How labels don’t really empower us… Part 2

Why introvert/extrovert is B.S.!

Today, I want to talk about introvert/extrovert. I’m going to take you through what labels do and explain why extrovert/introvert is BS. That’s a very unpopular view I know. You’re going to find out why. I’ll then take you through how labelling as introvert/extrovert will take you a certain way but it won’t take you through to transformation. In Part 3 of this blog, I wrap up by walking you through the steps that happen after the labelling, the steps that create transformation.

In a coaching session with a client this morning, we got talking about introversion/ extroversion, which can seem like simple reasons or answers to issues we’re facing. But I like to shift perspective and I asked: Do you get re-energised by spending time with people? or Do you get re-energised spending time alone? Most people acknowledge that there is a spectrum. Sometimes we get a lot of energy from spending time with certain people and sometimes we get a certain amount of energy from being alone. And a bunch of us on the spectrum say We’re in between! So if we’re all in between and we’re all on the spectrum, how valid is that spectrum as an assessment tool? Because we’re not talking about a particular tool for a behavioural trait, we’re essentially talking about people’s sensation, which is incredibly subjective.

In another coaching session, someone talked about feeling drained from spending time with a whole bunch of people whilst travelling and managing other commitments they had. They had assumed, or associated, that by being back in their normal environment and living their normal routine, they would be re-energised. And therefore that must mean, I’m an introvert! I got curious and said: I want you to think about, what are the things that you do at home that energise you? Is it actually being at home or is it what you do at home? And he was able to distinguish all the facets of the things that he does that energise him.

I continued by asking him: Imagine that while you’re travelling, you did all those “re-energising” things. What would it look like if you tended to those needs, you met those values, you acted in alignment with those desires…whilst you were on the road? I want you to actually project yourself into the future and imagine that the next time you do that trip you take care of those needs and you address those values.

He did that and cognitively went around the block and he came back and said, Yeah actually it would be a completely different experience, there’s no lack of energy!! What I was doing was trying to have him connect. A lot of what I do is, drawing dots, allowing people to connect their own dots. That’s the only true learning, no guru nonsense, no answers here, just facilitation.

So by drawing some dots in what we call a future pace exercise, he connected the dots and understood that while he was on that trip he was addressing other commitments, addressing other needs and essentially values that are lower on his values hierarchy, things that don’t matter as much to him. And when he spends his time, attention, energy, money and focused deliberate thought on the things he values, the things that matter to him, he is then most energised. And you know what? He’s not a unique snowflake. Hello??? That’s human beings!

I was having the same discussion again today? If you meet your needs, if you take care of your values, you will be energised. Are you doing activity or spending your time, attention, energy, money, concentration, mental effort and emotional energy on things that matter to you? Then you’ll be energised. But if your actions DON’T matter to you, then you’ll feel tired, disinterested, unmotivated and unhappy.

We’re always getting this super consistent alignment with where we put our energy. If it matches my values, I will be energised, I will be passionate, I’ll feel overflowing. Which is why some people are so sickeningly inspired. They are so lit up because they are so inspired ALL THE TIME. It’s because those people are acting in alignment with their values and they get all the benefit of it. They get all the overflow, the excitement, that exuberance, that energy.

I’m going to take you guys from how we can use labels from being just… interesting to being insightful. We will use labels to learn something about ourselves. I want you to use introvert/extrovert to mean I get energy by doing different things. NOT that introvert/extrovert means you like being in different groups or being alone. I’m a big believer that we all need time in groups and time alone. We’re all primal animals, we require herd safety dynamics and we require time alone for reflection. We need both.

But the whole labelling and categorisation of introvert/extrovert or someone on the spectrum of it, is just another thing to freakin manage. Guys STOP! Just stop! It’s just like the whole self sabotage thing. It’s taking you away from the real issue. The real issue is, Am I spending my time and energy on things that excite me?

I’ve always been perceived as having huge confidence but actually, I don’t enjoy meeting new people who I haven’t been introduced to. When I know we’ve been introduced and there’s a mutual connection and a dialogue, there’s a shared topic…I am lit up like a Christmas tree and I have endless energy. I feel like a lighthouse, where I can put ten thousand volts onto that person and I’m so excited. But if the interaction is cold and I don’t know if we’ve got anything in common or we’re not sharing dialogue, it is hard work, and I’ve got all those normal social concerns and social anxiety, just like everybody else. And THAT’S my values doing the talking!

So, how to move through from a label like that, to something actually really freakin useful, instead of just another label to dance around, box yourself in with and plan around?

MAKE IT SIMPLE!! because labels only take us so far.

To find out how, check out Part 3 of this blog series!!

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