Stay connected

Enter your email address to receive notifications of new posts.

Testimonials

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
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 for all the words. You’ve created the magic drug I’ve been looking for all my life. Your blog has transformed my life, and I feel like I am on the brink of a most satisfying fulfilling journey…You’ve made me see everything in a new light. I now feel calmer, able to care better for my toddler, less hateful of people around, and hopeful for my future. I am not so afraid for our marriage anymore. — Shilpa CB
Shilpa CB
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
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
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.
Brenda has truly opened up a space for introverted types on the ‘net, and her self-revelations are always inspiring. Her voice is one I always look forward to. She is one of the writers that actually played a part in my return to writing.  — S.E. of Sunflower Solace Farms
S.E. of Sunflower Solace Farms
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
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
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.

Join us on Facebook

Social Anxiety:The Fear of Others Seeing Us Struggle?

I got back out on the trails for a run the other day after a long winter hiatus. After my oh-so-slow performance, I’ve decided I have to stop saying “I’m going for a run” and change it to “I’m going for a jog.” My first jog this year happened with my 14-year-old daughter. She recently joined the track team and was eager to try the trails with her mom. Despite my completely honest depiction of my running capabilities, she thought we would be equal running partners.

She left me in the dust.

My gut reaction to my daughter’s running invitation, was “I’d rather not”. Part of me wanted the time and experience with her, but I’ve never liked running with others. I can’t talk while I’m jog/running and I feel a lot of pressure to keep up with them even if my lungs burst.

Why alone is easier

I realized— while jogging by myself days later — I really don’t want anyone to see me struggle. When I run er.. jog alone, I always hope to have the trails to myself, especially when I’m running up the hills. It’s OK if I huff and puff and practically walk once I reach the top of the hill, if no one but me witnesses it. I actually enjoy pushing myself, but if I encounter someone else on the path, I straighten up, add extra spring to my step and go faster for the few seconds I am in their view.

Sure, some of this is pure pride. Most of us, if given the choice, will choose to look good over pathetic, but this false bravado is hard to sustain physically, mentally and spiritually.

The core of social anxiety

This fear of not being seen in our best light is at the core of social anxiety. Whether we were teased or judged harshly for mistakes in the past or we fear burdening someone with our ineptness, doing something that is difficult for us seems so much easier to do without an audience.

For some of us, starting conversations or answering questions off-the-cuff are areas where we struggle. For others, performing certain acts like eating or walking across a room, provide the arena for potential mishaps. These struggles and their subsequent shame or embarrassment if witnessed by others, causes us to avoid such situations.

Struggle to ask for help

One of my children, a few years ago, found themselves failing a math class. They never said anything to their dad or me. We only found out because the teacher sent a progress report and emailed us a letter of concern. The teacher said our child never asked for help in school. They slowly let their grade slip into the danger zone, as they panicked in private. They were too embarrassed or ashamed to admit they needed help.

Once my ex-husband and I were in on the situation, we did our best to support our child and reverse the slide. We did not fix everything for them but we helped them figure out how they could take back control and get on a positive trajectory. Part of that was limiting their phone and fun time. Part of it was encouraging them to meet with the teacher every day for help. It helped us to stay in contact with the teacher too.

Our child saw the benefits of having a team behind them. Isolating and licking wounds alone, only exacerbated the problem. Some things require the help and support of others. Their grade eventually came up and we all learned the importance of not struggling in isolation.

I actually wanted to help and it felt good to be able to offer assistance. I have often thought the lines we hear about people wanting to help us, are poppycock, but the truth is, quite often, they do.

Disconnecting is not the answer

The times when I have been brave enough to let others see me at my worst: 1. Complaining, crying and making mistakes while going through my divorce. 2. Peeing my pants during excruciating workouts with my old training group 3. Letting my emotions and insecurity show with my partner. 4. Failing as a parent to meet the needs of my kids in front of other parents. 5. Feeling overwhelmed, calling my best friend and just crying. The list goes on and on… During those times, having others around offering compassion, understanding, inspiration and laughter, saved me.

