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Your site has saved my sanity and my life. Maybe even my marriage. I work part time and have two young boys at home, my husband is supportive of me but until recently I thought I was going crazy. … Reading your writing not only inspires me to pick up the pen again, but gives me nourishment in the deepest places. I will fight for balance. Everything you write is spot on… And wellness is so incredibly multifaceted.  I was ready to give up hope, but understanding myself through your words is bring…
J.K.
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…
Sharon
You’re so honest in your writing. It’s bold. It’s frank. It’s wonderful. I could definitely see the work you are doing here as a useful book. It could save/make a lot of relationships! — Jimmi Langemo
Jimmi Langemo
BRENDA: thank you SO much! Your advice is exactly what I need to do. I am amazed how much you “get” me after only exchanging a few messages!… Again, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You’ve helped me more than a year of therapy sessions! – Megan on space2live
Megan
THANK YOU….. you just summed up my swirling thoughts into something i can read with out everything else in my head meshing with it. I finally feel like i can explain what happens within without getting distracted. I’m an Introvert with ADD and it makes it so hard to explain quite what im feeling sometimes. — M.G. on space2live
M.G.

“I was struggling with my daughter (16 at the time) and our constant fighting. You said something to me that changed my life! You were speaking about your own situation and you said to me “my child could not handle my emotions”. This was a HUGE “lightbulb moment” for me and it forever changed the way I dealt with my emotions when I was around my daughter!

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…

Mom M
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
Sherrie
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
C.M.
I met Brenda and took the MBTI… I had a fairly good understanding of these types before the meeting but was impressed by the depth of knowledge that Brenda shared with me. She clearly has a passion for this work and a gift in imparting the information. There have been doors opened for me because of our talks… — Alan Hintermeister
Alan Hintermeister
I think I want to print out your articles and hand them out as a sort of relationship waiver form. “You want to be my friend?….You are interesting in going out? Here read this first. Sign here to acknowledge that you have read and understand the enclosed material. Thank you.” Seriously. I think it would work. — Guerin Moorman
Guerin Moorman

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Is Efficiency Ruining Our Ability to Love, Learn and Enjoy?

Like most people, I’ve adopted a level of efficiency as a survival mechanism. With three kids, a home, a career, a partner and friends, I strive for effectiveness so I can keep going without getting buried under it all. I eat leftovers, put things back where I found them, have a system for ordering groceries, do laundry in an organized fashion and clean as I go when I cook. There are definitely times and places for effectiveness.

But…

I am most content, creative, loving and fun to be around when efficiency is not front and center.

Last week I spent a few days with my boyfriend and his family. There were eighteen of us in a cabin near a lake in Minnesota. There were no schedules, no set plans. Everyone could eat or sleep when they wanted. For the most part, we all ate dinner together, but otherwise the food and fun were available when we craved it. Getting eighteen of us showered every day seems like it would be a nightmare, but it wasn’t. We each took a shower when a bathroom was open.

I had such a good time. A crowd like that could be daunting for an introvert, but it wasn’t. I was at ease. No one dictated what needed to be done. No one rushed or corrected anyone. We just worked with each other and enjoyed the time together.

cornhole

This is not me.;)

The only time I felt pressure to perform more effectively was while playing corn hole (aka beanbag toss or bags). I was partnered with Boyfriend’s sister, who is an ace corn hole player. 🙂 My anxiety about being observed kicked in, but only in small doses. The encouragement and smiles from everyone quickly dissolved any worry.

Love efficiently?

I’ve been in romantic relationships where efficiency and productivity held more prominent roles than love and comfort. In those relationships there was a sense of being judged all the time. Was I cooking/cleaning/kissing correctly? Was I active enough? Intelligent enough? Practical enough?

It is hard to trust someone who is waiting for you to mess up. Without trust, there is no ease, no effortless joy. Love does not flow when we are afraid of being judged. With trust, we can make mistakes. We can be ourselves. We can feel real love.

The sad thing is, I believe those past loves felt they were only worthy of love if they ran a tight ship. If they managed everything well, they then deserved admiration and care.

Learning is not a business

Educating humans, for one, should be understood as inherently inefficient. That doesn’t mean you don’t want effective schools, but the measure of that effectiveness should not be speed, scale, or cost per unit. — Courtney E. Martin, I’m Suspicious of Efficiency and I’m Addicted to It

I believe a love of learning is the most solid foundation to a beneficial education. I hear so many kids say they hate school. That makes me sad. I’m generalizing, but I mostly see that crushed, de-spirited look in boys’ eyes when they talk about going to school. My sons research the heck out of a subject they personally find interesting, but schoolwork is a major effort. School curriculums require educators to stick to certain material to keep test scores high. The size of classes requires teachers to maximize their time, resources and efforts by minimizing personal attention.

I used to love it when a teacher would get off on a tangent about something other than the lesson. Personal stories from the teachers always made the material more digestible and memorable. Teachers today don’t have that luxury. Teaching restricted subjects to the masses involves efficiency. Efficiency does not often foster curiosity. That’s too bad, because curiosity often fosters learning.

Humanity: Not particularly efficient

I’ve found I’m not particularly efficient when it comes to writing. I know deadlines help me start and complete projects, but in between the start and finish is a process of resistance, release and creativity.

Creativity flows. It is not easily marshaled into submission. It develops naturally, organically. Like many elements of the human condition it has its own timeline.

Parenting is another endeavor with its roots more in empathy and patience than in efficiency and practicality. Just when we think we have the best new parenting tool to use with our kids, the kids show us they cannot be corrected or configured like a spreadsheet. They have hearts and minds wild with wonder and worry. They need us to listen not lecture. They need hugs not chore charts.

