I've been wanting to make videos for a long time and finally realized that it was anxiety that kept me from moving forward with that project.
I'll tell you about the thoughts that kept me stuck and you'll learn about the three standards of anxiety that can hold us back:
Registration is closing soon for the Welcome Home to Your Self coaching program for women who are Sensitive Introverts.
Click HERE to get all the information about the program.
On the info page there is a section called "What if I'm still not sure?" In that section you can click on a link that takes you to my private calendar where you can choose a time that works for you and we'll hop on the phone and see if anxiety is holding you back, if this program is a good match, and if so, how we can make it work for you.
I look forward to talking with you!
The other evening I had a dilemma on my hands. I had already put in a very full day of coaching, parenting teens, grocery shopping, and dinner prep, and I still had a gathering for a friends’ birthday gathering ahead of me.
Here’s the dilemma: I had used up all my energy for interaction and couldn’t imagine how I could pull off spending time in a noisy tavern trying to connect with people. I just couldn’t do it, even to celebrate a girlfriend. I was depleted.
Do I sound disloyal? Picky? Over-sensitive? Anti-social? Pathetic?
I’ve wondered all these things and more about myself. The truth is I’m a Sensitive Introvert and my alarms were all going off telling me I’d had enough that day.
I argued with myself a little bit. “You said you’d be there. It’s your friend’s birthday celebration. How can you be so lame? You really should go, at least for a while. ”
But here’s where I’ve had some personal growth in the last few years. In the past I would have beaten myself up and then gone to the gathering anyway, used every last ounce of energy, and been totally depleted the next day. And then berated myself for that.
Another possibility, I would have argued with myself for long enough that it would be too late to go and then been guilt-ridden that I didn’t show up. And then berated myself for that.
To some this behavior might sound pretty crazy, but to the Sensitive Introverts out there, this undoubtedly sounds familiar. I’ve talked to women all over the country and one of the questions I hear frequently is, “How do I manage my energy so I don’t get depleted and my friends don’t hate me for being a party pooper?”
This is a challenging balancing act for those of us who are not extroverts (and hence, not the norm) and who absorb so much from each situation that we can be exhausted by everyday life and have nothing left to give interpersonally (and so, also not the norm).
Here are my tried and true suggestions:
1. Know yourself really well. Be aware of how many tasks, gatherings, interactions, etc. you can handle without going over the edge energy-wise. Don’t let anyone talk you into a social wing-ding unless you’re really up for it.
2. Keep your calendar obligations as slim and spaced out as you can. Rather than grouping all the intense things close together, give yourself some recuperation time in between. Look especially at your weekends and make sure you're not going from one thing to another.
3. Learn to say NO. A simple No thank you, or Thank you for thinking of me, but I’m booked, or This sounds great, but I promised myself I wouldn’t add anything more, will do. No need for big explanations—because THAT would be exhausting.
4. However, let the people in your inner circle know what you’ve learned about yourself and ask them to be understanding. Tell them that you still love them, but sometimes you’ll need to say no to social gatherings so you can meet your need for downtime, quiet, solitude, etc.
5. Get over the guilt. Accept yourself for who you are and stop trying to be someone you’re not. If you’re not an extravert who can keep going 20 hours a day without a break, that’s ok. You’re human and you’re worthy of love and belonging—in whatever way belonging works best for you.
It’s taken me a long while to recognize why my needs are different, learn the patterns for SIs, research the strategies that work best for this temperament, put it all together—and practice it everyday. While my understanding of Sensitive Introverts continues to evolve with each one I meet, I’ve amassed a huge amount of knowledge, strategies, mindset shifts, tools, wins, and compassion that has already helped my private clients to accept their temperament, love themselves, and succeed in creating a life that works for them and their families.
Now I’d like to share that with you through my new program designed by and for Sensitive Introverts. If you’re a woman who resonates with the traits of Sensitive Introverts you may be a good match for Welcome Home to Your Self if you would you like to:
+ step more fully into your authentic self
+ let go of limiting beliefs that have held you back
+ gain clarity on your true purpose
+ find out how to manage your energy and create healthy boundaries
+ learn tools to curb overthinking and anxiety
+ align your everyday actions and life values
+ create a life that supports your temperament
If these are things you desire, but you’ve been banging your head against the wall trying to figure out why what everyone else is doing doesn’t work for you, let’s talk. SIs are not like “everyone else”. We have different ways of absorbing and implementing information. We have different comfort levels around sharing about ourselves. We are unique in how much we can handle before we’re overwhelmed. This program is designed to take all those little things into account so that it supports Sensitive Introverts to thrive in the ways that work best for them.
