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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.
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
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
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

“I was struggling with my daughter (16 at the time) and our constant fighting. You said something to me that changed my life! You were speaking about your own situation and you said to me “my child could not handle my emotions”. This was a HUGE “lightbulb moment” for me and it forever changed the way I dealt with my emotions when I was around my daughter!

I am happy to say that things have never been better between my soon to be 18 year old daughter and myself! I honestly never thought we would…

Mom M
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
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.

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Dear Sensitive Introvert: You Are Enough, You Are Lovable

women_monochrome_faces_portraits_desktop_2972x2548_hd-wallpaper-1182095Picture The Great Gatsby in the mountains. My man and I traveled to Montana for a spectacular weekend of lavish meals, sparkling socializing, serious hiking and serene fly-fishing. The first two days were mind-blowing. My brain buzzed joyfully and my body happily went along for the ride.

By the third day my bright-eyedness started to wane. The constant presence of people (eight of us) and the steady flow of activities had me feeling a little drained and fuzzy brained. Recognizing an impending need for solitude, I called a personal time-out and read and rested in our room for a little over an hour. *Note to self: an hour is never enough recharge time.

That night we attended a huge blowout Oktoberfest. There were hundreds of people there. Hundreds of loud, laughing, boisterous people, some wearing lederhosen. Every guest received a monster-sized stein, hat, scarf and enormous pretzel. There were raucous games, food, beer, a German oompah band.

We had a blast but I involuntarily absorbed it all deep into my cells. By the time we got home, my coping skills were toast. I was sensitive to touch, smell and sound but that didn’t stop me from trying to prolong the amazing rush of the evening. What better way to end the night than making love?

Did I mention I was sensitive to touch? Too sensitive it turns out. I could barely take anything beyond a gentle caress. My skin was electrified in an electric chair kind of way. I called off the sex event within minutes of starting, causing a cascade of fallout.

What’s wrong? I didn’t like that.

Why not? It was just too much.

What do you mean?

I mean, I just want you to hold me in your arms until we fall asleep. I mean, please don’t be mad I don’t want to have sex. I mean, I’m sorry I don’t have the energy and fortitude to go all night. I mean, please talk with me instead of asking for more physical attention.

Sadly, I never said aloud the above thoughts that swirled in my head and heart. I blurted out other inane comments that only camouflaged my real worries.

If I just had a little more energy

This incident set off all kinds of triggers for me. Shame for not being able to be fun, active, quick and energetic enough. Fear of frustrating my man one too many times. Frustration for not being able to express myself clearly.

If I was just a little less sensitive

Which then set off emotions that for me always reside close to the surface. I worried I was too emotional, sensitive and difficult. I need too much space and rest. Why couldn’t I just be one of those simple women who laugh and charge on through life, effortlessly doing and doing? Everything rolls off their backs.

There will always be someone doing more

In fact, one of the sweetest women on the trip was one of those care-taking doers that I admire but also find slightly irritating (mostly because I’ll never be like them). She did laundry every day. She charmed and looked after our host’s temperamental Chihuahua. She was always asking if anyone needed anything and happily serving others.

I unwisely compared myself to her throughout the day. Compared to her, I was not doing enough.

Finding mature love

I used to wonder if I was capable of being in a long-term relationship. Was it possible for someone else tothink of me as a challenge understand and value my nature? Do I have enough energy to be the kind of  attentive mother, writer and lover I want to be?

As my current relationship nears its one-year mark, I believe I am capable of making love last. I’ve learned it is necessary to be vulnerable and brave enough to talk about sensitivity and not feel weak or flawed. My partner needs to be (and is) mature enough to understand and appreciate rather than condemn or embarrass me for my way of being.

Why we are valuable

In order to receive respect, we need to respect ourselves. For a long time, I did not value my way of being. I saw it as inferior to the endlessly outgoing, energetic and productive types. Eight years ago, I met new people who helped me see myself in a different light. I was shown the positive facets of being sensitive and introverted. Below is an incomplete list of those quality traits:

  • Internally deeply caring
  • Deeply committed to the positive and the good
  • On a mission to bring harmony to the world
  • Strong personal morality
  • Often make extraordinary sacrifices for someone / something we believe in
  • Rich inner life
  • Vivid imagination
  • Never bored
  • Rarely lonely
  • Foster deep relationships
  • Know ourselves
  • Help others filter and slow down
  • Empathic
  • Independent
  • Able to concentrate for long periods of time

Keep this list in mind when you start to feel less than.

