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.