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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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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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When Time is Fragmented, Introverts Stress Out

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I have a client who thrives while moving from one task to the other, often without planning or time in between jobs. He likes having different jobs thrown at him at different times. He rolls with the changes and the barrage of details to be handled. His wife feels different about such juggling and pivoting.

Need continuous work time

I believe I’ve had one full workday this summer. Every other day has been filled with kid time, travel and doctors’ appointments. My kids are home with me a part of almost every day. Since I work from home, they are essentially at work with me, which honestly… doesn’t work. As a writer, researcher and personal coach, I spend a lot of time doing tasks that require deep concentration. I need quiet time to read, let patterns develop and associations to form. I need uninterrupted time to put myself in my client’s shoes, understand why they feel the way they do and formulate ways to help them move through the trouble they are experiencing. Broken up time periods do not support such deep work. I just get into a flow of ideas and it’s time to make lunch for the kids or time to take my daughter to the orthodontist.

I am grateful I have a flexible schedule and can be there for my children but it takes a toll on my energy and ability to remain calm. As an introvert, the removal of my time and space to go internal, leaves me at a deficit. I use all of my willpower to move from task to task, request to request. But, like being on a diet, eventually I just want a big juicy cheeseburger or a juicy four-hour escape to my happy place of thoughts and creative work.

My client’s wife,  who also has a hard time with a fast-paced, task driven lifestyle, is an artist, athlete and an introvert. Her peace is found doing continuous work. Interruptions from others pull us out of our deep reveries or focused attention. Linking patterns and ideas is a fragile process. Getting back into that state of concentration is effortful and time-consuming.

As much as we would like to keep all of our special people feeling seen and heard, it is often at the sacrifice of our own tranquility. I’ve had two clients tell me this summer that they don’t feel like they have any joy in their lives. Another just said she is exhausted. All three are parents living in achievement driven environments. Having space to connect with ourselves is a vital part of well-being. Unfortunately, society pushes constant distractions and busyness as normalcy and badges of honor.

Is it empathy burnout?

This week I talked to two friends about recent losses in their lives. I happened to talk to them both on the same day. By the end of that day, I was zapped. Pair the empathy I felt for them with a day of no real free time or deep concentration, and my energy reserves tanked. The next day I managed to recover some lost energy. I slept well which always boosts my outlook. I also had a client cancel her session in the afternoon. In true introvert form, I felt a sense of relief at her cancellation. It’s not that I don’t like working with clients (I actually love my job!), it was just that it freed up three hours that afternoon. Three glorious hours to do other things in a more leisurely way. Aaaah.

Some people don’t have the intense empathy for others so it’s easier to move from one thing to another without taking in the effects of each move on each person. This frees up a lot of head and heart space. It’s easier to accomplish and quantify tasks than it is to sustain harmony. In her article ENFJs, INFJs and Empathy Burnout, Susan Storm talks about not being able to rest if someone is suffering in her home. Many empathetic types find it difficult to find peace inside themselves when there is conflict outside.

Even on vacation I was conscious of my kids’ perception of how much time I spent with each of them. I did my best to divide my time evenly among them. The result was less relaxing for me. I didn’t get to connect as deeply with my relatives because that kind of connection can’t be rushed. It can’t be split between six people and it can’t be fragmented into six-minute sound bytes.

Remedying the burnout

Over the last two years, I’ve really worked to find ways to relax WITH my kids. Now that they are all teenagers it is easier. They like to watch shows that I like. They like to have thoughtful discussions about things like politics or education. I ask them to help with driving and housework more. I take naps when they are home.

Another burnout salvation I have discovered is letting someone care for me. My boyfriend’s support and caring attention restore lost energy. Having someone who provides a safe haven is fortifying. Granted, there are times when we have to ask of each other, but overall there is a surplus of energy-creating support.

Slowly, I am learning to manage my anxiety about not finishing every little thing each day. Sometimes jobs linger over several days. Some days I just don’t get things done. I’ve put some of the marketing for my book on hold. I’m doing the major work but realize I will be more engaged and engaging once the kids are back in school.

I’ve learned to lower my standards for how our house and yard look. I value time with my kids more than time pulling weeds, although … I could pull weeds with my kids. I’m sure they’ll love that.

In couples when one is a doer and one is a feeler or introvert looking for continuous work time, the important thing is to appreciate the differences and use each other’s skills to the couple’s advantage. The trouble comes when one is valued more than the other (usually the doer). A better approach is to support each other so each person feels validated, thus giving everyone maximum energy.

 

Do fragmented days stress you out? Do things take you longer to accomplish because you consider everyone’s feelings? How do you avoid burnout? 

 

My book, The Quiet Rise of Introverts: 8 Practices for Living and Loving in a Noisy World, is available on Amazon now. I’d love it if you’d check it out.:) 

Quiet Rise of Introverts

 

 

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12 Comments

  1. Sonia Godin August 17, 2017 at 8:32 am - Reply

    Good article Brenda, you are always able to put into words how I feel. Going through that this week. I took the week off, thinking I would paint, read, relax. I even informed my son that I was not going anywhere, it was a week for me.

