I recently spent some time on a couple of introvert forums on Facebook, and I noticed that the conversations seemed to be focused on how to shape their lives around being an introvert so they don’t get triggered or pushed out of their comfort zone.
It’s sad because people were saying things like “I could never do this or that because I’m an introvert – that would totally trigger me.” One person said, “I love my job, but it’s really not a good position for an introvert.”
They’ve put themselves into a position of constantly looking for evidence as to why they shouldn’t do something or pursue something, even if they really want to experience it, because it might trigger or amplify their introverted traits, as if it were a bad thing to get knocked out of their comfort zone once in a while.
Think about Meryl Streep, Leonardo DiCaprio, Elon Musk, Barack Obama, Julia Roberts, Gandhi…all of these people are introverts. If these people had created their lives around avoiding being triggered, or if they had chosen to live in ways that amplified their introverted personality traits, we would have all experienced a tamped down version of their gifts, or maybe not have experienced them at all had they not chosen to live their biggest, most daring lives despite being introverts.
In some ways, it may have been to their advantage to not grow up with the labels of “introvert” or “extrovert” so they couldn’t use that label against themselves.
I’ve lived my life through the lenses of being an introvert and a highly sensitive person, but like a lot of people with these personality traits before there was a commonly-used name for them, we were just considered shy, oversensitive, and socially awkward.
I would hide out at home, dread social events, dating, and particularly large gatherings. I hated talking about myself or having the spotlight on me at any time. I was the backstage person, always behind the scenes, and I still am. Fame has never appealed to me in any form. I love being by myself and I can be alone for weeks.
When I’m around a lot of people, I get exhausted easily. It feels like I’m inhaling everyone’s energy and as if I have to process it for them. It’s like being plowed over by many horses on a racetrack as opposed to just being hit by one big Mack truck.
So, I prefer small gatherings and even then, after about four hours, I feel the need to get out or be by myself. I will often sleep really well after a social event because it emotionally drains me, whether it was a good or bad experience.
Before the terms “introvert” and “highly sensitive person” became mainstream, I sincerely thought something was wrong with me, that these were defects and I was the only one who was like this. Come to find out, according to a Myers-Briggs global study, 54% percent of the population has preferences for introversion.
Yet, in many countries people feel pressured to behave in extroverted ways when it comes to showing up in the world.
I think this is why introverts and highly sensitive people struggle – they think that who they are is not good enough. This, of course, is simply not true.
Google “celebrity introverts” and you will find some very successful creative artists, entrepreneurs, and world leaders.
You’re not a hostage to your personality traits. You don’t need to tiptoe around them and they don’t get to determine how big and bold of a life you choose to live.
So what if you do get triggered? What is the worst thing that can happen? You might have to sleep in the next day; you might need to take some extended down time. You might need to spend a day in bed, reading inspiring books and sipping hot cocoa. How horrible!
The point is that you can handle the effects of being triggered.
You want to learn to manage being introverted so that you can live fully in the life you want to live, not twist your life around your introverted personality so you don’t get triggered.
It may sound a little like tom-ay-to/tom-ah-to, but just that small tweak of how you look at it could make a huge difference in the results you get.
If I’m twisting my life to suit my introverted personality by denying myself the experiences and impact I’d like to make in the world, it’s going to create results that are much different than if I look at life through a lens of how I can manage my introverted personality so that I can pursue and create and make the impact I want in this one life that I have to live.
There is nothing that is not available to you just because you’re an introvert. Many of us need to stop using these personality labels against ourselves.
Here are five tips for introverts to live a big, beautiful, creative life. These are actually great tips for any creative life.
Set a time frame for social outings. Here’s what I mean by that: If someone asks you to come to a party, a family gathering, to go out on a date, decide beforehand how long you’ll stay.
For me, two to four hours is usually my limit before I start feeling exhausted. Having set this boundary, I feel like I can then relax and really be present because I already have my exit time in place. In many cases, I find myself wanting to stay longer because I’m having such a good time, so I leave myself the flexibility to do that, too.
The beauty of setting the boundary is that you stop being obsessed with your exit plan and start enjoying whoever you’re with and wherever you are in the moment. Give it a try and see how it works for you.
Make your home a sanctuary. It’s the one place you can depend on to energize, rejuvenate, and recharge. If it’s dirty or filled with clutter and things you don’t use, it’s going to do the exact opposite and create unnecessary stress.
Your environment also consists of the books you read, the music you listen to, the shows you watch, the artwork in your home, your garden, the items you use or don’t use every day. It could be your neighborhood location, where you shop for groceries…it’s the container of your everyday life. Do your best to curate it with the intention of giving yourself the space and energy to revitalize and recharge and also to unwind, rest, and reflect.
Make Self-Care a Top Priority
Obviously, this is important for everyone. But if you’re an introvert or highly sensitive type, lack of sleep, eating too much sugar or processed foods, drinking too much alcohol, and even just being dehydrated could become devastating to an already-triggered nervous system.
Lack of sleep is probably my biggest trigger. Things always seem 10 times worse than they really are when I didn’t get a good night’s sleep.
Dehydration – this one took me a long time to realize. But it’s a game changer. Next time you feel tired or mentally exhausted, drink a glass of water. According to studies, approximately 75% of Americans are significantly dehydrated and dehydration is the number one cause of daytime fatigue. Just a 5% drop in your fluid level can lead to a 25% drop in energy. If you’re not a water drinker and can’t remember the last time you had water, this could be a life changer for you.
Introverts usually don’t have trouble getting inspired, but we do struggle to stay motivated and that is where having clear goals and intentions becomes important. Know what you want to achieve; have goals not based around being an introvert or an HSP type but around what you really want.
Take the time to really think about what you want to experience in this life and commit to going for it. Having a coach or an accountability partner or group can be very helpful in motivating you to move toward those dreams and desires that are important to you.
Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone on Purpose
Make a point of doing things that are out of your comfort zone every week. Start with small things like volunteering to help at an event instead of just attending the event, or taking a class on something you’ve been wanting to pursue.
When I first started stepping out of my comfort zone and really decided to stop hiding from life, I joined the community theater. Talk about discomfort, but it changed my life and gave me the courage to take a step and then another step into my creativity.
Write a list of all the things you would love to do without considering your personality or current set of circumstances. Pick a thing, no matter how outrageous, and break it down into the smallest doable steps. Do something every day or week from that list.
The point is not to reach the goal – that’s the icing on the cake. The point is to stretch yourself and become more resilient in your life so that you can live the biggest, boldest life possible. Because why not?
If you’re ready to rewrite your script I’d love to help you! Check out my one-on-one rewrite coverage and coaching programs here.