I live to get lost in books, websites, podcasts and research about personal development, relationships and optimal psychology. Other kids used to complain about having to sit through a lecture in school. I love lectures, listening and sitting. I move into the deep thinker’s flow state when I read, do research and learn new things. My inner critic shuts up. Time distorts in such a way that 4 hours feel like one. Ideas and epiphanies sprout out of rich fertile mind loam. The pursuit of self-awareness and personal development comes naturally to me. I can’t stop doing it.
I’m a freaking expert at Being. I can meditate, empathize, process, ponder, be still, absorb, pray, learn, observe, visualize and wonder with the best of them, but I am only average at taking action. I am only satisfactory at pulling it all together and making it useful. But I’ve learned, I’m not alone. I may even be slightly ahead of the curve. Quite a few people have no plan, no vision and no form of useful application. They simply get by in an unconscious cloud of bare minimums and shoulds. As mentioned in, An Intuitive Introvert Redefines Typical, shoulds are for those not willing to put in the effort to know themselves or reject social norms.
I’ve spent years stoking the embers of consciousness, intuition, creativity and being but it wasn’t until I started to do concrete work that I felt truly fulfilled and worthy of respect.
Are you ready to do it?
I’ve had coaching clients come to me looking for help identifying and applying their personal gifts. They want to be useful, balanced and whole (fully developed). They want to be fulfilled. They want to self-actualize. They are a little less afraid of social norms than the average Joe or Jane and have enough self-awareness to be curious about how to use it properly. In his article What if Nobody Was Looking?, Jonathon Fields says there are three legs to our awareness ‘self stool’. The legs, according to him, are: Self-Awareness, Self-Esteem and Self-Expression.
Hmmm. Stools are useful, stable and whole.
Many of my clients are quite conscious and therefore skilled in self-awareness. They are learners and ponderers. They’ve read books, listened to podcasts, explored their minds and hearts and shared their findings with a few cherished companions. They are usually in a transformational period where they have just discovered they have wings or just figured out how to heal their wings from the pinions of a negative relationship. They only need a little encouragement (esteem) and courage to leap into the self-expression chasm.
I understand their position because I’ve been there. One drawback to keen self-awareness is critical self judgment. It’s easy to focus on what you’re missing when you’re overly familiar with all the dark corners of your mind and spirit.
It’s hard to find the level of competency that is good enough to stop analyzing and start doing. I spent years figuring out how to be a good personal coach. I spent years dating and looking to meet expectations (mine and theirs). I didn’t get anywhere with either until I actually dug in and did the work. I had to start coaching. I had to commit to a long-term relationship (and so did my partner). I stopped theorizing and living by other people’s standards and leapt.
What gave me the courage and energy to leap?
Earned confidence and encouragement from my tribe.
Self-esteem when you’re sensitive and introverted
Growing up, I was the quiet, obedient older sister who, when not with my closest friends, spent a lot of time alone in my room. My younger sister constantly voiced her mind, joined every team imaginable, couldn’t sit still for long and when she did, it was rarely alone. My sister received a lot of attention for being bold and extroverted. She asked for it and got it, the proverbial squeaky wheel.
As an adult, I understand and appreciate our differences (even recognize many of our similarities) but as a young person I often felt under-heard, hurt or inferior.
As an introvert and someone with a sensitive nature, it is easy to feel sub-par in our culture. For hundreds of years it’s been cooler to be the person who is friends with everyone. Most people admire the doers and the individuals with high energy. Not that introverts aren’t cool or can’t rally energy for friendships and amazing work but it takes more effort. We get overwhelmed if the stimulation and energy levels stay high for too long. We have to manage our energy instead of just spilling it all over multiple projects and relationships. Our self-esteem can suffer because of this perceived societal maladaptation.
To make up for my perceived personality deficits, I aligned with strong confident people. I married a man who spoke with conviction, got things done and knew how to network. I either tried to mirror his ways or let him run the show. Either way, I forsook (new word!) authenticity for self-esteem by proxy. It didn’t work.
It wasn’t until I gained understanding about introversion and met other people like me (who were happy, intuitive and fulfilled) that my self-esteem started to blossom.
They encouraged me and engaged me in things I was enthusiastic and excited about (reading, writing, fitness, making music, talking about spirituality, psychology, personal development, etc.), so much so, that I took action steps to do them and apply them in my life. In doing them, I gained confidence, even if I did not do them well. I gave myself credit for recklessly making mistakes and surviving.
Through coaching, I am able to pass on this beautiful practice of self-esteem boosting and self-expression encouragement. Oh my God is it fulfilling and the best thing is my work requires me to do what I love (reading, research, participate in meaningful conversations).
Self-expression means doing work outside of your head
Recently, I have worked with coaching clients with the Myers Briggs type preference INTJ. They are industrious folks. They get a hit of happy sauce when they accomplish something. They are driven people looking to fulfill a purpose. While working with them I’ve discovered I have a penchant for completion too. It feels so good to close out a positive coaching session. It makes my heart swell when I tick off all the tasks on my to do list. I like to work steadily, have structure (sometimes) and reach the end of projects.
“If you want anyone to take you seriously, what you really want is their respect. And you can’t just be given respect…You have to earn it. You earn it by doing things that matter, and working on projects that matter and putting in the effort every single day. It’s the only way to earn it.” —Jon Westenberg, Stop Trying to Be Somebody
I tell my clients, “Transformation = inspiration + implementation”. I got this formula from Jeffrey Shaw of Creative Warriors Unite. I strive to integrate this formula into my life. Implementation is by far the toughest component to complete. With my temperament, inspiration is everywhere. I could collect and savor inspiration forever without ever making anything out of it. I want the closure of achievement for my clients and myself. I want the respect and satisfaction that comes from expressing myself through doing. I want to help others transform. I want them to feel fulfilled. This is my purpose. Purpose drives action. Realization of purpose brings transformation and fulfillment.
Turns out you can’t daydream your way through a relationship
I’ve been in a relationship with my man for almost a year and a half now. A major reason we are still together is because he has the grit and determination to stick it out through differences in personalities and pissed off times. When the going gets rough, we both stay. I am not saying, we are hanging on to a bad relationship. I am saying we have real love for each other. We are willing to do the work to make it work. Expecting your partner to be like you, avoiding confrontation and reading Seven Signs He’s the One articles, won’t make a sustainable loving relationship. Having each other’s backs and fostering each other’s growth, will. We’ve both had times when we had to look at our personal contribution to a conflict. We’ve both made the effort to understand what the other is going through instead of assuming our partner was just wrong or intolerable. We give to each other and to the relationship so it can continue and thrive. We express our frustration, confusion, anger, worry, appreciation, joy and love. Of course, I still wish for the ease of an effortless relationship from time to time. I still get overwhelmed during confrontation or major energy outlays. But then I have an excuse to do research, read and ponder in order to learn things about relationships and my guy.
Are you all talk, listen, research and no action? Do you need help getting things done? What compels you to take action?
If you’d like guidance figuring out how to turn your interests and gifts into drive and purpose, sign up here.