I had an “a-ha” moment recently I (ironically enough) want to share with you.
I recently realized that when I don’t do what I’m called to do it’s often because I don’t know how it is going to be understood by others. What is my response to “What are you doing for work these days?” And how do I make my business decisions make sense in my Instagram bio, About Me section and marketing to the public? Stress.
I’m not necessarily worried in a “I hope they don’t think I’m weird” type of way (weird is cool). It’s more in a “I don’t feel like explaining this and their confusion and distant response to my ideas bums me out” kind of way.
So for a long time, I walked around with the victim mentality that nobody gets me. Nobody understands what I’m doing. And to be honest, how can someone understand what I’m doing if I don’t know what I’m doing? I mean I kind of do but ultimately I don’t. And I am at peace with that and actually prefer to take it as it comes(Perceiving preference) - it’s others who might not understand. And that’s okay.
This is extra tough for people who prefer extroversion. Extroversion and introversion is the first preference pair described in the Myers-Briggs. This is in reference to where you are directing and receiving your energy. Those who prefer extroversion are gaining energy from the outside world, other people, environments beyond themselves. Those who prefer introversion gain their energy when they have the opportunity to concentrate and process internally.
My therapist has told me I have a “scary introverted place.” Shewwwwie she ain’t wrong. When I have too much time to myself and my mind, I can conjure up some pretty crazy shit. When I have the opportunity to bounce ideas off other people though, that is where I gain my energy and iron things out. Which can be great! But it can also hurt me at times.
So back to the “ah-ha” moment when it comes to doing or feeling things the way I’m called to do and think. I realized it’s not my preference for extroversion that’s hurting me. It’s my underdeveloped introversion that’s hurting me.
When I give myself the space to actually focus internally in a constructive way, I realize that I have all the information I need to make decisions in my life. I have everything I need. But as someone who prefers extroversion, I rarely give myself that opportunity. The second an idea pops into my brain I am on the phone with someone I can brainstorm with. The second I have an idea for my business or decision to change my path a bit, I tell my friends and family.
I didn’t realize I was using my preference for extroversion so much that my introversion was (and is) so underdeveloped. I rarely gave myself space to process things internally.
I can tell you a couple of the negative ramifications:
From the onlookers perspective, I am running around like a chicken with my head cut off. I’ve had about 10 jobs in the past 4 years and shared every single ounce of my experience externally. Do I care that people think I am a chicken with my head cut off? No because I always figure it out and I have a method to my madness. Would holding some of my experience sacred to myself have saved me from spending countless conversations explaining where I am in life and trying to make it make sense for others? Yes, yes it would.
I realize now how sharing externally discounts the trust I have in myself. I know I trust myself deep down, but when I’m sharing a hot off the press idea with someone who shoots it down and makes me less excited about my idea, I’m telling myself “that’s cute that you were excited about that idea, but they are not so move on.”
So I challenged myself recently to increase the incubation period for my ideas. Meaning, I let them process internally for at least a few days before I share with anyone. This gives me the time to put what I know to use.
By working through things internally, I am exercising my trust muscle. I’m training my brain to work with what I have internally to consider options, make decisions, and feel however I want to feel. This internal concentration is me saying to myself “I have everything I need.” Now, if I want another opinion or get excited about sharing my ideas, that’s great! I can do that. But it’s huge to differentiate this sharing as a want and not a need/ means to move forward.
Working through things internally is me giving myself permission to feel, think and act however I see fit. Working through things externally is me waiting on others to give me permission to feel, think and act.
Practically, this is how I plan to beef up my introversion:
Journaling. This is not fun for me, but I have to find a way to have productive internal concentration. My extroversion preference means I would much rather talk it out with my therapist, close friends or Uber driver. But I’m going to take 10 minutes every day to become aware of what I’m experiencing and physically write it down. For only me to see.
Be more cognizant of the information I share with others and more importantly, why I’m sharing it. I’m noticing the times when I’m avoiding taking action until someone else validates I should or shouldn’t. Now, I give myself permission and am not waiting for external input to define my opinions or next moves.
Give myself time and space. I would often share half-baked ideas or thoughts with others to come to a conclusion. Now, I’m first going to give myself the opportunity to form an opinion. Theeeeeenn maybe share.
Yoga. I love extroverted activities where I can interact with others, but when I am on my mat I don’t care if the person next to me is doing naked cartwheels. I am internally concentrating and I know I am the only thing that’s relevant for the 60 minutes of practice.
I’m sure I’ll come up with more tangible ways to not be so externally focused, but this is a great start for me. I’m excited to flex my introversion. If you prefer introversion, this might not be an issue for you and that is great! We’ll get to the barriers for those who prefer introversion another time.
If you prefer extroversion and resonate with the struggles I shared in this post, I challenge you to consciously flex that introversion. You want your preferences to work with you, not against you.