If you’ve created new patterns during the pandemic, consider which ones you’ll continue and which ones need to end.
I am a highly sensitive, introverted psychotherapist. When the pandemic began, I started seeing my clients online, from home. It’s worked surprisingly well. Thanks to the magic of the internet, I was able to continue working and earning a living, while my clients could stay home continuing their therapy without interruption. The transition was smooth: If clients didn’t want to be on video, we’d do phone calls. But the healing journeys continued.
It turns out, many of them, probably mostly the introverts, liked being able to stay home, cozy, and warm, where they might feel safer to be vulnerable and face the difficult processing of emotions that therapy encourages and supports. They were able to curl up after an intense session rather than head out to their car, traffic, and the overwhelming world.
Transitioning From Communicating Online to Offline
Some of my clients would like to return to in-person therapy soon. They talk about that special feeling of “being with,” the richness of two humans in a room deeply connected, exploring the dark night of the soul together and in a shared space. The sacred journey.
This is compelling, of course, and what drew me to this career path. Being a psychotherapist is an ideal career for a highly sensitive introvert like me. The deep connection. Complex conversations. One person at a time. Sensitivity, empathy, listening, processing, healing. What could be better?
(Are you a highly sensitive person? Here are 21 signs that you are.)
I have to admit, though, I may not be creating quite as much “with-ness” through cyberspace. Technology dims the sacred quality, of course. But the introvert in me has gotten used to my solitude. I like seeing my clients online. (I’m not even sure I want to see my friends in person anymore. Reentry fear is real!)
I’m wondering if I will go back to therapy-as-usual. Or even life-as-usual. In fact, maybe this pandemic has given all of us a chance to evaluate our old normal worlds and create better normals for our futures.
How, then, might you find your better “new normal”?
4 Ways for Introverts to Create a Better ‘New Normal’
1. If you’ve created new patterns during the pandemic, consider which ones you’ll continue and which ones need to end.
Give yourself time to return to seeing friends and family. If you have enjoyed the solitude, think about who (and how) you want to bring folks back into your life. Perhaps it was easier to set boundaries because you could blame the pandemic. Now you may need to honestly assess your relationships and evaluate the time and energy each one takes. Remember that everyone benefits when you set clear boundaries, even if they initially complain about them.
If you have been working with a therapist online and have found it more comfortable, discuss this with them to see if they will continue working that way. If you have been working from home and prefer it, can you make a case with your employer for staying at home? If you have been enjoying the new online courses and conferences, do not feel as though you now have to attend in person if you prefer distance learning.
2. Give yourself permission to find a good therapist if you’re feeling overwhelmed by anxiety, depression, or life in general.
If you have lost someone during the pandemic — or experienced other losses, like the loss of a job or relationship — therapy can help with your grief. Friends and family are not always the best at understanding the complexity of the grieving process. In therapy, however, you are held in a safe container to express your emotions and work through your losses. The pandemic has been frightening and disruptive in so many ways. For individuals who have been traumatized as children, the loss of control with the virus may have triggered old fears of being trapped and powerless. Knowing when you need help is a sign of strength.
If you were raised in a dysfunctional family and can see those patterns being repeated in your present life, counseling helps you change old inaccurate beliefs and behaviors and find your authentic voice. And as an introvert, you may be naturally introspective and self-aware, but you do not need to go it alone.
3. Recognize that your introversion is a strength. Nourish it through self-care practices and creative pursuits.
As you’re deciding how to build your new, better normal, consider building it on a foundation of self-acceptance. Keep reading and reflecting on the articles on sites like this one that explain the importance of embracing your introversion. If you tend to be a deep, analytical, and creative thinker with multiple interests, you might also read about rainforest minds, which is a description of people with these traits. Understanding your complex thoughts and emotions through the rainforest mind lens will be reassuring and enlightening.
Also make a list of the self-care practices you use now, and then add to the list. Include the nourishment of a creative outlet, such as journaling, writing, drawing, or dancing. Learn a new instrument or a new language — Duolingo is a good resource for language learning, for instance.
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4. Nurture your present relationships and be open to new people coming into your life.
It may be hard for you to find friends and partners who understand and support your introverted needs and desires, but it is never too late to make new friends or further nurture the ones you have. Make the effort to reach out; even a text or an email can be enough to make a sweet connection. I am now in my 60s and have made some of my deepest relationships within the past several years. As the world returns to more activity and safe interactions, use your intuition and insight to find potential friendships or partners within the activities that you love. It may be hard for you to initiate contact, but you may have to take the first steps. Be brave!
There are so many online groups that might be places to start to find new relationships. If you love crafts and quiet activism, there is the Craftivist Collective. If you are someone with many interests and abilities and wondering about your career path, go to Puttylike.com. Or look up anything you’re interested in, from movies to knitting, on Meetup.com and you’ll likely find others who are, too. In addition, there are countless online courses available, such as Tara Brach’s mindfulness work or Kristin Neff’s self-compassion. And, once the pandemic has truly been contained, there are Argentine tango groups around the world. The tango has been my favorite way to socialize. I get to be artistic, sensual, smart, and graceful — and do not have to talk to anyone!
As you evaluate your old normal world, I will be, too, wondering: When shall I start seeing my clients in person again? What about my friends? What can I let go of? What do I want to keep? What can I be more in control of? How do I create my new better normal for myself, my clients, my readers, my family, my friends, and, even, my planet? In any case, now is a great time to begin — and just know that I’ll be cheering you on.
For more examples, suggestions, and resources, read Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth.
Want to get one-on-one help from a therapist?
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You might like:
- Dreading Going Back to ‘Normal’? Reentry Fear Is Real
- How to Feel More Confident and in Control as an Introvert
- Introverts Had an Advantage During Covid-19, Study Finds
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