Struggling with others connects us and makes us better

My daughter was nervous about trying track. She had all kinds of worries about being last or falling down. She used to run occasionally on the treadmill with headphones. Now, during track practice she runs every day with others and no headphones. She ran her third 400 meter race last night. The first two races she got fourth place out of six/seven. Last night she got second out of nine. She said running with other people pushes her to be her best.

Solitude and surviving

As a highly sensitive person and introvert, I understand the desire for solitude. The recovery of energy and the ability to do deep work are just two blessings that grow out of the fertile soil of solitude.

I even understand the strong desire to work alone on perfecting something you are ashamed of or have not mastered yet. I still prefer jogging on the trails alone. But if your fear of floundering or struggling in front of others is holding you back or making things worse, please consider allowing the comfort, feedback, motivation and help of others. If we struggle and survive, we become stronger.

Do you let others see you challenged? What if others saw you in a weak state? Do you struggle in private with anything? 

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

About the Author:

2 Comments

  1. michaelrbuley May 11, 2018 at 4:50 pm - Reply

    No, I don’t like others to see me struggling. I don’t like to play games I’m no good at — e.g., Trivial Pursuit. I like to play games I excel at — e.g., Boggle. There are very few games I excel at, so I like to play basic card games that are a lot of luck, or games I have a chance of winning — or at least I’m decent at. My insecurities run very high. I used to love to play darts, but my throwing arm doesn’t work so well due to my strange way of driving with my arm almost always resting against the window when I drive for many years, and so I can hardly hit the board for 5 or 6 games, and I no longer like playing darts!! I look like an idiot!! lol …

    I have many struggles with keeping up with the money side of my business – collecting $, renewing customers for yearly programs and such. I hate for people to know about it. I am too keenly aware of my own failings, to have others privy to it also. I struggle alone with it all, and often the outcomes are not positive.

    I am keenly introverted — I have come to realize I don’t like people around me for the most part, unless those people are ones I feel very safe with: a couple of friends, immediate family. But even then, only for limited times. I have an intense preference to be alone. It is where I am most comfortable, most at peace. Where I feel the safest.

    I look back on my life — I’m now 62 years old. I now see that much of the difficulty I had in my first marriage was due to being around too many people for too long. But I was completely blind to my introverted nature. I don’t have a lot of immediate memories of much of my life; I lived outside of my body for most of my years, being someone I really wasn’t. Many of the times I do remember, are times when I was alone — quiet, safe, I could think, write, study; be alone with my thoughts and ideas and creativity.

    Today, my tolerance for people in my space is very limited. I think after most of my life lived with a lot of people in my space, I have reached a point where I seek, above all, quiet and solitude. People in my space — simply people in the house, even if they are upstairs and I am downstairs — is a negative energy for me. The sounds and presence of other people drains me, interferes with my concentration.

    As far as people seeing me struggle? No, I don’t like it. My self esteem is quite low; sometimes I’m not sure I have any — which doesn’t bother me. I don’t have a desire to ‘boost my self esteem.’ My self esteem is terrible! lol … and I like who I am. I see my strengths, which are significant. I see my flaws, which are significant. I accept them both, and feel no need to ‘improve’ who I am; rather, I want to play to my strengths, immerse myself in my passions, and be happy there.

    No one is likely to be a greater critic of a highly sensitive person, than that person himself or herself. The desire to have people in my life who uplift me is keen; as I uplift others, and never criticize others, it is what I seek from anyone in my life. There are a few. And they are enough. Please don’t point out my flaws and failings! I know them far better than anyone else possibly could. After all, I live with them every moment!

    Being highly sensitive and introverted is cool in so many ways. But we have to know what we need so that we can be all of the cool things that we are. It has taken me a long, long time to understand that. I continue to learn. And you, Brenda, have been a huge part of my coming home to who I really am. I am always grateful for you.

    Michael

    • Brenda Knowles May 12, 2018 at 12:38 pm - Reply

      Dear Michael you hit the nail on the head with your comment stating no one is likely to be a greater critic of a highly sensitive person than him or herself. So true! We are born and groomed to be highly aware of ourselves. As per my post and in your words, it is essential to have people around who uplift and see past our struggles.It makes my day to hear I had a part in bringing you home to yourself. Take care Michael. 🙂

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: