Tag Archives: communication

Essential Guidelines for Introverts Living in an Extrovert’s World

The original version of this article was published on JenniferTwardowski.com on August 7, 2013 as one of my very first articles.

I’m an introvert.

Always have been and always will be. My energy drains quickly when I have to be around groups of people for a long period of time and sometimes it takes days for me to fully recharge.

Though I love teaching and leading others, I hate being the center of attention and would prefer one-on-one interaction any day over being in a group.

If you’re an introvert yourself, you know exactly where I’m coming from.

As an introvert and recovering co-dependent with this underlying desire to “please” people, there were times where I really felt unsettled and out of control. I felt like I just kept going down this assembly line of social expectation just because everybody else seemed to be doing it. Until, of course, I reached a moment where all I really wanted to do was jump off and run out of the building.

Not really the best way to handle things is it?

So here are a few general guidelines that I’ve found work for me to help maintain a balance between social connection and alone time:

1. Know that it’s OK to leave a social event early.

If you’re at a social event and you’re completely drained, tired, and all you want to do is go home and recharge, then know that it’s OK to leave early. You can say something like, “Sorry, I’m feeling tired so I’m going to head home.  I’ll catch up with you later”.

There is absolutely nothing wrong in leaving an event early! Honor yourself by acknowledging your own feelings and you’ll feel much better!

2. Set one-on-one meet times with friends.

If you’re at all like me and do so much better communicating one-on-one than in groups, then set regular times to meet one-on-one with friends. Set up regular weekly meet-up with the same friend for coffee, lunch or dinner or you may want to switch it up as you feel it’s appropriate.

If your friend happens to be an extrovert, then they may not always understand your intent for “one-on-one time.” So in order to avoid them bringing other people along, you can let them know that you only want to spend time with them. There’s nothing wrong in saying something like, “Hey I’m setting this up so only the two of us can chat cause I’d really like just spend time with you. So if you don’t bring anyone else I’d really appreciate it”.

And if they ask if they can bring someone along, then there’s nothing wrong with saying, “I’d rather you not bring them” if you don’t feel comfortable with it right now.

3. Set some time in your week for your own “introvert time.” 

If you’re constantly around people at work or school and then come home to be around people again, then be sure to set some time for your own alone time. Exercise by yourself or spend some time reading or writing early in the morning or late at night. Perhaps even set time every week to paint, make crafts, play music, or some other hobby to do by yourself.

In America, it seems that the common place for introverts to hang out are at coffee shops. There is the noise of coffee makers and quiet conversation, but it can generally the introvert’s dream place to read or do some extra work without being bothered.

If, at any moment, you’re struggling to find a balance between your recharge time and social time and you’re not sure what to do, then honor your feelings in that moment. If you are feeling drained or overwhelmed, then acknowledge that you are feeling that way and do what you feel is needed to feel better. You and only you have the ability to be fully aware of your feelings and are able to act in accordance to them. Nobody else can or is responsible to do that for you.

AwareOfOwnFeelings

Click to Tweet: You & only you have the ability to be fully aware of your feelings & are able to act in accordance to them. via @jenilyn8705

Take action now!

If you’re an introvert, how can you adjust you day today to have more quiet time for yourself? Maybe get up earlier or stay up late? What can you do to help balance your relationships? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

5 Steps to Stop Blaming Others in Your Relationships

Blame. It’s one of those things that seem to be a part of all kinds of relationships. It’s in our relationships with family members, with our partners or spouse, with friends and it can even be with our co-workers.

If we aren’t mindful over our habits of blaming others then it can become detrimental to the relationship. So how can you stop blaming others in your relationships? Here are 5 steps:

#1 – Recognize when you’re blaming.

Examples of blaming include (but aren’t limited t0) saying things like: “You never call me when you’re going to be home late”, “You’re too sensitive”, “You’re too needy”, “You never do the dishes when I ask you to”, “You need to change” “You never listen to me” or “You caused all these problems yourself”.

What is a common word in any of these examples? Yep, that’s right it’s saying “you”. It’s all “you did X” or “you did Y”. Sometimes there is also the element of saying the word “never” as well, which is clearly just an exaggeration. It’s not necessarily that the person “never” does what you ask, but that they don’t do it sometimes.

