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introvert

On habits and resolutions

When I read Gretchen Rubin’s book,  The Happiness Project, it was over a year ago and I was entranced. I had so often thought of things I wanted to do (uhh, like, blog) but never did. Maybe because I wasn’t super motivated, but more likely because I didn’t hold myself accountable, and got stuck under, “I’ll do it soon.”

And for a while I kept it in the back of my mind, kept a “think of resolutions” note in my to do lists, but nothing came of it. Then, a few months ago I started listing resolutions that I would have, if I ever did this. I thought of realistic, specific, attainable, important to me ones. I phrased them like Gretchen would. And I thought about them, and that helped.

Then I brought in technology. I found a habit tracker app. Something about that motivation, about getting the reminder pop ups and being asked “did you do this yesterday?” worked.

My current three resolutions are:
1. Clean one thing. (counted as anything other than the dishes and making the bed. I often get overwhelmed with cleaning our apartment, but also get noticeably anxious when the apartment is a mess. And I’ve found that in allowing myself to just clean one thing, I usually actually end up doing more than one.)

  1. Move your body. (which has coincided with me returning to yoga, which I am so glad about. Power yoga with a wonderful teacher is incredible for my body, the amount I sweat is amazing, the strength I’m gaining is wonderful, and the mood change in me is good for my soul. But, this counts as hiking, yoga, gym, a walk. My mind and emotional state is so much calmer when I’ve moved my body. Also, check out the book Spark.)

  2. Keep in touch. (this is the hardest one. I am an introvert by nature, which means that even though I feel perfectly okay with going longer periods of time without checking in with friends, I do, very much realize, that my friends don’t feel the same way — and their extroverted selves aren’t satisfied with that. So, it’s a give-and-take. Plus, I realize that I have gotten very black-and-white about this — like, either I had to go out every night and have long phone conversations each day, or nothing. But I’m giving myself a middle ground. So, Keep in Touch means that I send a text, an email, g-chat, see a friend, make plans, or have a phone conversation with a friend. I give myself permission to not do this every day, but the knowledge that it’s one of my resolutions keeps me doing it more than I might otherwise. And it’s meeting loved ones halfway. Which they deserve, and so do I.)

And…it’s going well so far. And I don’t feel internal pressure to do it like Gretchen did, where I change my resolutions each month or devote my entire month to them. Just having them in the back of my mind keeps me cognizant that they’re there — and let’s be honest, meeting them feels really, really good. Because ultimately, they’re all about self-care, and that’s the whole point, right?

Introvert + Highly-Sensitive

I told you that I have been reading lately. And asked if it would be okay if I tried to write about it, without it being perfect. And from the “likes” I got, I’m assuming that’s okay. And that you won’t judge me. Even though I’m a stranger and mean nothing to any of you!

I read the book Quiet by Susan Cain. It’s all about introverts. About what an introvert truly is. About how “introvert” and “shy” are not synonymous. nor are “introvert” and “loner” or “introvert” and “no friends.” About how the world is built for extroverts and how introverts end up withdrawing into themselves, or forcing themselves to act extroverted when they’re not. And it all resonated with me. Especially when Cain tied introversion to the “highly-sensitive” trait. I’ve known forever that I’m highly-sensitive, and have written about it and talked about it, and everyone knows it. Having the two tied together, having proof that they go together and that it’s a real THING, not just “I’m the only one like this” thing is incredible.

And I’m overwhelmed with organizing my thoughts into writing. So, to start, my most favorite quotes from Quiet. I hope they resonate with you, or are enlightening, or at least just interesting. And thanks for bearing with me.


“Many introverts are also ‘highly sensitive,’ which sounds poetic, but is actually a technical term in psychology. If you are a sensitive sort, than you’re more apt than the average person to feel pleasantly overwhelmed by Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” or a well-turned phrase or an act of extraordinary kindness. You may be quicker than others to feel sickened by violence and ugliness, and you likely have a very strong conscience. When you were a child, you were probably called “shy,” and to this day feel nervous when you’re being evaluated, for example when giving a speech or on a first date……(No one knows exactly how many introverts are highly sensitive, but we know that 70 percent of sensitives are introverts, and the other 30 percent tend to report needing a lot of “down time.”)

“Studies have shown that, indeed, introverts are more likely than extroverts to express intimate facts about themselves online that their family and friends would be surprised to read, to say that they can express the “real me” online, and to spend more time in certain kinds of online discussions. The same person who would never raise his hand in a lecture hall of two hundred people might blog to two thousand, or two million, without thinking twice. The same person who finds it difficult to introduce himself to strangers might establish a presence online and then extend these relationships in to the real world.”

“What scientists haven’t realized until recently is that these risk factors have an upside. In other words, the sensitivities and the strengths are a package deal. High-reactive kids who enjoy good parenting, child care, and a stable home environment tend to have fewer emotional problems and more social skills than their lower-reactive peers, studies show. Often they’re exceedingly empathic, caring, and cooperative. They work well with others. They are kind, conscientious, and easily disturbed by cruelty, injustice, and irresponsibility. They’re successful at the things that matter to them.”

