The Introvert’s Guide to a Vibrant Life.

Via on Apr 8, 2014

introverted

Introverts are hot right now.

Weird, I know.

But unfortunately, the word “introvert” has become synonymous with “geek.” Being a geek implies that you’re a socially-inept bookworm or tech-head, and at a cocktail party you’re either hyperventilating in the bathroom or boring people with in-depth analyses of the space-time continuum as experienced by Captain Picard versus Doctor Who.

But we introverts know that “geek” is not synonymous with “introvert.”

To be introverted does not mean to be shy, which implies that wallflowery social discomfort or, in extreme cases, social anxiety. Introverts are just more choosey about our social interactions.

When issues arise in our lives, we go inward to address them, while, for example, extroverts seek answers from the outside world. Just because we’re introverted, it doesn’t mean we don’t like people or that we can’t communicate; it just means we are selective about the company we keep. And we also tend to need a lot more down-time to recharge before heading out into the world again.

When I speak to introverted clients, I find that many of them suffer from the pressure to fit in, to be social in some way (and thereby stave off impending agoraphobia). And if we can’t fit in, it’s best to take our toys and go home where we are alone and loved!

Here’s something I find is true among my introverted clients as well as the introvert community at large: It is vital that we listen to our inner voices, our intuition, and that means we may do things a bit differently than many. We need to make our unique self work for us in the outside world.

The real inner work lies in tapping into who you are at soul-level, grasping what your unique gifts and skills are, and discovering how you can actually translate all of that into a life that is vibrant, and that gives back to the world around you! Your challenge (should you care to accept it) is to find the way to shine your light in the way that doesn’t burn that light out.

The Consequences of Not Living Vibrantly

So what happens if we are not sharing our unique gifts and living our vibrant lives? See if any of these common pitfalls resonate with you personally:

Feeling stuck:
This is the main complaint I get from my clients. Somehow they feel stuck in their lives. They know they have gifts to share but they don’t know how to, can’t see themselves living the life they want, which leads to the next pitfall.

Looping :
This is often what happens when we have a belief that doesn’t jibe with our true nature. Usually this comes about when we, as insightful and introspective human beings, anticipate what is expected of us based on the roles we think we should be playing in life. For example, I used to believe that being a writer meant I had to struggle with money. The result is a thought process that says: A such-and-such type of person behaves in X manner, I don’t, so I don’t fit in. Maybe it’s your perception of being an artist, daughter or son, wife or husband, yoga instructor, scientist—whatever. Even your definition of what a good, strong woman or man might be.

These perceived realities loop over and over in so many situations, so many different roles we play in life, that it burns a neural pathway in the mind that says, “I am an outsider.” And that keeps you from seeing your own path clearly and moving forward along it.

Stranger Syndrome:
So once you begin to see yourself as an outsider, there’s nowhere you can go except back inside your own head, figuratively, and back into your own house or room or bed or couch, literally. When you begin to feel alienated from the rest of the world, you have truly put yourself in a box. Which doesn’t jive with that deepest self you know when you’re at peace in your solitude.

Restlessness:
The result of this, is that you begin to feel restless. Those big dreams that you have, that comfort feeling that you have when you’re alone actually wants to be shared with the world. So you try over and over to find different ways to express these gifts. But because of the other pitfalls, often times you’re stopped in your tracks. And that leads to…

Apathy:
At this point there’s a feeling to simply shut down. Perhaps this is where depression seeps in. The world doesn’t get me, I don’t get the world, so I’m just going to take my gifts and sit on them.

Stunted abundance:
And there is one more pitfall, which is a biggie. Not believing in or creating abundance for yourself in your personal relationships or in your career.

~

I hope you see the point. If we don’t live as our highest selves, if we don’t share our gifts with the world and remain isolated, it actually hurts us. Moreover, it hurts the rest of the world that is out there waiting for your gifts to be revealed.

The World Needs Introverts

We are the ones who go deep, feel deep, and are not afraid of that depth. We are the scholars of the soul. No one spends as much time in states of introspection as introverts do. We think a lot. But if we stop there, because the world out there makes us too tired to even move—and I do understand that, trust me—we deprive the world of our highest selves, and the well-honed craft we have nurtured. It’s not enough to be quietly brilliant, shining your light in a closet.

You need to change the way you think in order to move forward in your life. You are not going to move forward using the same mindset that you already have. Something needs to shift.

