I posted recently about how introversion tiredness may be more about fear than about being around people.
After being at a conference with ~200 people for four days straight, I’m pretty sure the theory warrants further study (as in I think I’m onto something, but don’t want to claim victory over one experiment). There were moments that I reverted to my old ways, but I think that was just habitual. When I realized what I was doing, I was usually able to calm down and re-engage.
The other thing I worked on was paying attention to myself. I reserved breakfast and lunch for quiet time by myself. When I went to socialize at dinner, I tried to pay attention to when I hit a wall and bow out when that happened. The only night I failed to do this was the first night, and I was exhausted by the time I got back to my room.
I also spent a chunk of my quiet time meditating rather than just turning on the TV or surfing the web. I think that helped a good deal to allow my mind and body to settle and recuperate.
I was able to engage with quite a few strangers every day I was there. I burnt out every day for sure, but it felt like a pretty normal burn-out. By that, I mean that I was completely focused on learning for about 10 hours every day, and after that I would socialize. I feel like that level of focus makes most people tired.
If you consider yourself an introvert, I highly recommend two experiments to try in your next social interaction.
- Try to become aware of your fear. Is it fear of failure? Fear of looking stupid? Fear of rejection? There is likely a little voice in your head screaming at you to run away and hide. Figure out what it is telling you to run from. Can you acknowledge and affirm your fear? Recognize that some pattern in your sympathetic nervous system is trying to save your life.
- Honor your limitations. While it is important to push outside of your comfort zone, it is equally important to respect yourself. Know when you hit the wall, and find a way to honor that. If you have to excuse yourself to take a minute in the bathroom, do that. If you have to leave a party, do that. Think of a relationship you have had where the person didn’t listen to you and didn’t respect what you asked for even when they did listen. That is not grounds for a good relationship. The same is true of your relationship with your body, your mind, your spirit. If you don’t listen to your own needs and respect them, your “self” is going to fail you. Take care of yourself to build that trust.
We will have to see how this pans out in the future, but I am optimistic that I am onto something that will change the way I engage with the world for the better.