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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…
Niko
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
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.
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.
Because of your blog, I know that it is possible for me to have the love that I want one day and that I don’t have to be alone.  — Indepthwoman  on space2live
Indepthwoman
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 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
That courage and dedication you so generously share with the world, has inspired me to push myself a little harder, persevere at each task a little longer, dig a little bit deeper to where the answers just “feel” right to both my humanity AND my spirit. Your insights have reinforced my direction and given me additional tools that help me clear my path. I’m wired into my creativity as never before and the new music is pouring out of me faster than I can record and produce it; this is the Un…
Gary
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
During one of the harder times in my life I found Brenda’s website
and reached out to her. To say the least it has been one of the best
decisions I have made. Being an extrovert I never quite understood
what it meant to romantically involved with an introvert. Brenda does
an incredible job listening, giving in the moment feedback, and helped
me understand the how an introvert functions. She helped explain to me
that I am introspective extrovert, and this gave something to identify
with and allowed me t…
Evan H.

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An Intuitive Introvert Redefines Typical: The New Normal Is Sensitive, Reflective and Recharged

welcome to ab normal

I don’t know if I could make it as a ‘normal’ person. I sincerely don’t think I could work a 40+ hour/week office job, raise kids, maintain my home, nurture a romantic relationship and keep up social ties. My nervous system begs for calm. I do everything so deeply and with such conscientiousness, I believe I would crack forcing myself to do what most others do.

This is where I struggle with my sensitivity and introversion. So many people place a high value on working with others, working hard, making money and achieving. Stress is a badge of honor that proves you are playing the part.

I should be able to do all of those things and deal with stress because most people do.

But I can’t.

How I am

Stress, in my opinion, comes from the relentless pursuit of rewards and accomplishments without space between objectives to rest, reflect and think of new possibilities.

The threshold for overwhelm is lower for sensitive people. Our inner worlds and nervous systems are so active that outer stimulation has to be moderated to prevent overloaded circuits. I easily get derailed from productivity by emotions, confrontation and stimulation.

Sad_WomanFor example, my emotions sabotaged five hours of my time today. Financial discussions with my former husband triggered old baggage. I had to work through the feelings, frustrations and finally actual dollars, before I could move on. Such loaded discussions and my reactions to them, use up valuable time I could be working (writing, reading, thinking, coaching, building relationships) and the psychological energy drain affects other vital relationships.

Confrontation goes against my core need to have good rapport within all of my relationships. Intellectually, I know that is an unrealistic goal and I should not base my happiness or identity on other’s feelings about me. I even know confrontation makes you grow, but my intuition and heart say my intellect is not as important as how I feel —which is shitty when there is disharmony in my life. Confrontation stultifies me to a degree that is beyond that of the average person.

I tried to be like everybody else but it didn’t work

marketing woman

Marketing woman

I tried to lead the typical life. I worked in offices in administrative positions for almost ten years. This was fine overall because I met good people and had minimal responsibilities outside of work.

I juggled family, home, marriage and social obligations for ten years after that. I played the must be busy, must host dinner and birthday parties, must have the best swimming lessons, summer camps and lattes, game. I was as stereotypically suburban housewife as mini-vans and McMansions.

This pushed me over the tipping point. I began to flail as a partner and parent. I was anxiety-ridden and low energy. My nervous system and inner voice spoke loudly to me in the dark.  “Nothing is feeding me, only feeding off of me.”

I had to exit the rat race and join the outsiders club. I had to rest away from people, reflect on what I was really accomplishing and think of ways I could be true to myself and love my family.

Relationship therapist Jayson Gaddis says, “Shoulds limit your alignment and progress. Shoulds are for those who do not want to put in the effort to know themselves and for those afraid to reject social norms.”

I was ready to live free of  ‘shoulds’.

Not a typical job

I created my job. Now I write about introversion and high sensitivity, topics many don’t feel comfortable with or understand. I write from home by myself rather than go for another cubicle job with group conferences and thousands of daily interruptions. Some days I don’t leave my house and although it feels a little weird, I’m OK with that. I coach others similar to me about how to leverage their gifts and rise to their greatest potential. I don’t have a big salary but I feel aligned with myself when I coach and write. I prefer autonomy and alignment to security and widely-accepted.

