the delicate balance between retreating + showing up in the world

According to the laws of the universe, everything must be in balance. I think someone once said something along those lines. And whoever it was, spoke sense. Opposites attract. What goes up, must come down. Yin and Yang. And so on.

As introverts and/or sensitive souls, there are both benefits and downsides. There always are. It can sometimes feel that, with such delicate minds and bodies, our lives are a constant delicate balancing act.

I relate to the “spirit level” analogy. In order to keep good and balanced, like a spirit-level, we need to remain poised. Even a slight tip in either direction sends us off-kilter.

And for us, the balancing acts of all balancing acts is how we spend our time alone and in our safe little spaces, vs being ‘out there’ in the world. You see, we are a beautiful paradox, where the right social relationships are so, so meaningful to us, and yet human beings exhaust us.

Sometimes, when we might be feeling particularly low or tenders or there’s some form of inner turmoil going on for us, we have this habit of retreating deep into our shells, and for long periods of time.

Eventually, if we’re not careful, this can gradually become a depressive slump and can be tricky to come out of. This is what happened to me in the weeks preceding my depression and anxiety diagnosis. From my own reflections and experiences and observations of fellow introverts and HSPs, there appears to be some blurry threshold between healthy downtime and unhealthy isolation, and where time spent alone slips into being detrimental. And then we run the risk of closing ourselves off from the world completely, and it becomes increasingly difficult to move out of this and reach out to, or even be around, anyone – even our closest family and friends.

I think this threshold is different for each of us, but it is a good idea to recognise the signs of this crossing over into unhealthy territory.

You see, whether we like it or not, two points stand:

1. Prolonged isolation is detrimental.
Not just for lack of human contact, but being cooped up indoors with no movement = not good. There’s a reason that “solitary confinement” is used as a punishment in prisons – the effects of prolonged isolation are well-documented and horrendous.

2. We live in the real world.
As a dreamer, I have to keep reminding myself of this. Especially when I’ve gone through a few days of limited contact with the outside world. There have been a few times in my life when I’ve laid in bed at night, shut my eyes, and wished I was in my own tiny little spacecraft hovering way out in orbit somewhere above Earth, away from it all.

Of course, this is a form of escapism and, whilst my imagination is beautiful, I haven’t yet been able to magically dream up a life where the bills got paid all on there own, I don’t have to turn up to certain things, engage with other humans, etcetera. In other words, the real world is the real world, and we have to adapt and survive in this world whether we like it or not.

For myself, it’s been a case of being more selective in a few ways…

Selective about who I spend my time with

Selective about how long I stay out/spend socialising/spend in others’ company

Selective about which invites I go along to (saying NO is so important – especially to those things which don’t serve us)

Selective about who I invite to spend time with me / choose to spend time with

Selective about where I do my work (I work flexibly – and 90-95% of the time I am out of the house, working from my gym cafe or yoga studio lounge, where there is other human activity happening)

In other words, I keep myself and my energy managed, maintaining as healthy as possible a balance between:

– Spending time with others (e.g. in work meetings, or hanging out with friends)

– Spending time *around* others (e.g. when I’m working from the gym cafe)

– Spending time alone (e.g. at home, or in the yoga studio lounge in the evening when it’s empty)

Getting this balance right is a case of trial-and-error, but I’ve got a pretty good grasp of what’s healthy for me, even if I – inevitably – don’t get it right all of the time.

Awareness is really powerful, and if you don’t know it already, I’d encourage you to figure out just how much people time/alone time is right for you.



Friday, 17th January 2019 |ย this article first appeared onย IntrovertJedi

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