IntroversionPosted by Lauren 31 Jan, 2017 12:12:19
It’s not uncommon for sensitive introverts to put other
people’s needs before their own. Ordinarily this isn’t an issue–we love being
there for our loved ones, and we take great pride in never letting them down,
especially when we can help them work through their problems. We feel an
incredible sense of satisfaction when we know they feel better after venting to
But this can have an unhelpful consequence: we care so much
for others that we often forget to look after ourselves. How many times have
you felt burned out and emotionally drained after helping friend after friend
after friend with their issues? Needing to withdraw into solitude when the
demands on our time are too great is the only way we can preserve our sanity
and mental health. It shouldn’t have to come to this extreme point. We’re
acutely in tune with our inner world, and we are more than aware when the drain
on our energy is becoming too great. Yet we persevere, because a loved one
needs us. This is especially true for INFJ, INFP, ISFJ, or ISFP personality
types, who often find themselves used repeatedly as a sounding board for
friends and family.
Being an emotional sponge, especially if your own needs
aren’t being met, can be difficult to deal with. You may find yourself becoming
used to pushing your own needs aside to look after someone else, or being the
one who always compromises in a relationship to keep the other person happy. Or
you may be the friend who always referees drama to keep the peace. When this
happens, you might start to think that your needs are less important than the
needs of others. This is not true. Your needs are just as important as those
around you, even if you typically give less priority to addressing them. It can
feel like a negative, downward spiral, one you cannot escape from, leaving you
with no alternative but to withdraw, exhausted, to a dark corner until you’re
ready to resurface again.
To overcome this cycle, you must develop self-compassion,
which turns self-judging into something more positive. It can be hard for you
to ask for help. I certainly feel like I’m wasting someone’s time when I bring
up my own woes, yet I’d never think that of anyone who turned to me for advice
or help! I’d never put someone down for messing up a dinner reservation or a
project at work, yet I’m unbelievably harsh on myself for the same slip-ups.
We’re kind and compassionate to our friends, yet we can be overly critical of
ourselves and our perceived failures.
A mistake is what you make of it, and failure is not the end
of the world. Seeing “mistakes” for what they are (opportunities), is a good
step towards self-compassion. It’s why they say forgiving is more for your
benefit than the person who wronged you. Without self-compassion, you cannot
forgive, and you’ll hold onto that resentment in your heart until you let it go.
So how do you recharge your emotional resources when you
feel burned out and regain vital energy? Here are some tips:
1. Make your mantra “my needs are just as important as other
people’s needs.” It’s not wrong or bad to do things for yourself—things that
make you happy—and you should never feel guilty for it. I used to beat myself
up for “wasting” a day and having a weekend where the most productive thing I
did was take a shower. Now, though, I actively encourage others to do things
2. Dedicate “me” time every week. Or even better, every
day, but we all know life gets in the
way. Even an hour to yourself can do wonders. Do things that refresh you and
recharge your precious energy. Take a bubble bath. Really, take one. Treat
yourself to the fancy bubbles that smell divine; the ones that were a gift,
still in the packaging at the bottom of the bathroom cabinet.
3. Treat yourself. Make hot chocolate. Eat delicious food.
Snuggle up with a pet or loved one. Listen to music. Watch an old movie, one
that makes you laugh until you cry, preferably one you’ve already seen a
hundred times over. Take a nap.
4. Get creative. Write in your journal or take a stab at
that novel you’ve always wanted to start. Draw, paint, doodle, knit, or
crochet. Take a stroll to a craft fair and buy something for your
home—something that lifts your spirits.
Our patience is not infinite, and neither is our energy. You
cannot starve yourself and expect your body to function at its peak, and the
same is true of your emotional energy. Feed your soul with things that help
you. Rest is a big part of it, but things that uplift you and bring you joy
should definitely be at the top of the list.
Remember, we’re our own worst critic. We don’t need to make
things worse for ourselves, because the world is harsh enough. Take time out
when you feel you’re beginning to get stressed. Take a step back and focus on
you. Your needs and desires are important. How you feel is important. We should
remind ourselves of that from time to time. Whenever you’re feeling low,
dedicate an afternoon or an evening to yourself. It’s amazing how strong we
sensitive introverts can be, and catering to our needs every once in a while
certainly isn’t selfish—it’s absolutely necessary.
Fellow introverts, when was the last time you spent
restorative time alone? When was the last time you did something just for
yourself? If it was so far back that you can’t remember it, or all you remember
is wanting to do something for yourself but pushing it to the side in favor of
what someone else wanted to do, then the time to focus on you is now. Put
yourself at the top of your priority list, say yes to what you want to do, and
recharge your emotional resources. You’ll be amazed at how empowering it can be
when you truly look after yourself.
IntroversionPosted by Lauren 11 Nov, 2016 11:22:52
I’ve always struggled to fit in. I
daresay most introverts have experienced the feeling of being an “outsider”
more than once—particularly during childhood and adolescence.