Growing

As I navigate the waters of a committed relationship, I am learning and expanding. My man is patient, loving and mature enough to work and grow with me. Because of him, I am learning to communicate more directly without getting overly emotional. I will never eliminate the undercurrent of emotions. It’s innate for me, but I can learn how to express myself more effectively thanks to his nurturing, rather than condescending, approach to personal development. I think he is getting something out of this too. Slowly, I am giving him awareness of what it is like to feel so deeply. Plus, it is tough to beat an empathic person at minding emotional well-being. I will always be highly aware of his feelings and emotional needs and do my best to comfort him and show him where he shines.

Ebb and flow

Another way to handle sensitivity so that it does not hinder our health and relationships, is to learn to recognize the situations and signs of an imminent meltdown. Intellectually, we know highly stimulating situations are going to deplete us, but in order to please and impress others we may suppress that knowledge. We push ourselves until we crack, not leaving enough space between activities to recover and prepare for another round.

This is what happened in Montana. We went from activity to activity, not taking any time to catch our breath.

Introverts and especially HSPs, must honor our need to work and rest, ebb and flow.

After being home by myself for one day, I was completely recharged from the trip. 

Stop being so internally focused and look up

Because I was so busy rushing from one activity to another and comparing myself to the über care-giving woman, I went hours without noticing a card with my name on it placed on the mirror above my sink in the bathroom. I washed my face, brushed my teeth and washed my hands in that sink all afternoon and did not notice the card. That tells you how internally focused I was. Finally, just before bed that night, my man asked if I was ever going to open the card on the mirror. What? Oh! Wow. Yes, thanks. Inside the card were words of forever and love, that steadfastness I need to trust and believe I am lovable.

 

Do you worry no one will be able to understand or handle you?

Do you know how beautiful you are?

If this post resonated with you please share with others. 

Brenda

 

 

 

 

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14 Comments

  1. kath unsworth October 7, 2015 at 3:28 pm - Reply

    We are who we are Brenda, and as I age I can accept my humanness even more. Celebrate our differences and be happy when we find that special person who gets us. i found one, someone who understands me, all of me, the good and bad. The best thing I ever did though was to accept myself and be my own best friend, if that makes any sense.

    • Brenda Knowles October 7, 2015 at 4:33 pm - Reply

      I agree. We have to start with accepting ourselves. I think when we do that we attract others who accept themselves and thus come from a place of maturity. My man is very different from me in a lot of ways but he also has this incredible interest in sticking with me and figuring us/me out. I’ve never been with someone so steadfast and curious. Little by little we create this world where we both are honored. It’s not easy but I believe we’re worth it. Thanks, as always, for your kind and thoughtful insight. 🙂

  2. Elizabeth September 28, 2015 at 9:57 am - Reply

    Hi Brenda,
    This post touched me. I relate so well to everything you experienced on your trip.
    Trips or long events with others are particularly stressful for me. I want to fit in and fully be a part of their non-stop extroverted excitements. I do enjoy the frenzy fun for a bit but eventually start to fade out. I am still working on balance between social versus down time when in company of others. I am still working on feeling okay taking solitude time in my relationship too. My man is an INFJ like me and very supportive and accepting of ‘who I am’. So this personal struggle of taking down time from my man in having alone time and also sensual and any physical touch baffles me. My fears ingrained from society’s definition of normal and past relationships cause a distrustful feeling of others. But each day I grow to trust this man, my man and his love for me, just me.
    Your sharing gives ME more confidence to be ME, to accept who I am and see the value of me in my relationships with others.
    Thank you, thank you. All your posts are so relevant for me. I appreciate your gift of sharing with all introverts and the extroverts in relationship/friendships with us.

    • Brenda Knowles October 1, 2015 at 4:27 pm - Reply

      I understand the distrust you feel due to society’s expectations and past relationships. It’s hard to let go of those hurt feelings from the past.Be gentle with yourself and move at your own pace. Awesome you found an INFJ!! Communication is much easier with similar temperaments.

      I’m so glad your confidence is growing. You have a valuable perspective.You offer many gifts, don’t forget that.Thank you for your thoughtful and kind comment.