My wish for you, dear introvert, is to make a commitment to yourself to not keep your gifts from the world. They are the most intricate well-thought-out powerful entities ever created! We need them out here in the loud, messy, wild world. As introverts, it is our duty to make sure that we live full and vibrant lives. And have fun doing it.

This is your life, celebrate it!

Relephant:

How to Care for Introverts 

Introverts: A Field Guide 

Inexplicably Introverted Me

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Editor: Cat Beekmans

Photos: elephant archives

About Rachel Astarte

Rachel Astarte Piccione is a transformational coach, author, educator, shamanic practitioner, voice-over artist, comedian, and lifelong introvert. She is the author of Celebrating Solitude, a self-empowerment guide that encourages readers to celebrate their authentic selves (no matter how crazy they may seem to the rest of the world). Her practice, Healing Arts New York, is based in New York City, offering online individual coaching and sessions of her personal development workshop Write Your Self Open.
Facebook communities: Healing Arts New York and Celebrating Solitude.    

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45 Responses to “The Introvert’s Guide to a Vibrant Life.”

  1. Lauren says:

    This is me exactly. I needed this today, thank you.

  2. Bay says:

    "Looping". I did not know the word for that. Thank you.

  3. Dominica says:

    thank you. it took me so many years to realize that i was an introvert…not crazy! :)

  4. DAVID says:

    This was an insightful read. I used to use alcohol as my 'social crutch'. I have come to understand that I'm introverted, and it's ok! Yoga and meditation is now my chosen path.. Celebrating my uniqueness and being happy in my own skin! Thanks for posting.

    • More than welcome, David. I have relied alcohol as well — mainly at parties — when the very thought of social interaction made my stomach turn. We can't kick ourselves about that! But it's absolutely true that you being your own amazing, genuine self is absolutely necessary for your own happiness. Anyone who cannot resonate with who you are is not someone you need to be around right now, anyway.

  5. Denise says:

    Rachel, your post is so beautifully timed! After writing on this very topic this morning, I read yours and was reminded and affirmed of what it means, and yes, how it feels, to be a 'scholar of the soul'. Yes, I am most certainly one of those! I believe it's the journey of bringing what is birthed in our most private 'introverted' moments out into the world that holds so much of the charge and touches so many of our emotional stories of what that means, what it looks like to us and what it will look like for others. At the core of it, I see it as valuing the Divine, honoring who we are and who we're here to be. That, in and of itself, could quite possibly be our most important work, personally and collectively! I am more deeply connected after reading your post. Thank you for sharing!

    • Absolutely, Denise. Thank you. I call that individual connection to the Divine "The Holy Self." Same thing as The Highest Self, but it reminds us that we come from Source and therefore have an obligation is a way to live our authentic lives with joy and in service to other authentic lives. What a life it would be if we were all living from that sacred place.

    • Catherine says:

      Ooo! "Scholar of the soul." I LOVE it!

  6. Hannah says:

    I have Aspergers, which means I don't have the social intuition most people do, my interests are different from most people's (which comes with the risk of "boring people with in depth analyses" if you try to share them with anyone), and I've got social anxiety as a result of years of bullying. So, with that background, this post came across with a "we're awesome – unlike THOSE people" vibe. THOSE people also have "unique gifts" and deserve "vibrant lives", without being mocked.

    • Hannah, whomever we are in this lifetime is something that needs to be celebrated. My nephew has Aspergers, and there was a time that no one thought he would do much of anything with his life. He's now an actor and playwright, sharing his view of life with all who are ready to hear it. This is all we can do! Be ourselves. It's never wrong if we are honest about who we are. All best to you.

  7. moonpie says:

    really appreciate the insight. as someone who leans towards the introspective side of the spectrum, it feels really great to be understood. and celebrated! i love the idea of accessing what it is you have been blessed to call your gifts, and making it your mission to honor them by sharing them with the world. for your sake, and for everyone else's! thank you so much :)

  8. Thanks for these thoughts! So true. You know when you look at a painting that moves you? I like to think that's what our lives are: we are works of art. When people encounter you being your authentic self, what can you inspire *them* to be?

  9. Catherine says:

    I remember reading a great definition for introverted and extroverted in a book about the Myers-Briggs personalities. Basically it stated that extroverts are energized by being around others and introverts are energized by spending time alone. I thought this definition took the onus off of one being better than the other. Plus it is true–too much socializing tends to drain me and I positively LONG for time alone!

