Do you consider yourself an introvert or an extravert? Recently I’ve met a lot of people who seem super social, but when I ask, tell me that they consider themselves deeply, happily introverted.
I totally relate to this. I love good conversation and am naturally curious. I ask a lot of questions – and genuinely care about the answers. But I also regularly need time to myself in a way that some might consider weird or antisocial.
This time is important because allows me to let experiences and their ramifications settle, to observe emotions bubble to the surface, and gain deeper insight and understanding of myself and the world around me.
Particularly after an intensive phase of extroversion, my introverted side savors the opportunity to reflect, learn and gather energy for what lies ahead. And when I don’t make time for this, it has a negative impact on my happiness and that of those around me.
Sometimes it gets ugly: I lash out at people I love. Not because of any failing on their part, but because I’ve failed to make time for what nourishes me (yoga, meditation, reading, writing, staring at the wall while listening to appropriately introverted music, etc).
This often happens because of a lingering nervousness regarding looking after myself first.
I’ve improved massively on this front: I used to self-sacrifice like a grade-A martyr. Those days are gone: Phew! But occasionally I still find myself doing what I think others want me to do, rather than what I truly need.
It happens when I’m tired, or emotionally vulnerable, or both. And ironically, pleasing others in this situation only makes things worse – I become more tired and less grounded. #Fail.
So I’m trying to observe closely: when my temper heats up, or sarcasm creeps in, I press pause. Even if I think the other person might be disappointed, I explain what’s happening and take time for myself. Sometimes it’s a matter of seconds and a deep breath gives me the space I need; sometimes it takes a little longer.
Inevitably I return to the situation happier and stronger. And that’s in everyone’s interest.