“The highly sensitive tend to be philosophical or spiritual in their orientation, rather than materialistic or hedonistic. They dislike small talk. They often describe themselves as creative or intuitive…..They dream vividly, and can often recall their dreams the next day. They love music, nature, art, physical beauty. They feel exceptionally strong emotions — sometimes acute bouts of joy, but also sorrow, melancholy, and fear. Highly sensitive people also process information about their environments — both physical and emotional — unusually deeply. They tend to notice subtleties that others miss — another person’s shift in mood, say, or a light bulb burning a touch too brightly.”

“The other thing Aron found about sensitive people is that sometimes they’re highly empathic. It’s as if they have thinner boundaries separating them from other people’s emotions and from the tragedies and cruelties of the world. They tend to have unusually strong consciences. They avoid violent movies and TV shows; they’re acutely aware of the consequences of a lapse in their own behavior. In social settings they often focus on subjects like personal problems, which others consider “too heavy.”

“A Free Trait Agreement” acknowledges that we’ll each act out of character some of the time — in exchange for being ourselves the rest of the time. It’s a Free Trait Agreement when a wife who wants to go out every Saturday night and a husband who wants to relax by the fire work out a schedule: half the time we’ll go out, and half the time we’ll stay home. It’s a Free Trait Agreement when you attend your extroverted best friend’s wedding shower, engagement celebration, and bachelorette party, but she understands when you skip out on the three days’ worth of group activities leading up to the wedding itself.

“When your conscientiousness impels you to take on more than you can handle, you begin to lose interest, even in tasks that normally engage you. You also risk your physical health. “Emotional labor,” which is the effort we make to control and change our own emotions, is associated with stress, burnout, and even physical symptoms like an increase in cardiovascular disease. Professor Little believes that prolonged acting out of character may also increase autonomic nervous system activity, which can, in turn, compromise immune functioning.”

 

Reading

I’ve been reading lately. Two books. One, about quantum medicine, quantum physics, quantum healing. Another, about introverts.

My soul feels like it’s going to explode with all of the knowledge I’m learning, all of the pieces that are zooming together, making this elaborate, beautiful puzzle of understanding, and I want to scream it out lout and explain it to all of you, and everyone in my life, and everyone in the world. But that’s overwhelming, so I shut down, because I don’t know where to start. I want to write about it and tell you about it and make the connections and paint the picture, and help shed that light that is being shed for me, both personally and professionally. But where do I start?

You know I often don’t write if I don’t think I can write something worthwhile. I feel this way now. I feel that I have one good shot to draw you in, make you understand, try to explain, and if I miss it, poof, that’s it, there goes your interest, there goes my attempt. I hope this isn’t so.

I want to start soon. Maybe with some excerpts. Maybe with the names of the books. Maybe with a few thoughts, however disjointed they may be.

Would you stick around if I did that?

Big insight.

A hugely important realization that I was guided towards is:

When I dread going out, when I don’t want to “be social,” when the thought of being out with friends seems more than I can bear, there is a reason for it. And the reason is: because I am not showing up in my true self. When I show up with my Shadow, with the happy-go-lucky “Hi! Everything is great! How are you?!” I am not being the real me. And that’s exhausting. And quite honestly, I would imagine, unpleasant. I think I’ve done this my entire life, so I don’t even realize when I’m not being the real me.

So I am practicing showing up in my true self, and leaving my Shadow at home. And if that means saying, “I’m doing well — a little down today, not sure why,” that’s okay. I don’t have to have a reason for feeling sad. I don’t have to understand why I’m sad. I don’t have to justify it. To the people who get me, really truly love and get me, it shouldn’t matter.

I’m working on it.

Introvert.

I am an introvert. This I know, and I don’t hide from it anymore. Mostly because I now understand what it is. It has nothing to do with not liking people, being a recluse, hiding from social scenes. It simply has to do with where one is most comfortable — by themselves or with others. Now, I LOVE being with others. I love being with my boyfriend, close friends, family, etc. I fall somewhat in the middle, where I can go out and be social, and do, quite frequently. But then things happen that make me realize how I differ from some of my friends.

Such as, late at night friends are a few miles away and want me to go out. To them, me saying no is selfish, lazy, etc. Not in an unkind way, they accept me for who I am (although I do wonder, for how long). But more in a they-don’t-understand way. They are the ones who hate being by themselves, hate down time, hate having nothing to do. And I am the opposite. I don’t like changes in schedules or spontaneity. I’m getting better at it, much better. And I don’t always say “no” to an invitation like this. But on the one day I want to say no, I get stuck in my thoughts. Am I being lazy? Am I defaulting to a place of comfort? Well, yes, but is that always a bad thing? Is it playing it too safe to not go out at 9:30pm by myself and go to a bar a few miles away? Or, is it reasonable to not want to get dressed up nicely and worry about how to get there and my fears of the dark and strangers and all of that? Should I nurture my own needs and wants? Or do I put my friends first and push myself out of the comfort zone?

That’s what I struggle with — I know sometimes I have to push myself. And I do, frequently. But that’s why when I don’t, I wonder if I should be. I realize there’s no right or wrong answer. I realize that I differ from people in this way and that not everyone will get it. I believe that if people leave or abandon me because of it, then a friendship wasn’t meant to be. I get that. And yet, I still feel guilty. Still feel bad. Still feel the need to prove myself, to profusely apologize, to make them understand that it’s not that I don’t want to see them, not that I don’t want to do the right thing, it’s that I can’t bring myself to, as awful as that sounds.

Are any of you introverts? Does this resonate with you at all? What would you do? What should I do? How do I explain it?

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