When I tell people that my mission is to help stressed out introverts and highly sensitive people live in alignment with their personality, here are the two most likely reactions:
Likely Reaction #1: Say, what?
Likely Reaction #2: So you, like, teach people how to permanently isolate themselves from society?
Okay, okay… I may be exaggerating a tiny bit here, but only a tiny bit. 🙂
So let’s clarify what it ACTUALLY means to live in alignment with your personality.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO LIVE IN ALIGNMENT WITH YOUR PERSONALITY?
LIVING IN ALIGNMENT WITH YOUR PERSONALITY DOESN’T MEAN BEING ONE-SIDED
Just for the sake of being painfully clear, I want to emphasize that living in alignment with your personality doesn’t mean “attending to your inner world” 100 percent of the time. And neither does it mean shielding yourself from all stimulation for the rest of your life. We are not going for full-time hermithood here!
Regardless of our Myers Briggs personality types, we are all capable of doing all things.
Introverts are capable of turning outward and extraverts are capable of turning inward.
Intuitives can pay attention to sensory information and sensors can pay attention to intuitive information.
Feelers sometimes make decisions based on logic and thinkers sometimes make decisions based on subjective criteria.
Judgers can act spontaneously and perceivers can follow a schedule.
And that’s how it should be. Having no flexibility and being stuck in only one mode of operating is unlikely to get you the results you want in life.
Never interacting with other people isn’t going to lead to happiness anymore than never taking a moment to process your thoughts.
So instead of rigid one-sidedness…
LIVING IN ALIGNMENT WITH YOUR PERSONALITY MEANS MAKING SPACE FOR YOUR NATURAL PREFERENCES TO FLOURISH
Living in alignment with your personality means honoring your nature and making plenty of space for you to be and do you. It means actively looking for opportunities and actively creating circumstances that allow you to be your most authentic self. It means knowing what you prefer and then making life decisions that let you live out those preferences.
And when I say plenty of space for you to be you, I mean, like, majority of the time. Like, many hours on most days.
I want to emphasize this particular point because this is where things go awry for many introverts. Somehow there’s this unspoken societal expectation that an introvert should be good to go with 20 minutes of alone time after everyone else has gone to bed. Yet, we would never expect an extravert to be okay with only 20 minutes of human interaction per day.
Do you see the imbalance here?
I can’t tell you the exact number of solitary hours YOU need as an introvert, because we are all unique individuals and your sweet spot can only be found by you.
But I can tell you that I, personally, thrive when I get several hours of solitary work time plus a couple of hours of free alone time most days.
And I can also tell you that lots of introverts write to me to share their experiences and the happy ones are those who have found a way to build lots of alone time into their schedules – usually by pursuing careers that require working independently at least a good chunk of the time.
LIVING IN ALIGNMENT MEANS KNOWING WHEN YOU NEED TO STRETCH AND HAVING THE CAPACITY TO DO SO
With all that being said, giving yourself plenty of space to live out your preferences doesn’t mean ONLY living out your preferences. In order to get the most out of life, it’s good to have enough skill in your non-preferred areas that you can fairly comfortably navigate circumstances that require it.
I have a strong preference for introversion. Turning inward comes to me naturally and solitary work puts my brain in flow.
But that doesn’t mean that I find extraversion useless. Sometimes extraverting feels a little awkward and it definitely takes more energy and effort than introverting, but it’s still something I want to do. I want to maintain connections with my family and close friends. I want to “put myself out there” some professionally.
Sometimes I need to stretch myself outside my comfort zone in order to get what I want, which is a full, meaningful, and engaging life.
But I have learned (the hard way) that if I stretch too far, I will literally break.
The capacity for stretching without breaking comes from always attending to my core needs first. The introverted recharging and refueling are the prerequisite for stretching – they are not the afterthought.
When I have plentifully nourished my introverted side, I have enough energy and capacity to stretch to the other side.
And THAT is what it means to live in alignment with your personality!