Relationships. Like most things in life, relationships emphasize our inside job. In other words, our relationships with others always reflect our relationship with ourselves.
It will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me when I declare that I deserve a C- (well, that's being generous) when it comes to relationships. It's the one area of my life in which I feel the least capable of excelling - and the most guilt.
It's not that I don't have the skills or desire to develop and maintain quality relationships or to provide quality service: It's about energy. I just don't have enough to go around.
Therefore, most of the people who matter to me probably have no idea that I ever think of them. That's not something I'm proud of (and feeling like I fall short in this way really sucks).
Notice the judgment. What if we could simply accept who we are and then show up - as we are - with love in our hearts and the intention of doing our best each day - without comparison?
At the end of the day, I'm mostly able to focus on my immediate family, clients, and self-care. Irregularly, I stay in touch with extended family, friends, colleagues. It's also top of mind that somehow I'm supposed to be developing new business relationships too, staying active and engaged in social media.
It's easy for comparison to kick in (i.e. other people seem to be able to handle all of this), making me feel completely inadequate and dysfunctional when I allow it. When I ALLOW it (thus the inner work is ongoing).
Can you relate?
It turns out that a number of subscribers mentioned that they struggle with relationships too. And that's why I knew it was time to reach out to an introvert who digs deep when it comes to relationship clarity: Brenda Knowles, writer at space2live.
I "met" Brenda online when I came across one of her blog posts in a Facebook update. I was immediately drawn to her genuine and vulnerable style of writing which was both relatable and powerful.
My immediate thought was, this woman has COURAGE! Needless to say, it was 'love at first site' as Brenda caught my attention, and then went on to earn my respect.
Read on for more insightful relationship wisdom from Brenda Knowles and then check out the "Marla Recommends" section for a couple of interesting podcasts on the topic.
Be Brave. Be Seen. Be True.
Sending positive energy your way,
Your Wise Introvert Coach & Mentor
Wisdom Community: Introverted Women in Business
My work is about investing in women - introverted women in particular.
So I'm excited to be collaborating with heart-centered introvert solopreneurs to create this section of the newsletter. Share the introvert love!
In this issue, I'm proud to feature the wisdom of fellow introvert, Brenda Knowles, Writer at space2live.
How to Foster Your Career Despite a Lack of Support
I was excited to talk to my 15 year old son’s class about temperament and personality types. I was honored his Career Search teacher asked me to do a presentation.
His response, when I told him, changed those feelings.
He shook his head and said, No. No Mom please don’t come in. Please don’t talk about writing or introversion. His fear was palpable. I thought he was afraid I would tell embarrassing stories about him, but that was not it.
The truth is, he was ashamed of my work. As this became glaringly evident, I fought back (and failed) the deep emotions that accompany the knowledge that your son does not value what you do (Writer, Myers Briggs practitioner, personal coach) or who you are (a sensitive introvert). I felt kicked in the heart.
To add salt to the wound, he was proud to have his investment-banking father speak in the same class on a different day.
Couldn’t you just be like everyone else? Get a normal desk job, make a lot of money?
From the beginning, my writing was a hobby to my children. Writing is not a real job. No one makes any money writing, especially writing about something as weird as introversion. They would prefer I maintain a Mommy blog about kids’ sports and Costco; work in a cubicle doing drone-like applications or better yet, devote my existence to their care.
I know children have an earnest desire to fit in. It is part of their development to learn how to be comfortable being themselves. It is part of ALL of our development to do so.
Pulling your own career from the ether as an entrepreneur requires a thick skin, creativity and a brave devoted spirit. It helps if there is a soft support net of your closest people.
Sometimes you have to work without a net.
Things to remember when you feel less than supported:
1. Time brings perspective:
As a kid, I was embarrassed of our small house, the muffler-challenged truck my dad drove (I died a little death each time he dropped me off at school), and the way my parents said crick instead of creek. I wanted my parents and home to be like my friends’ parents and homes.
Now I realize all of that is of little importance compared to the fact that I was loved and cared for. I even admire my dad for doing his own thing. His influence gives me courage today.
2. Your tribe supports you:
Not everyone will understand you but those who do will stand beside you and behind you. My readers send letters of gratitude for making them feel less alone and more appreciated as introverts in relationships. My circles of friends encourage my development by listening to and championing me. They provide useful feedback without making me feel small.
3. The only way to move people, make a difference or create is to be courageous and vulnerable.
There is no creativity in being part of the herd. Mainstream thoughts are lost in the crowd. Are you going for mediocre or memorable?
In order for my work to resonate and change people on the inside, I must be incredibly honest. Even then, my words won’t resonate with everyone, and that has to be OK.
There is a risk that comes with being awake and sensitive. You feel everything deeply including rejection or criticism but you feel gratitude and empathy just as intensely.
Feel the fear and do it anyway
During a tear-filled (me not him) discussion days later, it became clear my son was scared the older kids in the class would make fun of him because of my presentation topics. In his mind, writing is not a solid career and introverts are not cool (sigh).
I was extremely nervous on presentation day. I knew my son was monitoring every word. I sweat through my sweater and had to cross my arms in order to hide the stain, but the more I spoke, the more relaxed I became. I know and believe in my work.
At the end of class, a soft-spoken boy came up and thanked me for sharing the information. He said he learned a lot. Later that afternoon, my son texted me with the simple message, Good job.
I've been married to an extrovert for 25 years. Over that time, we've learned how to respect and support each other's ebb and flow (although we're still a work in progress as we change over the years). That said, I've always been clear that, if we break up, I'm going to live alone! Such is the balancing act of introvert relationships.
For more about introverts and relationships, you may find these interviews with Sophia Dembling, author of Introverts In Love, interesting.
Topics include: communication, knowing yourself & what makes you happy, personality styles, couples (introvert-introvert & introvert-extrovert), dating, travel, decision making
Episode 75 of the Introvert Entrepreneur (approx 30 min) - Host Beth Buelow starts out with her tips on staying in love with your business (her twist on the topic of love). Then, about 6 minutes in, her interview with Dembling begins.
Topics include: relationship dynamics, claiming your best features, boundaries, how to communicate needs, couples, dating, self-awareness, respect