Curious what I did to address my dilemma the other evening? I checked in with myself one last time. Did I have the energy to go? No, I really didn’t. So I texted my friends to let them know I couldn’t make it, made sure my kids had everything they needed, and I walked outside with my dog.
As soon as I got outside I knew I’d made the right decision. It was a beautiful late summer evening with a little bit of fall in the air. I walked to the arboretum near my house and enjoyed the sky, deer, and quiet, and felt refreshed. Dilemma solved. I'll make sure to celebrate with that friend soon. Maybe we'll go for a long walk!
P.S. If you think you might be a Sensitive Introvert or you know someone who is, click HERE to check out the program.
"Seeing with new eyes" is a phrase one of my clients used several years ago to describe how she felt when, through coaching with me, she figured out how to create a life that was aligned with her values, desires, temperament, needs, and family life. It was the same life, but she felt that suddenly she was seeing it with new eyes.
I love this concept. Sometimes the things we need most are sitting right in front of us but we can't see them for some reason, until another perspective or question opens things up and allows us to have new awareness.
This is what Welcome Home to Your Self, my new coaching program for women who are Sensitive Introverts is all about. With new insights, tools, awareness, and support you too can see your life with new eyes and discern what is working for you and what needs to change and how. Read here and here about what a Sensitive Introvert is and see if this is how you approach the world.
Imagine if by next spring you:
+ loved and accepted yourself wholly and completely
+ enjoyed your life fully because it was structured to fit you
+ felt like almost every day you were showing up as your best self
+ had a plan for where to focus your energy—and knew what things to let go of
+ were part of a compassionate support group of women who understood you
+ had tools that worked for you to ease your overthinking and anxiety
+ had a vision of your true purpose and the courage to move toward it
These are just some of the things that are possible for you in Welcome Home to Your Self!
I need to tell you though that registration will not be open long and the group is limited to 12 women and it's filling. So timing in crucial here.
I invite you to take a look at the information for the program HERE. If you're interested, but not quite sure, there is a section that tells how to book time with me to talk and see if this is a good fit.
One of the things I have learned about myself and take very seriously is that I need time away in nature to nourish myself, recharge, and feed my soul. For the next few days I'll be on the shore of Lake Superior doing just that with family and dear friends. These photos were taken last spring when I was doing the same thing.
Being in nature, feeling your bare feet on the ground is one of the best things for Sensitive Introverts. Really, for everyone, but SIs need that centering, grounding, connection with Mama Earth so strongly. I encourage you to get out there, even if it's an hour at the park with your kids.
Take off your shoes. Feel the grass and the sand. Look up at the sky. Connect with the elements.
P.S. Remember to check out the coaching program HERE!
Overthinking. That's one of the things I want to tell you about today. Nearly all the Sensitive Introverts that I’ve talked to mentioned this as a major challenge. One of them put it this way: “If I could just not overthink, analyze, process, and agonize over every single detail, I might be able to find the gold within myself.”
This is so well-stated. While studies document how introverts take more care in thinking through possibilities and make choices with care, Sensitive Introverts appear to take it a few steps further. We can get overwhelmed by all the possible options and spend a huge amount of energy trying to eliminate uncertainty and mistakes. Often this leads to procrastination, not to mention worry and even anxiety. It takes work of a very different nature to allow ourselves to see the “gold” within.
We also worry and fret over what others will think of our choices or if we’ll offend someone, or even if something we choose might drive someone away who is important to us. It can feel pretty intense. Sensitive Introverts employ a lot of safety strategies to ensure that everything goes right but the strategies don’t really serve us very well. Even when it seems like they’d help us to keep things smooth and harmonious they can make us more anxious.
Our fear of making mistakes can cause us to feel uncomfortable conveying our thoughts, though in our heads we talk a mile a minute about everything we're pondering. And introverts are notoriously averse to small talk, making mundane conversation not only a challenge but a chore. This discomfort often carries over into being observed. Sensitive Introverts can get very nervous—whether it’s a public-speaking gig or merely someone watching over our shoulder while we type.
Intuition. The other focus of today's post. Sadly, most of us have a hard time listening to our intuition. It’s so easily drowned out by what others say and by what society tells us is the right thing. Since introverts number fewer than extroverts, and Sensitive Introverts are even a smaller group, the mainstream voice is rarely in sync with our inner wisdom. Consequently, the small, clear voice within gets ignored because the other voices are a lot louder and more demanding.
