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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…
Sharon
Because of your blog, I know that it is possible for me to have the love that I want one day and that I don’t have to be alone.  — Indepthwoman  on space2live
Indepthwoman
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.
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
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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…
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“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…

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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
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.
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
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

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Two Secrets to Stamina and Resilience for Sensitive Intuitive Introverts

people hurrying

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.

woman journalingDeep 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.boat on still lake

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

woman with barbell

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.

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8 Comments

  1. Pearl April 22, 2016 at 11:49 am - Reply

    Great article indeed. Its so hard to keep ‘flow’ in our lives as sensitive intuitives.
    Many thanks for the two recommendations about keeping the stamina up.
    How is the 6 weeks course on keeping flow going?

    • Brenda Knowles April 23, 2016 at 7:23 am - Reply

      The course was interesting. I had to miss the last week as I was on vacation with my family. I would have liked a little more guidance in the flow course, although they did give us some good background science. Risk, nature, solitude and group experience seem to be strong triggers for flow. As a sensitive intuitive, contemplative time is a big trigger for me. Nice to hear from you Pearl. 🙂

  2. Orange Rhino March 21, 2016 at 3:05 pm - Reply

    Hi Brenda,

    Thanks for taking the time and trouble to respond to a poorly written post. That second “intuitive” should read “introverted.” Usually I proofread my work.

    Do you get an endorphin rush when you work out? Whether I come out of the gym after just one hour or four, I feel great for the rest of the day. I even enjoyed my 18 months of physical therapy after getting a shoulder replacement in 2014.

    And apparently it shows in ways that I do not notice. I once had a girlfriend who could tell. We’d be talking, or cleaning the apartment together, and she would suddenly burst out with words to the effect of “Have you been working out lately? You haven’t, have you? Go work out and don’t get near me again until you have.”

    Have you been lifting very long? I ask because at my gym I see women who work out hard and heavily, and get fairly good. But they tend to disappear completely within eight months to a year. This is such a contrast to the male experience. I’ve seen guys who work out for decades–even among those who never get into a contest.

    To me this suggests that women are not getting the full joy out of the experience. Or perhaps not as many endorphins.

    Again, I really appreciate what you are doing for introverts. The popular media really give a negative portrayal of us.

    Orange Rhino

    • Brenda Knowles March 22, 2016 at 1:03 pm - Reply

      I’ve been exercising regularly since 8th grade. From 2007 until 2011 I worked with a trainer as I mentioned in the post. I was at my peak fitness level then. We did strength training but I was never into power lifting. I definitely have defined shoulders and biceps though. Now I primarily workout in my home gym. Lately I’ve been into high intensity workouts. They fit in my schedule well. When the weather gets nicer I hope to start running again. I can only run for short stints (2 miles or less) each time because of my knee but I try to do it several times a week. I think some people need the physical outlets more than others. I love how I feel afterward, that keeps me motivated.

  3. Orange Rhino March 20, 2016 at 4:46 pm - Reply

    Hi Brenda,

    I was most impressed that you, as a sensitive introverted woman, work out. This makes your thoughtful columns all the more compelling to me.

    I am a small (5’5″) extremely introverted, straight male, but with very little intuition. Indeed, my lack of intuitive ability was one of my wife’s 14 leading complaints when i was married.

    As a writer, I need to be alone for weeks at a time to do my work. This is when I am quite happy. Years ago, I attended a tough, working class high school, where I got picked on more times than I could count. Finally, at 17 I enrolled in my state’s’ toughest gym and began serious weight training. There, the monstrously strong were kind enough to guide me from the start as role models.

    By the time I could clean and jerk 300 pounds overhead and squat 400, nobody anywhere picked on me any way. I was delighted to at last achieve peace through strength, as President Gerald Ford used to extol.in a very different context. Although I have been physically attacked many times, no has ever bothered me in any way when I have been in shape.

    Weightlifting can give an intuitive, possibly schizoid person a magnificent sense of peace and security. An opponent you could body slam is usually polite, respectful, and willing to avoid unwanted conversations.

    Please write more about the emotional gains that intense, prolonged workouts provide for super-introverts. We only want to be left alone to work on out self-improvement projects, success in which brings success in professional activities as well.

    Your column is doing a great service in a society that equates “outgoing” with “superior” in so many ways.

    Orange Rhino

    • Brenda Knowles March 21, 2016 at 11:43 am - Reply

      I’m so glad this post struck a chord with you. I wanted to clarify whether or not you are intuitive. You said your ex-wife said you were not but then at the end of your comment you said you are intuitive, possibly schizoid…
      I will endeavor to write more about how working out strengthens me in many ways. It does seem to have a tempering effect on my sensitivity. I definitely believe in a mind-body connection. My personality type (I’m now leaning toward INFJ in Myers Briggs) is one of the most outgoing and confusing introverted types. I love people but also love being alone. Like you, I am so content when left alone to write, read and work. I can go days and not miss people but I still am intrigued by them and totally lit up by emotional and physical intimacy when it does happen. I prefer working out alone but sometimes enjoy working with one or two others. I get a sense of feeling cleansed and focused after I exercise. Your fitness history is interesting. It seems it really gave you another facet of yourself. I know another man with a very similar story to yours. Thank you so much for sharing OR. I appreciate your input.

  4. Catherine North March 18, 2016 at 4:33 pm - Reply

    Brenda, I am so interested in your research on the flow state. It’s something I experience a lot when writing fiction. Once I’m in it, I have no idea what I’m going to write next, and it feels like the material is coming straight out of the unconscious mind with little conscious interference at all. I agree it can be very addictive!

    Like you I often struggle with noisy, fast-paced or chaotic environments, but like most people I have to spend time in them for work or social reasons. I am learning mindfulness meditation at the moment, and I think it’s starting to help me in stressful situations, to take even a few seconds to breathe and focus on my surroundings.

    Oh and I hated team sports with a passion! 🙂 But I like to walk and swim and go on my exercise bike and sometimes that can get me into a meditative state. As long as there’s no competition or judgement invovled, I’m okay with it.

    • Brenda Knowles March 19, 2016 at 4:45 pm - Reply

      I can relate to everything you said Catherine. Part of the Flow class has us doing breathing exercises daily. I’m trying to be consistent about that. I think it has helped me keep a calmer state of mind. I love it when we tap into the creative component of flow. It is like magic when words just flow from our fingertips. This post actually came together quite easily. Thanks for sharing your experience Catherine.:)

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