Not a typical mom

mommy in timeoutI savor and enjoy the time to myself when the kids are with their dad. To ‘normal’ parents that might seem selfish or non-maternal. Unlike many moms who are sad when their kids are not with them, I need that time to become whole again. A bubble bath or nail appointment is not going to be enough for me. I need hours of nourishing alone or relationship time to get me back to center. My inner world has to be accessed and fed. I need kid-free time in order to be a ‘typical’ child-focused mom when they return.

I may not be a regular mom but I know I am a good mom. I parent my kids with love and extra doses of deep connection. I may not offer to be the snack parent for the football team or live to host mass sleepovers but I do spend real quality time listening and learning with my kids. I make them put down their electronics and tell me something good that happened that day. I get behind them when they share aspirations or disappointments. We watch “The Twilight Zone” together rather than shuttling back and forth between sports or activities. We linger around the family dinner table most nights.regular mom cool mom

I believe I have strong, positive relationships with my kids not based on achievement and constant doing, but more based on who we are. I want to know who they are on the inside. I make it a point to try to see things from each of their perspectives. I am learning to not take it personally when their views differ from mine. With my Myers Briggs knowledge, I strive to help them appreciate the varied personality types within our little clan.

This too shall pass 

From experience, I am getting better at working through emotions. Frequent exposure to confrontation and exasperation has helped me become better at speaking more directly and assertively, which lends an element of closure to the emotional flood. I’ve had more practice naming and expressing my feelings and values. When you’ve used all your ‘nice language’ and you are at your wit’s end, you learn how to get to the point.

I’ve learned how to create and enforce boundaries that protect my relaxed state. I give myself time to think about things. I don’t feel the sense of urgency to respond to emotional vampires that I used to.

These practices were the only way I found to get through my negative feelings faster and move on to resolution and clarity. Growth is hard!

Despite the need to be atypical — and the alienated feeling that can cause, I am content most of the time. I love my job. It fulfills me. I love my kids. They offer meaningful experiences and relationships. I know I am not alone in my need to rest, reflect and dream between action steps. There is an outsiders club and I adore the other outsiders that make me feel at ease.

What do you trade in order to be relaxed and satisfied? Are you able to own your personality type? Do others accept your ‘abnormality’?

If you are interested in learning how to live freely and successfully as a sensitive introvert, contact me for personal encouragement, challenges and support. 

 

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7 Comments

  1. Ann Nonymous March 29, 2016 at 8:33 pm - Reply

    Brenda, I so appreciate your take on things; you have such a marvelous talent for concisely and eloquently expressing the crux of the matter, while candidly sharing your own personal experiences as a sensitive intuitive introvert. Your blog provides a much-needed oasis of compassionate validation for those of us of similar temperament.
    I also really respect your commendable efforts to honor and support the individuality and personhood of your children, while simultaneously respecting your own needs and desire for continuing personal growth, which is a great thing to model for them (as well as for any parents/prospective parents who read your words).
    I personally never had either the energy or the desire to have children, having basically spent the first 23 years of my life ‘parenting’ a seriously mentally ill mother who frequently expressed her resentment about the burden she felt that my existence (and any needs or wants that I had) imposed upon her. After escaping from that toxic environment, I ultimately became a therapist, and spent the next 25 years counseling people with addictions and severe trauma/abuse issues, while simultaneously pursuing my own ongoing path of personal growth and healing; I found each of these endeavors to be both challenging and extremely rewarding.
    However, as a highly sensitive introvert, I eventually reached a point where I realized that, in order to best care for myself, I needed to retire; I had spent nearly 48 years empathically supporting others who were frequently in crisis or chaotic situations, and I was finally desiring peace and harmony in all of my life, not just part of it. (A therapist friend succinctly summed this up by noting that I had successfully slain my internalized rescuer archetype, which was absolutely on target.)
    I am extremely fortunate to be able to do this financially (I live off of my savings,) and in these past 4 years, I have been significantly happier than I have ever been in my entire life. My lifestyle, of course, flies in the face of the dominant cultural mandate to be ‘productive’, (and can drive my compulsively busy ISTJ husband nuts, despite the fact that I pay 50% of the household bills), but I honestly don’t give a damn! What do I DO all day? Relax and enjoy my life, that’s what I do!!! 😉

  2. Kelly March 2, 2016 at 9:46 pm - Reply

    Thank you for the great blog post. I relate to this 100% and appreciate the honesty. I am learning to value my own needs which are not “typical” or understood by a lot of people in my life. I am learning not to apologize for who I am but to honor who I am. I realize it is the only way that I can be there for the people I love and to be present with others in general. Your post helps encourage and inspire me to believe in myself and follow my instincts for what I need to be healthy.