Being aware of the things we get hooked by is key. When we know our triggers we can breathe into the anxiety and get ourselves out of our reptile brains (think fight, flight, or freeze) and back into our thinking brains.
But slowing down enough to hear our inner wisdom is more than just learning a tool, it’s a practice. Like strengthening our muscles we need to take time to build our skills to listen to our wise selves. Often we’re not sure if the whispers we hear are our own intuition or something we picked up somewhere. It’s only with consistent attention to tuning in that we start to hear what our hearts are telling us.
When Sensitive Introverts begin to feel their innate worth, they raise their comfort level with spontaneity, expressing their thoughts, and being present. That's when life takes on an enjoyable feeling of ease and serenity that grows SI's confidence!
This fall I will be leading a group of 12 women on a nine-month journey to let go of what is no longer serving them and to embrace a new way of being that resonates with their Sensitive Introvert temperament, mind, and inner wisdom. If what you’ve been reading speaks to you and you’re curious about joining us, I invite you put your name on the Interest List. That way you will receive registration information, as well as access to the Early Bird pricing. You can get on the no-obligation Interest List HERE.
Thank you for reading, sharing, and supporting from afar!
P.S. Get on the Interest List for the Welcome Home to Your Self program HERE.
Sensitive Introverts have an amazing internal landscape I've learned as I've interviewed strong women with this temperament. I'd like to continue where I left off last week in painting a portrait of the fascinating SI for you. It may either help you understand yourself or someone you love more deeply.
Quite a few SIs experience anxiety, fear, or worry that keeps us from taking action easily. There are several ways it can manifest and Jennifer Shannon describes them well in her book Don't Feed the Monkey Mind, as I mentioned in a blog a couple months ago. The three assumptions Shannon outlines that we buy into and which cause our anxiety, are all based in fear. Here are the main categories.
We avoid making mistakes at all costs. This intolerance of uncertainty really slows us down making decisions about anything. Most Sensitive Introverts feel that we can't make a choice unless we are 100% certain that it's the right thing—and when is anyone ever absolutely beyond-the-shadow-of-a-doubt sure? This is an impossible standard to adhere to and the more deeply we believe it, the more anxiety and paralyzation we experience.
This closely connects to the concepts of F.O.B.O. (Fear of Better Options) decision fatigue, and paradox of choice. This kind of fear or distress can keep us in indecision limbo when we are choosing between several things. For Sensitive Introverts this is nerve wracking—whether we're buying a spatula online or choosing a new job!
SIs are perfectionists. We aim high in everything we do and anything less than our highest expectation is equated with failure. The possibility that we could mess up an opportunity often keeps us from trying at all and falling into the trap of F.O.D.A.—Fear of Doing Anything. This is a distinct possibility for Sensitive Introverts and may keep us from reaching our full potential. Since we don't want to make the wrong choice and because we don't want to look like an idiot if we're not perfect at it right away, we choose to stay well within our comfort zone doing small things we know we're capable of.
We are ruled by our over-responsibility for others. The fear here is of losing connection with people who are important to us. Sensitive Introverts get sidetracked because of a very strong desire to maintain relationships, which we feel we alone are responsible for. It's so compelling that we throw healthy boundaries out the window and bend over backwards to meet others' requests; we fear being rejected because we've done something that a boss, a spouse, a child, or a friend won't like—alternately we fear that we've failed to do everything we can to please them. But because we're taking care of everyone except ourselves and our needs go unmet, we also feel resentful about how much we cater to others and how little we get in return. Seriously. When we're unaware and unskilled we do some crazy stuff!
Also, SIs also can spend a lot of time worrying about the well-being of others, inventing elaborate stories of what may have gone wrong. Think of the mom who starts calling hospitals and is certain you've been in a car accident because you're 20 minutes late. She is quite possibly a Sensitive Introvert!
Having these tendencies can be trying. And yet, there are things we can do to make life easier and more joyful, and to escape the paralyzation. We can create strong support systems with people who understand the SI temperament. We can learn tools not to take things personally and not be responsible for another persons feelings. We can know our boundaries so well that we embody them, and can share them when necessary without shame or blame.
