Today’s blog is about process…specifically, the unique processing timeline of an introvert…..compounded by the standard of integrity embraced by the perfectionist. And….I know I’m not the only one like this out there! 🙂 If you think you might be an introvert, or know someone who is…you might want to read this…..and if you think you might be a perfectionist…or know of someone who is.
To Thine Own Self Be True
As we mature and grow spiritually (and emotionally), we come to understand more fully who we are – what makes us tick, how we move through the world, our values, how we process life, what we need in the way of help and support, etc. For me, there are two significant nuggets of self-knowledge that have proven to be critical in my ability to stay healthy and grounded in the human experience.
1) is the knowledge that contrary to popular opinion…..I AM AN INTROVERT. While I have learned to be outgoing and have taken the time to cultivate many acquaintances and friendships, I really find my most life-giving experiences in either being alone or in the context of one-on-one, intimate and personal experiences.
2) I am a perfectionist (in recovery…but a perfectionist, nonetheless)
Coming to understand these two things about myself has given me remarkable tools, but even more importantly, affirmation and validation for the unique ways that I process, or move through, the challenges of the human condition. For those who do not live within the unique giftedness of the perfectionistic introvert, these methods of process can stir up feelings of impatience, frustration and even anger. Introverted perfectionists move VERY SLOWLY in their process…and with good reason – for ourselves and for the good of those around us.
Integrity and the Perfectionist
Being a perfectionist can be a huge pain in not only our own butts, but the butts of those around us. Until self-awareness, healing and integration takes place, the perfectionist can be self-righteous, morally rigid, judgemental, condemning, critical. (ok, these can still linger….even after an enormous amount of healing!) I have been frequently known to climb up on my soapbox of some social, religious, political issue and pontificate about what “should” be done….because of course I am perfect and I know better! Once the layers of unhealed wounds and the rigid armor of self-defense is relaxed, however, the perfectionist can see that ultimately what drives us – both motivations and compulsions – is the desire to stand in integrity. Standing in integrity means to discover, name, claim and stand firmly in our own truth….and to do so from a place of impecibility…..in other words….we strive to know our sh..t and to clearly differentiate that from our fears, projections, etc. That way, we can stand in “this is mine” and “this is yours” and step out of our temptation to blame, shame, condemn, etc. Doing this allows the perfectionist the inner peace and contentment that frequently eludes us. When we can unravel ourselves from judgment of self and others, this is where we find peace. The challenge to this goal of integrity, however, is that it is VERY SLOW….and the perfectionist must often journey through the dark and dangerous forest of our fears and compulsions before getting to the clarity on the other side. The journey can get pretty ugly…but the destination is MAGNIFICENT – clear, free from judgment and peacefully content.
Now Throw in the Introvert
As I just stated above, the perfectionists journey toward integrity is one that can be arduous and slow. Now….mix in the temperment of the introvert. Now you have molasses on a cold, winter day. SLOW SLOW SLOW. Introverts need TIME to process. Introverts need TIME to get in touch with what they are really feeling. Introverts need time to be present to these feels and discover their deeper roots. Introverts need time to find the quiet…both outside and inside of them that will give them the TIME they need to hear their deepest truths, uncover guidance and direction…and they need time to say yes to this guidance and to discover the proper vehicle through which they can travel that path. Introverts need TIME!
Help for Ourselves and the People in Our Lives
Why does any of this matter? Because….we live in an extroverted world that wants everything NOW. We want resolution. We want closure. We want commitment. We want immediate gratification. We want surety of knowledge and direction. We want it and we want it now. Well guess what….for the perfectionistic introvert….this will NEVER be the case! This is helpful knowledge if we are a perfectionistic introvert because it gives us permission to honor our own uniquely SLOW process and to not give into the impatience and pressure of an extroverted culture. This is also helpful knowledge for us to share with those around us (those that will listen anyway), because if our temperments differ (which they will), tension will arise due to these differences. When we are able to clearly name the needs unique to our temperment and allow those around us to name theirs, then we can negotiate a space in which we can each be present to our own unique process and give honor and respect to the other while we negotiate the bumpy terrain of interpersonal communication. So, for those introverted perfectionists out there…..I invite you to name and claim your needs for time…..patience…..and still more time and to be ok doing so. And, know that you are NOT alone! And to the extroverts who are in relationship with an introvert…..BREATHE! 🙂
How do you process the challenges of your life?
Where are you being invited to name and claim your need for process time?
How might your interpersonal relationships benefit from your own emerging self-knowledge?
Authentic Freedom Ministries