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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…
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
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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 …
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…
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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…
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Are You Struggling With Relationships and Long-term Endeavors? How to Break Out of the Slump With the Right Motivators

coffee shop window scene Dating after my husband moved out was an intriguing learning experience. I’ll never forget the sheer curiosity and amazement I felt toward men at the time. I remember my first official coffee date. He arrived wearing a cute hat and just the right amount of facial hair. We had known each other as acquaintances for a few years, but that day sitting in the sunlight, his eyes seemed to sparkle a little extra. We chatted easily about love, loss, kids, books, traveling, life’s challenges and bonuses. It blew my mind that a man could talk to and connect with me for over two hours. I hadn’t experienced that kind of man/woman communication since my 20s. I called one of my best girlfriends right afterwards and shouted into the phone, That was awesome!! Eventually, I began to explore physical affection and sexuality with a few of the men I dated. I enjoyed flirting, experimenting and the adventure of it all. Again, it had been twenty years since I’d participated in man/woman connection on that level. Now in my 40s, I was more comfortable in my own skin and at ease with my body. I was open to learning and deeply engaged in the experience. We had fun!surpise It was a whole new world to me. I found so much satisfaction in my relationships for those first two years. I was never without a date. I was perpetually intrigued. Then my mindset shifted. I dated one man for six months and started to think about settling down for the long-term. I truly cared for him and didn’t have a desire to be with anyone else. We were great at learning and exploring together. I wanted a future with him but this was not meant to be. He was not interested in a commitment. After him, my dating experience changed. I wasn’t as interested in exploring and learning about each man. I wasn’t as in awe of their masculine qualities. I wasn’t devoted to expanding as a person through relationships. I wasn’t looking for new skills to master. I wanted commitment. I wanted what I’d had with the other gentleman but with the big finish. I am not even talking marriage, just long-term dedication. I was looking for an end result rather than enjoying the ride.;) My number of dates dwindled and the relationships I started didn’t last long and ended in disappointment and frustration. I started to be gun-shy about dating. I started to doubt myself and the male species.

What motivates you?

The actions you perform to accomplish a mastery goal or a performance goal might be the same, but your motivation and your mindset will be quite different. When you’re focused on improving your own skills, rather than on demonstrating them, you’re less likely to get discouraged by obstacles, time pressure, or other unexpected challenges. You’ll believe that you can still improve and do better next time. You’ll have a growth mindset. — Edmond Lau

Computer science engineer and writer, Edmond Lau’s, post titled, How a Small Change Can Boost Your Motivation and Performance, provided this week’s revelation. For most of my life I was not motivated by mastery goals. I was motivated by the ‘typical’ goals or performance rewards:peer approval, money, prestige. My work and efforts were primarily tied to end results rather than improving my own skills.

One of my favorite images. We learn a lot during that tangled mess on the right.

One of my favorite images. We learn a lot from that tangled mess on the right.

In school I was the ideal student. I studied, complied and regurgitated — all for good grades and social acceptance. I did not raise my hand to gain knowledge or fulfill my curiosity. I raised my hand to show my intelligence and please the teacher. I often think about how much more enjoyable school would be now. I’d ask so many questions and befriend the instructors. I’d pour my heart into the learning and work hard to be really good at what I love. I may have even married for the wrong reasons. I wanted security, status and social acceptance. Those were my motivators for a long-term relationship, not that I was at all conscious of them at the time. I was in love because my husband made me laugh, he was loyal and I could see all of my dreams (performance rewards) coming to fruition. My ex-husband and I were great planners. We had a solid family network, lovely home and were ensconced in the ‘right’ circles.

Ideal motivators for introverts?

Daniel H. Pink in his book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Usdetermines the three true motivators to be: autonomy, mastery and purpose (making the perfect acronym – AMP). We want to be ourselves and direct our own lives/projects. We want to improve our skills and expand our knowledge. We want to be useful and provide meaningful service. These are what motivate people to complete long-term projects that require mental effort and ingenuity.These intrinsic goals keep us focused and engaged for the long haul. These motivators seem ideally aligned with the introverted personality.

  • We love autonomy, yes? Working alone without others interrupting and telling us what to do.
  • We have the ability to concentrate deeply for long periods of time, so mastering skills is right up our alley.
  • We prefer meaningful work. In fact, it energizes us. We can get on board with a project more easily if we feel it is valuable and offers the opportunity to make the world a little better.

Short term projects with clear goals and little opportunity for mastering new skills, like chores around the house or returning emails, do respond well to performance rewards such as treating yourself to a nice dinner or a nap, but have diminishing returns or even a negative effect if used for more complex undertakings.

Are you aiming for short-term or long-term success? 

Lau’s article and the studies mentioned therein, made it clear to me that if I want to stay motivated and engaged in long-term endeavors and relationships I need to focus on learning and growth, not just rewards, winning, accomplishments or commitment. Here are a few questions to ask yourself to see if you are using mastery or performance goals to motivate yourself: Are you studying in school to learn and grow or to prove your intelligence? Are you training for an athletic event to improve your own time or to beat the competition? Are you staying late at work in order to gain knowledge and skills within your field or are you only interested in overtime pay and a possible promotion?

