If you’re a quiet type, these scenarios may sound familiar. Here’s what mental health experts tell their clients who are dealing with them.
As someone who spends a lot of time alone, I’d call myself an introvert. Not only do I enjoy my own company, but also I need that time alone to recharge myself even if it was just from a tiny social interaction. However, on the other hand, extroverts get energized by being around people and receiving lots of stimulation.
With that said, sometimes society isn’t made to fit the needs of introverts, and it can be difficult to socialize and communicate. That’s where therapy comes in handy: It can help you navigate these situations and assist you in exploring your own inner life, making you more comfortable with your quieter nature and your needs that come with it.
Below, we asked therapists to share the most common topics introverts frequently bring up in therapy and why they usually come up. If you relate, you’re not alone.
Finding space to recharge their social battery
Everyone needs a bit of alone time every now and then. However, some need it more than others ― and it can be hard to achieve that when loved ones may not understand how important it is or if you don’t have the physical space to just be isolated.
“Many introverts may feel drained after socializing with friends, and it’s important for them to create space to recharge. This can be difficult if they live with a partner or roommate,” said Kristen Casey, a telehealth clinical psychologist and insomnia specialist. “In therapy, we usually discuss how to communicate their needs effectively to ensure their friends or family understand that the creation of space from others is not personal.”
Kristen Gingrich, a therapist and certified alcohol and drug counselor, said that she usually tells her clients to go into a bathroom for five to seven minutes to ground themselves and recoup since it’s the place where you’re least likely to be bothered.
Setting boundaries with friends and loved ones
Many people find it difficult to set boundaries, but it can be even harder for introverts to speak up for themselves and communicate their needs.
“A lot of times, introverts talk about how they struggle to set boundaries because it can require more extroverted energy than they are comfortable with,” Gingrich said.
She added that when an introverted client is struggling with this, they may discuss ways to set boundaries that are clear and to the point, as sometimes it can be easy to get caught up in the discussion aspect as opposed to actually setting them.
Additionally, coping skills and distress tolerance skills are usually talked about because uncomfortable feelings and emotions will likely arise when setting boundaries, and it’s important for clients to know how to manage those in a healthy way when they come up.
Managing communication with friends
This isn’t a topic only introverts bring up in therapy, but it comes up often because it can be overwhelming to respond to texts and calls sometimes when your social battery is running low.
“The concept of answering phone calls or text messages may feel overwhelming for some introverts, and they may struggle with coaching their loved ones on their preferences for communication,” Casey said.
In these instances, the client might raise concerns around friends and family members taking their delay in response personally or viewing it as a sign that they don’t value the relationship, as opposed to it simply being a result of their needs.
“In therapy, we explore ways to coach friends and family on their preferences or how to answer briefly to maintain the relationship,” Casey said.
Managing overstimulation and irritability
After a while of socializing in a group setting, introverts will need that alone time to recharge their battery. When they can’t get that or have trouble communicating that need, it can sometimes lead to irritability ― a topic that introverts tend to bring up in therapy as they are looking for better ways to manage it.
“This is a thing I see with introverts and that is when they are overstimulated or their social battery runs empty, that they either shut down or it turns into irritability, which is really common,” Gingrich said.
In session, the therapist and client will together to discuss and build mindfulness skills and coping techniques to help prepare them for situations when they are highly irritable or overstimulated.
“We also talk about how to take accountability for the times where their irritability may get the best of them and come out towards other people,” Gingrich said.
Although it may be difficult, it’s important to take accountability and move forward in a more healthy and productive manner.
Wanting to find a romantic relationship
Dating is hard for just about anybody ― this includes introverts, who get easily drained by social interactions. Going on many dates can feel overwhelming for an introvert who needs frequent alone time to recharge.
“Clients often bring this up often because the idea of internet dating seems daunting with meeting lots of people and going out on different occasions,” said Heather Kent, a registered psychotherapist and trauma recovery specialist in Canada.
It’s not that introverts don’t want romantic relationships, but it can be hard to find the balance necessary to suit the needs of both people.
Dealing with societal pressure
Society places a lot of pressure on people to maintain the status quo in just about everything. However, introverts tend to find this hard when the extroverted personality is the default.
“Introverts often bring up how they worry about how others feel about them and that they feel a constant societal pressure to be involved in activities and engaged with friends,” Casey said. “They may also sometimes think that something is wrong with them, or that they aren’t living up to societal standards because of this.”
During sessions, she works with her clients to explore the need to adjust their own expectations with societal standards to ensure they feel seen and heard and live a life of their choosing. It’s more advantageous than trying to be someone you’re not.
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