Sharp Tempers and Social Challenges

1369 Relax and Succeed - You are not alone

You know who you are. And somehow, by reading these posts, you can sense that I can speak your language. This means that, over time and without really intending to, I have developed somewhat of a sub-specialty of working with very capable –often female– individuals who struggle with issues around friendship, work relationships, and their romantic lives.

Unattended, these effects tend to increase with age, and these issues all largely stem from people’s sense that they simply do not ‘fit in.’

How that plays out in daily life is that you will often have your mind focused on other things, which can lead you to mis-reading some social cue or other. You’ll also often be disliked simply for your preference for focused solitary work at the expense of many group activities. Many of you also talk about others being threatened by your temper, which often comes on suddenly, but fades remarkably fast.

A short list of some common traits that people that like this often –but don’t always– exhibit are things like:

  • You are always a pleasure to talk to because many of you share excellent verbal skills.
  • Your emotions can often feel disproportionate to the situation, and you can often have strong all-or-nothing feelings and those can often make friendships difficult to maintain.
  • Despite the fact that you will often endure hardship longer than most people, you will often reach points of frustration first but then be fine afterwards.
  • A version of your over-emoting is that you will often feel you have over-shared by misreading social cues.
  • Most of you, whether educated or not, are quite intelligent, with impressive natural, logical thinking skills. You are also often very good at tasks requiring long periods of focused work.
  • You will often be viewed as controlling youngsters, but as adults they you’ll often end up in leadership or organizational roles because you are good at tough decisions, (although your ability to focus and your iconoclastic style can also see you end up making your tough decisions as an artist).
  • Your sense of intellectual rigour means you see complexity in pretty much anything you look at, so you’ll often want to calculate all the angles. That same busy-minded quality will also often lead you to avoid crowds or general busy-ness.
  • You tend to naturally gravitate to things that require precision, like accounting, or engineering, or the law, and you’ll often enjoy the sciences in general. STEM subjects often are appealing, as are fields that involve difficult either-or decisions made by experts or administrators. For instance, very few teachers are like this, but the ones who feel they would make good principals often are.
  • Forgetfulness is common, you are often late and mix up times, and many of you pay with anxiety, stomach issues and clenching teeth.
  • Unless you know how to stop them, you can get caught up in obsessive, repetitive thought-loops.
  • Music, repetition or tactile sensations will often offer comfort to you.
  • You tend to be fashion, car, and even holiday iconoclasts, and you are often dismissive of many social norms.
  • Rather notably, you often have a favourable view of people who dislike you and you find it difficult maintaining any grudges.
  • Many of you have also had a childhood that required you to grow up quickly.
  • You are often viewed as self-centered, but other than a distaste for not being liked, you generally feel that you are neither important nor unimportant, and you have fairly healthy ego –except for the suffering associated with trying to explain everything on this list.

There is no question that some of those qualities are challenging in society. Others are significant advantages. And some can go either way. So as scary as that list might look if you’re on it and struggling, it’s really no worse than any other kind of person’s list –as long as you manage your life accordingly.

1369 Relax and Succeed - You don't have to be someone else

Like anyone, people like this just need to know how to maximize who they are and how to manage the prices associated with being this way (as opposed to the prices paid by people who are other ways). No one gets through life without some crosses to bear. But you can still be like this and be enlightened.

It makes sense if you feel alone. It makes sense that you find life frustrating because I know you all come so ready for answers, and you’ve all worked quite hard to understand your situation. But it’s one of those things that’s hard to see from the outside, and I’ve seen many people get all kinds of wild diagnoses that they could not relate to.

Particularly if people are young, their entire lives can end being defined by an early misdiagnosis that then follows them through life. Each new professional meets them by starting with a false premise that they rarely, if ever, let the ‘patient’ influence or change.

That approach and sense of reality on the part of doctors then means that any time the ‘patient’ resists their ‘definition’ or ‘diagnoses,’ their behaviour is viewed seen as resistance to the truth, rather than as evidence that the original diagnosis may have been wrong.

This leaves the otherwise healthy person in a weird loop where they know they need help to understand the way they are, but they don’t feel mentally ill in any way, shape or form.

At worst most feel misunderstood, which likely explains why they are often so comfortable with me. I generally admire them. To me, they all seem like the only thing ‘wrong’ is that they need to know how to manage the sort of person they are.

When I ask them if they would take a pill to be more like others –one where they could find socializing much easier and they would feel more understood– they all find that idea attractive. At the same time, they all say they would only want that for one day or one week, just to see what it’s like. But so far no one actually wants a pill that permanently steals what they have always perceived as a strength.

You are right. Those are strengths when managed well. In certain fields, these sorts of people are often seen as exemplary professionals, and in some professions that benefit from these people’s abilities, they can even outnumber ‘normal’ people. So do not feel like you cannot belong.

If that list feels even partially familiar to you, please do not hate yourself. The negative feedback you get does hurt, but it also makes a kind of sense. But you can feel better once you have a better understanding of why these things are happening, which in turn allows you to be able to see those reactions as being less personally meaningful.

By discovering who you really are you can free our own mind. By surrendering your need to ruminate on all of the why’s behind the reactions you get, you can instead focus on using your considerable abilities to take your life forward.

Keep the faith. You aren’t broken, but you are special. And that can be a very good thing if you’re living your life in accordance with who you really are.

peace, s

Introverts: Healthy or Unhealthy

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Through the years there has been a lot of study of introverts and extroverts and the differences in how their lives unfold as a result. Even lay people can appreciate that it is not surprising that extroverts tend to seize opportunities that introverts may not.

This is largely unsurprising because by adulthood most of us would have seen (or been) introverts that were stopped, not by the quality of an idea or our interest in it, but rather by discomfort with the interpersonal relations required to enact the opportunity. In these states were are intimidated, and every human being will experience that in life.