    So much of what you wrote was wonderfully insightful and uplifting! Also, I did not read anything in your essay that indicated you were creating a "them against us" idea but I thought your answer to that charge was truly gracious.

    When I was about 15 I remember saying to myself, "Catherine, if you don't get over your shyness, you won't have as much fun." So I set forth to conquer it, one way being studying vocal performance. Believe me, if you can get up and sing in front of people, you can do just about anything! I eventually realized that, even though I did not pursue singing as a career (although I did get to the point where I was paid to sing) it served it's real purpose which was to bring me out into the open and share my gifts.

    • Phenomenal story, Catherine. Congratulations. You know first-hand what it feels like to be your authentic self — that place of peace I assume you feel while singing. And best of all, you touch others with your work. Thank you.

  10. Brooke says:

    I recently moved from Seattle to New York and have foud a great deal of social struggle in the culture change. Reading this article set at peace the war that has been taking place in my heart and mind. First, it settled that pesky notion of feeling so different and alone. I love when I can read an article, and I hear the author describing my very essence better than I could myself. Second, it brought to light that, in the struggle of trying to exist in this bold, aggressive place I’ve moved to, I had begun to try and play the part. Of course this is a trap since “playing the part” is really just trying to be someone I am not. I am an introvert going beyond admiring the strengths of an extrovert (nothing wrong with that) to trying to possess the strengths of an extrovert, at a detriment to my own strengths. I have been trying to be something I am not, and been failing miserably. In the accumulation of failure I have started feeling yet more isolated, and as u said this is where depression sets in.

    After reading your article, however, I see the reality of all this unspoken, unrecognized folly. Thank you for sharing your wisdom. I feel like I have been set free from my own self inflicted chains!

    I admit, as a caveat, that in all this struggle I have grown leaps and bounds! That in trying to emulate qualities I admire in others, I have found in myself bravery I did not know I had. I have also made friends I never would have unless I had fought my way out of my shell.

    So, I suppose in both instances, I have been inspired by the Devine in other, both introverts and extroverts, and I have benifited greatly from them all.

    Thank you for today’s Divine inspiration–self celebration! A day of resting from struggles, self criticism, and introspection. A day to accept my own beauty (instead of envy others’). A day to let myself be me, and see the great good to others, and myself, that comes of that :)

    Namaste

    • What an inspiring story, Brook. You make an important point about the struggle to identify your self in a place where you may or may not feel at home — metaphorically or literally! The more you shine your light, the more you inspire others to do the same. Good on ya!

      Warmly,
      RA

  11. Gydle says:

    Thanks for this post. I am definitely an introvert, and I am definitely stuck. I just don't know how to get un-stuck. You say that the key is "grasping what your unique gifts and skills are, and discovering how you can actually translate all of that into a life that is vibrant, and that gives back to the world around you!" That sounds great – and feels impossible. So many times I have thought I was on that path and I end up in a dead-end again, stuck again, in an endless underachieving loop. I am doing a lot of yoga and have started mindfulness meditation, in an attempt to reboot my intuition and let go of some heavy self-image conditioning. Sould I just stick with it and hope I'll bust out some day?

    • Hi, Gydle.

      I can completely understand where you are, having been there myself (more than once). It all seems so simple to be one's true self, but quite another to live it. You can begin by finding that place of real resonance within you. What are you good at? What do you love? Don't judge it. Just sit with it. Write it down. Find a way to nurture those loves every day — without judgment. Yes, the more you celebrate what is true and vibrant about yourself, the more those elements will come to the surface. It's practice, like anything else.

      Best to you on your journey!

      Warmly,
      RA

  12. Waldo R. Green says:

    Thank you so much for this. It came to me at the most perfect time! Reminds me to keep asking myself in difficult situations: "what would my higher self do?". I too am in a 'Feeling stuck' phase of life and I try to listen to my inner voice as much as possible. Thank you again for giving me a slight push on my path with this post!

    • Hi, Waldo.

      Right on. That inner voice is the one connected to Source, from which we all come. Listen to it carefully, like a sage. You are your own guru, really. Best to you!

      Warmly,
      RA

  13. becky says:

    what if you don't know what your gifts are? I suffer greatly with low self esteem. i've always been the "pleasing" one who does what everyone wants all while denying myself of what i want. it's to the point that i don't even know what my wants and needs are.