So the first step of the battle is being sure that we catch ourselves getting into the habit of blaming.

#2 – Take a moment to get centered.

Often when we are blaming it’s not that we are doing it from a balanced and centered place. We aren’t thinking and seeing things clearly. More than likely, we’re stressed out because of various things that happened during our day or triggered by something.

So immediately after recognizing that you’re doing the “blame game” be sure to stop and take some time to get centered in yourself. Take some deep breaths. Walk around a little bit. Jump or shake your arms to let out the stress and tension of it all. Look around at the different items in the room.

Any of these little tools can help you to get centered back into yourself so you can think clearly and respond to the situation in an effective way rather than to just mindlessly react to what is happening, like most of us do often.

#3 – Recognize that you and this other person are both equals.

When we’re blaming, we are coming from this mentality of “You’re wrong and I’m right”. It involves putting yourself on a pedestal and making yourself appear all perfect and good, then condemning the other person and making them appear imperfect, flawed, and wrong.

Not exactly something we want to be doing in a marriage where both people are meant to be equals, right?

Exactly. Yet, unfortunately being in a continuous state of blaming can often be one of the big causes for divorce.

So, it’s important to recognize this illusionary thinking that blocks us from truly experiencing and expressing love.

#4 – Own your own experience.

Once you’ve gotten centered and recognized that you and this other person are both truly equals, it’s time to really own your own experience. So check in with yourself and ask: How am I feeling about this situation? What do I think about this situation?

Once you have identified your thoughts and feelings, phrase them into an “I” statement. For instance, you may want to say something like, “I’m angry because there is a mess in the living room” or “I feel upset because I don’t think we talk as much anymore”.

Be sure that when using these statements that you don’t say something like “I feel you’re not listening to me” — because that is not true. That is a thought and not a feeling. So be sure that you’re identifying an emotion if you use the word “feel”, because if we don’t the other person will likely still think they are being blamed.

Don’t believe me? Reflect back on times where people have told you something like “I feel like you don’t care about cleaning up the apartment”. What’s your initial reaction? It makes a difference.

Finally, when you’re making an “I” statement be sure that you don’t fall into the blame game again by saying something like “I’m upset because you don’t listen to me”. There is still a “you” there.

So be sure to really own your own experience and take responsibility.

#5 – Apologize.

If you’ve said something where you were really blaming the other person, then be sure to apologize to them. If you’re dating or married to this person, be sure you express your love and affection to them. Doing so will help bring the two of you closer to each other and help deepen the relationship.

BlamingPartner

Click to Tweet: If you’ve been blaming your partner, be sure to apologize & express your love to them. It’ll bring the two of you closer. via @jenilyn8705

Take action now!

How have you been blaming in your life? Share it in the comments below!

How to Deal with Aggressive People

Aggressive People.  We’ve all dealt with someone who is being pretty aggressive at some point in our lives.

You know, that person that interrupts you when you are trying to speak — or, they simply talk louder whenever you try to speak.  That person who doesn’t seem to allow your own point of view and input.  That person who you feel really crosses your boundaries and makes you feel energetically exhausted.

Dealing with people who have these tendencies can be quite draining and, without a solid balance of both assertiveness and empathy, can create a lot of tension in our relationships with them.

Here are several things to keep in mind whenever you find yourself dealing with aggressive people:

Remain calm.

The absolute most important thing to do when dealing with someone who is being aggressive to you is to be calm and grounded.  Whenever we are stressed, angry, and ready to really duke it out with them, then we’re certainly not going to make any kind of progress.

As the old saying goes, “You can’t fight fire with fire”.  So we have to be sure that we are calm and ready to openly discuss the issue.  This will not only benefit you by being able to self-control, but it will also help the other person calm down as well.

So when you find yourself in the presence of or in an interaction with someone who is being a bit aggressive, then stop and take a brief moment to take a few really deep breaths to get yourself centered.

Empathize with the other person.

When another person is being kind of aggressive, more often than not, it’s because they’re stressed.  Maybe they have a lot of work on their plate that is making them feel overwhelmed.  Maybe they are low on sleep or they haven’t eaten lunch that day.  Maybe they are still frustrated from dealing with the crazy traffic that they were just in and haven’t had a chance to “wind down” from that yet.

