10 Confessions of a Socially Anxious Introvert

For introverts like me, learning about your personality is often a huge relief. We read books like Susan Cain’s Quiet, Marti Olsen Laney’s The Introvert Advantage, or Laurie Helgoe’s Introvert Power and we marvel that there are other people like us. We’re not alone anymore. All our weirdness finally makes sense.

Except, introversion didn’t explain everything about my personality. Those writing about introversion were careful to point out that it isn’t the same thing as shyness. I was shy, though, so how did I fit in? Learning from Elaine Aron’s books that I’m a highly sensitive person helped explain why certain environments and situations feel overwhelming, but it didn’t explain the racing heart, sweaty palms, and anxious thoughts that followed me into interactions with people.

I had my first panic attack in a Blockbuster when I was about 14 or 15 years old. That was when I realized there was something going on other than just shyness. Another 15 years later and I now know that I struggle with generalized anxiety, social anxiety, and depression. I won’t get into all that here but if you’re curious you can click to read “My Anxiety Story.”

One of the good things that has come out of all this is that I can write about introversion, social anxiety, and what it means to have both. I can’t speak for everyone, though. Our personalities and anxieties are highly individual and if you’re socially anxious it’s going to be a different experience for you than it is for me. There are commonalities, however, and I think there’s a good chance you’ll identify with some of my confessions as a socially anxious introvert. Read more

Taking Responsibility for Our Own Feelings and Learning to Talk about Complicated Issues in Today’s Society

I love getting into deep, complicated discussions with people. For example, what are the political and social implications of the fact that people who score high in the personality trait Conscientiousness tend to identify as conservative and those who score high in Openness tending to identify as liberal? Or what does it mean to “live your truth” and can one do that as a Christian while still accepting God’s truth as the absolute moral authority?

Talking about those sorts of things (or even just listening) makes me come alive. This is one reason I love podcasts that deep-dive into complicated topics. Two of the most recent were “The Heart of the Abortion Debate” from Crossway Podcast and “Radical Self-Discovery with Jator Pierre” from the Awaken With JP Sears Show. On this latter one, they opened with talking about “this interesting, tight-knitted, hyper-constricted PC culture” and the question, “Why the hell do you think we’re so PC here in 2019?”

This latter question went in a curious direction that I’ve been pondering for more than a week now. Because PC topics are so emotionally charged, “many of us become emotionally blinded and we don’t bring in a lot of logic,” to quote Jator Pierre. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that most of us don’t know how to take responsibility for how we feel or how to effectively communicate and share in a back-and-forth dialogue.

Taking Away Voices

Wikipedia says the term political correctness “is used to describe language, policies, or measures that are intended to avoid offense or disadvantage to members of particular groups in society.” It sounds good in theory, but in practice it has turned into a culture where certain people try to silence any ideas or words that offed them without caring how that might affect others outside the PC-protected groups. Instead of seeing words as vehicles to communicate different viewpoints and facilitate dialogue, they see words as violent and react defensively.

“Not many of us are taught how to communicate, how to share, how to dialogue, how to hear, how to reflect, and how to notice when we’re emotionally charged to be able to take maybe a step back for a second or two to feel what’s coming up, to notice what’s coming up, and then to continue on with a dialogue. Most of us go into a defended posture, in my experience, and then go on the attack.” — Jator Pierre

It also has the side-effect of encouraging the offended person blame others for how they feel. We’re heading toward a culture where people think they have a right to avoid being offended by someone else. What they don’t realize or care about is that their refusal to hear offensive things leads to them hurting and/or shutting down others who don’t agree with them. Instead of bringing people together the PC movement creates further polarization and enmity. Read more

Cultivating Patience For Spiritual and Personal Growth

Patience isn’t something many of us want to take seriously. We joke about how impatient we are. We fume when stuck behind a driver going even a few miles per hour below the speed limit. We abandon time-consuming projects for something faster and more interesting. We gobble up as much instant gratification as we possibly can.

Impatience is easy. Patience takes work. And, as with many things, the option that requires some hard work is by far the most rewarding. Cultivating patience can improve our health and our relationships. It’s also an important tool for personal and spiritual growth, which is the context today’s post is going to focus on.

Defining Patience

If you research the word “patience,” you’ll find that it comes from the Latin word patientia, which literally refers to the “quality of suffering.” In modern usage, we define it as “the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.” Related words include forbearance, tolerance, self-restraint, resignation, stoicism, fortitude, and endurance.

I’m no linguist, but one of the languages I have studied a little is Biblical Greek and in doing so I discovered something about patience that I find fascinating. In the Greek New Testament, there are two words for patience. “Hupomone (5281) is exercised toward things and circumstances, while makrothumia is exercised toward people” (Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete WordStudy Dictionary, entry 3116). Both are key to experiencing growth and cultivating a more patient lifestyle. Read more

“Are We There Yet?” — Dealing With Impatience In Spiritual and Personal Growth

Our journeys often seem very long. Whether you’re a little one in the back seat of the car thinking we should have made it to the pool by now, or a young person waiting for the end of high school, or an adult hoping for a breakthrough in your career, we can all get impatient. “Are we there yet?” we ask, because it feels like by now we should be.

We ask this question for all sorts of things. Journeys by foot, by car, by plane. Journeys of faith and personal growth. Relationship journeys, career journeys, learning journeys. We get impatient and we want to see how things will turn out.