  3. Beatriz September 26, 2015 at 11:49 am - Reply

    Hi Brenda.
    I love when you say: ” I worried I was too emotional, sensitive and difficult. I need too much space and rest. Why couldn’t I just be one of those simple women who laugh and charge on through life, effortlessly doing and doing? Everything rolls off their backs”. If I compare myself with the rest of people around me I feel like you write. Sometimes I think they are like robots and I´m weak.
    “Shame for not being able to be fun, active, quick and energetic enough “- This is special for my son. He´s three. I´m always doing things thinking of him but I´m not an energetic woman phisically so I feel he´s bored with me.
    About the quality traits, I have all the characteristics, yes. But I feel they are diminishing. Because they are not appreciated outside. My circumstances and people around me make me not to believe in my traits. Being like that has given me pain. I know the culture where you live is very very important. Latin culture don´t understand about HSP and introverts and you feel in the darkness.
    “Do you worry no one will be able to understand or handle you?” Yes. It leads me to a depression and not vitality and happiness.
    “Do you know how beautiful you are?” No. I feel I was punished for that.
    Sorry, english is not my native language.
    Thank you for helping with your stories.

    • Brenda Knowles October 1, 2015 at 4:16 pm - Reply

      Dear Beatriz,
      I’m sorry I am taking so long to respond. It’s getting harder to reply to every comment. The thing that struck me most about your comment was the fact that you think your quality traits are diminishing. I believe that is the hardest part for all sensitive and/or introverted people to endure. We feel others don’t appreciate or value our way of being. I think it takes maturity and perspective to appreciate what we offer. I think many times people see in hindsight how valuable our contributions are. It takes patience on our part to let others figure this out.
      I can see where a Latino culture may be a tough place to have our nature. I still suggest hanging out in places that feel natural and good to you. Perhaps you’ll meet other kindred spirits there.
      I know you are a beautiful soul Beatriz. I can tell by your words and letters. Let some of that light you have inside keep you warm. Manage your energy so you have something left for yourself. Peace my friend, Brenda

  4. Megan September 26, 2015 at 12:30 am - Reply

    I find it interesting that you had a whole host of things to say to your man to respectfully explain why you did not want to be touched. I too used to have internal conversations and not actually say the words. This leads to completely unnecessary misunderstandings. We are not presenting our true selves to the world.

    It is fear that stops us. I have found my introverted sensitivity to invaluable in a process called inner body scanning. You will feel the fear as a sensation inside. Perhaps a tightening of the stomach. Identify it. Give it space. Feel it’s changing nature. This is Fear of not being lovable. In the end eveything boils down to Love and Fear. You know you are fearful, perhaps of losing Love, on an intellectual level but not deep down on an emotional response level. You need to really let go of the fear. Result – inner peace and complete acceptance of Self. The Love we all fear losing is inside us. It always was and always will be. Once you’re there you will not need a list to remind yourself why you are lovable. You will just know it.

    Much love.

    • Brenda Knowles September 26, 2015 at 8:31 am - Reply

      I feel that fear (stomach tightening, chest constricted) but haven’t figured out how to totally let go of it. I just keep being honest about how I feel and hope that my man/family/friends love me anyway. I know love comes from inside but that external connection with others is crucial too. Thank you for your kind and insightful comment Megan.

      • Megan September 26, 2015 at 10:43 am - Reply

        My own useful starting point was reading The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer. I think you’d love it. Treat yourself to a copy 🙂 x

        • Brenda Knowles September 26, 2015 at 5:50 pm - Reply

          Awesome! I love book recommendations. They are such gifts! Thank you.