Whatever the case, it’s important to know and recognize that the other person is stressed.  Understanding this will help us to be more compassionate in any of our communications with them about the issue.

CompassionInCommunication

Tweet: By empathizing with another, we allow ourselves to be more compassionate in our communication with them. @jenilyn8705

Express your concern.

Next, it’s important to express your concern with the other person.  As a stated earlier, often times a person is acting aggressive because they are stressed.  Therefore, it’s also important to keep in mind that, because they are stressed, it is very likely that the person is not consciously aware of what they are doing.  It is likely that they are simply just acting on autopilot and have absolutely no idea what they are doing.

Because of this, it is important that we respond in a sensitive manner.  We don’t want to aggressively say, “Stop interrupting me and listen!” in response.  Instead, you may want to try to make an empathetic statement like, “You seem really stressed” or “You’re talking very loudly”.  This will help knock them out of this place of being unaware of themselves and be more conscious over what they are doing.  As a result, it can help the person be more open to hearing whatever you say.

Next, you may want to try expressing your concern by saying something like, “I’m sorry, but I’m trying to say something and it seems like you are not letting me talk” or “Excuse me, but can I say something?”

Be honest with yourself.

Do you tend to be aggressive as well from time to time?  Even the most sensitive, quiet, and kind people can still have a tendency to be aggressive from time to time when under stress.  So be sure to ask your loved ones about how your behavior effects them as well.

Talk about it.

Depending on the kind of relationship (for instance, if this aggressive person is a romantic partner, a friend, or family member), then you may want to have a discussion about their aggressive behavior.  Maybe you can both come to an agreement about what the other person does when one of you is acting kind of aggressively.  It may be that you decide to give one of you a loving reminder by saying “You’re doing it again” or by giving them a simple tap on the shoulder or hand to let them know that they are doing it.

By talking about it and making an agreement with the other person, you allow the two of you to be more loving towards each other and you allow the relationship to deepen.

Take action now!

Think of a time when someone was being fairly aggressive towards you:  Maybe there is someone at work at tends to interrupt you or maybe your partner does.  How can you take better care of yourself in this relationship?  What can you say to them or discuss with them that will help make your relationship feel more balanced?

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

5 Things Women Need to Remember to Create The Best Life Imaginable

We all want the best life imaginable.  We want fulfilling relationships filled with love and connection and a career that we never get tired of.

But how many of us women actually KNOW how to create that for ourselves?  I mean, heck, as women we don’t have nearly as many role models to look to for inspiration and guidance on how to truly create the best lives for ourselves.

It’s easy to just sit and wonder puzzled over where to even begin.  So here are 5 things that every woman needs to remember in order to create the life of their dreams.

No person or thing else can make us happy – we have to give that to ourselves!

The habit that many of us fall into is thinking that other people and things are going to fulfill us.  We buy a brand new Gucci purse thinking that’s going to make our lack of emotional fulfillment in our job feel so much better.  We latch on to our new boyfriend with this underlying belief that “he will complete us” in some way.

The “tough love” truth here is that NONE of those things are going to make you fulfilled – or, at least, not for very long.  The only way that we can make ourselves happy and fulfilled is by doing things to give it to ourselves.

So stop and ask yourself: What activities make me happy?  What makes me feel happy and fulfilled as I do it?  Then start incorporating that into your daily life!

ALL emotions are valid.

Many of us women are either taught by our families or ex-boyfriends that our feelings and ridiculous and we simply just shouldn’t have them.  Well I’m here to tell you that is completely RIDICULOUS!  Emotions are the underlying drive to everything that happens in this world.

So rather than fall into the classic mental trap of “Oh I can’t express this emotion because people will think its ridiculous”, change the mindset to “This is my emotion.  It is real, it is valid, and it deserves to be nourished”.

Take care of yourself.  Except how you feel and do what you need to make yourself feel better.

Each and every one of us is struggle with our own unique battle.

Every single person is struggling in this world and, because of that, every single person is doing the best they can do at this point in time.  When we fully accept that, we can save ourselves a lot of unnecessary stress.