Most of the people I knew from primary
school went to the same high school as me. So when it came time to start high
school, I wasn’t particularly apprehensive. I figured I knew people already,
plus I’d make some new friends, and things would continue pretty much as they
always had. I wouldn’t say I was popular, but I had always felt safe and
confident and had a small circle of friends with whom I felt comfortable.
However, that wasn’t the case. Things
changed radically in high school. Trying to fit in suddenly revolved around
things I couldn’t do, or didn’t know how. Outgoing behaviour was favoured. The
small group of friends I had (small is relative–I had two friends) were
developing their own strong personalities. They were quite happy to socialize
with the loud, rambunctious kids who sat just outside the school building to
eat lunch. Some of their new friends taunted me for being quiet and shy, and
when I suggested staying inside for lunch, it was met with dismissal.
I couldn’t understand it. It was the
first time in my life I really realized how different I was.
When I was made to go outside, I felt
more alone than ever in the big, noisy crowd. It was like everyone had taken
some class to learn how to “be.” I felt I’d somehow missed that class and was
forever trying to catch up. I tried to pretend I knew what I was doing, but I
still felt out of place.
Library Became My Safe Haven
The small seed of doubt that something
was wrong with me grew every year that followed. I did not enjoy large classes
where everyone messed around–I preferred a quiet learning environment. I did
not enjoy lunch breaks–loud canteens full of shouting and screaming, and the
outdoor areas weren’t any better either. I would stow away in the library, find
a hidden desk between rows of books, and sneak mouthfuls of food in between
working or thumbing through the pages of the novel I was currently reading. The
sweet relief I felt in my own company, away from loud noises, bright lights,
and too much going on, was heavenly. It was 45 minutes where I could rest and
recharge, and brace myself for the rest of the afternoon, and my woeful
attempts to belong.
It also served a secondary purpose: I
was bullied mercilessly throughout high school. But those who would taunt me
would never be found in the library, so it became my safe haven for many
Becoming quieter and keeping myself out
of sight was my best tactic. If I was quiet, no one would notice me. If no one
noticed me, I wouldn’t be picked on. But it did nothing to enhance my already
low self-esteem. It became day after day of “just getting through” in a chaotic
world which seemed to favour extroverts and attention-seekers.
The feeling of not fitting in (and not
knowing how to fit in) grew as I went to college and then on to university.
Students seemed to want nothing more than to drink all day and do no school
work. It was a culture I tried, and failed, again, to fit into. Becoming
intoxicated in an unfamiliar, cramped, dimly-lit club surrounded by people
gyrating all around me was not my idea of fun. It was a living hell.
I stopped drinking. I was labelled as
boring, dull, weird. I certainly felt it. After all, everybody else was doing
these things and actually enjoying it. For a long time, I thought I was the
only person on the planet who didn’t. There had to be something wrong with me.
Other girls would dress in short skirts
and low cut tops, and giggle at the attention they received from boys and men.
I purposely wore baggy clothes and oversized jumpers. Having someone’s
attention on me was the worst thing I could think of–I’d freeze up, the typical
deer in headlights. I couldn’t understand why they were going to such lengths
to get the attention I feared. They would dance in the spotlight and crave
every pair of eyes on them. I’d hide in the shadows and pray I wouldn’t be
I always knew I was shy and quiet. Every
school report stated it. Friends and family told me. It was always seen as
something “wrong” and “bad” and “not right.” If only I could “get out of my
shell more,” I’d be okay. Yet every time I tried, I felt sick. I was being
inauthentic; something I now understand goes against part of my core beliefs. I
couldn’t stand falseness. Why was it so important for me to be loud and
outgoing if, whenever I tried, I knew I wasn’t being me?
My Introversion Changed My Life
Post-university, where I’d studied
psychology, I began to turn inwards and reflect. I researched more of the
things I’d learned while earning my degree, and investigated the Myers-Briggs
Type Indicator. When I found out I was an introvert, and specifically, an INFJ
personality type, it felt like everything clicked into place. I suddenly
understood why I felt the way I felt and responded the way I did. But mostly, I
realized I was not broken. I was normal. I did fit in, though not in the way I
thought I had to.
It was okay to feel what I felt. I did
not need to pretend to be something I was not.
I felt liberated. I began to offer
myself the same compassion I so freely and willingly gave to those around me. I
told myself, repeatedly, it was okay to skip a party or decline an invitation.
It was okay to say no to things and not feel I had to behave in a certain way
to fit in. It was okay to only do what I wanted to do. That by being true to
myself, and being authentic, was by far the best way for me to live. True
friends would remain, and I’d make long-lasting connections with people who
valued me for me–not what I portrayed or pretended to be.
My advice to you, fellow introverts, is
to love yourself and be patient with yourself. It’s so important. We’re all so
keen to make sure everyone thinks of us in the best way that we forget to take
care of ourselves. Life is not a competition, and your worth should not be
measured by traits like talkativeness and how outgoing you are. What about
kindness, respect, and compassion? These are the traits I value in myself and
in others, so I will continue to champion them.
Fitting in is not the be all and end all
of life. Loving yourself and accepting who you are… that’s more important, I
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