Identifying your core values can help remind you of what’s most important in your life.
A few years ago, I was on a family vacation in Greece when I found an abandoned kitten with a broken leg laying in the bushes, desperately meowing for help. I immediately wanted to bring it to the vet and remember my mom saying, “Kim, you gotta learn you cannot save the whole world, and it is not your responsibility to fix everyone and everything you encounter in life.”
I remember feeling shattered to the core and questioning humanity. This was before I discovered I’m not only an introvert, but also a highly sensitive person. As an empath, it’s necessary to recognize the world isn’t ideal and I certainly cannot change it.
But… I could change the life of this little cat.
I learned that animal shelters in Greece were overflowing with animals, so I ended up adopting the cat and taking him back home to Switzerland.
Feeling Stuck in Life as a Sensitive Introvert
Even though I helped the cat, I was struggling myself. It was a time in my life when I felt stuck, even as I was reaching my goals. I was leading a small team in a corporate job, had a good and stable income, and also achieved my athletic dream of being able to run a half-marathon.
While I was sitting at my dinner table one night, after nine hours at the office without having a proper lunch break, sipping on licorice tea and thinking, “Now what?” I made a list of things I wanted to change in my life.
Below, I share five pieces of advice that have helped me figure out how to no longer feel stuck so I can live a more meaningful life. And I wish the same for you.
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5 Ways for Sensitive Introverts to Get Unstuck
1. Reevaluate your interests, beginning with your values.
The first thing I did was to make a list of all my core values. I worked on it for several weeks, as I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss anything. As a result, there were days I realized I did not live according to my list of values.
For example, I’d find myself browsing the internet, looking for my next big designer bag purchase until I’d suddenly wonder, “Why the heck do I want to spend such a big amount of money on a purse?!” Then I’d remember that none of my core values said, “Have a big closet full of designer purses.” Buying an expensive bag is no longer something that makes me happy, not even as immediate gratification.
This realization was pretty powerful in terms of my self-growth, as it is well-known that some people might get addicted to shopping only to fill a void, which had been the case for me in the past.
But, over time, my priorities changed, and having lots of material possessions is just no longer one of them, as I am trying to live a more minimalist life.
And this is where the list of values comes in handy, to remind me of what’s most important, even when temptation strikes. As a result, the more I am aligned with my values, the more I can use them to try to figure out my life purpose.
2. Reconnect with yourself by making time for your needs.
As a highly sensitive introvert, I tend to want to please everyone around me (people-pleasing, anyone?). While this is great, it leads me to sometimes forget about my own needs — like fitting in alone time or going for a walk.
The same goes for mindlessly scrolling the internet. When I catch myself doing it, I sometimes forget who I am. I am not a fashion blogger making money by advertising clothes or fancy handbags, so why bother following people who do, especially since I’ve lost interest in handbags and fashion anyway?
So, once in a while, I do a social media detox; according to research, this has a positive impact on well-being, especially when it comes to depression and feeling lonely. And the more I find myself online, the more I make an effort to get offline and go do something more constructive. Speaking of which…
3. Find an outlet to integrate creativity into your daily life.
After my best friend passed away, my grief therapist suggested nurturing myself as my number one priority. In my case, this meant doing something I used to love as a child, which was watercolor painting.
By the way, I am not good at it at all! But so what? As a recovered perfectionist,
I initially felt intimidated by the thought… but then I remembered I am not an artist. I am not planning to sell my paintings, so who even cares about the outcome? There is no need to be afraid of failure; we can only get better with practice.
As a writer working from home, with the couch as my office, sometimes I end up feeling guilty doing something that isn’t productive. Plus, I don’t have clear boundaries between my business and private life.
But, ever since I started to make painting a habit, my overall happiness and emotional health has improved. It also helps me focus on the present moment and not worry too much about the future or things that are out of my control.
Is the chaos of life overwhelming you as a highly sensitive person?
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4. Stay open to new ideas if your initial ones don’t work out the way you intended.
When I took my first entrepreneurial steps, I started a weight loss coaching business. While this is a promising industry with a lot of potential to make good money, I felt disconnected from the thought of making a living out of it. The reason is because of my past: I lost over 40 pounds and got a lot of recognition — but for all the wrong reasons.
It was then when I realized my body is the least interesting thing about me, though some people made me feel like my slimmer shape was my strongest attribute. I ended up cutting those people out of my life; I feel a sense of isolation if my values aren’t reflected by those around me.
So I did not feel comfortable promoting weight loss, even as a nutritionist. Now what? What was my life purpose?
As a sensitive introvert, my intuition plays a big part in my life, and it led me to working as a full-time writer. (By the way, introverts make the best writers!) This might not bring in as much money as my previous career, but it definitely leads me to live a more meaningful life that is aligned with my core values.
5. Find people who “get” you and build relationships with them.
I recently published an article about loss and was overwhelmed by all the heartwarming messages from readers all over the world; they knew exactly what I was going through, as they’d had similar experiences. Needless to say, it reaffirmed that we introverts are driven by a sense of purpose.
I started to connect with them, which made me feel even more empowered. We had uplifting online exchanges, and I was able to give them some advice, too (which also made me feel better). Essentially, it made me feel as though I was adding value to someone’s life. This reminded me of something my mentor once told me when I asked for his opinion about doing volunteer work. He’d said, “Sometimes the best remedy for grief is finding a way to touch somebody else’s life.” And, now, I couldn’t agree more.
I help highly sensitive people rebuild their lives after a major change like a loss, break-up, or emigration. Let’s talk: kimbenker.com.
You might like:
- 5 Reasons Introverts Are the Best at Finding Their Life Purpose
- How to Accomplish Goals the ‘Introvert Way’
- 9 Ways Introverts Can Improve Their Emotional Health
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