Self-introspection is important to build a meaningful relationship with yourself. Here’s how extroverts can get started with introversion.
Why You Shouldn’t Avoid Solitary Introspection
I’m an extrovert. Not in the sense that I like big groups or even meeting new people, but I want to be surrounded by my nearest and dearest, basically all the time. I’m energized by interaction, and I value strong, connected relationships more than anything else. Living in a commune with loved ones sounds like heaven to me.
In the past, part of my inclination to engage with and focus on others was to avoid being alone with my thoughts. It’s much more comfortable, and frankly, a relief to focus on other people. But avoiding solitary introspection has a cost. The relationship we have with ourselves is the foundation of everything else in our lives. Nurturing that relationship is worthy of your time and attention.
Therapy is the gold standard for this type of reflection, but it might be out of reach for various reasons. Instead, or as an adjunct to therapy, daily therapeutic free-writing can also unearth a treasure trove of useful insights. A regular journaling practice can give you clarification on plans and goals, comfort you when you’re struggling, and shine a light on the hidden places in your past and psyche.
Writing three pages, first thing in the morning was popularized by author and creativity teacher Julia Cameron in her book The Artist’s Way. “Morning Pages,” as Cameron calls them, “clarify our yearnings. They keep an eye on our goals. They may provoke us, coax us, comfort us, even cajole us, as well as prioritize and synchronize the day at hand.”
Where therapeutic free-writing differs from morning pages is that you start writing with a prompt. A prompt offers a trailhead that will steer you away from superficial meanderings and into more productive emotional territory.
Each morning, I sit down with a cup of coffee and write for 20 minutes in a journal in longhand. If there’s something in that day’s writing I want to go back to, either because it needs further exploration or I think I can use it in another, more formal piece of writing, I put an asterisk next to it. If this sounds like something you’d like to try, here are three reliable trailheads to get you started.
3 Questions Extroverts and Introverts Should Ask Themselves
Here are 3 simple yet exceptionally important questions that you must ask yourself, whether you are an extrovert or an introvert –
1. What Am I Grappling With?
I once had a friend announce, “The two things I want more than anything are to make a lot of money and not to have to work.” When we have a polarity, or want two conflicting things, at the same time, that’s an area worth exploring. Another good “grappling with” area is a problem you repeatedly think you’ve solved, but that keeps cropping up again. Issues including finances, body image, and relationships are often a treasure trove of introspective material.
2. What Am I Avoiding?
Most of us are always avoiding one thing or another. The phenomenon of a client waiting until the last possible minute of a therapy session to share something essential is so common it has a name among therapists: doorknob confessions.
When I see that a client has this tendency, I’ll shift to starting each session by asking, “Anything, in particular, you’re avoiding?” Inevitably, that question helps us get down to business.
Also read 11 Advantages Of Being An Introvert
3. When Do I Struggle To Stay True To Myself?
Knowing that our actions match our values is a goal most of us strive for. That said, sometimes we don’t notice when we get off track. If there’s a relationship, situation, or role that feels slightly off to you, this question may be worth exploring. Another example of this might be situations in your past that feel unresolved or embarrassing when you think back to them. Go ahead and get the specifics down on paper.
As you get started, try to approach these questions with curiosity instead of judgment. Part of this process is befriending yourself, even the parts of you that are confusing or frustrating. I recently heard a tip used for writing fiction: To better understand your character’s motivations, imagine that they’ve been doing the best they possibly can up to this point. Extend yourself that same grace. As Maya Angelou famously said, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
If you can settle into this practice with an attitude of goodwill and openheartedness, therapeutic free-writing will positively affect every part of your life. Attending to your emotional experience, and gaining a better understanding of your motivations, creates the foundation for a richly meaningful relationship with yourself.
Are you ready for introversion? Let us know in the comments below.
Written by: Tonya Lester, LCSW Originally appeared on: Tonyalester.com Republished with permission