If you want to thrive as a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) and/or an introvert, one key task is finding the right balance between “being in” and “being out”.
How much solitude and recharge time is the right amount for you?
And what about socializing and activity? What’s enough? What’s too much?
These may sound like simple questions to answer, but there are a few reasons why it can actually be really difficult for introverts and HSPs to find the right balance:
- Society’s perception of what is normal is based on the needs of the majority. It’s based on the needs of non-sensitive extraverts. Many HSPs and introverts feel a constant tug of war between how they need to act in order to feel well and society’s expectations of how a person should act.
- Even if we turn to our fellow HSPs and introverts for guidance, there are no one-size-fits-all rules that will guarantee well-being for all of us. We are all unique individuals with unique needs driven by personality, gender, age, genetics, and past health history among other things.
- Even for any one individual, your needs can vary over time and you may not realize that an adjustment is in order. Extraversion tends to peak in late teens and early twenties. So all of us – introverts and extraverts alike – are at our most social when younger and then mellow out from there. Stressful life circumstances can also cause a shift where you simply don’t have as much capacity for socializing and activity as you would in less draining circumstances.
So how do you navigate all this? How do you figure out what the right balance is for you at any given moment in time?
How To Find The Right Balance As AN HSP OR INTROVERT
1. Ignore “Normal”
I weep bitter tears when I think about all the years I wasted chasing normal. All the years I wasted chasing the appearance of normal and well-adjusted, while feeling miserable inside and my mental and physical health in a steep downward spiral.
Don’t do it!
Don’t pay attention to other people’s definition of normal. Don’t pay attention to what other people say should make you feel well.
2. Pay Attention To How You Are Actually Feeling
To find out if you are “too in,” “too out,” or “just right,” spend some time reflecting on how your current activity level is actually making you feel.
Signs That You Are “Too Out” Or Doing Too Much
Here are some signs that you might be taking on too much and it’s time to pull in a bit and make solitude and recharging a higher priority:
- You are so stressed out that you have a hard time winding down at all.
- You frequently struggle with symptoms of overstimulation, like fatigue, headaches, and brain fog.
- You struggle with stress-induced chronic illness.
- Your mood is often irritable.
- You are constantly fantasizing about getting some peace and quiet and getting to do things by yourself.
- When you are socializing or participating in an activity, you are not enjoying yourself and can’t wait for the ordeal to be over with already.
These are some of the potential outcomes when HSPs and introverts ignore their own needs and copy the lifestyles of non-sensitive extraverts. I personally know these outcomes well, because I experienced every single one of them myself. They are no fun, but the good news is that there is a simple cure: rest & recharge.
Signs That You Are “Too In” Or Doing Too Little
Here are some signs that it might be time to push yourself to get out a bit more, even if your first reaction to the idea is apprehension:
- You feel lonely.
- You feel bored.
- You feel like you are not getting what you want out of life.
“Too in” usually happens for one of two reasons.
First, you might have just become really protective of your space. I briefly landed in this state after recovering from my major case of “being too out”. I needed to go way in for a long time to get the rest I sorely needed and I built boundaries of steel to protect myself. Then it took me a bit to catch up and realize that I was feeling much stronger and that I would actually enjoy being out more again. (Not as much as the average extravert, mind you, but enough to venture out of the house every once in a while. 😉 )
The second thing possibly holding you back could be fears and doubts about your place in the world. If that’s the case, I encourage you to explore a way to process past hurts and tough emotions, such as Parts Work.
Signs That You Are BOTH “Too In” And “Too Out” (Yes, it can happen!)
If you can relate to both lists of signs above, then it means that you are probably out too much and in the wrong places. You have a quantity problem as well as a quality problem.
Maybe you are not only socializing too much, but you are doing it with people who are not a good match for you and engaging in activities that you are not terribly excited about. And then you wind up feeling lonely and bored even though you are surrounded by people all the time.
If this sounds like you, I recommend doing some self discovery work and figuring out what you really want to be doing and with whom.
Signs That You Are “Just Right”
So what’s the end goal? Well, here are signs that you have found the right balance:
- You are generally content with your life.
- You feel well physically most of the time and have enough energy to do what you most want to do.
- You might get stressed or anxious every now and then, but you are able to recover.
- You feel like you have the human connections you need to feel loved and supported.
This is what I wholeheartedly wish for you, dear reader. Nothing more. Nothing less.