If this doesn't describe you, it probably describes someone you know who's told you about how she feels out of sync with the rest of the world. There are quite a few of us out there, feeling like we're the only ones struggling with these challenges, but it's not true. I keep meeting women who say, "You've just described me better than anyone has before! How did you know?" There are many of us.
Here's the conclusion I've come to. It's time for us to stop feeling isolated, wrong, strange, and inadequate. It's time for us to come together and support each other, to share the things that work for Sensitive Introverts, and to set ourselves and our lives up for success. It's time for us to get beyond the daily struggles that hold us back, be confident and balanced, know what nourishes us and drains us, learn how to manage our energy, set healthy boundaries, and understand ourselves and our limits, so we can share the amazing gifts we bring. It's time.
And that's why I'm offering this program exclusively for women who are Sensitive Introverts, called Welcome Home to Your Self. The last details are coming together and registration will soon open. I invite you to put your name on the Interest List here so that you are the first to receive full program info and registration details, as well as access to Early Bird pricing. The program is limited to 12 women.
If this doesn't fit for you but describes someone dear to you, please share the information. I guarantee they will thank you! Sensitive Introverts are not often catered to and a program tailored to these needs is hard to find.
Thank you for reading, sharing, and supporting from afar!
P.S. Be sure to get on the the Interest List for Early Bird notifications and pricing here.
Sensitive Introversion uncovered!
In my last post I told you about discovering a unique temperament that I call the Sensitive Introvert. If you missed it you can read it here. Sensitive Introverts need to have quiet time alone like classic introverts, and also have strong reactions to sensory input like the Highly Sensitive Person. SIs often also have a tendency toward anxiety/worry/fear that influences how we handle situations.
I say WE because I’m most definitely in this category—as are many women who are my family, friends, and clients. I wonder if we are drawn to one another because we sense a kindred spirit or by somehow recognizing that we function in similar ways. Perhaps in the case of relatives the similarities are genetic. I don’t know and I’ll leave this to the quantitative researchers to figure out.
The traits I mentioned above are just the basics and there are many other fascinating characteristics SIs seem to have in common.
Sensitive Introverts (SIs) like to really observe what’s going on. You’ll often see us on the sidelines watching and listening. We pick up on others’ emotions and take in copious amounts of sensory stimuli and, because our brains are doing this all the time, it wears us out. Places like fairs or festivals, while interesting and even enjoyable, tend to be huge energy drains for SIs because there is so much sensory information to absorb.
We also can get exhausted by social interaction. Contrary to what some may think about introverts, the issue is not that we don’t like people or are too shy to speak, it’s that certain types of interaction tire us and so we try to avoid them. Small talk with strangers, for example, is quite draining, but we love to talk about deep subjects and ponder the mysteries of like, especially with people we know well. Sensitive Introverts have less capacity for large group occasions and enjoy one-on-one interactions more. We also need to be sure we get enough time in solitude to balance out the time with people.
We actually crave time alone. We need it just like extroverts need to be around people; it feeds us and helps us to replenish our energy. Sometimes it seems like we require so much solitude that we can feel a little guilty telling others that we’d like to be alone again. Society seems to view needing time alone as a weakness. It’s not. Sensitive Introverts just nourish themselves differently than extroverts who are the majority of the population. There is nothing unhealthy about taking time alone to think, reflect, and recharge. In fact, the unhealthy part is when we don’t get the solo time we need.
This is why self-care is crucial. When we know what our needs are and we get them met we function really well—we’re the best versions of ourselves. But when our self-care needs go unmet there can be serious consequences—from mere crabbiness or lack of patience, to intolerance, lethargy, illness, and depression. Every human being needs self-care and without it will not be at their best. The stakes are higher for Sensitive Introverts though, and they must carry out their individual recipe for self-care to be able to function.
When we set up ourselves and our lives up for success—in a way that really works for our SI temperament—we can maintain a baseline of calm and serenity and even build up energy reserves. By recognizing how we function best and capitalizing on structuring our lives in this way, we eliminate the energy drains so everything works as smoothly as possible.
This means we need to know our limits and manage our energy in a way that looks a lot different from extroverts. We need to learn how to recognize when we are running out of steam and also how to communicate that in a way that others can easily hear and understand that this is something we need to keep functioning well.
What I know now is that there is nothing inherently inadequate, wrong, or strange about the way that Sensitive Introverts walk in the world—it’s just very different than many other people. Because our society takes extroversion as the norm, anything else is viewed as kind of strange. Sensitive Introverts don’t always enjoy the same things that big extroverts do.