    • Hi, Becky.

      You can begin to learn what your gifts are by looking at what gives you joy. What makes your heart sing? Your gifts lie there. Bringing them out into the world can be a challenge, especially if you are working through obstacles from your past that prevent you from opening up fully. In my coaching practice, I've seen so many women in the same position come through with a unique sense of self and presence in the world. You're not alone!

      Warmly,
      RA

  14. Cheryl says:

    Any recommendations how to change the way we think?

    • Hi, Cheryl.

      Begin by accepting that the way you think now is not working for you. Don't give negative thoughts airtime. Replace them with more helpful thoughts. I work with many clients to help them do this. It's incredibly effective. May blessings!

      RA

  15. Michele says:

    I cant think of what could possibly be my unique gift. I loved the article and relate to a lot of it. I feel stuck. But I have no gifts that I know about so the sitting on my gifts part lost me.
    How do you find your gifts? Can you mention what some gifts are? I am a good wife and a great mom but I dont think that is what you are talking about. Thank you so much.

  16. Michele says:

    I cant think of what could possibly be my unique gift. I loved the article and relate to a lot of it. I feel stuck. But I have no gifts that I know about so the sitting on my gifts part lost me.

  17. Michele says:

    I cant think of what could possibly be my unique gift. I loved the article and relate to a lot of it. I feel stuck. But I have no gifts that I know about so the sitting on my gifts part lost me. Can you mention how to discover gifts? I am a great mom but now that the kids are older it doesnt really factor into my day. thanks so much

    • Hi, Michelle.

      You can begin by looking at what gives you pleasure in life. This is usually a good indicator of where your gifts lie. Sometimes it takes some uncovering of past beliefs (obstacles) to really fine-tune your gifts, but *they are there*, trust me! head over to my Facebook page at http://facebook.com/healingartsnewyork and like the page. There's a lot of inspiration there.

      Warmly,
      RA

  18. Lee says:

    Beautifuly writtenl and completely relevant for me. Nice to hear that what I thought and was told was wrong with me is NOT. I so sincerely appreciate the validation .

  19. Jeff Mongold says:

    I loved this. Well done.

  20. Tavia Cruz says:

    Very well said. I find this article as an intelligent and in dept explanation of what an introvert is. I like how you showcased the strengths of introversion. There are so many misconceptions about introverts and I think that articles like this can help people understand and correct those misconceptions. I personally believe that introverts are stronger that they seem, I find their quietness as a sign of intelligence.

  21. pauleky says:

    Am I missing something here? I see myself in several of these categories, but I'm not seeing any real solutions. The older I get, the less likely I am to be social. Therefore, I have no idea what to do to lead a "vibrant life." Although I'm happy at times to just stay home and watch movies or read, I also feel like life is passing me by. I really have no clue what to do or I don't have the tools to solve it. Therapy doesn't help. I always hear what the problem is, but never the solution. I feel like this article is the same.

    • @VieNism says:

      do you need to be spoonfed to get a solution? I think it's about time we use our power as an introvert to overcome this. We have insight, and the definition of "vibrant life" is subjective.

    • solitudepractice says:

      This article is designed to share insights about our lives as introverts. It would be implausible to offer a one-solution-for-all answer, as we are all unique. Perhaps you'd be interested in my coaching. Feel free to visit healingartsnewyork.com to see if I might be of assistance to you.

      Warmly,
      RA

  22. pixelady says:

    Thank you for writing this. It's everything I needed to hear to keep me going.

  23. Reneé Marie Fox says:

    A truly lovely and complimentary read. Thank you for getting it!

  24. @amthom1 says:

    I agree with this article! My husband is introverted and in the military – and that can be a disastrous combination. He is expected to take charge and lead others and volunteer and participate in so many leadership roles and group functions – but it doesn't fit who he is. In a way – he is penalized in his evaluations for not having the best communication skills. I'm introverted to a point – but am able to do what I need to do when it comes to jobs or my kids. Just because I do it doesn't mean that's how I really am or that I'm comfortable. Sometimes it feels like we should both be social so we can better fit in and perform professionally.

  25. vhan_13_17 says:

    I love this article in so many levels. =) Finally, something that explains us a bit more. I find it hard to explain the peculiar aspects of an introvert but this nails it.

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