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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…
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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
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During one of the harder times in my life I found Brenda’s website
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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…
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Your words are my lifeline.  I sit down to your posts and as I read I can feel my acceptance of myself and my needs grow.  Your words validate my feelings about my life, motherhood, relationships and it is something I hold onto.  And during the times when I feel like I am not able to be a mother or a wife or a sister or a friend or whatever someone needs me to be, I go back to your words and find some peace…I send your posts to my husband when I need him to understand that I love him but I need …
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Solitary Activities Only Half Fixes for Depression and Anxiety?

woman alone on rocks

Photo by Felix Russell-Saw on Unsplash

… when I felt depression or anxiety start to set in, I felt a panicked need to keep my head above water — so I would try to do something for myself. I would buy something, or watch a film I like, or read a book I like, or talk to a friend about my distress. It was an attempt to treat the isolated self, and it didn’t work very often. — Johann Hari, Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression — and the Unexpected Solutions

Like Johann Hari above, I have often attempted to self-soothe by exercising, reading, or just being alone. I only felt true relief when I took what I learned in solitude and shared it with others.

I was happiest exercising in my group hip hop class. I am most content when I read something interesting and then share it with my family or you my readers on brendaknowles.com. Telling a friend of my distress provides mild relief but I’ve found it most effective if I also witness my friends’ experiences. There is something soothing about knowing you are not alone in your striving, challenges and triumphs.

What about introverts?

I know many of you are thinking but we are introverts and highly sensitive. We recharge in solitude. We need alone time like we need oxygen.

I agree, to a point. A portion of our stimulation/people sensitivity can be attributed to the biological makeup we were born with. At most, this explains about 50% of our sensitive behavior.

The truth is most of us have trained ourselves to self-regulate and promote our individuality. Self-regulating comes from our past relationship experiences and a lack of reliability from our parents or partners. Individuality comes from the Western culture we grew up in.

Eastern versus Western culture

How many times have we heard, “You do you!” or “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps!” ? Even when we encounter problems we assume they are our own problems and we must fix them ourselves.

Eastern countries in Asia have a more collective view of life. They see the crowd first and then the individual. According to research quoted by Johann Hari in Lost Connections, consciously trying to make yourself happy only works if you take a collective route. People in Asian countries make themselves happy by making things better for their group, and it works. People in the U.S. or Britain focus on making their own lives better and it does not work.

What does fill us up? 

So essentially the lives we’ve been taught to live do not fulfill us psychologically. They leave us feeling empty and longing for connection, security and togetherness.

The real path to happiness, they were telling me, comes from dismantling our ego walls — from letting yourself flow into other people’s stories and letting their stories flow into yours; from pooling your identity, from realizing that you were never you — alone, heroic, sad — all along. –Johann Hari, Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression — and the Unexpected Solutions

group of friends skyline

Photo by Ben Duchac on Unsplash

In the last two years, I have spent more time with a partner, friends, family and a church community. When I am with them and afterward, I feel full. I have energy I did not have even when I had significant time alone. When I feel isolated and disconnected from my close people, I am down. I realize I am only presenting my story here. Of course, if our primary relationships are not emotionally or physically safe they will not offer the same peace and contentedness.

Welcome your input

I wonder if people in Asian cultures provide more emotionally and physically safe environments for each other? It seems they are more focused on the welfare of the group which would lead me to believe there is a sense of acceptance versus competition.

If you only find equanimity in solitude is it because you do not have safe companionship to turn to? I would appreciate feedback on this. Please let me know your perspective be it in agreement with mine or differing.

Are you truly more at happy alone or with a community? If you are from an Asian country, do you agree that your culture is more collective? 

 

 

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4 Comments

  1. Michael August 11, 2018 at 4:44 pm - Reply

    Safety is the thing, really. To feel safe with someone to be who you are, share what you actually think and feel, without being judged and all that. To feel wanted for who you are, and for who you are not. I guess, though, that that means you have to know who you are, to be who you are. That’s not always easy.

    But I like to think that when you love someone, you’re open to that person changing, in little ways and big ways, and you want that person to keep becoming. to not be this fixed person that you first met. Our essence remains the same, I think. And I think that the idea is to love the essence of someone. And know that he or she will change over time. And if you want that for each other — the freedom to grow and become and explore all of the infinite things there are to explore — then I would think you would want to always be with that person.

    I suppose in a lot of relationships, people want the other person to basically keep being who he or she is, or was. Maybe most relationships don’t encourage or foster that natural growth that is essential to being alive.

    I have known a lot of very beautiful people in my life. I am grateful for that always. I haven’t found someone I have experienced that safety with. But that’s okay. I always try to give people a safe space with me to be who they are. I want people to be who they are, just like I want me to be who I am. Being who we naturally are, can be tough.

    people are wired very differently. I do understand the energy that can come from being in a safe place, the joy it brings to be with those with whom you feel like you can let your hair down. It’s why family — and often extended family and friends you connect with — can be such a joy. I know, too, that families don’t always offer that. I’m fortunate in that way. My family has been my safest place.

    To feel free to be who we are, that’s the thing, I think. to be free. and loved and wanted for all those things we are, and are not. And for all of who we are, we are seen as we really are: beautiful. And it is that gift that we can offer to others: see them as … and know that they are … beautiful.

    • Brenda Knowles August 13, 2018 at 10:41 am - Reply

      Yes, Michael I would say the important piece is feeling safe to be yourself with others. If we don’t feel safe, it’s easier to be quiet and removed. Safety lets us blossom. You mentioned not wanting our partner to stay the same forever. If we can accept them as they are and as they become, that’s pretty darn incredible for them. I think relationships just get better and better if there is that kind of acceptance.
      You are blessed to have a family that makes you feel safe. As always, thank you for your thoughtful insight Michael. Truly appreciate it.

  2. Patrick Corrigan August 10, 2018 at 5:41 pm - Reply

    Your post is very timely and something I’ve been struggling with for a number of months. I ended a relationship recently, and am now realizing the real challenge of balancing social and alone time. I got very little affection in the relationship, but now I get almost none and I sometimes feel desperate for it. Now it feels like I spend too much time alone and need that safe space of friends and loved ones, not to box me in like the relationship did, but to support me. I’m very much an introvert, but I do need, and I mean “need”, those social interactions and sharing of energies or I can’t function well as myself.

    Thank you for validating my experience!

    • Brenda Knowles August 13, 2018 at 10:36 am - Reply

      I’m glad my post came along at the right time Patrick. 🙂 I have had the same experience. We are all wired neurologically as mammals to crave connection. May you find the support and interactions you need.

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