I know there have been times when I looked at how easily others made their way in the world and thought, “It seems so easy for them! They’re not bothered by anything. What’s wrong with me that I’m so sensitive and my ideal life is so different?
Over the last several years I’ve been doing a deep dive to learn what works for my life so that it feels easy and I have energy reserves. I’ve discovered some things that work amazingly well for Sensitive Introverts and have been sharing them with my clients. They too found their lives transformed when they applied the ideas, mindset shifts, exercises, and empowerment tools.
Now I’m sharing my findings more widely so that I can help even more women to live their best life. In September I'm offering my first ever virtual coaching program for women and I'm over the moon excited about it! It's exclusively for Sensitive Introverts and is designed to be in sync with their temperament.
To recap, women who are Sensitive Introverts usually:
+ need significant time alone to replenish their energy
+ are quiet, reflective, big thinkers
+ are extremely observant of their surroundings, other people, and their reactions
+ take in loads of sensory and emotional information
+ are easily overwhelmed and/or overstimulated
+ feel guilty for needing to nourish themselves differently
+ get tired out by social interaction, especially small talk
+ are sensitive to loud noises, smells, lights, large groups of people
+ feel selfish that they need more alone time than others
+ wonder what's wrong with them that life is more challenging than it seems to be for extroverts
Everywhere I have talked about Sensitive Introverts someone has told me “You just described me more perfectly than anyone ever has before and I wish I knew how to handle this stuff better!”
And that's why I'm offering this program called Welcome Home to Your Self. The details are being finalized right now and very shortly will be released. If this describes someone dear to you, please share the information. I guarantee they will thank you! Sensitive Introverts are not often catered to and a program tailored to these needs is hard to find.
I invite you to put your name on the no-obligation Interest List here so that you are the first to receive full program info and registration details, as well as access to Early Bird pricing. The program is limited to 12 women.
Thanks for reading!
With warmth and love~
P.S. Remember, sign up HERE to add yourself to the interest list so you are the first to get details on the program and registration when it's available. This is the way to find out about Early Bird pricing, ladies!
I’m always up for a new discovery. As a huge advocate of lifelong learning, research, and self-education I can get real nerdy at times! Several months ago I started realizing that there seemed to be a certain set of behaviors and thought patterns that many of the women I know as friends, family, or coaching clients appeared to share, and I have as well. I found this fascinating!
This set of characteristics is quite different than what the majority of the population experiences and that totally fits with the feeling of “outsiderness” that many of us in this category have experienced.
What I’ve found is that women who are introverts—who recharge by being alone and are generally more quiet and reflective—who also have the characteristics of the “highly sensitive person” as coined by psychologist Elaine Aron, also seem to have a strong likelihood of experiencing anxiety/fear/worry. This set of traits—highly sensitive introvert with or without anxiety—has a significant impact how we experience and deal with life.
The center of this Venn diagram would seem to be a small percentage of the population, but as I began talking to women the most frequent response I got was “You just described me to a T—and no one has ever done that before!”
When I began interviewing women who self-identified as “sensitive introverts with or without anxiety” to see what challenged them, how they coped, what they wished they could change, how their traits influenced their self-esteem and their ability to take action, and what their ideal life looked like it got even more interesting.
The similarity of their responses was incredible! These women varied in age, country of origin, stages in life, occupation, etc., and yet their experiences and desires were uncannily alike. In fact, they often used the exact same words to describe their experiences.
Today and over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing what these traits and thought patterns are, what my experience as a sensitive introvert has been, and how I support women to use these characteristics to guide and inform them in creating a life that fits them perfectly.
Many of the women shared with me that they intensely question themselves about they way they function. They described being overwhelmed by life at times and how that can lead to feeling paralyzed and unable to take action. Because the rest of the population appears to function differently, the sensitive introvert feels wrong, bad, alone, and often full of self-doubt. Many said they feel unsure of who they are because it’s daunting to share their gifts and thus create a clear life purpose.
When establishing close relationships, they feel they have to educate others on how they prefer to socialize. For example, when making friends they might offer up that they sometimes need to hole up by themselves instead of getting together or going out, so to please not be offended if invitations are turned down. They also tend to blame themselves for not being an extrovert who’s always up for fun, which they see as weakness, but is really just having a very different way of nourishing themselves.
I want to be clear that these are only a few of the traits—and probably some of the most challenging. There are more characteristics that I’ll share in the next post and they have upsides to them too!
I have learned many ways to offer support for sensitive introverts through mindfulness, self-knowledge, and tools, so they can create fabulous lives that are a good match for their temperament. Self-love and acceptance, knowing how to set healthy boundaries without guilt to protect their energy reserves, and understanding their own unique limits are some of the things I share with my clients.
In September I’m offering the inaugural run of Welcome Home to Yourself, a coaching program exclusively for women who are sensitive introverts. Unlike many coaching programs, this one is created by a sensitive introvert for sensitive introverts, so it will be small, most interaction will be one-to-one, and there will be plenty of compassion for each participant’s pace.
The details are being finalized now and registration info will soon be released. To be sure you don’t miss out—especially on the Early Bird discount—sign up to be added to the the interest list here. No obligation, just be the first to hear the details and get access to Early Bird pricing.
I would love to hear in the comments any observations or realizations you had while reading. Let me know if this describes part of your temperament!
A huge shout out to all the women who let me ask them about being a sensitive introvert! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings on what makes you YOU.
P.S. Remember, sign up HERE to add yourself to the interest list so you are the first to get details on the program and registration when it's available. This is the way to find out about Early Bird pricing, ladies!
Last week was magical. I had the good fortune to be part of a four-day retreat focusing on the seasons of women’s lives that was incredibly powerful.
It’s remarkable what can happen when women come together with a common vision and purpose. From the vision makers who had the chutzpah to just contact the amazing @UmaDinsmoreTuli in England out of the blue and say, please come to the Midwest and work with us!, to the logistics magicians, to the women who signed up last minute because something told them they needed to be there, to my carpooling goddesses—I am so grateful to everyone who played a part.
What I experienced in this circle of women confirmed something I know as a coach at a very deep level: that while we can grow and work through stuff on our own, it is when we break our silence, share our experiences, and realize we are not alone in our struggles, that we are able to break down the walls of isolation and begin to heal.
We heal in relationship.
That should not surprise us since the pain we carry that requires healing also happened in relationship. We all want to mend our wounds, and yet, how often do we slow down enough to give ourselves space to experience it?
The retreat was such an wonderful reminder that when we are held in a strong container of love and acceptance, each of us can heal the wounds in our own ways, in our own time. Throughout our time together tears were welcome, rage was welcome, laughter was welcome, memories, grief, triumph, guilt, loneliness, pride, the sadness of the girls we once were, and of course, self-love—all were welcome in the circle. To feel it in your body, process it, and let it go—whatever was coming up in the moment—was not just tolerated, not just acceptable, but encouraged, welcomed, and absolutely normal. Imagine what it would be like to do that regularly instead of putting it off for decades!
What makes this so cathartic is being witnessed. Most of us shy away from this because it feels embarrassing or uncomfortable. I know there are times when I do. Ironically, being witnessed is what allows the embarrassment and discomfort to actually dissipate.
Brené Brown talks about having a “vulnerability hangover” when we wake up fearing that we shared too much with someone. What comes up is that old feeling of shame. Brown describes it like this: “For women, shame is a web of unattainable expectations that say, Do it all, Do it perfectly, and Never let them see you struggle.” Ouch. We all know that one. So instead of getting all messy and processing our pain and shame with someone, we may carry it with us for a long, long time.
The antidote for shame is empathy. Brown says, “If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive.” So here it is again. In order to heal, we must share our stories, be witnessed, and have another human being respond with kindness, love, and understanding. Then we get to drop the shame and embody our authenticity to come to a place of being more whole than we were before. Our vulnerability, says Brown, “becomes the most accurate measure of our courage” and it is when we expose ourselves vulnerably that “we have experiences that bring purpose and meaning to our lives.”
This is big stuff for anyone, but for those of us who have introversion, high sensitivity, and anxiety going on—this is me and the majority of my clients—this is like asking us to casually dive into a sea of circling sharks. It sets off all our alarms.
What will people think of me if I share what I’m really feeling?
Will this exhaust me so much that I’m a mess tomorrow?
I want to be sure I’m doing this right; I better check and make sure others are sharing too.
What if no one relates to what I’m saying? Will they still like me tomorrow?
I’m not sure what I’m feeling is valid.
Maybe I should forget about me and check to see if anyone else needs support...
Can you relate to these thoughts?
