Monday, November 26, 2012

Bidding For Good And Embracing Your Introversion

Diamonds & Rust Buddha 8"x10" at the Shambhala Auction
It's ramping up to that time of year when the consumer machine starts screaming in technicolour. I suspect that a lot of folks who read this blog, just kinda cover their ears.  Me too.  But there are a few worthwhile things out there, if you do indulge in a gift or two.  One of the things I've supported over the last number years is the Shambhala Sun Auction. There's lots of goodies over at the site, including this small original by moi (as Miss Piggy would say).

As a self confessed introvert, I've always tended to avoid a lot of holiday who-ha. And did someone mention introverts? I guess that would have been me? It's been on my mind because I've been reading "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking" by Susan Cain. I watched her TED talk a while back but the book is filled with so much more. If you're an introvert (and 50% of us are) you will find this a compelling read. I have always said I don't do small talk and so the holiday parties can be a bit nerve wracking. And then there's the overstimulation of noise, lots of people and so on. I feel like a deer in the headlights and would rather wash dishes or clear the table than schmooz.

It's so interesting to see so much information collected in print and supported by research that confirms many of my experiences. Doesn't mean we shouldn't go to parties, but we will probably feel more comfortable having a deeper conversation with individuals on the periphery of the action.

Cain covers a lot of ground in her book, and suggests the healthy thing to do is embrace who we are (it has a physiological basis) rather than thinking there's something wrong with us and that if we're going to be successful and happy we need to suck it up and embrace extroversion.  That's often the message schools and work places put out.

And of course after we've embraced who we are, we might want to stretch a little to support causes and work that we're passionate about (that's apparently when we're most successful in our stretch).  Many creative types are introverts and she devotes a whole chapter to the idea that a lot of creative work is solitary work, not "groupthink" work. Remember my attempt to paint with a group last year?  Nope, didn't work for me. I bowed out politely a while back.

So maybe you have an introvert on your list who might enjoy this read. They might be interested to learn that researcher Jerome Kagan was able predict introversion based on a "startle" response in 4 mo old babies. We're reactive and prone to overstimulation, some of us even enter the "highly sensitive" category (a term that makes me cringe) We are not defective but we are different and Cain offers us lots of strategies for survival if we don't already have them. And maybe we just need the confirmation. Oh, yeah, it's okay to go home after intensely social events and put on our jammys and cuddle up with a book. Great stories and strategies fill the book and make it a good read. And us introverts, we love our books! I am  currently in hibernation and recovery mode after a week of 2 different sets of house guests. I am reveling in silence. Where do you fall in the thirst for silence and alone time?


  1. i listened to cain's TED talk a couple of months ago; the main thing i remember is thinking "i told you so!" repeatedly, hee!

    i will be having my ears well covered and eyes averted from the upcoming commotion...


  2. yes, yes, big ear muffs! and perhaps directing the eyes into a good book or at a canvas or two!

    it's a bit easier to miss all the commotion living in the woods!

  3. My finger has been hovering over the order button for this book,(that and Henry David Thoreau's Walden) ever since I watched the TED talk some time back. I havn't ordered it yet because that would confirm that I am an introvert.... which is verging on shameful in my neck of the woods. Holiday season is not my favourite time and I count the days until its all over and I can retreat and find some solitary moments to create art. Oh to live in the woods!I produce my best art in solitude and live for long stretches of art time to keep the balance.

  4. Ha, I chuckled when I read your words, " I haven't ordered it yet because that would confirm that I am an introvert.... which is verging on shameful in my neck of the woods. "

    I say treat yourself to this book! For me it confirmed that I was not in fact flawed, but that my need to retreat into solitude sometimes is perfectly "normal" behaviour. There was something very refreshing about this! There is something very freeing about being accepted for who we are (especially by ourselves).

  5. Replies
    1. I look forward to hearing how you like it! happy reading!

  6. From one introvert to another...Happy Holiday balancing days ahead...a little out and plenty of days in! I almost get the giggles when I realize I have a large portion of the day to myself...yeah me!
    Lovely piece!

  7. I know what you mean! When something gets cancelled and I get to stay home, it has a slightly delicious feel.

    Good to know our "sweet spot" as Cain refers to the place of just the right amount of stimulation for us personally.

  8. I'm a 4 on the Enneagram.....and an INFP on the Meyers Briggs and apparently a HSP (highly sensitive person).......all that I learned in the last few years...after what seems like hundreds of years of therapy. I'm finally accepting and caring for 'who I am'. And Susan Cain had the courage to stand up for us......I have not read her book.....but I'm sure to.....thank you and all here are one with me. BTW.....being 'alone' is where we get our energy........

  9. I probably was to introverted to seek out therapy (lol) but like you am finally coming to terms with what I have rejected in myself for so long. It's like a homecoming, don't you think?

    Yes, the silence and space is definitely recharging territory for me, and nature especially, all that comforting greenness!

  10. I have identified myself as an introvert for years now and my closest friends agree. I have had that book QUIET on my wish list for some time and now I am going to order it... painting really is a solitary act and I am happiest when I am home.

    1. yes, I expect a lot of us art types identify as introverts. I was reading an article about a textile designer and her comment to the interviewer was "don't do this job if you can't spend large chunks of time alone".

      Yep, I'm a home body too! Happy creating, Donna!

  11. this sounds like a wonderful book... I certainly fall into the introvert category... thanks for this recommendation!

  12. Hi Laura! I'd love to hear what you think of the book if you read it.

  13. I remember watching her TED talk a while back. And I agree how there really is a societal push to be in groups.

    I definitely understand the comfort and strength that comes from stepping out of the fold and being alone.

  14. Hi Juana! Yes, the group thing, it's so interesting. She talks about how that push really started with our urbanization.

    I think that to do any kind of art, we have to be okay with being alone. And you're right because of culture, that is stepping out of the fold.