As an introvert, there is nothing I like better than being home. Also, as an introvert, my preference is to be in my home alone. There is nothing that frustrates me more than other people in my home getting on my nerves! While I love the four days a week my children are here, I breathe a sigh of relief when they head to their dad’s so I can enjoy a few days home alone. My home is my sanctuary and my refuge from an otherwise chaotic and noisy world.
Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, now we have no choice (if we have a spouse and/or children at home) but to share our space with others. You think its bad when we all have activities and places we can go to outside the home? What will things look like when we now have no place to go but to stay sequestered in our homes? You’re right – WE WILL BE GETTING ON EACH OTHER’S NERVES. Being stranded in our homes with nowhere to go is likely to bring out the worst in all of us. We will be bored, restless, bored, did I say bored, and we will likely be feeling anxious about how long this will go on and how we will be paying our bills during this time of shut down. Then there is the eternal worry about whether or not we can find toilet paper. (rolling my eyeballs out of my head!)
Here are a few tips to help us not kill each other as we are forced to share space:
- OWN YOUR FEELINGS! You may be feeling anxious, worried, afraid, restless, bored, sad, depressed, paralyzed, or any other sort of uncomfortable feeling. When we have the feelings and do not acknowledge and then tend to them, they tend to come out sideways. It is more likely that we will lose our temper with our families over our own anxiety than because they did something wrong. If you are feeling any of the aforementioned feelings, give yourself a time-out and tend to them. If you need support in managing these feelings, do a quick search on my website and there is likely an article to help you through the pain.
- HIDE WHEN YOU NEED TO! When in close quarters, it is natural to feel stifled or infringed upon. When you are feeling the pressure of other people’s needs or simply because they are there, give yourself a time-out. Go to your room. Go for a walk. Drive to the nearest nature preserve and enjoy some nature. Do whatever you need to do to get away and train your family to allow it while also giving them permission to do the same.
- SUPPORT YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS IN DOING #1 and #2. It has to start somewhere. If you model these boundaries with your family members, you are also giving them the example to do this for themselves. Some members of the family may not yet have the emotional intelligence to identify their feelings. If they are acting out, it is more likely they are feeling one of the above feelings or need to give themselves a time-out. Help them do this. As an introvert, I have spent my children’s lifetimes training them in these practices and now at ages 20 and 22 they get it. They are good with their own self-care, and if not, I gently remind them.
- GET COMFORTABLE WITH SIMPLY BEING. This is a tough one in a world that has trained us only for DOING. Likely one of the reasons we are experiencing this pandemic is to remind us the value of BEING. Get comfortable with DOING NOTHING. Resist the temptation to filling your time with activity (trust me, we will soon run out of activities to do). Read a book. Sit in silence. Grab a coloring book and color (even if it’s old ones left over from when your kids were little). Listen to music. Take a walk in nature. Or just do nothing. Help your family members learn how to do the same. Maybe even schedule (if you are a person who thrives on routine like I do) DOWN time for your family. Time when everyone can retreat to their own spaces and just be quiet.
- GET TO KNOW YOUR FAMILY. Yeah, we all know each other, but do we REALLY know each other? Do you know your partner or children’s temperaments? Do you know their preferences? What is their number on the Enneagram or their Myers-Briggs personality type? How do they get their energy? How do they process information? What is their learning style? Are they intuitive or a thinker? Extroverted or Introverted? Knowing these things about ourselves and our loved ones helps us to understand and support them in meeting their needs. For example, I know that my son is more extroverted than I am and that he thrives on trying new things. He is easily bored and needs regular physical and competitive outlets. Knowing this about him has helped me to support him in getting what he needs. My daughter on the other hand, is routine driven, introverted and slow to make change. She is adaptable but doesn’t like surprises. These are all bits of knowledge that will help us manage social=distancing, the shutting down of our normal activities and being home together under one roof.
If you are in need of specific support for any one of the above, I am available. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me how you are struggling. From that I will recommend some resources that might be of further and more specific support, including my own online courses, one-on-one mentoring and online community.
Hang in there. You are not alone. We are all in this together!
Lauri Ann Lumby, OM, OPM, MATS
Authentic Freedom Academy