    • Brenda Knowles March 3, 2016 at 12:22 pm - Reply

      I’m glad my post was helpful and encouraging. You are not alone.:) Yes, you are correct, the better you are at owning or honoring your needs the better overall your relationships will be. Keep up the good boundary setting.

  3. Stephanie February 28, 2016 at 4:02 pm - Reply

    Interesting question about others accepting the ‘abnormality’. This recently came up in my work (office-based mainly in a large university – I don’t suit it, either). The management team at my work all took the Myers Briggs test recently. My manager, and all but one of the senior team identified as extroverts and judging. I mentioned in passing that in a previous test I came up as INFJ and she was really curious about how that worked for me. It was completely different to the last conversation we had about my work preferences, where I was desperately seeking to explain that too much of people exhaust me – which she just didn’t get – perhaps because I’m in an ill-suited relationship manager role! It was really nice to have the chance to explain it without fear of judgement, and came away feeling that little bit more respected and hopeful about being understood.

    We’re attending a conference in Washington DC together next week. We’re travelling together from England and inevitably I am going to need a decent chunk of quiet time what with all the travel and people so I don’t get over-wired and feel a little bit crazy! I’m curious to see how we handle it as I run away to recover.

    • Brenda Knowles March 3, 2016 at 12:11 pm - Reply

      It sounds like the Myers Briggs assessment is doing its job. The inventory is supposed to make it easier to appreciate and understand how other people are wired and ultimately foster better relationships. I would definitely schedule in a good chunk of alone/quiet time during your work trip. I hope you get time alone in your room. I have a code word with my boyfriend for when I need time to myself. It’s Walgreens. If I say, “I need to stop by Walgreens” he knows I’m about to lose my mind. 😉 That might work with your co-worker.
      INFJs love to foster the potential in others so your relationship manager role may not be so ill-suited. You will have to set clear boundaries for yourself in order to protect your renewal time but it will be worth it because your performance will then be tip-top.

  4. Monet February 26, 2016 at 3:46 pm - Reply

    When my first set of now adult children were growing up a child was only in one of these activities if he/she chose to be and showed an interest. Not to keep up with, what seems nowadays, just to be appearances of who’s kid is doing the most/best, is smartest at ..fill in the blank.

    My Introversion cost me custody of my 2 youngest children.

    Yes, you read that correctly. You see, when I married for the second time Childhood and Parenthood were different ballgames than my first time around with my 3 eldest children.

    Now, it seemed you had to have your child enrolled in “every” class and extracurricular activity or you were seen as either lazy or a bad parent.

    Long story short. I was going thru a divorce with a very abusive man, whom was not only a Narcissist, but a Psychopath confirmed via 2 separate Court Ordered Psych Evaluations.

    Now anyone that knows anything about Pschopathy, it is a scary word, it doesn’t mean one whom has it is a Serial Killer.

    No. They just have no guilt, remorse or conscience. Therefore, they can get away with the most outrageous lies and charm anyone onto their side (except the very, VERY few whom are able to detect what they are doing and that is a VERY FEW)!

    Turns out he called other Mothers from my Son’s Prep school and they all noted that I did not attend every single one of my Son’s Football/Basketball games.

    I attended about half and it drained the Heck out of me dealing with fake, phony people.

    Again, long story short that was the deciding factor in the Judge’s decision. I was therefore deemed an unfit mother not acting in my Children’s best interest.

    Keep spreading the word. I pray this does not happen to any other women.

    I also would like to say if you don’t truly know a person don’t assume because they don’t show up for every of their Child’s event they are a bad parent. Think before somebody uses you for their own gain.

    Karma is watching.

    • Brenda Knowles February 28, 2016 at 8:43 am - Reply

      Thank you for sharing your personal story Monet. It is so difficult to be held to other’s standards of propriety. I can imagine the loss you felt. Sadly, I think even the children feel like they have to be doing at least one structured activity after school or they fear they are not normal or not keeping up. I am all for kids trying something to see if they like it or doing an activity because they enjoy it. I believe parents should support those interests to the best of their ability but so much of the busy-ness is based on keeping up an image or maintaining a standard dictated by an extroverted culture. I believe healthy parenting is about loving quality time with our children. A sense of ambition and vision is important too but not to the point of diminishing a relationship. Sending you peace and a “I hear you”.

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