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How to Love An Introvert

In Kutipan :) on September 7, 2014 at 03:56

1) Realize that introversion is not simply a personality trait; it’s a nervous system setting. Here’s how I like to explain it: Your nervous system is like a net that catches stimulation in your environment–things like noise, lights, words and facial expressions.

If you’re an extrovert, you’ve got extra large holes in your net. You can handle a lot of stimulation before you get overwhelmed. If you’re in the middle of extrovert-introvert you’ve got average size holes. If you’re an introvert with a highly sensitive nervous system you catch everything. So you’re easily and quickly overstimulated.

This is not about liking people or not–it’s about biology and how your system processes your environment. Please never make an introvert feel like she’s anti-social. She loves people just as much as you do; she just does it differently. Brain scans can actually show us this now.

2) Appreciate that because of the above, the introverts in your life will probably know you better and more deeply than anyone else. They may be quieter but they are taking it all in. They’re listening to you, reading between the lines, catching what you’re expressing that even you don’t realize you’re expressing.

So please don’t pressure introverts to be more outgoing. They’re doing what they do best and if you push them to be someone they’re not, you’re moving them away from who God created them to be and what he wants them to add to the world.

If you have a child who’s an introvert with a sensitive nervous system, nurture the unique gifts that come with that. Many of the world’s most influential artists, spiritual leaders and creative thinkers are in this group. Think of all we would have missed if someone had forced them to change.

3) Understand that introverts will want one-on-one time with you. Yes, we love your kids, husband and other friends too. And it’s occasionally fun to be at get-togethers {okay, maybe not–but we’ll make ourselves do it anyway}. But we will feel disconnected from you if we don’t get to the heart level in our conversations and that usually requires being one-on-one. In general, we don’t enjoy groups–they’re simply too much for our nervous systems to process.

And small talk often feels like a waste to introverts because we only have so much social energy/emotion to spend and because we love you so much we want to use it in the best way possible. We feel really guilty about this a lot of the time. But it truly is because we love you. We really want to know how you’re doing. We really want to listen to you. We really want to understand you. And surface-talking groups are so overwhelming that they make it almost impossible for us to do that well.

4) Let Introverts spend time away from you guilt-free. When an introvert withdraws, she’s not leaving…she’s loving. She’s saying, “My nervous system is overwhelmed right now. I physically have nothing left to give you. I need to let my nervous system have a break so I can come back to serve, love and listen well again.”

If an introvert stays at your house, tell her she’s welcome to sleep in, take naps, go off on her own to read or just spend time in her room. She’s not being anti-social. She’s doing what she needs to so she can love you well long-term. Remember, when she’s with you she will be there 100%–much more than you probably get from other folks.

Most introverts feel extremely guilty about their need for time alone and will usually push themselves to the brink–even to the point of getting physically sick–not to disappoint you. We need your help knowing our needs are valid and okay. 

5) Offer another option besides talking on the phone. Again, completely guilt-inducing but true. The phone strips conversations down to what stresses us out most–the verbal part. Being with you in person lets us see your facial expressions, gives us time to pause and process before we respond, and helps us use our amazing nervous system to your best benefit.

Introverts also often love to communicate in writing because it gets to the heart level, gives us time to think and lets us be very intentional about our words.

Again, this is not a personality trait–it’s a biological reality. Verbal communication skills reside in the left side of our brains. Written communication skills reside in the right side {which many introverts lean toward}. All communication is not created equal, and some forms are uncomfortable, anxiety-provoking and sometimes even downright painful for introverts–especially when we’re stressed or tired.

6) Recognize when introverts are tired or stressed they need extra rest and support. Introverts tend to sleep more and need naps because it’s one of the best ways to restore our nervous systems. We’re not lazy–we’re being wise about our resources. We may also need extra quiet spaces. Even sound and light can be painful when we’re depleted.

When an introvert gets drained, she will probably think things like, “What’s wrong with me?” or push herself to carry on to the point of making herself ill or depressed–all because she doesn’t want to disappoint you. Help her know that she can say “yes” or “no” to your invitations to connect and you will love her just the same.

7) Be kind: Introverts are already really hard on themselves. The highly sensitive nervous system that makes us very in tune with our external environment also means we are very aware and often critical of what’s going on inside us. We are very, very hard on ourselves and have a tendency to overanalyze. We’re not likely to be irresponsible or unaware of what we’re doing wrong. Instead, we’re far more likely to burn out or fall into depression because we are hyper-aware of all the ways we could do better. And if we think we’ve let you down, especially because we’re not meeting your social expectations, it’s very painful.

source: http://holleygerth.com/love-introverts/


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