didn't understand it until recently. Feeling out of place in the world had become commonplace. And the stress of such dysfunction introduced many unhealthy coping mechanisms, from alcohol to binge eating to gambling and extreme exercise at times.
But in the last several years, these 11 tips have helped me to finally embrace my introversion:
Learn about introversion: We've heard of the term, sometimes as the "un-extrovert". But we certainly benefit from learning the true definition. Introversion is not "shy" or "reticent," though we may be. It is not "socially anxious," though we may deal with that. It is not the negative to the extrovert's positive. Some state that it is defined by those that gain energy from within themselves rather than with others. However, in different situations and for different periods of time, I can gain a lot of energy from others. The definition that feels best to me is from Psychology Today, "basic personality style characterized by a preference for subdued and solitary experiences." The other important lesson is that introversion-extroversion is a continuum and based on various circumstances, we can all sit at various places along that line.
Learn about yourself: If you missed it, take the brief 16 Personality and VIA Strengths tests from last week's blog. Both help illuminate our tendencies and strengths. Most results will likely feel like a comfy blanket once we see the definition. We should stand proud and tall of our strengths. Let's allocate a lot less time to worrying about our gaps and weaknesses (we all have them) and more toward sharpening and using our strengths. The world needs our unique strengths in the room, whether it's creativity, planning, empathy and care, thought-provoking insights, or well-prepared decision making. Know what your strengths are and find ways to share them.
Journaling: What a great way to use a common introvert strength to spend time with ourselves, contemplating life, evaluating issues, and decompressing from everyday stresses. Sometimes I journal daily, other times weekly. Sometimes I journal in my unique silk woven Nepalese journal (see below) and other times on my iPhone. No one has to see your journals. It's just for you. My head feels less full after journaling. My thoughts seem sharper and my concerns less overwhelming.
PST (Positive Self Talk): Most everyone can agree we are often our own worst critic. That may be especially true for introverts. Somewhere along the way we determined life must be perfect...we must be perfect. But instead of bashing our shortcomings against this impossible backdrop, if we acknowledge our strengths and accomplishments and envision our successes, just think of how much happier we can be. We can distance ourselves from most naysayers and critics...except ourselves. We must learn to champion our own cause.
Buddy System: Life is too short and challenging to go it alone. Whether it's a friend, a sibling, a partner, or a pet, having others to share the ups and downs is important. It may go against our tendencies, but sharing relieves the tremendous stress we put on ourselves deep in our own mind. And having others to lean on can make mole hills out of mountains.
Prepare & Plan: Whenever I feel frazzled, I tend to return to one of my biggest strengths and comforts...planning. If I have a documented plan, I feel in control, I know the steps in front of me, and I can see a path to successful completion of any task. Some may feel the need for meticulous planning and others just a list on a sticky note. That is up to you. Any plan will help to envision success and enable PST.
No FOMO: FOMO, the fear of missing out! Many of us struggle with this. I need to go to this event in case something monumental happens or, for me, I need to attend for fear others will miss me or recognize my absence. Fact is neither should drive us. Life goes on with or without us. Don't give Fear the power. Remain in control. Make your own decisions to join events as you wish. Deciding to skip an event can, itself, be so empowering. My confidence rises every time I practice this tip.
Cherish Recovery Time: Whether after a big presentation, a long work day, or an exhausting social event, plan your recovery time. Use it. Cherish it. Don't be ashamed or embarrassed. Don't feel pressured to give it up. This recovery time can be reading, journaling, chilling with the TV, doing a puzzle, going to dinner and a movie by yourself or with a confidante, or having a talk-free soothing massage. Just knowing recovery time is coming often helps me do well in the task at hand, and definitely helps me refill my energy tank for whatever is next...before the next recovery time!
Exercise: Any kind of exercise will do, as long as it is one of your choosing. If you like a hard workout or long run, or just a quiet walk or swim, pick an exercise that relaxes your mind and your body. I love long runs with an agenda. I ponder my successes (PST) and my upcoming challenges (Prepare & Plan) along the way, and feel refreshed (Recovery Time) when I cross my finish line.
Stretch your Comfort Zone: The first 9 help to define and protect your comfort zone. It's also helpful to "dip your toe in," to try new things in a safe environment. Perhaps we meet a new friend, visit a new place, learn a new skill, or conquer an old nemesis. Change is inevitable, so exercising that muscle is good for us in the long run. Sometimes the experience will be awesome and occasionally, painful. We must give ourselves the permission to not do it again. But at least we tried.
Live Unabashedly: Life is short. Have no regrets. And whatever you choose to do, do it with gusto!
Top (L-R): Steve Pondering; My Nepalese Journal; My Forever Buddy, Jennifer
Bottom (L-R): OmniFocus Planning; Slow, Long, Runs; Living Unabashedly w/ my Miata
Introvert's Call to Action:
Review the list. Choose just ONE to try. It can be the first one or any item that jumps out to you. Then, next week, try another...