As an introvert, I tend to isolate myself when I’m hurt, but opening up to others has become the best gift I’ve given myself.
Being an introvert definitely has its challenges. In a noisy world where everything (and everyone) screams for attention, it’s difficult to be the gentlest voice in the room. I’ve felt this way since I was a kid. There was always someone with a louder voice, a bigger ego, and a seemingly more important quest. This has always frustrated me, but not as much as it hurt me deeply, because I never knew when the world would finally listen.
I’m painfully shy and introverted, and over the years, I’ve had to create my own survival strategy. It has helped me persevere and push through the storms of my life, because I know I can always retreat into solitude when I need to heal and find clarity. I retreated many times when I was growing up, so it is a strategy I know works remarkably well for me. Even as an adult, it has proven its worth over and over again. By embracing solitude, I’ve managed to create a safe space for myself, and for the most part, continued to heal and grow.
But this strategy also has a massive downside. Whenever I go through a painful experience, my introverted nature automatically retreats into solitude. It’s my natural response to being hurt, and the search for clarity and healing starts almost immediately. Sometimes, though, these painful experiences can last for really long periods of time, which means the solitude and isolation, too, last for really long periods of time.
Of course, this is not healthy at all, for a variety of reasons. After a painful breakup last year, I realized that I needed to approach things differently this time. I wasn’t able to face the trauma alone, and I wasn’t willing to succumb to the darkness that would inevitably follow. I knew it was time to speak up and ask for help. I found a therapist I could talk to on a weekly basis, which, over time, also helped me to open up to some of my closest friends. Here’s what I learned.
Why It’s Important for Introverts to Ask for Help
1. Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.
When we ask for help, we are actually being courageous, because admitting we need help is no small undertaking. Asking for help means we have to admit that we are struggling, and many of us feel shameful about this; it means admitting that we are unable to cope with the pains and pressures of life on our own.
The only shame in that is not having a safe space where we can talk. If you are anything like me, speaking up and sharing how you feel is not your go-to method for dealing with pain. Especially as an introvert, it’s hard for me to speak up and bring attention to my struggles. I am reserved when it comes to my emotions, and I have a deep inner world that I don’t like to share with just anyone. I also find it hard to articulate my thoughts and feelings, so talking about it in a way that makes sense to others can be a real challenge. In addition, the idea of trusting another human being with my deepest pains and allowing them into my most private world scared me.
At the time, I felt incredibly lost. I also had no idea what I was getting myself into or what therapy would reveal about me as a person. All I knew was that I needed help and I had little to lose by getting input from a professional. Speaking up and asking for help was the best thing I could have done for myself. Being vulnerable actually made me braver — over time — and I realized that working through the pain in a different way was the healthy and smart thing to do. Having a safe space to share my feelings changed everything, because I was able to talk openly and honestly about everything in my life for the first time.
Only by sharing our stories are we able to heal. There are some things we cannot work through on our own, and the best way to break through the pain is to actively engage with another human being. Admitting we are weak and broken takes a lot of courage, but it is the first step we can take toward true healing, and it inevitably makes us stronger.
2. It’s good to get another perspective on challenges you’re facing.
We all have tunnel vision to some degree, and it’s always a good idea to get a different perspective on whatever challenges we are facing. My introverted nature gravitates towards introspection, and I spend a lot of time trying to figure things out on my own. I’m constantly in problem-solving mode, but this does not always lead to new revelations. It’s hard to find clarity when my head is a jumbled, overthinking, chaotic mess, and my own knowledge and experiences can only take me so far.
Pain tends to limit the realm of possibilities we are able to see. Pain blinds us, and talking to someone helps us gain another perspective that we may not have thought about. This helps make things more clear and aids us on our journey toward healing. There is so much other people can teach us; we just need to be open enough to learn.
Getting another perspective also helps us to see ourselves through other people’s eyes. By embracing how others see me, I started to see my own worth and reveal my strengths. When we finally open our eyes to our own greatness, healing and growth are inevitable.
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3. More people will listen and understand than you think.
Being an introvert makes talking about my struggles and emotions difficult. I have this need to help and counsel others on a regular basis, but I’m scared of “burdening” others with my own problems. I had to learn to let go of this fear by stepping into the scary and unknown world of sharing.
When I finally started opening up to some of my friends, I realized how much they all related to my pain. Even though we went through different experiences throughout our lives — like different breakups — we all shared common ground when it came to trauma and pain.
To my surprise, some of my friends welcomed my “burdens” with open arms. They encouraged me to talk about my pain and they wanted to help me get through it. For them, it was a reciprocation, of sorts, and their way of returning the favor. I also noticed that when I shared my pain, there was this beautiful exchange happening, because struggles were shared from both sides between people who deeply care about one another.
As an introvert, I believed that I was in this alone and there was no way anyone could ever understand what I was going through. When I started talking to some of my friends, however, I learned that some of them are introverts, too. This made me feel safe, because I knew that they truly understood. I wouldn’t have known any of this if I hadn’t opened up and shared my own story. Confiding in them, and ultimately trusting them, deepened those friendships.
Opening Up to Others Is the Best Gift I’ve Given Myself
Therapy was my lifeline, and it has saved me many times over: It was the best gift I could ever have given myself. Sharing my deepest pain with a complete stranger opened me up to sharing my pain with people close to me. It made me see the value of confiding in others, even if it is scary and painful (especially as an introvert). Before, I just kept everything inside, but it was time to let it out. I no longer feel like I’m carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders. I feel lighter and happier, and it’s because I started to share what I had bottled up for so long.
When will the world finally start to listen? Well, when we introverts are ready to speak up. I now know that my silence was the reason the world didn’t listen. Not because it didn’t want to, but because it couldn’t hear my cry for help. I kept quiet for so long and got frustrated by the echoed silence. When I finally started to speak, the world was ready to listen, and I began to heal.
Don’t suffer alone. There are people out there who care about you. There are people out there who will get it, no matter what it is. Find an accomplice to support you on your journey, whether it’s a therapist, a trusted friend, or both. Every hero needs one.
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