How to apply motivational insight to your love life 

When I was dating for fun and personal enrichment, I was easily satisfied. If obstacles arose (like logistical problems or a lack of interest) I was better able to take them in stride. We worked through them or I figured it wasn’t meant to be. I was grateful for the experience and lessons learned while with that man. I didn’t take it so personally. I didn’t feel defeated if the relationship didn’t go the distance. My focus wasn’t on the commitment but on the experience and growth. I enjoyed myself without gunning for the elusive carrot of long-term devotion.

I’m employing that mindset now as I lightly enter the dating arena again. I’m investing in the experience and the learning. I’m enjoying the ride rather than focusing on the destination.

enjoying the rideI hope that my trials, errors and successes serve as lessons to you. May you find the perfect motivation for living an exquisite life as a highly conscious sensitive person and/or introvert.

What is driving you in your work and in your relationships? Where have you used a mastery goal to achieve? Have you had any relationships flop because you focused on obtaining a commitment?

If this post spoke to you than you may also love:

How to Protect and Liberate Your Energy:A Guide for Introverts and Anyone Who Feels Drained

I’d Rather Not Compete With You:For Introverts or Anyone Who Prefers Excellence Over Dominance

When Introverts Get Loud: Where Are You Using Your Voice?

Masquerading As Everyone Else’s Expectations: Finding Your True Identity As An Introverted Idealist

**Bonus benefits of giving up the goal of an end result: As I adapt this mindset again I have noticed how it applies to so many other areas of living. For example, my writing practice is never more alive and faceted than when I take classes and delve into the craft of writing. I am open to feedback and take the time to really go deep into the senses and reflection that inspire pure intriguing thoughts and words. When I invest in the honesty and craft I connect more intensely with readers which gives me a true sense of purpose. My fitness level peaks when I take on new exercise routines. I try something different and accept the fact that it will take time to master and show results. I am thoroughly engaged because it’s novel and I’m learning. I don’t know what to expect for results but I’m having fun working at it and keeping my body and brain active. I ask questions of others, make interesting friends and get excited about exploring the new opportunities. My body and mind benefit without specifically assigning a goal weight, distance to bike or dream jean size. Even cooking is more joyful if done creatively and with slow attention rather than solely for sustenance. I thoroughly enjoy engaging the senses and sharing a glass of wine with someone as we take our time preparing a beautiful meal. Weekday meals are a drag because often I have to throw something together before one of the kids has a sports activity. There is little joy in that except ‘mission accomplished’ and even that is fleeting.

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  1. coopadoop October 22, 2014 at 12:28 am - Reply

    I feel like I just wrote this entire article. I shit you not. I just relocated and broke off a 6 month relationship full of so much energy and passion and real love…all over location and age. He is much younger. I married my ex when we were 19. Fourteen years later, we were finally divorced. I had fun during the separation, but the divorce gave me closure and a sense of independence again. I was living with my mom and two kids, so that feeling wasn’t entirely realistic. But I focused on myself. Then I met him at work, I didn’t know him though because I kept to myself. I’d just told a mutual friend, “I’d really just like a fuck buddy. I don’t understand how it can be so hard. I’m upfront. I just don’t like putting myself out there.” I mean, who wants a relationship after that long of a miserable marriage? Marriage is unnatural to me at this point. But, I am monogamous by nature. And I have needs, so if I could just meet someone to have fun with on the weekends or who I can call after a stressful day for a smoke and a movie, that would be perfect. I met him the day before my last birthday, so we went out that night. He looked young, but I wasn’t going to be picky and I figured I’d ask him on our way out. His first reply was, “Old enough.” I should have known. But he is an old soul. He is perfection. There is no other word to describe him. We had intimate conversations about everything under the sun. We spent every night in bed high and sharing and laughing. He’d text me all day how much he missed me. I felt the same. Every feeling was exactly mutual. We traveled, we explored everything, including each other. We’ve lived out our most secret fantasies together, things we’ve promised to never share with anyone else. He made me feel like the sexiest, most loving woman alive. I would look into his eyes and he’d know what I was thinking. Those eyes would calm me under the most stressful circumstances…and there were many in our journey. But still, he made me feel like I was the only woman that existed, and he was so grateful I chose to spend my time with him. We were electric. We still manage to be somehow, even so far apart…but it is different now. We are apart, but still trying. I have kids that are my priority, and I couldn’t just go off with him on his journey. Early on, I told him I wouldn’t ask him to stick around. He agreed to the same. We both had aspirations when we met, and it wasn’t my place to ask him to put his life on hold for me. I already went through one failed relationship, I didn’t want another. We parted ways and it was like someone took the sun. It was almost unbearable. Needless to say, we’ve both caved and made promises if “you’d just come back…”. I still feel that way sometimes, but it doesn’t sting as much. I stopped crying at least. He’s been so patient, and I’ve put myself in this predicament. I don’t want to meet anyone. I want him to grow. I want him to become the man he wants to be, through life experiences. And I want meet up with him later, when we are both ready. I feel crazy just admitting this, but it’s true. I know he’s out there sleeping with other girls. That’s what he’s supposed to do at his age. He wasn’t a “player” when I met him, and I doubt he is now. We both know there is a rare connection between us. I let him go telling him that no matter what, I will always be grateful for having met him and lucky that I’ve felt like I’ve met my one person. He’s my other half. I don’t think many people can come to the end of their life feeling confident that they had met the true love of their life, their soul mate. I feel blessed to have met mind so early. It’s opened my eyes. I was supposed to meet him at that time of my life. He gave me confidence I’d never experienced before. He gave me love I’ve never felt before. He completely and totally trusted me with everything, and I him. Never in my life have I been able to say that about anyone. He sparked the child inside me, gave me light and imagination and wonder and hope…that anything can happen. I’m not fighting my feelings. I’m not going to belittle them and say they’re ridiculous, that I’m crazy for hoping still. That’s the kid in me. That’s what I loved about him. I loved his mind, and I’ve taken part of it with me. He gave me a voice, and now I always say exactly what’s on my mind, to anyone. That’s why I’m writing this now, sharing my own story of pure love, intimacy, and magic, almost. I miss him. And I know I’ll love him forever. And I know I’ll be okay, no matter what happens. I’m a different person than I was 6 months ago…mostly because of him.

