Lisa Avebury, creator of the Sacred Introvert community and the Sacred Introvert Retreat Tour, talked with I, D about the paradox of introversion, why she wants introverts to see themselves as sacred, and her dream to make the world a more introvert-friendly place.
I, D: What is the “introvert paradox,” and why are so many of us introverts caught in it?
Lisa: The introvert paradox is at its core is, “yes, I’m an introvert. No, I’m no shy.”
Many people have been given misinformation about introversion so they have “shaken off” the label of introvert. They think they can not be an introvert since they aren’t shy and don’t stay home and read books all the time. Introverts are selectively social, and we know that in the wrong social environment, we can wither. But in the right social environment, we can thrive. It’s about celebrating who you are.
I, D: Do you think there are times when it’s worth it for us introverts to “play the extrovert”? How do we do this without constantly compromising who we really are?
Lisa: I like to call it the Temporary Extrovert, and yes, I think like any “muscle,” we need to work it out. There are times not only introverts, but extroverts as well, have to push themselves to get out and be seen. This doesn’t mean be fake. It means take what you feel passionate about and offer it to the world in a way that feels right. Studies have shown that when we push ourselves to be even a tiny bit more social, we get a happiness bump. But often it’s easy to default into a comfortable behavior. I know, I can be guilty of it. But too much alone time can leave you feeling disconnected just as much as too much time with people can leave you feeling burnt out. Again, it’s that fine line of balance.
I, D: You started Sacred Introvert to empower other introverts and educate the rest of the world about what it really means to be an introvert. What does it mean to be a sacred introvert?
Lisa: Sacred means highly valued, respected, and honored. In my mind, it means like a jewel. I want introverts to embrace this for themselves. My belief is introverts have so much to offer the world, but often we don’t get the chance because of circumstances that don’t support our nature. It’s another reason why I feel that cultivating your own version of Temporary Extrovert is important. We need introvert voices in the world. So many artists, actors, scientists and brilliant thinkers are introverts. But if their art and thoughts have no place to express themselves, then we all miss out.
I, D: How did you discover you are an introvert? Did it change your life in any way?
Lisa: My self-identification will sound familiar to many, as it came through watching introvert hero Susan Cain’s Ted Talk and then reading her book. I never imagined that my life could change in a day, but it did. It actually still makes me emotional when I make that statement. I wish I would have found out earlier than my 40’s, as I wonder if life would have been different. People, relationships, work situations, and environments that didn’t serve me or help me to feel whole, I could have let go of without guilt.
I no longer felt like I have to do things to placate other people. I feel liberated. I think I became a happier person.
I, D: What’s your favorite way to recharge your introvert batteries?
Lisa: Hanging with my best bud who happens to have four legs and a tail, and is of the mutt persuasion. His name is Douglas Fur. He doesn’t mind much when I am in my pajamas all day, haven’t brushed my teeth, and just want to hang on the couch reading or watching a DVD.
I, D: If you could give one piece of advice to introverts and those who love them, what would it be?
Lisa: Introverts, be your own activist, and tell your story! Tell everyone around you who needs to know that you are an introvert. It will make your life easier, and most people are surprisingly receptive. The more we explain what the word introvert actually means and clarify misconceptions, the quicker the world will become a more introvert-friendly place.
To the people who love us introverts: stop trying to get us to come out of our shell. It isn’t a shell, it’s just the way we are!
If you live in our near London, check out Lisa’s talk about the introvert paradox at the Evolve Wellness Centre on Tuesday, Oct. 28! Click here for more information.
To read more about the first Sacred Introvert Retreat Tour to Glastonbury in England, click here.