I think most people would tell you that one of the defining traits of introverts is that they are quiet. It’s even the name of one of the most popular introvert books — Quiet: The Power of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. This also happens to be the book that first got me started on studying and embracing introversion, and it’s still one of my favorite books.
But in the midst of this “quiet revolution” that’s pushing for greater acceptance of introversion, we might get the idea that all introverts are characterized by being soft-spoken people who rarely talk. However, that’s not entirely accurate and that’s not what really what Susan Cain meant when she named her book Quiet.
Confusing Introversion and Shyness
One of the most common mistakes regarding introversion is to assume it’s the same thing as shyness. But introversion is simply a description of how about 50% of the population’s brains are “hardwired.” It’s a preference for the inner world and a need to recharge in solitude. Shyness, on the other hand, is related to social anxiety. Read more →
The theater where my sister and I hold season tickets is getting the touring Broadway production of Dear Evan Hansen for its 2019/2020 season. Pretty exciting, right? Actually, I’m excited about the entire upcoming season. It’s packed full of musicals, and they’re all such good titles that I can’t say there’s one that I’m least exited to see.
I can, however, tell you that Dear Evan Hansen is one I’m most excited about. Two years ago, this musical was nominated for nine Tony Awards and won six, including Best Musical, Best Score, and Best Actor in a Musical for Ben Platt. And it more than earned those accolades with brilliant scrip, music, characters, and acting all coming together to tell a story that contributes to an important conversation about mental illness. Read more →
One of the things I’ve discovered in learning how to better handle my anxiety is that breathing helps.
I was kind of hoping when I started counseling I’d learn about a semi-magical secret trick to avoiding panic attacks and working through anxiety. And what did I find? Deep breathing. Turns out that it’s important to breath when you’re panicking. Who knew?
Different people who struggle with anxiety find different ways of managing it (EFT tapping, grounding techniques, deep breathing, etc). For me, grounding and breathing seem to work best, which I find interesting since I’ve been doing both for years through my yoga practice. I just needed to start using those tools more effectively in the rest of my life, not just for 15-45 minutes every morning.
It’s amazing what a difference focusing on the present moment, grounding yourself in the physical world, and forcing yourself to breath deep can make. And I’m assuming this would help whether you’re dealing with every-day anxieties or with having more long-term anxiety. The techniques seem almost too simple, but they work and if you’re starting to feel panicky the last thing you need is to try and remember some complicated method of calming down.
You don’t need to figure everything out, or get cured of anxiety, or conquer whatever mountain you’re climbing before you can start to feel better. Sometimes, all we need is to stop, breath, and tune-in to the present moment. To give ourselves permission to feel however it is we’re feeling rather than keep burying it or pressing on through.
Hopefully, taking the time to ground yourself and just breath will help cultivate a sense of peace. But if not, don’t beat yourself up over it. Treat yourself with the same kindness I’m sure you’d show someone you love who’s struggling. Self-care isn’t selfish — it’s essential (another thing I’m learning that now seems like it should have been obvious).
I’m not sure who needed this post (other than me), but I hope you’ll take some time for yourself today. Breath, tune-in, and take care of yourself. Be well my dear readers 🙂
I’ve never considered myself much of a leader. I like to stay out of the spotlight and play a supportive role. Part of it’s shyness/anxiety, part of it’s a normal trait of my INFJ personality type. Recently, though, I’ve found myself accidentally winding up in leadership roles.
For many introverts, especially if you’re shy and/or struggling with anxiety, this probably sounds like a recipe for a full-blown panic attack. But it’s actually going pretty well, and maybe you’ll find some of the things I’m learning encouraging if you ever find yourself in a similar situation.
It All Started With Dancing
I joined the dance team at my Messianic church several years ago, and within a year most of the dance team moved on to other things and there was just three of us left. New people quickly joined, but I suddenly found myself one of the most experienced dancers in the group. I had to keep learning quickly if I wanted to help teach, so it ended up making me a better dancer.
Then our dance leader started leaving me in charge when she had to be gone for a weekend. She even when to Alaska for a few weeks and turned keys, music files, instruction DVDs, and choice of what to dance each week over to me. I thought I’d spend most of the time panicking, but I didn’t and things went pretty well. I discovered I actually can handle being put in charge of something where I have to work with other people. Read more →
A lot of introvert-themed posts that you see around this time of year are things like “An Introverts Guide To Surviving the Holidays” or “How Not to Run In Terror From Your Extrovert Relatives.” That last one’s not an actual article, but it’s pretty close to some I’ve seen.
Often, writers of articles like this assume introverts don’t like people, that they’re always overwhelmed in social situations, and that they hate parties. But being on-edge in social situations, panicking when you have to interact with people, and going out of your way to avoid places where people gather aren’t actually signs of introversion. Those things are more a part of social anxiety.
Part of the reason for this confusion is that people don’t understand what being an introvert actually means. For example, (despite numerous complaints and petitions) if you Google “introvert definition” the first thing that comes up is “a shy, reticent person.” Only if you expand the Google result to see translations, word origin, and other definitions do you finally get something a little closer to the correct result: “a person predominantly concerned with their own thoughts and feelings rather than with external things.”
Being an introvert doesn’t make you socially awkward. It doesn’t mean you hate people. Being an introvert means that you’re born with a trait that gives you a preference for the internal world. It also means you re-charge better in quiet, low-stimulation environments (usually alone, but not always). Introverts might avoid parties, but if so they do it because they’d rather be somewhere else (like at home reading or hanging our with a small group of friends), not because they’re inherently shy or scared of interacting with others. Read more →
Every human being knows what it’s like to feel anxious about something, but that’s not the same thing as having anxiety. There’s a difference between normal anxiety (which is appropriate to the situation) and dealing with an anxiety disorder (which is a mental health condition).
In day-to-day life it’s actually really hard to define the line between normal worry and too much worry (as Dr. Ramani Durvasula says in “Why It’s So Crucial to Understand Anxiety Disorders“). What pushes you into problematic anxiety can vary depending on the individual. It will also vary for an individual depending on other factors in their lives. In addition, anxiety looks different for everyone who struggles with it. That means my personal examples in this article are an accurate reflection of my anxiety, but won’t be equally relatable for everyone with anxiety.
There are plenty of situations where it’s normal to feel anxious. But when anxiety starts to define your life, or keeps you from functioning normally, or generalizes to everyday situations, there’s a good chance you’re dealing with something different than normal human nervousness. Anxiety can also be a clue that something else is going on. If you think your worry might have crossed a line into too much worry, it’s a good idea to talk with a mental health professional.
Disclaimer: I’m not a counselor or therapist and this article can’t be used to diagnose anxiety or as a treatment guide. If you’re struggling with something talk with a mental health professional.They will be much more helpful than me. I also want to say that there’s nothing shameful about seeking answers or asking for help. And if you do get a diagnosis, remember it’s a starting point for treatment, not a sentence or judgement on who you are. You wouldn’t feel ashamed about finding out you have lyme disease or a heart condition, and there shouldn’t be a stigma against mental health problems either.Read more →