This post is directed towards the beautiful mind of an overanalyzing, highly sensitive, introvert. Whether you are one, or know one, I hope you find this insightful.
I am sharing my story because I know I am not alone. Does everyone feel they can relate with an overanalyzing introvert? Of course not. But I know that there are those that can and will. I want to tell you that there is a purpose for your solitude and overactive thoughts. I hope these steps help you create peace and balance within.
I have always had a wild, overzealous, even intrusive imagination. Growing up I would daydream for hours, often playing in my make-believe world all day long. I grew up on the farm and besides my brother and sister, I didn’t see other children often. I found myself alone most of the time. When I was younger this imagination was wonderful. The world I lived in was beautiful. As I grew events occurred that stole some of that beauty. I became even more isolated, feeling that my world was safe, only if I was alone.
The internal battle of wanting to be with others and simultaneously seeking seclusion. As I grew, I continued with this sense of wanting to be alone as I navigated through my preteen and teen years. When most of my peers were seeking out one another eagerly, I teetered on wanting to be alone and interacting with others. I would spend a lot of time in nature, the animals, flowers, and trees were my friends; I reveled in their sights, sounds, and smells.
As I matured towards adulthood, I continued to find myself between worlds. I did acquire a group of friends that I hung out with frequently, but I was the quiet one. I would listen to them as they would interact with one another. Still and silent in my own world as I stood right on the edge of theirs. Through these interactions I learned about the symphony of silent sounds that are always around us. I began to learn how to intuitively read body language, facial expressions, even sensing others feelings based off of all of these silent cues.
I feel this inability to engage with others left me on the edge of a loneliness. Always teetering on being a part of something, and not belonging. I feel that sense of not belonging came from my own inability to share my thoughts, feelings, emotions. I am honestly not sure if this inability to share came from fear, or my own feelings of inadequacy. Perhaps I believed my thoughts and feelings did not matter, or I truly enjoyed being a part of this silent symphony, it was safe.
Change leaves me feeling as though I need to retreat inward to remain safe but simultaneously feel the need to burst out of my bubble, or pop it myself. As I navigate through and continue to make some major life changes, I find myself continuing to balance on this line more and more. As I quiet my mind I am finding the balance of reflecting inward, listening, and now I am beginning to share my own stories and insights. But I find these feelings of not belonging start to sneak back into my mind. I had a gathering with my girlfriends recently. These girls are my tribe. They are beautiful souls that I truly enjoy being around. Yet, as I was getting ready to leave my home, that same feeling of being an outsider started to creep up. I began to tell myself…maybe I should just stay home…they will not notice if I don’t show up…I’m running late anyway…
I often sabotage attending social events and even my relationships to remain “safe”. The very thing I need to ensure my own wellbeing (socializing with others) I deter at all costs. This happens on an unconscious level, I start to get “busy” with multiple things and all of a sudden, I’m running late and everything has to be done at the last minute. I have to continuously force myself to move towards being with others, sharing things over social media, and with my writing. There are two parts of me and they are battling with one another. One wants to stay safe, quiet, secluded, right where is it and the other wants to allow part of herself to share with the world. They both want to live, but only one offers true life.
I love my life. I love my friends and family. I love being around people. How can I stop these habitual actions and thoughts that leave me confused, exhausted, and isolated?
The key is to calm the mind.
The answer was found with a silent mind. As I sit, my mind is in constant motion. I still live in that silent symphony of sounds, my own little world. I still have an overactive imagination and daydream all day long. My world, while it may be silent on the outside, internally it is often busy and chaotic. This takes energy, it is exhausting, and my physical body also reflects this state. I don’t have the energy to do the things I know I need and love.
I frequently have to force myself to become present when others are around me, to engage in the world, and stay on task.
Like, I actually have to say, “Hello, earth to Elizabeth!”
It’s not that I feel what others have to say are unimportant, they are greatly important to me, its just that I am stuck in my patterns of the cycle of not belonging. This feeling is due to my lack of engagement with the world around me. Freedom comes when we have the courage to be who we are. We need to tell our stories and share our insights.
