Introverts… Speak Up!

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Years ago, a key person in my life once encouraged me to “speak up” and share my thoughts / ideas. Why? Because they have value. You see, I was your classic introvert. In addition, I used to be in an emotionally abusive and manipulative relationship for many years. On top of being an introvert and a people-pleaser by nature, being in this kind of relationship proved to be very toxic/unhealthy and disastrous. Thankfully, I’ve never been in a physically abusive relationship. My heart goes out to those who are or have been. I hope that you have gotten out or soon will. In regards to physically abusive relationships, I credit my parents, especially my dad for instilling in us girls that no one, absolutely no one should ever put their hands on his daughters. Period. And if they did, they’d have to answer to my dad among other males in my family. I was a quiet person, but, if you got “stupid” with me, I’d have to pull *that* girl out of my pocket (so to speak) and “check” you. Don’t get it twisted.  But for many in these types of relationships it’s not easy to just “get out”. I pray that if you’re in such a relationship, you take steps to get out and get into a healthier place.*

But, back to my story. What did happen instead of being in a physically abusive relationship, was that I got into a codependent and emotionally abusive & manipulative relationship. In my opinion, this can happen for varied reasons, which I will likely post about another day. In emotionally abusive relationships, mind games, blaming, emotional manipulation (the kind that always make the perpetrator seem like the “right” one, while you’re always the one to blame) were the order of the day. Thankfully that ended many years ago. I got out of it, but, not without some emotional bruises. When you’re in that kind of relationship, and you’re the recipient of that type of constant treatment, it takes its toll (and takes time and concerted effort to heal). Your mindset is one of defending yourself, while secretly believing that maybe somehow you’re to blame. Or either you’re afraid to speak up, so as not to “upset the balance”, which would in turn cause more drama and perhaps abusive behavior. Even if you’ve not experienced any type of abusive behavior at all, and perhaps you’re just a quiet or shy person by nature, it may be extremely uncomfortable or feel very unnatural to speak up on any occasion because it’s not part of your natural makeup. You’d rather be in the background and/or invisible.

So, when an extrovert tells you to “speak up” it’s a frightening and foreign concept. After all, extroverts tend not to have a problem with being noticed or being on center stage.  But, when a fellow or former introvert encourages you to “speak up”, you listen, because they understand where you’re coming from. The point is that you have good ideas and suggestions. You have important perspectives and questions. The point is, you have value. Your input has value. Don’t keep this locked away. If you have something to share, then you should share it, yes respectfully, but share it. If you have something to ask, you should ask it. If you believe in something, then stand up for it. If folks don’t want to grant your request or agree with your perspective, that’s okay. But, at least do not keep what is valuable bottled up inside. You matter. So be open to the idea of sharing your perspective on varied topics. Yes, in all things use wisdom. There’s a time and place for everything. Speaking up doesn’t always involve being the center of attention, which most introverts seek to avoid like the plague.  You can “voice” your ideas or opinions creatively, by writing, or joining a particular group, or working behind the scenes for some cause, organization or event, and add your input that way.  Behind the scenes people are vital to the success of front-line people.

I now consider myself an intro-extrovert… or what I recently learned is also called an “ambivert”. Definition – a person having characteristics of both extrovert and introvert (and I would add… knowing WHEN to operate in each characteristic). It took some time for me to get to this place. I have my moments where I’m totally in “introvert mode” (yes, leave me alone… no, I can’t (don’t want to) go out…. no, don’t call me … yes, I’d rather stay at home and watch PBS with some delicious food, wine and my thoughts, in my ugly “chill out” clothes, etc.). And there are times when I’m an extrovert (Where’s the party? Let’s go!…. Just tell me when, I’m there! …. Let’s post that on social media … Let me organize an event…. You should go talk to him/her… Ask him/her what they mean by that, … Try that new thing!…etc.). But, my purpose in posting this today is to let you know that if you’re typically not one to speak out, I can relate. And I’m coming alongside of you as a friend saying, “Your voice matters.” You can “speak up” and have your say. Don’t be afraid of others not agreeing with you. It will take some time to get used to this.  This is not a comfortable feeling for an introvert. But, you’ll soon learn that it’s okay. Everyone is not going to agree with you, but, your voice still matters.

Some other personalities would take this encouragement to “speak up” and use it to hurl abusive statements or to blast others in a brash way in the name of “sharing their perspective”. This is NOT what I mean. But, often times, these types of personalities will act in this reckless manner regardless of any warning or counsel. Don’t waste your energy on folks who like drama. And STILL be encouraged to speak up.

*I want to end with this…. If you’re in an abusive relationship, it may not be as easy as “speaking up”, but you can take steps to free yourself from this kind of situation. It’s not easy and it won’t be easy, but IS POSSIBLE. Your life, health & well being is sooo worth it! And if you have children, the lives of your children are worth it! If you can do nothing else, try contacting the Domestic Abuse Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or visiting www.thehotline.org. They can help you find a local shelter where you can go. And they can help you create a *Safety Plan* :
“A safety plan is a personalized, practical plan that includes ways to remain safe while in a relationship, planning to leave, or after you leave. Safety planning involves how to cope with emotions, tell friends and family about the abuse, take legal action and more.” They’ll help you whether you’re alone with an abusive partner, whether you’ve got children or pets involved, or whether you’re pregnant. I hope and pray that this helps.

Sending love!
~K.D.

Photo credit

@2014 KD Corner / K.D. “Introverts… Speak Up!”

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