Are we there yet?

Why aren’t we there yet?

When will we get there?

But are these really the right questions, especially for journeys of spiritual and personal growth? Maybe instead of impatiently pushing through the in-between times or abandoning one goal for another, we should focus on seeing what we can learn from the journey.

Impatience and The Cost of Growth

In his excellent article “The 7 Laws of Impatience,” Jim Stone, PhD, states that “Impatience is triggered when we have a goal, and realize it’s going to cost us more than we thought to reach it.” Here are some examples:

  • You’re trying to get a new type of job, and you realize you need additional schooling to qualify for the position(s) you want. You realize that achieving this goal will cost more than you expected in terms of time and money.
  • You’re working on a creative project, but get distracted by some other project. Achieving your first goal is going to cost putting the other goal on the back-burner.
  • You start a personal growth journey toward a goal such as reducing anxiety, improving your social skills, or to stop procrastinating. As you work on this goal, you realize this issue goes deeper than you expected, is going to take longer to work through, and/or might require counseling. Now achieving that goal will cost more in terms of time, vulnerability, and emotional resources.

When something like this happens, we get impatient. To quote Dr. Stone again, “Impatience motivates us to reduce the costs of reaching our goal, or to switch goals.” In some situations that can be a good thing, such as when we’re working on a project that’s going nowhere and it would be more efficient to switch goals. But in other cases it’s not helpful. Read more

What Does Your Soul Love? book review

Whenever I discover a new resource for helping us “find our true selves in the people God created us to be,” I like to make sure I share it with you. One of the most recent I’ve come across is What Does Your Soul Love? Eight Questions That Reveal God’s Work In You by Gem and Alan Fadling.

This is a book about discovering who you are by learning about how God is working inside you. I requested an ARC (advance review copy) through NetGalley because I thought it might be interesting. I wasn’t expecting it to make me think so much or encourage spiritual transformation and personal growth at such a deep level.

The authors ask readers a series of eight questions designed to cultivate “deeper awareness and soul focus.”

  1. What do you really want?
  2. What is getting in your way?
  3. Where are you hiding?
  4. What is most real to you?
  5. How are you suffering?
  6. What are you afraid of?
  7. What are you clinging to?
  8. What does your soul love?

With each chapter, they discuss a core aspect of who we are deep down inside. Desire, resistance, vulnerability, truth, pain, fear, control, joy – how we experience and relate to these things has a huge impact on who we are as people. As the chapters unfold, the Fadlings discuss each topic in depth and invite us to think about change in these areas as something that happens inwardly as a result of God’s work in us rather than as outward changes we need to try and make ourselves.

Reading this book has already inspired two posts on this blog: “Am I Living A Flesh Life Or A Spirit Life?” and “There’s Only One Sovereign, And It Isn’t Me.” I really like books that make me think about something so deeply that I’m inspired to write about it. I’ve already talked about some of my favorite quotes from this book in those posts, so I won’t go over them again. There are a few others I want to share with you, though:

“We don’t change so that we’ll be loved more by God. We are measurelessly loved by God, so we are free and enabled to change in all the ways we long for.”

“The first step toward peace is to accept what is. Notice I didn’t say condone what is; I said, accept what is. We must become people who acknowledge what is actually going on.”

“Obedience and confidence go together. When I go my own way, I go alone. When I walk with God, I go forward in good company.” — all quotes by Gem and Alan Fadling from What Does Your Soul Love?

That’s just a tiny sample of the nuggets of wisdom in this book. I really liked most of the content and it prompted me to think deeply about the personal growth work I’ve been doing lately. The book also includes exercises and reflection questions at the end of each chapter, which were hit-and-miss for me personally. Some were extremely helpful while others fell-flat.

I also didn’t resonate with many (though not all) of the authors’ personal examples and found myself skimming over them a few times. However, that was more of a personal preference than an issue with the book. Overall, I found the questions, content, and perspective on growth offered in What Does Your Soul Love? challenging in all the best ways. I highly recommend it for anyone interested in spiritual growth and development.


What Does Your Soul Love? comes out on September 17th. Click here to pre-order a copy of this book. Please note that this is an affiliate link, which means that at no additional cost to you I’ll receive a small commission if you clock on the link and place an order.

My thanks to InterVarsity Press, Gem and Alan Fadling, and NetGalley for an ARC of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Personality Type Myth-Busting: Is The Myers-Briggs® Test Only Useful For Entertainment?

Critics of the Myers-Briggs® test have a whole host of complaints to bring against it. The test isn’t valid because you can get different results if you retake it, it uses false/limited binaries, it doesn’t predict work performance — the list goes on and one. And at the end of these sorts of articles, the writers say, “The Myers-Briggs is useful for one thing: entertainment. … like a BuzzFeed quiz.”

Some of the criticisms are true, at least at face value (e.g. you can get different results from retaking the test). But others betray a fundamental misunderstanding of Myers-Briggs® theory (e.g. the idea that it relies on limited binaries/dichotomies). And still others arise from expecting Myers-Briggs® types to tell us something they were never designed to measure (e.g. whether or not you’ll do well in a certain job).

Clearly, I think personality types are useful for more than just entertainment or I wouldn’t be writing about them as much as I do. But do I have a good reason for thinking this? Is the Myers-Briggs® test and theory useful? The answer depends what you’re using it for. Read more