What’s an introvert? How does introversion affect us at work and play? In our friendships? In our search for meaning and happiness?
I’ll explore these and other timely questions about introvert life in this column, as an introvert entrepreneur, artist and journalist.
Want to ask a question? Just use the email below.
P.S.: even if you don’t think of yourself as introverted, you may find some helpful info here. Why? Because, to paraphrase Ben Franklin: we assume our differences divide us, only to find we share common ground.
Today’s introvert-astic question: How does healthy introversion work like four of the speeds on your TV’s remote control?
First off, if you don’t have a TV, congratulations. This metaphor works with the buttons on an mp3 player. Totally non-digital? Just picture a remote control in your brain. That’ll work, too.
As we’ve explored in previous columns, the introverted brain tends to think deeply. Replay things. Make creative connections. And needs time to recharge.
Enter our four-speed analogy.
Introverts and play
On a remote control, the play button is where the action starts. It’s that single forward-facing arrow that takes you from “nothing much going on” to a dimensional experience.
One way to control our introvert brain’s tendency toward overstimulation is to consciously deploy our inner play button. By choosing when and how long we’d like to experience the world’s sights, sounds, experiences and ideas, we can control the quantity and quality of our brain’s experience to a greater degree.
And when things get overwhelming?
Pause: the innie’s best friend
You know how the pause button on a remote consists of two parallel vertical lines? Tilt your head. Wow. Now, it becomes an equal sign.
Could this equal sign stand for inner equilibrium? Let’s say yes.
OK. So, what does the pause/equilibrium button mean for innies in everyday terms?
Take a break. Count your breaths. Meditate, if that’s something you’re open to doing. Put your phone on airplane mode. Quietly close a door, if you have a room that has one.
Even a few minutes of pause can help your introvert batteries recharge.
Which brings us to the runner-up to pause’s healing powers. Its identity may surprise you.
Hello, fast forward
Fast forwarding through an experience sounds kinda stressful to our innie souls, do you agree?
And the truth is, fast forwarding can stress an innie brain when the physical or emotional volume of a situation is high.
But consider the case of an informational podcast or video. We want to make quick connections between the new stuff we’re about to learn. But sometimes that info is being served up too slow for our taste. And that slow pace, to an answer-hungry innie brain, can actually feel stressful.
Enter, the “speed it up” button. Aka: fast forward. By taking in new info quickly, we can get to the info we crave. And save time, too.
Innie tip: lower the volume when you fast forward to make the experience feel gentler.
Stop in the name of introversion
Ah, the stop button. That solid block of nothing happening. For now, at least.
We might think that nothing happening is an introvert’s dream scenario.
But stop is more of an in-between state. A way station that connects our most recent awesome (possibly exhausting) experience to the beautiful “ahas” ahead. It’s a vital and surprising active innie button to use.
What about rewind?
Skip the rewind button, introvert friends. Our brains are naturally inclined to ruminate and overthink when we replay the past. By actively choosing not to rewind, review and replay, we create more room for positive forward motion in our lives.
Gracefully punctuated by the stops and pauses we innies love and need.
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