survival guide for the quieter species

(Edited repost from the archives, since so many of you are commenting about being HSP's!  If you think you are an HSP, I do recommend Elaine Aron's books.  I prefer the Highly Sensitive Child over the Highly Sensitive Person.  Both will help you understand yourself more, but the Highly Sensitive Child is a bit more down to earth, in my opinion.)

 

It's early morning and I am in no rush to seize the day.   Again last night we came home late from a soccer game and had our dinner by the fire; washed the dishes while other people were climbing into bed.   With four soccer players it's a routine we repeat 4 or 5 times a week.

October finds me stretched....worn and frayed from too many outings, too many people, too much rushing. 

There are plenty of other families with busy schedules.  I feel a little sheepish confessing my exhaustion to mothers who cheerfully pace the same sidelines and seem completely undaunted in the care and feeding of their athletes.   When the final whistle blows at the end of a match they gather up their gear and wave energetically while I stumble around like I haven't slept in days.

It's the introversion.   So many people, so much rushing, so much yelling, so much noise....all of it pulling me thin like taffy.

Since only 25-30% of the general population is introverted, that puts me solidly in the minority among my fellow soccer parents.  But I know that many of my blog-friends are in the same group, so here are a few notes i've gathered on surviving the pressing seasons in an extroverted world.

1.  Practice makes action.

When our social defenses are worn low, it's easy to find ourselves snapping at people, being hyper-critical and being less than cautious with others' feelings.  It's important to be aware of those tendencies and do some preemptive work so that we don't damage relationships or our witness of Jesus.

* Pray

A whispered prayer for help doesn't cut it for me when I am so low.  I need serious, focused, cementing prayers; yet I am so weary that oftenI  can't think of what to pray.  This is a really good time for accepting the work of others who have gone before.  I use a book of prayers to give voice to my heart:  currently, I am using the Divine Hours to bookend my day, morning and evening.  I also love John Baillie's prayers - eloquent, humble and powerful.

The most life-giving prayer work for me, however,  comes in writing my own prayers using Scripture as a guide.   Something about physically writing prayer makes it live and breathe.  Another friend of mine sets Scripture to music, as that is the most powerful means for her.  I keep my prayers in my journal so I can return to them over and over and see the concrete evidence of my heart's cry and God's faithful response.

Here is a recent prayer based on Eph. 4:26-5:2

Lord, let me be pure in the times I am angry and give me a heart for reconciliation.  Make me wise and aware so that I never give the devil an opportunity.  Please don't let any unwholesome words proceed from my mouth.  Instead, give me words of edification.  Let nothing come from my lips that doesn't please You, God!  Jesus, make me sensitive and aware and provide right words for each moment that they might give grace to those who hear them.  Oh Lord, don't let me grieve Your Spirit.  I relenquish all bitterness and anger towards any person.  I will not be a part of clamor or slander.  I will not hold malice in my heart.  O God, be my Help.  Lord, help me to be kind.  Let my heart stay tender though it hurts.  Help me forgive.  Help me receive Your forgiveness.  May I be an imitator of You alone.  May I walk in love - the same kind of sacrificial, self-dying love that You display.   Amen.

 

* Stay inspired

This is a good time to limit influences.  While it is always the right time to live out Phil 4:8, it is vital when you are stretched thin.  Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 

This is the time to reread books that inspire and model the life you want to live, to listen to music that feeds and uplifts you.  This is not the time to take on heavy intellectual work or controversial topics.  This is not the time to watch dark films and sad documentaries.  It's time to feed your soul with gentleness and loveliness and strengthen your heart with God's goodness. 

*Give thanks

Gratitude is not for Pollyannas.  Giving thanks is a powerful weapon that shuns darkness.  When the stress is highest, it is vital to list your gratitude.  Write it out if you can.  Sing it, whisper it, shout it if you need to.  If you can't find anything to be thankful for pray for your eyes to be illuminated by His Spirit.  Don't allow yourself to speak until you can say thank You for something, anything. 

The Message translates Eph. 5:4 this way:  Thanksgiving is our dialect.

We are Christ-followers.  We speak a different language than the world around us - and it is not one of religion and code - it is a language of praise and recognition of our God and His work.

 2.  Rest

* Just say no

When the pressure is on, save your strength for the times in which you really need it.   Stay home.  Go to bed early.  Sleep in when you can.  Leave the extra projects and the obligations for another season. 

* Don't apologize

 If 75% of the population is extroverted, they don't see the world the same way we do.  We already know we're weird, so just go with it.  You don't have to explain or offer excuses. Just stay home. Just be quiet.  Just say no.  Conversations, parties, events, church, bible studies will all continue on just fine and they'll still be there when you are ready to rejoin.

* fuggedaboutit.  

We're not Susie Extroverts.  People aren't lining up to hang out with us. We're probably not type-A's.  We're probably not going to end this year with a stack of accomplishments that make friends swoon over our abilities.  We go about life deeper and slower and with less to show the outside world.  Can you let yourself off the hook and just be who God made you?  Give it a try.

3.  Nourish

 * Body-care

This is so important and yet it's one of the first things we ignore when we are pressed.  Take care of your body.  Eat well.  Drink lots of water.  Get plenty of sleep.  Go for walks. 

I know what you are thinking:  if I am so pressed for time how am I going to fit those things in? 

Well, this is how you spend the extra time that you would be going to someone's housewarming party or the nursery meeting or repainting the hall.   Aren't you glad you said no?  Now you can drink warm apple cider and put your feet up in the quiet - which is necessary healing time for you.

* Connection

Introverts aren't anti-social, they just have a smaller scope.  Our relational needs are usually met in one or two other people.  Stay connected to your inner circle, the ones who know and believe the best about you; the ones who allow you to be yourself with no explanations or apologies.   My extroverted husband is a safe place for me.  Over the years he has learned to recognize the signs of my stress and he provides a shelter for me in those times, often just sitting quietly in the same room offering his companionship.  It's so life-giving to rest in his acceptance and understanding.

* Laugh

Introverts are often accused of being "too serious."  We know this is because we are not quite so, ah...easily amused...as the extrovert-world around us.  But the truth is, we can take ourselves too seriously and in times of pressure we can become oblivious to the humor in everyday situations.

Go revisit a favorite comedy

I think this site is funny.

and this one.  (whoops!  forgot to say...not necessarily G-rated.  *sheepish*)

best of all,  read this classic article by Jonathan Rauch and know you are not alone.

The worst of it is that extroverts have no idea of the torment they put us through. Sometimes, as we gasp for air amid the fog of their 98-percent-content-free talk, we wonder if extroverts even bother to listen to themselves. Still, we endure stoically, because the etiquette books—written, no doubt, by extroverts—regard declining to banter as rude and gaps in conversation as awkward. We can only dream that someday, when our condition is more widely understood, when perhaps an Introverts' Rights movement has blossomed and borne fruit, it will not be impolite to say "I'm an introvert. You are a wonderful person and I like you. But now please shush."

Laughter can be a choice, and it is easier to make that choice when we are settled inside and taking care of our soul-needs.  

Now, that's a whole lot of "talking" for one morning, so i am going to wrap this up and go recharge my emotional batteries.  i hope you find something here today that encourages and strengthens your own walk.

God bless.