    Well it’s not going how I had planned it in my head. I’m rushing to do things, I’m not getting in my focused state, there is too much noise and energy. I’m trying to find alone time but it’s almost impossible. So like you said I have to lower my standards.
    Plus I’m helping a friend launch her business in foot Care , by designing her banner, business card, ect. Although it’s all new and exciting for me it’s not what I had planned. But I know that returning to work next week I will be glad all that work is done for her.
    I realize more and more that I need that alone time, to think, plan, observe nature, get creative.

    Thanks
    Sonia Godin, Ontario Canada

    • Brenda Knowles August 19, 2017 at 12:02 pm - Reply

      Thank you for your kind words Sonia. I hope you get some alone time somehow during your week. Even with the best intentions I know how easy it is to get sidetracked by others. If you enjoy doing the work for your friend perhaps that is another way to recharge, a task that puts you in flow mode. Thank you for sharing your experience.:)

  2. James McSherry August 12, 2017 at 1:01 pm - Reply

    Thank you for sharing this.

    Only today I was sitting feeling a bit sorry for myself, quite frankly feeling like sometimes I am finding it a bit difficult to locate joy in my life. I know I need some changes and am working on that, working on creating the space for them. Interesting that you mention (paraphrasing here) both the stress of multitasking and the enjoyment that comes from being deeply engaged in a task or project (albeit without interruptions).

    Something that I have written about recently and you allude to is a kind of lowering of standards in certain areas of life in order to streamline things and allow for more space. I am interested in minimalism and simple living – and believe they have the potential to unlock free time for introverted people. It’s a big part of my introverted/minimalism life experiment anyway!

    • Brenda Knowles August 13, 2017 at 11:47 am - Reply

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment James. It sounds like we are both working on finding joy in our lives. Keep me posted on your work with minimalism. I’ve found it very difficult to streamline my life with 3 children that integrate me into a society with the opposite agenda. Any insight is welcome. 🙂

      • James McSherry August 16, 2017 at 4:51 pm - Reply

        Hi Brenda, I tagged you on Twitter on a post I wrote about Introversion and finding time and space. Minimalism is definitely a strong tool for introverts – lowering the number of choices (stuff, cleaning, decisions etc) makes a real daily difference. More than anything, I feel this has helped me.

        Herbal remedies (Ginseng, Rhodiola, B vitamins) and daily exercise.

        Writing. Reading sites like yours. Finding out the subtleties of being introverted and the understanding of oneself it brings.

        Keep on keeping on, knowing you make a difference through this site and that your insights help others. It’s not easy in this extroverted world at times

        • Brenda Knowles August 19, 2017 at 11:58 am - Reply

          Thank you James. I agree, keeping our choices to a minimum gives a lot of relief. Too many options and we spend too much time worrying we’ll regret our choice. I’ve seen studies where those who make their decisions quickest and just work with the consequences are happier than those who agonize over a decision and later worry/wonder if they made the right choice. Our finely tuned brain and nervous system are pretty good at making intuitive decisions, but the fewer choices the easier the decision. Thank you for your thoughtful comment James. 🙂

  3. Sandra GW August 11, 2017 at 4:58 pm - Reply

    Loved this one, Brenda!

    • Brenda Knowles August 11, 2017 at 8:59 pm - Reply

      Thanks Sandra!

  4. Julie Bond Genovese August 11, 2017 at 3:47 pm - Reply

    OH! So true! “Many empathetic types find it difficult to find peace inside themselves when there is conflict outside.” And it’s such vital (and challenging!) work to disconnect our self-worth based on another’s emotional state or choices. As Byron Katie says, When I’m minding their business, trying to “fix them,” who is minding my business? No one. And then I miss out on the full, rich NOW while trying to control them (so I can feel better.) Why not just feel better first? I find that it then rubs off on the ones we thought we could fix. And if it doesn’t, we’re too happy to worry about it. They have their own divine alignment and they will, without our help, learn to use it. Fingers crossed 🙂

    • Brenda Knowles August 11, 2017 at 8:52 pm - Reply

      I love Byron Katie’s insight and yours.:) When we can stay present with ourselves and don’t take on other’s feelings, it lightens our load and gives us energy, which ultimately makes us more beneficial to others. I’m still working on being able to do that. 😉 Hope you are well sweet Julie.

  5. Andrea August 11, 2017 at 3:33 pm - Reply

    Reading this, I felt like I was reading my own words. I feel exactly the same way about everything you wrote here. Finding you a while back was the first time I realized there were others like me. In mid-life, I will no longer apologize how I’m made. I’m very happy you’ve got a book coming out, and I also notice that there is more talk about the positives of being and introverts, instead of making us out to be weak, weird, or wrong.

    Thank you for sharing your life and insights with us!
    Andrea

    • Brenda Knowles August 11, 2017 at 8:45 pm - Reply

      I’m glad it resonated with you Andrea. You are definitely not alone and not weak, weird or wrong.:)

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