Although this post has been planned for months, it wasn’t until yesterday, Monday of this week, that I really knew what I wanted to write for this Introvert Survival Guide. Survival guides are popular, but implicit in the title of a survival guide for introverts is the cultural idea that introverts are fragile, barely able to walk outside to the mailbox. And while it’s true that, for introverts, the world can be overwhelming at times, especially if you fall under the category of highly sensitive, this guide does not offer advice on not sweating the small stuff because it’s all small. The reality is that we live in a complex world, a world in which the stresses of everyday life have increased in number and in complexity. The small stuff is so 1996. Back then, a married president’s relationship with a White House Intern was easily and clearly recognizable as inappropriate by a large majority of Americans. These days, we can only wish for a consensus on what is good, bad, and inappropriate. These days, not sweating the small stuff can lead to a build up of big stuff. So, with that as the context, I’m going to focus on 4 ways to sweat the small stuff, because for INTJs and other introverts, there are times when ignoring the small stuff can lead to bigger problems.
HAVING A MELT-DOWN? HAVE AN EXIT STRATEGY WITH DEFINED SAFE ZONES
There are times when you need to remove yourself from a situation. I’m not talking about an abusive situation. That’s quite different. Instead, I’m referring to when you are having an emotional moment. . . in public. For INTJs in particular, revealing inner feelings is like asking to be branded with a big red E, and being publicly flogged. When things go wrong, INTJs prefer to lay claim to a stoicism we don’t always possess. In those rare instances where an emotion slips into public view, it’s important to identify a private and safe space, an escape place to go and recover your equilibrium. Also, plan how to get there with the least amount of exposure so you don’t run into Chatty Betty, or Nosy Suzy. Scout out areas around work places, school, or in areas where you spend a lot of time. You may not always have a secret spot or know where you can go, look for a quiet corner where you can duck out of the line of sight.
KNOW WHEN AND HOW TO DISTRACT YOURSELF
There are times that you don’t have the luxury to process and analyze a bad situation. You must deal with the facts as they are, identify a solution, and move on to the next crisis; something that can be difficult while you’re still in the grip of an emotion. In this case shifting your mind to something else is the best quick fix solution. Take 5-10 minutes to think about something you enjoy. When it’s something you like, it will be easier to keep your mind focused on moving past the issue.
WONDER AND WANDER
20th century French literature introduced the idea of a Flâneur, a person who wanders in the heart of the city and observes while staying removed. While it may seem counter intuitive, wandering may be a great way to settle a busy mind or even distract from negative feelings. Going for a drive, or a stroll is nearly the same concept. But instead of wandering and stewing, get plugged into your environment. Observe. Look. Discover. For intuitive introverts, this data collection feeds our intuition and gives us a something else to focus on. What if you’re already overloaded from having to deal with emotions and turmoil? Adding more data to your already overwhelmed brain might just cause it to explode, right? Choose a location that offers a less visually stimulating environment. In this instance, solitude and serenity allows you to indulge in lesser used sensing functions. For the sensing introvert, touch, feel, and examine the environment to stay present in the moment. Getting that feedback helps to recharge you.
GET THAT GO-TO TREAT
There are some days or situations where there’s nothing you can do to combat the crazy. You just have to slog through it all. On those days, you deserve a treat for simply making it through. Pick something you don’t have often, but really enjoy (bubble tea for me). You deserve it. By treating yourself, you are changing your day, creating a mental association that overcoming challenges equals a reward. Often, our society tells us that we should reward failure, breakups, or negative moments, but instead of rewarding yourself when things don’t work out, reward yourself for facing up to and overcoming difficult challenges. This intentional act is a way of saying to yourself that the day may have been negative, but you don’t have to let that be the end word on your day. You can act, with intention, to order your life.
What introvert survival tips do you have for getting through a rough day? I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments below!