We can’t create the life of our dreams if we’re living someone else’s life.

Be willing to express your uniqueness to the world.  If every female in your family is a nurse and you don’t want to be a nurse, then don’t do it!  Be YOU.  Do what is best for YOU, not what other’s expect of you.

We ALL deserve the best life imaginable.

The single biggest reason many of us struggle to create the life of our dreams is because we don’t BELIEVE we deserve it.  There’s always that little voice in our heads that tells us “Why do I deserve the life of my dreams?”  Well, who and what says that you DON’T deserve it?  You are a wonderful human being and deserve to receive all the things your heart desires.  The more you believe that deep within yourself, the closer you get to achieving it.

best life

Tweet: Tweet: “You are a wonderful human being and deserve to receive all the things your heart desires.” ~ @jenilyn8705

Which of these 5 tips rings most true for you right now?  Share it in the comments below!

The Simple Shift in Communication That Will Transform Your Relationships

Relationships are complex. In fact, I’d actually go so far as to say that they are probably one of the most complex things in this world. There’s a lot of different aspects and dynamics to take into consideration when trying to improve relationships.

Yet, despite the intense complexity, there are some super simple shifts in communication that we can make in order to transform the dynamics of our relationships.

The one that I am going to address today is probably one of the most important. It has nothing to do with changing your communication in order to accommodate to the other person. In fact, it has little do do with others at all. Rather, it all boils down to you being able to really focus on you.

The simple shift in communication? To speak in a way that uses the word “I” or “me” in order to clearly state how you feel to others.

For those of us that are people pleasers, this simple little change in communication can be very difficult because we are so familiar and comfortable with focusing on other people rather than ourselves. It is also likely that we are surrounded by friends and family members who focus predominantly on others as well, so it is harder for us to make the change. However, when conscious effort is made it can make a huge difference in clearly establishing where another person ends and you begin.

Many of us are walking around talking about or complaining about other people and things. We spend all of our energy saying thinks like “Jack didn’t do X, Y, Z” or “Sally has Z going on in her life now” but we never actually say what is going on with ourselves. Rarely do we ever simply talk about us.

Not only that, but in the moments when we are attempting to refer to our own experience we talk in general terms like “Dealing with X was so frustrating”. Other times we state our frustrations but focus completely on the other person by saying something like “Jake is such a pain. He never gets his work done in time”.

Other times, we may even do the thing that’s even worse: We refer to the other person when we really mean to be talking about ourselves (I used to be terrible at this). We may do this by saying something like “You know, dealing with Maggie is very stressful” or “You know how hard it is.”

When we express our frustrations and emotions like this we are actually detaching ourselves from our own personal experience. In other words, our way of communication basically telling the world, “I’m not owning my own experience. I’m not acknowledging how I’m feeling. I’m not taking personal responsibility for my own experience.” Rather, we focus on the experience of the other person when what we should really be doing is identifying how we feel and what is difficult for us.

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So what does this shift in communication look like in context? Here are some examples:

“My mom keeps ticking me off. She keeps complaining about X, Y, Z and doing…” can instead be “I feel so stressed and upset because my mom does…”

“My ex-boyfriend had so many problems that I didn’t even know how to deal with it…” can turn into “Dating my ex-boyfriend was really hard for me, because…”

“There’s so much work I have to do for school. Why do they have to give us so much work?” can turn into “I feel overwhelmed with all of the schoolwork I have to do right now.”

Ultimately, it’s not very proactive to continuously talk about other people and how they are impacting us. It’s more proactive to simply state how we feel and express our own experience by expressing it using “I” or “me” in our sentences and to state how we feel.

By doing this, we actually open the door to allow ourselves to receive the very thing that we desire deep down: Emotional support and understanding.

Upon making these types of statements to clearly stating how this experience impacts us, we can then take the next step and (if others are open to it) say what we need right now. That can simply be a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, or advice.

Being clear, open, and honest about how you feel through your communication with others can really help transform an imbalanced relationship into a balanced and supportive one.

Today, I challenge you…

… to start focusing more on how you feel and to begin to share your experiences by using the words “I” and “me” and to state how you feel.