Efficiency + cornhole

Efficiency is not going to go away. We need effectiveness to get things done. Our culture requires it. It is not evil by any means but we spend so much time striving to run our lives in an orderly fashion, we miss opportunities to pause, love, learn and live. We miss our kids giggling at our lopsided pancakes and bed head. We miss chances to hug our kids through mistakes and build trust. We spend more time preparing our kids for the ACT than we do preparing them for relationships. We spend more time working out a shower schedule than we do enjoying a good game of cornhole.

Keep honing your efficiency but please play more cornhole.

 

Are you more efficient than loving? How has that affected your relationships? 

Do you and your partner clash when it comes to practicality and play? Is one always correcting and the other always crying? I can help you understand each other. Contact me for relationship coaching. 

 

The Quiet Rise of Introverts: 8 Practices for Living and Loving in a Noisy World is a guide to help tenderhearted and introverted individuals grow and nurture their peace, purpose, and relationships. Through personal examples, scientific studies and real action steps, Quiet Rise will help sensitive individuals build personal and social resilience.

Quiet Rise of Introverts

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6 Comments

  1. Charles Tolman August 27, 2017 at 3:36 pm - Reply

    Hi Brenda,
    This is a great post and it highlights something that I and a friend have been looking at for years now from our Steiner school background. Lets see if I can explain it well enough and then I hope you can relate it to what you have said:

    There is a significant difference between an artistic/cultural/religious pursuit, such as education, and an economic one, i.e. business where you pay for product. The reality is that you actually cannot pay someone to educate your children. It just does not make sense. Sure, you can pay them for ‘body’ time, i.e. being at a school. But after that the education they provide is given from their own free will. Actually this is the same in ANY knowledge work (like my programming). You cannot pay someone to think specific thoughts or even be motivated. Money has been proven to be only a negative motivator, i.e. not having enough is a negative motivation.

    Thus there is a gap between the money provided for education and the service provided. You are NOT paying for the service. You cannot. You can only pay for the people to be there. Otherwise they are slaves, though even if they were you could not actually pay for them to think a certain way.

    This gap mirrors the reverse one for me. Where we give a child an education, but it is up to their own free choice as to what job, if any, they wish to do. Society then relies on the numbers for it to work. It would be wholly unethical to take a newborn, do some sophisticated brain scan and then say: This child will be a teacher, or a programmer, or whatever, so we will provide an education for that and then the person will be forced to provide that service to society.

    Just imagine what that would mean.

    So in short. Money and certain artistic, cultural, spiritual and knowledge pursuits cannot be paid for. They actually live in a different world from the one where money can buy products.

    To me this is where the thinking goes wrong and so we suffer the consequences.

    Well. I do hope that makes sense! It is still work in progress for me so many thanks for your post helping me on my path to understanding it better.
    All the best
    Charles

    PS: I think I feel a blog post coming though I did touch on it here https://charlestolman.com/2014/10/28/my-thinking-is-not-for-sale and here https://charlestolman.com/2016/02/27/study-diaries-misplacing-egotism

    • Brenda Knowles August 27, 2017 at 4:18 pm - Reply

      You’ve got me thinking Charles. Thank you! Perhaps we have misplaced our internal motivation in the economic realm. A Steiner education must have been interesting… Thanks for sharing your thoughts. They definitely piqued my interest.

  2. James McSherry August 27, 2017 at 1:57 pm - Reply

    “we spend so much time striving to run our lives in an orderly fashion, we miss opportunities to pause, love, learn and live”

    Hmmm. This is something my SO and I were talking about recently. In particular how it can affect me, doubling down with the intensity I often bring to things I am doing. It’s something I hadn’t noticed before, and this is the second reminder this week. And as I write this, I am right now heading off for some shared time, to disconnect from my schedule and connect into the unwind path for a few hours. Nice post, thank you.

    • Brenda Knowles August 27, 2017 at 4:20 pm - Reply

      Enjoy the time away from your schedule! Glad you are taking the time to pause.:)

  3. Michael August 26, 2017 at 11:09 am - Reply

    Being human, really human, isn’t efficient. No. It’s chaotic. It’s up and down and all over the map. It’s like nature … of all things. It’s like the universe. Some predictability to it … but only within certain wide ranges.

    And the chaos of life can destroy at any given moment … and it creates anew.

    Education today saps the human out of learning. It destroys the learning and creative spirits, which are crucial to really living.

    What do we strive to be so efficient for? To do more stuff? have more stuff? be more productive? achieve more? be successful by someone else’s definition?

    The stuff and the achievements and success — success defined “out there” somewhere — it ain’t all that great.

    Do we love easily? Laugh easily and often, every day? Are we free of judging? Do we see beauty everywhere and in everyone? Then … then I think we begin to live.

    I like being messy and chaotic and hot and cold and excited and all the different emotions. All of our emotions are our friends, if we love them, and talk to them, and be with them.

    Efficiency? That’s fear-based, I suppose. ‘What if we don’t get it all done?’

    What if we don’t? What if we’re laughing and loving and creating and exciting instead? What might happen then? What if we let go of efficiency … and we laugh and love and create and wonder? What might happen?

    Two very different paths … I like the laughing loving creating path …! I know you do, too, Brenda!

    Thank you for a very provocative note this week. You touched on a LOT!

    • Brenda Knowles August 27, 2017 at 4:28 pm - Reply

      Great point about striving to be efficient so we can do more stuff. Yikes! That doesn’t sound fun, exciting or fulfilling, just busy. The problem is we get sucked into the patterns everyone else is following and it feels really uncomfortable to exit the patterns, but I’m learning more and more that it’s worth the initial discomfort. That freedom and real joy, are what make me want to get up each day. I know you understand that kind of joy Michael. Thanks for sharing your ever-wise insight.

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