It can be hard to raise our comfort level high enough to share vulnerably. It’s difficult to imagine that experiencing the discomfort can allow us to move on to a place of ease and joy. Let me tell you friends, it is true. Welcoming the hurt, holding it up to examine it, telling its story—and through it all being seen with love and compassion—this is where the magic lives.
We heal in relationship.
With warmth and love~
To get tips, insights, and encouragement on living a #fullcuplife of love and acceptance, follow me on Instagram @positivepathcoaching so you don’t miss a thing! My work focuses on women, especially those who experience the grand trifecta of being an introvert and highly sensitive with anxiety.
Brené Brown quotes are from an interview by Roman Krznaric.
Introverts have it tough in this society. We’re outnumbered 3 to 1 by extroverts and the busy social pace that’s expected is a big ol’ drain for those of us who prefer to recharge in solitude. While recent studies show that there are several types of introverts, and we’ve known for a long time that there’s a spectrum of intensity, there are some general rules of thumb that have worked exceptionally well for me and my introverted clients.
I took my first Myers-Briggs Assessment when I was 15 and learned the language for what I’d always known in my heart: I love being with people, especially one on one, AND in order to recoup my energy, I need to be alone. Decades later, I can still be swayed by the extroverted culture. For many years I hosted a big Thanksgiving dinner, inviting everyone from my ex-husband and his mom to stray international college students, but I finally realized that the aftermath of exhaustion was bigger than my joy for it. I had to admit that I’m not the kind of person who can pull off that kind of social event—unless I’m willing to spend three days in the fetal position afterward—and that was hard. I felt like a failure.
It’s so easy for self-doubt to creep in when we feel we’re falling short of the expectations placed on us as women—especially since we are usually the glue, the connectors, of the family. If we’re honest we sometimes want to say, “No, I just can’t take on that volunteer opportunity. I need some time to hole up in my bed and read a novel." Or how about, “Thanks for inviting all the parents to stay and chat during the birthday party, but I can’t think of anything worse than trying to have a conversation while a dozen 8-year-olds with noisemakers run around.” That kind of honesty is not usually well-received and is seen as selfish.
No matter what we say to protect our need to keep from being totally drained, the message we get back is often “you are not enough”. Or, conversely, we do what is expected at the expense of our own well-being, pushing ourselves too far until we’re running on empty, and in a perpetual state of overwhelm.
We can choose to set ourselves up for success though. It’s not complicated, but it is hard. It means actually putting ourselves first. That’s not something we’re accustomed to doing. If you’re willing to take a crack at it, here’s what I’ve learned.
1. Know yourself and your needs.
No one else can tell you how much alone time you need or how much stimulation is going to fry your nerves. You need to get to know yourself and how you function best. Whether that means actively monitoring the number of evening commitments, the frequency of extended family gatherings, or the number of minutes of meditation to maintain balanced energy, only you know what makes you tick—and what ticks you off.
2. Accept yourself. You are worthy.
Having different needs can make us question whether we are worthy or if we have value in this world. We question whether we are good enough, wanted, and whether what we offer is needed. But your acceptance and worth cannot come from anyone or anything outside of you. It has to come from within. You have to decide that you are worthy. Just as you are, right now in this moment—you are enough. It’s time to understand your own worth and value.
3. State your needs without shame or blame.
It’s essential to state your needs without being ashamed. There’s no right or wrong in the human needs department, there’s only what is. Blaming ourselves for having different needs helps no one. On the other side of things, you must refrain from shaming and blaming your partner, kids, or boss for situations that overtax you. If the kids are playing a loud game and it’s too much, just say, Great game! Take it to the backyard and you can yell as loud as you want. No need to belittle them for their volume level. If your partner wants you to attend a huge company event with them, state what kind of respite you’ll need to have the energy for it—or tell them you would rather spend time together one on one. Don’t go on a rant, just state what you need and find a solution together.
4. Acknowledge that in order to be the best version of yourself you must meet your own needs first.
When we accept that we are worthy of having our needs met and that we’re responsible for making that happen, we open up space to really show up for the people and things that are important to us. When we end a friendship that’s been draining us, we have more energy to be an attentive partner. Or when we set a limit on attending end of the day meetings at work, we can show up more fully for dinner with the family. When you take your needs seriously, instead of feeling selfish, you actually grant yourself and your beloveds the gift of being your best self.
