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your depth of understanding, and talent at sharing it amaze me. Speechless… and for your sharing of it.. Thank you… deeply. *sigh, its like coming back into my body through acceptance….. Sherrie on space2live
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I am happy to say that things have never been better between my soon to be 18 year old daughter and myself! I honestly never thought we would…

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For the first time in my life I could truly explain, through your words the way in which I experience life and myself. Brenda… It all fell into place. I had found myself and had such a moment of clarity. It felt like such a big weight was lifted off of my shoulders. Finally I felt like it was ok to be me. I was not the only one. I had found people and a little space where I fit in. … I was at work and crying on the inside. Emotions ran wild inside me. I was ecstatic, sad, confused, motivated, i…
During one of the harder times in my life I found Brenda’s website
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I have been dating an introverted man who I am very in love with for almost 2 years.  Reading your posts have helped me to be more supportive and understanding to him especially during the times when he needs space.  I just wanted to thank you for your weekly posts and let you know how helpful they are for someone who is in a relationship with an introvert. C.M. on space2live
This is me. This is me from the day I was born. For so long I felt misunderstood and rejected, even by the people closest to me, because they could never understand my need for solitude, and I had no idea how to explain it to them. Even now that I know more about Introversion and have a more informed understanding of my hard-wired need for solitude, it’s still very difficult sometimes to help my loved ones understand this profound craving for time and space all to myself. This is one of the best…

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An Introvert’s Quiet Rise to Resiliency and Relationships

introvert woman alone on beach

Most people expect a book about introverts to include stories about wanting to leave parties early and despising small talk. Not this one. The Quiet Rise of Introverts : 8 Practices for Living and Loving in a Noisy World is a book about loving solitude, but also craving connection. It is about honoring our nature while creating secure, healthy relationships.

As an introvert myself and author of The Quiet Rise of Introverts, I’ve read, written about and studied all of the qualities of introversion. I understand we are sensitive to stimulation and often need solitude to recharge. I know we need extra time to formulate responses to questions. I even know our brains are chemically different than extroverts. But… bottom line, I have found we need relationships as much as we need downtime and our relationships shape us as much as our temperament.

Where it gets tough

The trouble arises when we find ourselves in mismatched relationships where we can’t be ourselves. We set aside our natures for what our partner or family expects. This can make us feel alone. The Quiet Rise of Introverts includes my stories about growing up as an introvert in a primarily extroverted family. In the book, I talk about my marriage to a ‘take charge’ man, the high achieving/fast paced lifestyle and family we built together and the lessons learned from them. Within my families, there were times I felt separate and exhausted.

Maintaining feelings of security and competence

The tag line for my blog (space2live) used to be: Pay attention. Reflect. Evolve. I still feel that is an appropriate message for the site, but I feel the need to expand it to include relationships. Perhaps: Relationships. Reflect. Evolve.

UCLA clinical professor of psychiatry and author, Dr. Dan Siegel says how we take in our experience of others through reflection, is the root of resilience. If we have good, safe, open experiences with others, we feel competent and connected. Even if we have a negative experience with someone, if we can reflect and make sense of it by considering different perspectives or understanding their relationship history, then we maintain feelings of security and competence. Being able to process other’s behavior through our autobiographically tainted lens and come out feeling at ease, is resilience.

Begin within

Even though I believe relationships are important, our trek toward resilience begins within ourselves. To maintain integrity within a relationship and not lose ourselves, we have to know ourselves. This is something at which introverts and the highly sensitive can excel.

In Quiet Rise, I give specific actions steps at the end of each chapter to help the reader move from reading or thinking about a practice to actually implementing it in their lives. It’s scary for introverts to move out of their heads into the real world, but it is also amazingly rewarding. In a compromise, I came up with action steps for waking up and fostering self-awareness that include reflecting and practicing.

Action steps to self-awareness

  • Notice the places where you feel a tension or dissonance in your life. Do you tense up when a certain person enters the room? Do you feel blue on Sunday nights because you have to go to work the next morning? Are you tired of watching so much TV?
  • Engage in and protect your solitude. See time alone as vital to your well-being, just like sleep or exercise. Explain to your loved ones that solitude is a preservation of you, not a rejection of them.
  • Practice intuitive writing. While alone or in a group, use a prompt such as, “The last time I was angry…” to start a minimum of ten minutes of uncensored writing. Do not stop writing the whole time. Do not edit. Let the subconscious become conscious. Share with others if you feel comfortable.
  • Pay attention. At night as you lie in bed, picture a scene from the day and describe it in words in your head, including details from all five senses.
  • Notice where you feel energized or at home. Who, if anyone, is with you? List your relationships that feel most nurturing and non-judgmental. Spend more time with them. Try new things with these safe people. People we love and admire positively influence our behavior and character.
  • Foster self-respect. Put yourself in a humbling experience and let yourself make mistakes and survive. Instead of watching Netflix all day, offer to help someone and come through for them. Instead of competing with someone, try collaborating with them instead.