While this leaves introverts at a disadvantage in a competitive landscape (which nature naturally is), this is not to suggest that there is something ‘wrong’ with them. Every human being has limitations that can prevent certain kinds of success, but there are no ‘wrong’ personalities.

If some person enjoys a lot of time alone and works well off by themselves, then they should pursue that and feel healthy. There are some well-known iconoclastic artists and scientists and other people who have lead fruitful, enjoyable lives, largely tucked off on their own.

That said, there is also a large group of separate introverts who self-hate themselves for their inability to seize opportunities they later regret having passed up.

Being a bit ‘aspy’ and enjoying time alone focusing on something for hours can make someone seem unhealthily obsessed, but if the motivation is the feeling that it must be done, then that is an example of a human being living their life in a way that suits them. That is what it is to follow a calling. There’s no external sense to it, but it works for the person living it.

If life wasn’t like that, we may have waited for some time for another Newton to sort out gravity and calculus. He didn’t love people, he loved ideas. In fact, he was known to pretty much hate people, he hated bathing, and he worked naked a lot. He was often seen as an unpleasant person.

Importantly, one gets the impression that Newton was too busy being Newton to care what others thought, and that is a form of spiritual health I write and speak about often. It may not seem like a naked, smelly, unfriendly person can live a quality spiritual life but they can and they do.

1363 Relax and Succeed - If any organism fails to fulfill its potentialities

It’s all a matter of –do we think we’re living our own life, or one stifled by uncertainty about our place in the world? Newton would have been very troubled were he forced to leave his lab only to be bathed and dressed and liked by people he had no interest in. So he was healthier in his lab, alone.

Be they in the arts or in science or accounting or engineering or any other field, those sorts of intense passions represent what it is to healthily separate ourselves from others. That is not what crippling introversion is.

This small study is yet another look at how some people are subtly and negatively affected by their introversion, and how they can benefit from actually learning to be more assertive.

Keep in mind, Newton had no trouble with assertive. He had confidence in his way of being. However, if our ‘aloneness’ doesn’t also have a confidence with it, then we’re likely in the group that would do better by learning to be more assertive.

This ‘change’ should not be seen as an improvement of a person because what is being asserted is the real person. The pain I see in many introverts comes from them chastising themselves for missed opportunities because, in essence, they feel that they are not living up to their natural potential. They, in effect, lack the courage and/or confidence to be the person they truly feel they are inside. That is not what Newton felt.

The logic of both Newton and the crippled introvert makes perfect sense with what I teach and what this blog is about. While unhealthy introverts are thinking debilitating, enervating thoughts about lost opportunities that have prevented personal success, Newton’s introversion had a certain confidence to it. He fought for the right to spend time with the one person he wanted to spend it with; himself.

With rare exceptions like Newton aside, it is a very human thing to function in groups. This increases our mental and physical health in many ways. A strong sense of community and connection is directly linked to our health. This is why it ends up being a positive experience for an unhealthy introvert to work toward being more extroverted –their lives end up being more social, and society is good for individuals.

The difference between these two groups is simple and both tend to instantly know which kind of introvert they really are. Newton wasn’t trying to be liked or be acceptable, he wasn’t even thinking about Newton’s place in the world.

Newton’s thoughts were on his science. He was a confident extroverted introvert, doing exactly what he wanted to do. He didn’t care what others thought and so he lived successfully by his own standards. Meanwhile, many crippled extroverts are prevented from doing what they want to do by their thinking.

Learning to stop all of that thinking, and becoming more comfortable with others through experience does take time. But with each successive step, a less secure introvert becomes stronger and stronger, until there is a day where they can finally feel that they are more fully being their true and healthy self.

If we’re cloistered away and we’re loving life, then we’re fine. But if we are the sort of introvert that deep down wishes they were living a life they can imagine, then it is time to take action to alter how we are using our thoughts. Otherwise, we can use them to build a jail for our spirit. That prison will always only exists in our heads, but if those thought-based walls are not taken down, they will lead us to suffer the pain of not fully realizing ourselves.

peace. s

Power Up

1323 Relax and Succeed - Leave ego behind

Today is going to be a good day. It is. There is no question. We all know that firmly.

Whether the day is filled with joyful reward or even if awful events transpire within it, we can still silently and wordlessly inform ourselves that the day will absolutely be faced by the strong and capable person that is always alive within us all. But…

We must actively conjure this version of our Self. We must feel our posture rise, and our breathing deepen. We must feel a sense of energy flowing through us. As physicists confirm, we are literally made of energy. Let us get it all pointed in one direction. Toward whatever life demands or offers.

Thoughts about limitations are irrelevant when 100% is involved. Today we are sure that, with whatever resources we have available to us, and in whatever balance is required, we will meet the day with the clarity that goes with giving the universe 100%. That is a small price for to pay for a sense of living with powerful direction and purpose.

Even if we experience events like frustration or anger, we must accept that sometimes we are the student and sometimes we are the teacher. If the universe needs us to be the villain for a scene or two, then we must accept that these events happen in all lives and move on with our strength intact.

Our job is not to use our little thoughts to question the wisdom of an infinite universe. Conscious, word-based, me-centered egotistical thinking reduces our sense of flow, which we experience as something having gone wrong for us. But…

Healthy rivers include both eddies and rapids. A flowing river moves past those in their own time, without complaint.

Breathe deeply. Let us live today with our souls open. Today, we make enjoying the experience of life a priority over liking the specifics of the day. That through-line is what allows our power to engage with our lives. Today let’s make life itself an active pursuit.

Deep breath. Let it out slowly. Focus. Breathe deep again and power up. Let us begin.

peace, s