“You only are free when you realize you belong no place — you belong every place — no place at all.” ― Maya Angelou
The gifts that I have acquired by living a life this way are priceless. I can often sense things in others before they even know it themselves. This has helped me coach many, many people. People often gravitate to me when they have a road block or big life issues. I don’t give advice. But I give valuable insight that they could never see on their own. This life I have been living, the way I have been living it have prepared me for who I am today. But I have to engage with the world around me. We all do.
Silencing the mind is the key to allowing me to engage. I use the steps below to silence my mind. I am creating a new habit. To use my mind as the wonderful tool that it is, and no longer allow it to run and control me. This is not an overnight fix or “said and done” problem solved. This is a life long unfolding. It is an evolution of my body, mind, and soul. It is like a rose in bloom; growing, expanding, flourishing.
Just as a lotus flower blooms from the dark muddy waters into a beautiful breathtaking flower-you can too.
You must learn to quiet your mind and it starts with relaxing your body and mind. Why? Relaxing can quiet your mind and make you feel a sense of peace and calmness. Your body is constantly listening to you, reacting to your thoughts. Not necessarily on a physical level, but on a physiological level. There is a way to listen to your thoughts, but not engage with them. To observe them in a peaceful state. This drastically changes your perception, of EVERYTHING.
When you switch to becoming the observer of your thoughts, you begin to realize that you are not your mind. Your life experiences have created your thought patterns, and as you remove yourself from engaging in them you can begin to rewire these networks into a healthier, less exhausting pattern.
Here are 5 steps you can start on today to calm your mind.
- Deep breathing. Start by concentrating on your breath. This is the quickest and easiest way to stop your mind from racing. You may feel your mind starting to sneak in your peace and try to intervene. When this happens, I encourage you to count with each breath. Breathe in for a count of 7(1-2-3-4-5-6-7), hold it, and then count backwards for a count of 7 (7-6-5-4-3-2-1). Last, after your exhale I encourage you to hold it for a moment. Do this often. If you can, do it every hour during the day. And do it extra when you start to notice you are having a hard time concentrating or engaging in the world around you. Notice how quickly it stops those racing thoughts!
- Practice mindful meditation. The goal of this is to focus your attention on thing that are happening right now in the present moment. Wherever you are-BE HERE NOW. It is as simple as that (notice I didn’t say easy). You may find yourself needing to repeatedly redirect yourself back into the present moment. Don’t get discouraged, this is why we call it practicing. The need for redirection is normal and congratulate yourself on your newfound awareness. Becoming aware is the first and most important step. From it comes deeper awareness.
- Write. I find writing about my thoughts and feelings helps me to release my emotions and lessens their “grip” on my current mood. If you don’t find satisfaction in writing-listen to music you find soothing. I feel these are both excellent ways to help quiet the mind.
- Soak in a bath. Use essential oils that relax you. I love to choose earthy scents and often use oils associated with the forest such as cypress, marjoram, pine, patchouli, and sandalwood. Choose an oil that is calming to you. Pay attention to lighting. A relaxed body helps relax the mind.
- Guided imagery. Your body and mind are connected. Picturing something in your mind can make you feel like you are experiencing it. Picture yourself in a calm and peaceful place. Bathe all of your senses in this experience. If you are imaging yourself in a quiet forest, play sounds that mirror this setting, choose essential oils of your favorite trees and smells. Imagine yourself immersed in this environment.
Imagination, introversion, and reflection are not only beautiful, they are gifts. Living in a go-getter, do more, extrovert society can cause some of us to feel less-than and inadequate. The goal of my post today is to bring awareness into the beauty of the sensitive-introvert. I hope you feel a little more self-compassion towards yourself, or someone close to you who is an introvert.
Introverts have many gifts to offer. I feel that quieting our mind supports us in ways that allows for deeper insight into our gifts, what we have to offer, and encourages us to share these with beautiful world around us.
The world needs the balance introverts bring. When we create peace within our minds we have the ability to share this peace with the world around us.
Until I am compelled to write again,