5. Raise your baseline.
We all have an emotional baseline where we normally reside. There are occasional short periods of bliss that take us way up to a peak above that line and sad events or moods that take us far below our norm, but we always come back to the baseline. Once we make it a habit to honor our needs and make having a full cup the rule rather than the exception, we raise the level of our everyday state of being. If you’ve been functioning under less-than-ideal circumstances for years, it will feel amazing to raise this up. It’s like a new lease on life to have your baseline be a place of contentment and calm serenity.
Last year instead of hosting a big Thanksgiving celebration, I chose to spend time at a cabin in the woods with my daughters. While I was a little sad not to provide a place for everyone to have dinner, it was far outweighed by the joy of recharging with a book by the fire, cooking with my kids, and long walks in the forest. It met our needs perfectly—and the world didn't fall apart because I wasn't hosting.
I hope these ideas are helpful for you!
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With warmth and love,
Bold, imperfect action. Lately, I’ve been taking a lot of that. It’s a phrase coaches use to mean testing things out without knowing the outcome. This used to be hard for me because I have anxiety and not knowing the outcome freaked me out, but it’s easier now that I know what’s going on in my brain. Over 40 million adults in the US have anxiety—and women at double the rate of men—so see if you find yourself in any of the "assumptions" below.
Looking back, I’ve likely had anxiety since I was small, though I wasn’t diagnosed until my late forties when I had panic attacks that were nigh on debilitating. Up until that point I thought everyone experienced life like I did: difficulty making decisions, desperate to stay in others’ good graces, and extreme fear of making a mistake or failing.
Since learning what makes me tick I’ve developed a recipe for self-care that includes plenty of anxiety-reducing measures: daily meditation, medication, yoga, acupuncture, time in nature, regular body work, blocking out open space in my schedule, and knowing what triggers me. This delicious mix allows me to take bold, imperfect action and actually enjoy it!
Learning about the triggers has been key. In Don’t Feed the Monkey Mind: How to Stop the Cycle of Anxiety, Fear, and Worry, Jennifer Shannon gives a fabulous explanation of the assumptions that all people with anxiety share in some combination. They are:
Shannon states, “These assumptions are impossible standards. The more we attempt to live by them, the more anxious we will be, and the less likely we will be to take the risks that are necessary… to live freely and follow our dreams.”
Here’s how these assumptions might show up in a person’s life.
When we believe we have to make the right decision about every single thing every day it can feel paralyzing. The fear that something awful could be brought on by a bad decision means that we’re more likely to spend our days worrying about what might happen than taking bold, imperfect action.
Perfectionists are not just people with high standards as some might think. True perfectionists have to hit exactly what we’re aiming for—anything else is a failure. The motivation to do this is not challenge, higher purpose, or fun, but fear of failing. This includes a fear of losing our status in the group we identify with—perhaps by saying the wrong thing, wearing the wrong clothes, or arriving at the wrong time. Those may seem like trivial reasons to fear excommunication, but for those of us with anxiety, they are real thoughts. We may even refuse to take risks or be highly creative because that would involve an unknown outcome and possible failure. Instead we play it safe and stick to things we’re good at. No bold, imperfect action here.
Over-responsible people go far beyond just being a reliable person. We fear losing connection with those who are most important to us and who we feel we cannot risk displeasing. The over-responsible mindset pushes us to bend over backwards to accommodate others’ expectations in order to preserve the connection. We may take on other people’s problems, have difficulty setting limits, and experience constant worry and rumination about others. Definitely no bold, imperfect action when we might risk losing our people.
Shannon says our minds can become hijacked by the possibility of threat and we go into fight, flight, or freeze hearing “Something is wrong! Do something!”. Alternately we chant, “As long as I am certain, as long as I am perfect, and as long as others are okay, I will be safe, able to relax, and happy.”
In order to move toward our dreams, grow our businesses, or try something with an unknown outcome, we have to recognize our fear and anxiety for what it is, feel it, thank it, and let it go. This mighty trifecta of assumptions can be huge roadblocks to personal growth unless we understand how to work with our thoughts.
Many of my clients experience these roadblocks, so I now specialize in coaching women to break the cycle of certainty, perfection, and over-responsibility that paralyzes so many of us. By shifting the pattern they can feel more confident and authentic in taking bold, imperfect action and moving toward their dreams.
If that describes you, or if this post speaks to you in some way, I invite you to contact me via email and tell me what your main obstacle is. The next step will be to schedule a time to talk so I can support you in gaining clarity. We can also see if we are a good match to work together.
I currently have just two slots open for new clients. Are you ready to transform your life to the one you dream of? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
With warmth and love,