As a sensitive introvert, I often feel slightly hindered by my lack of ability to hang for long periods of time in the fast paced, productivity based, always ON, highly stimulating, world. I wish my psyche could handle multiple streams of stimulation coming at me (Ex. several people talking, radio on, phone beeping). I wish I felt rushed activity as productivity and not a shallow energy drain.
I have always wanted and/or had to be a little tougher or more resilient than I actually am.
Subconsciously and consciously I have looked for ways to increase my resiliency for years. My search and self-experimenting have led me to two short cuts to extroverted stamina.
Spend time where life is heightened, effortless and inner-critic free
“Your passions are serving an essential purpose! They keep you balanced and energized. They increase your resilience, your immunity, your creativity, and your optimism.” — The Flow Genome Project
The above quote is from the Deep Thinker profile as described by The Flow Genome Project. As I mentioned last week, I am taking a six-week online course on the flow state. Flow is an optimal state of consciousness where we feel our best and perform our best. I’m interested in understanding and honing my triggers for entering that rewarding, productive and creative state.
Deep thinkers enter flow through stillness and uninterrupted concentration. Our nervous system relaxes during times of creativity, reflection and soothing repetitive work. Safe, non-judgmental spaces allow inspiration to enter. We often experience flow during a solitary endeavor.
If you read and research anything about flow state you’ll find neuroscience and data to back up the reasons for flow. Personally and unscientifically speaking, I have experienced flow as highly restorative.
I instinctively seek opportunities to harness the benefits of that state. If I have enough moments of ease and inhibition, I am stronger and more energized out in the hustle and bustle world. I can deflect stimulation better. I can erect a permeable but steadfast barrier between the busy world and my sensitive nervous system. I can hang longer in the rush of life.
These peak experiences of flow are not capable of constancy. I have to enter and exit the feeling and start the process all over again at another time, but in between peaks I have more fortitude because I’ve been recharged.
There is a danger of becoming addicted to the neuro-chemical flood that fills your brain while in the flow zone. We would all love to maintain our maximum performance levels and that feeling of effortlessness, but we have to come down in order to struggle and get back up there again. It’s a cycle, just like our introvert connection and retreat cycle. We can’t withdraw into our highly comforting/energizing/productive flow states all the time. We’d miss out on the parts of life that inspire those rich moments.
We need to stay present in our real lives as well. My next suggested short-cut helps you stay grounded and aware of the sensory world.
Get outside of your head and into your body
“Given your relatively gentle nature and your rich inner life, you might feel like you’re less physically gifted than others. You might not have excelled in team sports, and you may shun the vigorous and challenging in favor of the contemplative and restorative. Your ability to cope with the fast pace of the world around you might be bolstered by cardio and strength training.” — Deep Thinker Profile, The Flow Genome Project
Since I was in middle school, I’ve enjoyed working out. I can’t say I particularly enjoy team sports, but I was on the pom-pom and cheerleading squad in high school. As an adult, I prefer solo or small group workouts. In 2005, I started working with a personal trainer. I did that for several years. He kicked my butt and made me stronger. One thing I noticed while in my peak fitness years, was that I had more energy. I was able to run around with the kids and endure more activity and busy-ness.
I believe exercise anchors you to the present moment, induces endorphins and flushes out stress hormones. All of these keep my mind and nerves happy. I feel more agile, more awake and lighter. I also sleep better. Big bonus.
Fitness has played a key part in tempering my sensitivity. If I feel anxiety creeping up or a bout of the weepies approaching, I try like heck to get some cardio or strength training in, even if it’s a short high intensity (20 minutes) workout or 30 minutes on the elliptical machine. It clears my head and if I’m listening to music, it may even invoke the flow state.
Is there something that tempers your introversion or sensitivity? Does fitness make you stronger physically and psychologically? What allows you to endure more time in highly stimulating environments?
If you liked what you read and you’d like to go deeper into methods of empowering yourself, please contact me for personal coaching.