Updated: Jan 8, 2022
10 Healthy Coping Skills That Can Turn Your Life Around -
First, become "enlightened". Not in a religious or spiritual way, but in the sense that you have a much better understanding of who you are. Second, accept your introversion and begin to hail your traits as strengths that enable you to be your best self. Third, it will then become easier to avoid often catastrophic tendencies you may have had to endure in the past to cope with the pressures of being an introvert in an extrovert's world.
In addition to being a shy introvert, I also have addictive behaviors which I frequently tapped into as I tried to cope with the social pressures and work challenges that built up such unrelenting stress inside me for decades. Acknowledging these behaviors was, perhaps, even more difficult than embracing my introversion after 50 years.
I've UNlearned some of the narrow definitions of addiction. Growing up, I expected addiction was limited to alcoholism or drug abuse, neither of which I was exposed to firsthand. While they are certainly both terrible afflictions in their own right, I've learned that addiction takes many forms, all of which can be traumatic and destructive.
When I was 11, I introduced myself to the family bar when left alone at home, perhaps for the first time. A couple of hours later I woke to my parents freaking out, trying to decipher what was in my vomit beside the bed while frantically calling the doctor to try to understand whether to rush my husky frame to the ER.
I chalked that experience up to curiosity at the time, as did my parents. But a dozen years later, two DWI's, many more bedside vomits, and several blackouts under my belt, I began to realize this was not just curiosity. All my life I suffered from low self-esteem, brought on by my short yet pudgy stature, my shyness in public, and my determination to buck my mother's incessant drive for me to socialize, instead of finding refuge in my own hobbies at home. So drinking allowed me an escape from all the torment inside my head.
I've heard others say they regretted their drinking escapades immediately, or at least by the time the morning hangover kicked in. They realized they were a mean, pompous, or annoying drunks. Yet I rarely fit that bill. I was generally a fun drunk. Often I was the instigator and cheerleader for the bunch. I lead sing-a-longs at the piano bar and once backup at a country bar. I even assumed the burden of driving the gang home afterward, though that clearly did not work out in my favor. Yet, I still reveled in the escape drinking provided me from my normally repressive world.
Later, in my 40's I soothed mounting work demands, stress, and job insecurity with extreme drinking around the globe with more serious repercussions to my relations and family life. Yet, even those risks which shook me to my core could barely compete with the temporary escape which drinking afforded me.
I was saved ironically by a horrible manager who eliminated my job and thus forced a change of scenery. All the while, my loving and devoted wife stood by my side when I finally mustered the courage to start to put my life back together.
Only recently did I realize this nearly 40 year battle with alcohol was not my only war with addiction. Only as I studied the patterns of my life did I realized my addiction took many other dangerous forms, including binge eating and gambling, as well as even exercise and planning. These last two may seem petty, but the constant drive to meet loftier goals never let me rest or find personal contentment. They were just as dangerous and part of the same pattern of addiction.