Consider others

Though knowing ourselves and understanding our sensitive natures is crucial to thriving relationships, it is not enough. We have to learn to be both courageous with our authenticity and considerate with our expression of it. We have to honor our temperament but also use respect and responsiveness to honor our partner’s experience. Feeling reassured and heard makes for secure and resilient individuals and relationships.couple on bikes

Action steps to calm each other’s nervous systems 

Here are some of the action steps outlined in The Quiet Rise of Introverts for calming our partner’s nervous system and creating connection:

  • Decide which partner is most secure at the moment. They set aside any of their issues and become the soother.
  • The soother acts quickly and gives positive reassurance right away. Ex. (Using verbal reassurance), “I want to work through this until we both feel satisfied.”
  • Use touch, a hug, eye contact, or physical closeness if your partner is most reassured by non-verbal contact. Use heartfelt words and affirmations to comfort your partner if they prefer verbal soothing. Ex. “I love you and I will love you when we get through this obstacle.”
  • Boost empathy through oxytocin production. Increase production of oxytocin by touching your partner through massages, long hugs, handholding or by having orgasms (preferably together). Even petting animals can increase oxytocin production in humans. Eye gazing is another way to create oxytocin and connection.
  • When a partner bids for your attention respond quickly. Turn toward them or move toward them to demonstrate presence. Look for ways to appreciate and express gratitude for your relationship.
  • Assume your partner has good intentions and give them the benefit of the doubt more often than criticizing them.

When we combine our inner thoughts with our external relationships and come out feeling good and at ease, that is resilience.

May we all rise to this level of comfort and security.

 Where do you feel the most at home? Which relationships have most shaped who you are? Would you like to feel more competent and connected? 


Click to Order The Quiet Rise of Introverts now


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  1. michaelrbuley October 7, 2017 at 1:43 am - Reply

    Brenda, you wrote, “If we have good, safe, open experiences with others, we feel competent and connected.”

    I think the key word is ‘safe.’ I think most introverts are highly sensitive. And the more sensitive we are, I think the more we seek safety. When a relationship isn’t safe, then it’s not good. Everyone wants to feel safe. I think conflict can affect the sensitive folks more. We don’t just roll with it, and get over it. It hurts. And it sticks. And we remember. Enough of those, and the safety vanishes.

    Though, too, in the end, I think what we really seek, knowingly or not, is to be safe within ourselves, know how to protect ourselves, what we need to feel safe.

    Where do I feel most at home? Safe? When I am alone. However … I feel changes within me, too. I feel more ‘at home,’ being who I am. And I feel safer, in general. Around people, or not. I don’t feel the need to please as I have in the past. I don’t feel the need to avoid conflict at all costs.

    If conflict arises, I feel stronger, somehow, in ways that I didn’t even a year ago. I can basically stop the conflict; engage, as it were, in ways that say, ‘Here is who I am. This is who you are. That’s okay.’ If there is some kind of conflict, I stay within me, rather than basically go outside of my body (where I have lived for most of my life) to avoid the conflict. I am home, within me, and comfortable with who I am — all of my flaws, fears, insecurities, inadequacies; they are just who I am. I don’t feel a need to fight for who I am, or defend who I am. I just am me.

    Hard to articulate. But I feel it. And this, at the age of 62 … lol … our journey, to the home which is basically who we really are, can take awhile … but if we persist, if we carry on through the dark times — and I have been through many — we can get there.

    As always … thank you, Brenda, for being a very safe place. I have shared more with you, here, than perhaps with anyone I know about these things, about these parts of me. Funny as I think about it. I think I have been reading your posts for a couple years now. I think about how much I have written, how much I have shared, with you.

    And I ask myself, “Is there anyone else with whom I have shared this much about who I am, all of these things I have written here?” I don’t think so … lol … I’m sort of astounded as I think about it. I have written a lot of stuff, much of which I have never shared with anyone. All this stuff I have shared with you, here? No, there’s no one else with whom I have shared these things.

    So … an even bigger thank you, Brenda!!!


    • Brenda Knowles October 7, 2017 at 3:44 pm - Reply

      I’m so honored that you have felt safe enough to share so openly here on space2live Michael. We all appreciate your responses and growth/wisdom. You are a gift to us/me! Safety and comfort are the key!

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