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Are You Happy Avoiding People?

push away avoid

My daughter told me the other night that Lyft is offering an option on their app to not talk to your driver. I looked into it and it seems they are considering creating something called ‘zen mode’ which by clicking on a button or link, will let your driver know you don’t want to chat. Now I’m as into my quiet time as anyone, but that option rubbed me the wrong way.

Introversion not an excuse to shut others out

It seems many people, often under the label of introvert, choose to avoid interaction and personal engagement with other humans. They seem to think it’s their right to ignore people and refuse interaction. The cashier talked to me about my day and the weather, so annoying. Why are my parents and teacher mad when I wear my headphones 24/7? Why should I have to put myself out for someone else?

As I said, I am introverted and sensitive myself. I appreciate solitude and quiet time to recharge. I guess I see this selective dissociation as a slippery slope. If we feel it is OK to shut out people throughout our day, eventually will we be totally disconnected? Will it then be so novel and uncomfortable to reach out to people that we abstain from doing it out of fear or unease?

Disconnecting easier than connecting?

When we choose to disconnect the majority of the time, are we choosing isolation over potential loving and caring relationships? Are we choosing to disconnect because it is easier than making a relationship work with someone totally different from us? Are fulfilling relationships not worth the effort? Are we less happy because of these choices to focus on ourselves, our achievements and our emotional ease?

As someone who writes for the introverted and highly sensitive community, I am torn between supporting our quiet and solitude-seeking nature and supporting healthy loving and sometimes difficult relationships. I believe both bring much contentment and joy to our lives.

It comes down to values and limits.


What do we value? I’ve said a thousand times, our values serve as our compasses. They give us direction and the grit to stay on the path toward them. Emotions tip us off regarding what we value.

What values guide you? What breaks your heart? What fills your heart? What would you do without any prompting? What matters beyond worldly possessions? Where are you most disciplined and organized? These questions lead to what matters.

Many of us value our personal peace and independence. I believe in that, but I see it as a start. Feeling comfortable and self-contained does not seem like the end of the road to me. To truly lead a full meaningful life, it seems we want to contribute and help others. We value giving back to the community that also supports us. It’s a complete circle rather than a straight line to our own well-being. You can disagree with me, of course, but I’d like to hear why.

Aiming for independence versus interdependence limits our growth.


I’ve done a lot of research on personal development. One key ingredient to fulfillment and maturity is self-discipline. Self-discipline is the ability to do what we don’t want to do and not do what we want to do. We can limit our behavior while having compassion for our emotions.

I’ve indulged my kids by letting them off the hook from activities they don’t want to do like going to church, housework and attending each other’s sporting events. They’ve tried to get off the hook from family events, their jobs and school work. For me, allowing kids to skip family gatherings (when other children are definitely attending) because they don’t want to go or are uncomfortable, seems like the easy way out for parents, but is it better for children in the long run?

It’s become acceptable to allow ourselves and our kids to avoid interactions. For example, we embrace shopping online because we are uncomfortable shopping in a store where we might have to talk to employees. Working in a factory when you are five years old is hard. Going to war as a soldier in a foreign land is hard. Asking an employee to help you find a particular sweatshirt in your size is not hard.

I know someone is thinking, but what if you have body issues and trying on clothing at a public place feels embarrassing or traumatic. I hear you but my thought is, it is your life. Are you content keeping it narrow and isolated? If the answer is, “I don’t have a choice” OK that is something deeply challenging and I empathize and wish you well. If you have the ability to work on approaching life more than avoiding it, I believe it is worth the effort. Limit the avoiding.

We have to set limits for ourselves and our children. If family is something you value (I realize not all of us do), then instill in your children a sense of importance regarding family events. There is much to learn from family members. There is a feeling of belonging that fortifies members of families. Don’t let yourself or your children skip family events (community events, volunteering, work, stores, restaurants, etc.) because it is easier for you or them to be at home not interacting.

We need to connect

Virtually, all of the research I have done says that connecting with others is a human need. It eases our physical pain, relieves depression, lowers our blood pressure and gives us longer and happier lives.Lyft

At the very least, I believe a person should have the courage (balls) and social grace to say to their Lyft driver (spouse, friend, co-worker, mother, etc.), “I’ve had a long day. I would really appreciate a quiet ride home.” Using a pre-created button or toggle switch seems like a lazy way to shut ourselves off from the world.

What are your thoughts on skipping interactions? Do you agree or disagree with me? If you avoid human interaction often, are you happy? 

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  1. Michael Buley April 13, 2019 at 7:30 pm - Reply

    Brenda, superb article. I hear you loudly and clearly calling ‘Bullshit, people!’ on a lot of the bullshit that is going on. And you are right on the mark. I will try to write more later. I heard your anger (sounds like it to me, and if I am right …) — well-directed and to the point.

    We’ve become a society of whiners and crybabies and victims. I can speak about the victim mentality for myself, having come to see, and no longer tolerate, a lot of MY bullshit.

    Yes, working in a factory at 5 years old — THAT is hard. Talking to someone is ‘hard’? Bullshit. Grow up. All of us.

    More, I hope, later! Thank you for a wonderful post.


    • Brenda Knowles April 29, 2019 at 10:37 am - Reply

      Hey Michael, Sorry I’m just responding to this. I guess there is some anger behind my words. Although I didn’t fully recognize it when I typed it. I think I’m angry because so many people are condoning the whining and lack of interacting in the name of anxiety, introversion or high sensitivity. It’s becoming OK to duck out of society and social norms. No. We have to engage with life and people to have a meaningful, worthwhile existence. Avoiding difficult or uncomfortable things is kryptonite to well-being. It makes life narrower. I know I withdrew from relationships and the fallout was not good or fair to those I avoided. Sometimes we are mentally exhausted or depressed and need to re-group or recharge, but eventually we have to rejoin the world for everyone’s benefit. Thanks for hearing my anger/plea. Cheers Michael!

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