Oh wow, January’s already gone! When?? The winter cold invites us to less activity, but the cold temperatures shouldn’t take us by surprise … they are here every year! One of my work colleague doesn’t seem to accept that, even after 15 years in Canada. I guess having a stubborn mind doesn’t help either. 🙂

My focus in January was on reading books. Introvert Power by Laurie Helgoe grabbed my attention at the bookstore, and I simply couldn’t let it go! It’s not an easy read, so I took the time to really sink into it. Laurie captured pretty well the introintroverts_happiness_verts’ view on the world and their behaviours, and I felt soooo at home … finally! It was such a relief to read that book, and notice how many traits that are part of my personality are similar to many other people called Introverts! Did you know that 30 to 50% are Introverts?
Ok, so I’m not weird because I don’t enjoy many things that other people do! Introverts are not too social, so is hard to realize that by yourself. 🙂

Yes, I don’t like to socialize, or better said I like to selectively socialize. It’s not that I don’t like being with people, on the contrary. But a room a full strangers is so overwhelming! With one on one discussions I’m ok, for a while. 🙂 And certainly small talk is not something I enjoy. Social interactions really drain my energy, especially discussions on topics I’m not interested about.

It’s not the case with extroverts though! And since the society I live in seems to appreciate more the extroverts’ traits, no wonder why we (introverts) “hide” even more often in our rich inner world, behind a book, in nature, or prefer a very restraint group of friends. If sounds familiar to you too, I highly recommend this book! Even for extroverts might be a good read if they’re interested in understanding introverts, and how to deal with them … yes, we are different!

I often share in my workshops that I’m an introvert, and sometimes participants question that. What they don’t know though is how much I “worked” on myself in the last 8 years to heal wounds from the past, and remove my internal blockages. Many unexpected but welcomed byproducts came out of that, taking on leadership roles being one of them. It facilites my workshop “performance”, and allows me to design and deliver workshops on topics I love and believe in. I do enjoy this role, and feels natural now, but don’t ask how much time I need to recharge my “batteries” after each workshop (I’m getting better to this too). Can you believe that more than 40 years I refused to take on any leadership role, or being in front of a group of people?! And based on the results I had with other leadership roles too, it seems that I’m a good one. 🙂

I’m telling you all these because I have a point that I’d like to share with you:

After reading “Introvert Power”, I moved on to Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) by Elaine Aron. I scored pretty high at her HSP test, which explains many of my reactions during the childhood and even later. As you might guess, many HSPs are also introverts. So by now you might get a better picture of how we are, I hope. 🙂 I’d like to draw your attention on one of the concepts that Elaine discusses in her book (as a strategy to cope with a society that seems to appreciate and encourage more the extroverts’ behaviour): Putting on a persona. Elaine suggests that introverts should put on a persona when socializing, meaning playing the role of someone else (who is comfortable with mingle with strangers, for example). I see a problem with “Putting on a persona”: by acting in a different way that you normally behave creates an inner tension/ stress. So you won’t feel good in that role, leading to making an even worst first impression. Yes, doing it more often will expand your comfort zone … although it takes a lot of time, effort and persistance to get there (if you’re willing to go that way). Toastmasters might also help, if you like their style.

From my own experience and with the clients I had, the methods used in professional coaching (especially body-centred coaching) could make this process shorter and more enjoyable, while focusing in fact on something else: removing internal barriers and healing through the power of your mind (which resonate more with introverts, who like the thinking process and introspection). I have first hand experience with the power of working on yourself in less stressful conditions … to get better “equipped” for the stressful situations out there. And a daily meditation practice added more insights and serenity to my life.

At one point I did a session with a psychologist who was curious what professional coaching is. At the end, she was surprised to see that a session with a coach could be more effective than one with a psychologist… even they both are based on psychology concepts and techniques.

Susan Cain has some interesting points in her TED talk on the power of introverts:
http://www.ted.com/talks/susan_cain_the_power_of_introverts?language=en

What do you think about Susan’s suggestions? Or  about putting on a persona?

Gabriela
ThoughtsDesigner.com

Introverts … are you one?

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