Get out a pen and paper or journal. Write down a stressful or difficult event or experience from this past week that you have had that you shared with someone.

How did you tell this person the story about your experience? Did you mostly talk about other people involved? Did you say things like “you know”?

Now imagine as if you went back in time to the moment that you shared your story with this person. How could you have told this story differently? How did you feel during this initial event? Stressed? Sad? Upset? Angry? Frustrated? Anxious? Irritated? Write down three sentences that you could have said instead using the words “I” and “me” to describe your initial feelings.

Next time you find yourself in conversation with someone sharing stories try to be conscious of your words when you speak. Try using the words “I” or “me” more often.

*Note: Be easy on yourself when doing this. It will be easier around some people and more difficult in others. That’s okay. It’s a journey and takes a lot of practice. There will likely be times where you reflect back and catch yourself not saying things the way you wanted to say it – that’s okay! The effort is what counts.

Share your thoughts, comments, questions, and realizations below!

3 Signs That It’s Time to Break-Up

Are you debating on a break-up?  Are your wishing your relationship was better than it is? Are you feeling

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just, generally, unfulfilled?

Don’t worry I’ve been there enough times and, to top it off, regardless of how unfulfilled I was I often felt so bad over the idea of breaking up someone that I stuck it out longer than I should have. There was this idealistic part of me that kept thinking “Maybe if we just work on X, Y, and Z this will all be okay”.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out like that. So here are some sure signs that it may be time to break-up.

Communication is a constant challenge.

There is no relationship out there where both people understand each other 100% of the time. I do believe that communication is something that we have to constantly work on – it’s just a part of being human. However, if the communication is such a barrier that you feel like it’s difficult for both of you to even get on the same page, then it’s time to break-up with him. If you hold it out when communication is that difficult, then it will ultimately only limit your growth rather than help you to grow. You’ll know you’re with the right person when you have conversations where you seem to effortlessly “meet” to a point of mutual understanding.

 

You feel like you can’t have your own separate view or opinion.

This can be some tricky business. Hence why probably most couples who end up together have the same political or religions views. Yet, even in these situations where you both support the same political candidate, there needs to be some room to have your own separate opinion on matters. If you’re always compliant then there is no separate “him” and “you”, which, in my book, is a big red flag. However, seeing the slightest sign of this doesn’t automatically mean that you need to call him right now to break-up.  Instead, recognize and acknowledge your tendency to do this.  Do some work on yourself, learn what your own beliefs and thoughts are, and talk about it with your partner. If he is understanding and willing it work on trying to maintain a sense of individuality between the both of you, then he’s a keeper. Though, I must say, we are creatures of habit so changes are much easier said than done. Changing the relationship dynamics can take a lot of time, dedication and effort… which, I feel, can be a good test for how dedicated you both  are.  However, if through your efforts you just get the vibe that he will never fully accept you as you are then it’s time to break-up and move on.

 

He frequently bursts out in anger whenever you mention something that you need or simply bursts out in anger for reasons you don’t understand.

There are guys out there that struggle with anger. While I feel anger is a normal emotion and should be nourished rather condemned like every emotion, there is a line between tolerable and intolerable. If you express something that you need or want from him and he bursts out in anger, then it’s time to leave. If you want to have a discussion over a serious issues and he burst out in anger, then it’s time to leave. If he bursts out in anger at you for things that you honestly have no idea over, then leave. Everyone gets angry once in awhile, but if it’s frequent then those are problems that he has to learn to deal with himself – it is not your responsibility. Know and fully believe that you deserve better.

Ultimately, I believe that YOU and ONLY YOU are able to adequately determine when you should break-up with the person you’re seeing. These are just some mere suggestions according to my experience. Relationships are very complex and there is wide variety of potential different scenarios. At the end of the day, trust your instincts.  Can you honestly see yourself able to grow and evolve as an individual while being with this person?  And there’s your answer.

 

Share your experiences below!

Have you ever had to break-up with anyone before?  How did you know when it was time?  What was your reason?  If you think you waited too long to break-up with an ex-boyfriend, why do you think you should’ve done it sooner?  What kinds of stress did it cause you?