    • Brenda Knowles October 22, 2014 at 9:18 am - Reply

      You are so wise to see the beauty and growth in your relationship. Your gratitude is also a sign of maturity. Isn’t it wonderful that you had such an amazing experience? I try to remember that too when I start to cultivate a ‘lack’ mentality. It’s interesting that you met your soul mate when you were just looking for a ‘fuck buddy’. It seems that’s when they trip into our lives – when we are open to simple experience and learning, not focused on a serious relationship. Perhaps you two will meet again when you both have grown even more. Wouldn’t that be lovely? I think it’s always a good idea to stay on good terms with former lovers. It keeps our hearts soft.:) Take your confident voice and new-found strength out and live to your highest level. Thank you for sharing your magical story. Makes my heart happy.:)

    • November November 11, 2014 at 3:48 pm - Reply

      I feel for you. I looked for a fwb (friends with benefits) and I found someone “perfect” with HUGE potential WAY beyond the “benefits”. I felt an awakening that I was just starting to love. Unfortunately he put “us” on hold abruptly in order to work on himself, which I respect and have realized is the perfect opportunity for ME to work on MYself (he and I are alike in 101 ways, which is what I looked for).
      I’m dying to talk to him, to see him, to be treated the way he treated me, to treat him the way he deserves. But I have to be patient, because that’s part of the respect he loved receiving….if it’s meant to be, it will happen. I believe that everything happens for a reason–even if that reason is for us to learn more about ourselves/life and to improve ourselves.
      I will think of you at 4:20 today, coopadoop. 😉

  2. Scott Mitchell October 18, 2014 at 6:01 am - Reply

    You’re a great writer and I loved reading this post. It’s a great mindset to keep I believe. Someday I hope to align my activity with a specific template that is most likely to achieve success in various life aspects, but for now I’m inconsistent and all over the place lol. Have a great weekend

    • Brenda Knowles October 18, 2014 at 8:34 am - Reply

      Thank you Scott. I’ve noticed some people are passionate and curious about many subjects and life in general. Others are content to learn just enough to get by. Those of us who have deep interest in various realms are never bored and perpetually enchanted.:) I see focus in your creativity. It’s a long term endeavor. Keep on with the passion.:)

  3. J Forest October 17, 2014 at 3:22 pm - Reply

    For me, this has been the most useful article of yours yet. Figuring out my motivations has been the crux of my marital discontent. I know I haven’t been happy. I just don’t know why and what’s motivating me to consider alternatives.

    Like you, my marriage from all external observances and, indeed, from most quantitative and qualitative analyses should be *ideal*. So, what the hell is driving me to consider the unconsiderable? Why is my heart telling me to look for happiness elsewhere when my brain says I should be filled with happiness just the way things are?

    This article didn’t answer those questions but it has given me new ideas on how to phrase them possibly to get to the heart of things: the motivation.

    • Brenda Knowles October 17, 2014 at 3:30 pm - Reply

      Here are a couple of questions for you J – Are you growing in your marriage? Do you see growth in the future? I think you are digging deep within your own soul to see what you want. That alone will lead to growth but perhaps you feel like your wife is inhibiting your expansion in some way. I know I ultimately felt that way about my ex-husband. If at all possible see if you can grow together. You may be on different timeframes but try to look down the road a bit. If you’re like me, you’ll want to turn over every stone before you pull the trigger on the unconsiderable. May you find clarity soon.

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