  5. Alexis September 25, 2015 at 4:31 pm - Reply

    Even though I have labeled (accurately) my husband as an HSP, also an E/ISFJ on the Meyers Briggs test…I’m starting to realize that I very well may be one too. It’s a bit odd to think of since I’m and ISTJ…but the T is only slightly dominant. I do consider the facts before the feeling in most things. But when it comes to other people I am extremely sensitive and always wondered why. Even to the point of berating and guilting myself for being so “irrational”. But if I’m talking or texting with a friend and her comments/responses seem short, forced, or blasé I start to mull it over almost instantly. I wonder if I said or did something wrong, am I annoying her or talking too much, did I say something my husband doesn’t like, or is he irritated over something I did? It’s a real battle in my head as I try to reassure myself and not take things overboard. This post today described me to a ‘T’. I can’t believe how you just lived a day in my life on “vacation” after a few too many days of togetherness. Lol. My husband is a sleep on the floor, couch, cot, air mattress in the corner or spare bedroom of whatever relative’s house we happen to be visiting. I’m a sleep in a hotel room with at least two beds (one for the kids) so we don’t have to be up in someone else’s face every. single. day. of our vacation and so I can catch a little personal space and time. Never happens. So by day three I’m wishing the vacation was over and hoping something will happen to cause us to have to leave early. Smh. It just gets to be too much. I’m also praying that I don’t get so overstimulated that I go off and say something wrong or flat out inappropriate to the wrong person (which isn’t me at all) cause I can’t even think straight anymore. Even at home when I’ve gone too long without a recharge I’m feeling dazed and a lot less able to be a patient mother with my kids and compatible wife to my husband. I start to care less and want to just disappear (or make them disappear) until I can get a breather. And yes, I’ve unfairly compared myself to others…and guilted myself mercilessly over what I considered to be my flaws and shortcomings. It’s good to know I’m not abnormal or insufficient because of the way I am. I now recognize what is going on…my husband who is also an HSP still doesn’t recognize it in himself a lot of the time. And I’m trying to help him walk through life a bit more graciously than he’s done in the past. When he becomes overstimulated or has been offended he tends to erupt in anger and aggression without knowing the reason why. Nothing violent, but definitely unpleasant and a tad awkward in mixed company. This blog has definitely helped me to have a few more tools to work with…for the both of us.

    • Brenda Knowles September 26, 2015 at 8:24 am - Reply

      I’m so glad this post resonated with you and you found it helpful. That’s a writer’s ideal outcome.;) You brought up an interesting point when you said your husband is an HSP and occasionally erupts in anger. I wonder if men show their sensitivity more aggressively than women. I get emotional, tuned out and sometimes snippy but perhaps some sensitives get more angry or aggressive. I used to try to take an afternoon to myself mid-week when on vacations with my husband and kids. My ex-husband never understood that need. He would get mad, probably felt rejected. I would be so stressed it was best for me to be away from people but I rarely got it either. Now when I take my kids on vacation I make sure I have my own room wherever we stay so I can regain my sanity at night. Keep talking with your husband about these needs and how they manifest. Perhaps someday it will be acceptable to take time and space for ourselves. Here’s to spreading awareness. 🙂 Thank you for your thoughtful comment.

      • Alexis September 27, 2015 at 2:58 pm - Reply

        Yes, I do think it’s possible that men showcase their sensitivities more through aggression…maybe a factor of the Y chromosome. Not really sure, but it used to set me on edge as I didn’t know how to handle my husband’s outbursts. I come from more of a silent aggressive background. No real yelling or chest pounding, more of the hating you softly type atmosphere. When we got married I learned a whole new world of anger expression. It was like a culture shock. Now I see the fuel behind the tantrums and I’m learning to respond more appropriately, ie…not yelling back. Lol. Like you, however, even after 9 years (almost) of marriage, I maintain my inner dialogue of things I should say out loud but never do. I’m hoping to one day find the courage to voice the thoughts and sentiments actually in my head…specifically in intimate circumstances. I feel like I would honor myself more and help my husband understand me a bit better if I did. On another note, I have also been one to want to extend a fun day, even when I’m worn almost to a complete frazzle. I remember being at a friend’s wedding shower and forcing myself to laugh at the gaiety though the sentiment was far from me. I was so done, but didn’t want to miss out on anything. My husband, as an HSP but also an on the edge extrovert tends to do the same thing to himself. But he also feels other people’s emotions soooo deeply. He can hardly help but become overstimulated when in a room full of people. You would think he was an ENFJ…because he senses things that are unsaid and not expressly implied. He just gets that “feeling” about something whether or by anyone else does. It can be quite annoying, especially when were supposedly coming home from a sacred service (church) and all he can talk about is all the negative things people around him said, did, or seemed to do…even when I didn’t see any such thing. I’m pretty good about picking up on what’s going on around me…but his is even deeper and can often be eerie because he’s so often right. These intuitions often also appear to him in dreams…his brain apparently works in overtime to help him sort through all the information he’s taking in. So life gets pretty interesting for sure. I’m trying to be more patient as I learn more about us as individuals and how our inner clocks beat at a different cadence.

        • Brenda Knowles October 1, 2015 at 4:20 pm - Reply

          “Hating you softly’ made me laugh out loud.;) I grew up in a similar environment.
          You guys sound like a fascinating couple. I hope you enjoy each other’s intuition and perceptiveness and don’t let it drive you nutty.;)

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