As we all work to create a liveable future, introverts can become overwhelmed trying to keep up with naturally broad-ranging extroverts.
You may fear others’ expectations or judgments: what will people think if I say no? Or have your own inner expectations or judgments: I should be doing more.
Introverts are naturally at their best when they dive deeply into just a few things. They may have diverse skills, but their innate preference is to engage fully with a few projects, rather than keep many balls in the air.
Extroverts, though they cast their net wide, need downtime too. But when they try prolonged deep dives they soon grow bored, and lose energy. When introverts try to juggle many balls they soon become discouraged, or overwhelmed. Neither is 'better' or 'worse'.
If you’re committed to helping bring about a healthy and sane future for the world, you’ll be acutely aware of all the movements clamouring for your support and involvement. You can’t do it all – in fact, you’re less effective when you try to.
So... give yourself permission to simplify.
Just now, I have four strands I’m dedicated to: working with the team at Embercombe, helping out on the Accidental Gods podcast, writing a new book (and the occasional article), and working with a maximum of seven clients. That’s enough strands for me. For someone more inclined towards introversion, it might be too many.
I’ve learned to identify my strands and then raise the drawbridge, saying ‘no more for now’ to myself and the world. If I’m excited by certain projects I can support or amplify them, but I don’t have to be in them.
I’ve found that when I take on too much, it doesn’t end well. It’s better to be effective in what I’m most strongly called to, than scattered across too many pieces. Just being lured by exciting new initiatives takes up inner disk space. And exposed to so many voices, I can lose touch with my own.
I follow these practices to stay balanced and effective:
- Start each day with a wander and a meditation
- No TV or newspapers
- Social media: only Twitter and LinkedIn, to post or share something specific
- Scan around six favourite sites briefly, two/three times day
- Unsubscribe from unwanted list emails
- Unplug from all devices each Sunday, and do nourishing things
I practice discipline gently; I try not to give myself a hard time if I scroll through to see what's going on, or miss my morning walk on a rainy Sunday.
I didn’t suddenly switch to this way of being. It evolved over years… and will no doubt continue evolving. Pieces of work come to an end, freeing up space. Then I turn my radar back on, ready for the next strand to appear – however long it takes.
Your optimum conditions will look different from mine. But if you’re an introvert, they’ll almost certainly involve simplification. Try pledging yourself to whatever you feel called to, and dive in.