One of the deepest, most important messages in, The Quiet Rise of Introverts, is that maturity is a combination of courage to be authentic and consideration of others. To me, the quiet rise involves moving from a state of insecurity and inauthenticity to a state of security and interdependence. I focus on making this progression as an introvert and/or highly sensitive person, but I feel this kind of rise to maturity is necessary for all temperaments. I actually learned of the courage + consideration = maturity formula from Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. He did not limit his maturity formula to introverts. He proposed (and I agree) we all need to learn the value of maintaining integrity while honoring relationships.
Know what you want
In her article, How to Ask for What You Want and Need (No It’s Not Selfish), Alexandra Baker gives three steps to creating boundaries and getting what you want out of life. Alexandra says we must know our position, communicate that position and know we deserve to be treated well.
Knowing our position means knowing what we want and what we value. For many people, this is not easy. No one ever asked them what they thought or what they wanted. They floated along in life by following the crowd or pleasing others. Knowing what we want gives us something to return to if someone challenges our decision.
Many introverts, believe it is best to behave like extroverts. We don’t like to ask for alone time or admit when we’re over-whelmed. We’ve been told by society to hide these wants or feelings. It takes courage to advocate for them.
Communicate your position
Communicating our position or creating boundaries is the next step to building integrity. Once we know what we value or desire, we have to convey it to others clearly. This takes courage. There is always a fear the other person will deny or worse, belittle our request.
I have a habit of asking permission for what I want. For example, we had a repair man in our house yesterday. He parked in our driveway and my kids needed to get out to go somewhere. I approached the repair man and said, “Could I get you to move your truck so my kids can back out of the driveway?” Now there is nothing inherently wrong with that phrasing, but a stronger more clear way of saying the same thing is, “I need you to please move your truck so my kids can leave.” This is a simple, minimally consequential example, but the same kind of situation could occur between partners.
Another relationship based example happened between my boyfriend and me recently. I was upset about a text I received. I read the text out loud to my boyfriend and expected him to empathize with me and support me. Instead he suggested we watch our favorite show. This was not the response I was looking for and I felt unheard and frustrated as we watched the show.
After the show was over, I said, “Do you have any ideas about how I should respond to X about the text?” He then took my hand and we talked over the different perspectives involved with the message. He kissed me when I got emotional and offered different ways to handle the situation. I left his home feeling seen, heard and loved. I had to ask for what I wanted —no beating around the bush, no remaining silent and expecting the other person to figure out what I need.
You deserve to be treated well
I have friends and clients who settle for mediocre to poor treatment. They let others use them for attention, sex, money, etc. For instance, I know women who accept when a man does not call them for a few days after a date. Meanwhile, during those few days, they wonder how the man feels about them and their insecurity builds. But, if the man calls five days later and asks for another date, they happily agree to it.
They don’t believe they deserve reassurance and responsiveness. It’s OK to be made to feel insecure. A secure person, who knows they deserve quality treatment, would eliminate the slow responders. They would hold out for or ask for respectful treatment.
Why we need authenticity
If we don’t have strong inner values and integrity, we won’t be able to handle conflict or tough times within relationships. We will accommodate until we lose ourselves. We will not know how to resolve difficult decisions because we won’t have positions to fall back on and relying on other’s influences may lead us astray from our true selves.
In a mature, interdependent relationship, we maintain our integrity while honoring other’s perspectives. We say things in such a way that they can take in our words and process them. To do this, we have to be conscious of other’s perspectives and past wounds. We consider their feelings, history and responses.
It’s taken me years to see past my own wounds when dealing with my ex-husband. I continue to work on seeing his wounds and understanding his reactions (to my actions). When I take his perspective into account it makes my decisions and reactions clearer. They are not necessarily easy decisions or reactions, but they are more conscious and grown up.
A mature person takes other’s perspectives into consideration when making decisions. We do our best to make others feel secure. We increase their security by being dependable and trustworthy. When we make others feel secure and safe, they can be themselves. When they feel free and safe they offer us consideration instead of competition. In being ourselves and offering others the chance to do the same, we combine courage and consideration. We foster maturity.
Do you know your wants and needs? Do you know your partner’s?
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.
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