Life can be a game of give and take at times. We’d prefer things to be one way but for one reason or another we are called to meet the situation halfway. One area where this can be a real challenge is when our comfort zone is confronted. Unless resolution is strong to push through resistance, we’ll spew forth with reasons why we couldn’t, shan’t, are not able to show up.

As an introvert one area where this is particularly true for me is when I am in need of some silence and solitude. I have been through a particularly busy period and a window of opportunity to some quiet time alone opens up - I’m in! Like a glass of shaken up muddy water, my mind has hit overload and is yearning to allow the dust to settle. As the swirling mire of dirt particles start to come to rest in the glass of my mind, the noise in my head subsides and with that relief, comfort and deep nourishment start to envelope me.

This is all fine and I’m sure something that introverts can relate to, but perhaps they can also relate to,

  • “When spending a heavenly weekend alone means that you’re missing out on time with friends,”
  • “And you fear that by doing so, you are nearing ‘hermit’ status.” 

What about when the tug becomes between work needing to be done and the quiet recharge? The pull of quiet time becomes hypnotic. You start to feel the deep comfort wrapping itself around you like the ultimate comfort blanket. Hypnotized by the relief that the solitude gives us, we are sucked into inaction (and let’s not forget, rest as well) - friends go unseen, work languishes or at least is given less than our full attention.

Full time alone whether hour or a weekend has its place, but sometimes we need the click of fingers in front of our face to wake up and move into action. This is not about ignoring our introverted tendencies or becoming an extrovert, it is about adaptation. Adaptation in order to be in the world. To use words from the start of this post, it is about give and take.

Silence is golden for introverts, at least it is for this one, but I would guess that I am not the only one. As Susan Cain, author of  Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking has said,

“Solitude matters, and for some it is the air that they breathe.”

So all the more so, when we are called to step away from that which feeds us so deeply, it is helpful to have a strong motivation to give us the strength to keep going when we would prefer to be elsewhere. I have written a little about this sort of motivation here, but in essence it is about stopping and reflecting on why you need to step out of this quiet zone. Perhaps it is because of connecting with friends who you value deeply and haven’t seen for a while? Perhaps it is to do with why you are attending this meeting or networking event, the importance of it to your work? Sit and be with your need to be elsewhere for a while, that reason for putting aside your comfort blanket. Let this motivation seep into you and it will lend fuel to your action. With strong resolve and give and take, we can more comfortably step out from under the spell of that silence.

Here are some suggestions for managing our needs against the needs of being in the world. The motivation is personal to you. Find it, be with it, and then embracing adaptation step into the world.

  • Know that at least once a year, perhaps every few months (pick a time span that works for your life,) you will take a period of time to yourself.
  • During a weekend alone, timetable your time. You might spend the afternoon with friends, but make sure that the evening is yours.
  • At business events, give yourself a time that you will stay until. When you arrive explain that you have to leave at such and such a time. If you stay longer, so be it.
  • Let people know what you are needing in your life so that they respect when you excuse yourself.
  • At business gatherings and social events with friends set yourself a number of people who you will connect with. Spend time with those people. When you have hit your limit, unless you feel like staying longer, excuse yourself.

Have you caught yourself wrapping yourself in your comfort blanket? What strategies have you used for stepping out of your comfort zone?