Tag Archives: personal responsibility

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!

It Starts With You

This past weekend I found myself in a little bit of a debate with my boyfriend.  It wasn’t like a full-out argument or anything like that, but it was just enough to ruffle my feathers a bit.

The truth is, I hate any kind of debates.  It just doesn’t sit well in my being.  All I ever want is for there to be harmony.  I’d take just some simple empathetic understanding over a more intellectual debate any day.

So when things got into a bit of a disagreement I found myself getting more and more frustrated, upset, and, honestly, just sad.

Shortly after the conversation ended, he came up and asked me, “How are you feeling?  Are you okay?  Was I being a jerk?”  This followed up with, “I’m asking because, well, I’m not good with all this emotional stuff”.

In that moment I kind of chuckled to myself a bit because he used the same exact words that I had used earlier that day when I had made a joke that I realized may have offended or hurt him.

It was in that moment that I fully realized: It all starts with me.

Many of us wish to have a fulfilling relationship.  We may desire to have more intimacy or a better connection.  We may wish our partner was more open and honest with us.  We may wish that our partner was more affectionate or more open to sharing their emotions.

Many of us desire these things but we struggle to get these things to happen and can’t understand why.  We wish that our partner would change.  “I wish he was more honest” or “I wish he was more aware of his own emotions” is what we may tell our friends.

Though it is true that the compatibility of each person’s unique traits are a huge factor in determining success of our relationships, it is also true that modeling the behavior you desire in the relationship yourself can drastically change the relationship for the better.

That is the mindset shift that many of us struggle to make and it keeps us in this place of suffering: That it is our own personal responsibility to model the change.  We fail to take personal responsibility.  We fail to realize our half of the equation and how our actions can dramatically impact the relationship.

Instead, many of us habitually focus on the external.  We focus on what we are getting or not getting.  “He’s not….” “She’s not…” are our common thought patterns.

But what we need to do is look back at ourselves and ask: What am I not doing?  How am I not allowing this to happen?  We have to realize the importance of our actions.  We have to be willing to step up and do the behavior we wish others would do so that we can help them develop their weak points.

Like Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”  What is it that you want to see in others?  Whatever it is, then be it!

starts with you

Here’s another example: For years I couldn’t understand why none of my boyfriends or friends would stand up and be honest about their feelings before a big “blow up” would happen.  Now I realize that they reason they did it with me is because I wasn’t being open and honest with my feelings.  I was off repressing all of my stuff and rather than openly sharing it with them.

As a result, they felt uncomfortable and it came out as a “blow up” rather than in a calm and collected manner.  Fortunately I now know that if I want other people to do be open and honest about how they feel then I myself have to be open and honest regularly and often.

The more we express and do the thing that we wish others would do, then the more they will do it.  The more that we embody what it is that we desire in others, they then feel more comfortable doing it with us.

So now it’s time for action…

(And seriously — do this!  Don’t just read it or do it in your head!)

Write down a list of things that you wish you had in your relationships.  What is something that you wish a partner, friend or family member would do for you?  Do you wish they were more honest?  More genuine?  More emotionally supportive?  More sensitive to your feelings?  More open to talk about conflict?  More vulnerable?  Write down whatever comes to mind right now.

After you make your list, look at each wish and very honestly ask yourself: Am I doing this in the relationship?  Am I really being genuine?  Am I really being honest?  Am I really being sensitive to their feelings?

Then reflect on how you can help bring more to that in the relationship.  How can you be more genuine or sensitive?  How can you be more supportive?  Search for ways that you can better embody what it is that you would like them to do through your actions towards them.