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8 Struggles Only Introverted Parents Would Understand

8 Struggles Only Introverted Parents Would Understand

Whether you are a parent or not, if you openly declare yourself to be an introvert, you are likely to come across extroverts who will tell you that you are not an introvert. They tell you that the things you feel are the same as everyone else feels. They don’t really get it. Sorry extroverts, but you don’t. Nobody is 100% introverted or extroverted of course, it’s a scale. We can all exhibit traits of both at different times, but almost all of us will be predominantly more one way than the other.

One of the key differences is that introverts get their energy from being alone, and extroverts get their’s from being around people. That doesn’t mean that introverts never enjoy being with others, or that extroverts never want to be alone, it’s just about what we need in order to recharge. The manifestation is that introverts are more likely to feel awkward and uncomfortable in social situations than extroverts.

When we understand the differences, it becomes clear that there are certain struggles which are going to be more pronounced for introverted parents.

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1. We lose our alone time

Before having kids, we naturally had regular alone time. It was way easier to factor it in, but from the moment baby arrives, our alone time is gone, and that can be hard. It has nothing to do with love. We love our kids more than we thought possible, but remember that as an introvert, we NEED alone time to recharge. Suddenly, that becomes much more difficult to arrange, and we feel guilty for craving it.

2. We find other parents a bit scary

We see them clustered around the school gates, or at activity drop-off and pick-up times, chatting animatedly together, and it makes us nervous. We want to join in, but we don’t know how.

3. We have to be more social than we might want

Prior to becoming parents, we might have avoided hosting parties, or taking part in lots of social events, but once the kids arrive we have to step up. We’re happy to do it for them because we love seeing them enjoy it. We know that socializing is an important part of their development, but that doesn’t stop us from experiencing varying levels of anxiety as the event day approaches.

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4. We worry that our kids will miss out on invitations

This applies less and less the older they get, but when kids are smaller, it is mainly the parents that decide who to invite to play-dates and parties. Understandably, those early invitations will often go to the kids of parents they have interacted with. Therefore, we worry that our lack of ability to actively engage with other parents will mean our kids miss out.

5. We get misunderstood a lot

People mistake our awkwardness and lack of engagement for aloofness. They think we’re looking down on them. This obviously applies to non-parent introverts too, but it somehow becomes more pronounced once we are parents – particularly if our children are interacting with the other children and we are not really doing so with the parents. It can give the impression that we don’t approve of our child interacting with their children. Sometimes we try to just smile a lot, hoping that gives out a signal that we are friendly, but an awkward forced smile just makes it worse.

6. We feel guilty if one of our kids is introverted

Whether introversion is genetic, learned, or random, we worry that we may in some way be responsible for our child’s introversion, knowing the struggles they will have to deal with.

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7. We feel guilty if one of our kids is extroverted

Yep, there’s guilt here too. While we’re delighted for them that they are confident and outgoing, we feel guilty that we can’t always be the way they want us to be. They want us to be much more social, outgoing, and assertive like they are. They can also feel frustrated at times by our more withdrawn avoidance approach to life.

8. We find that strangers talk to us more

From the moment we have a small baby in tow (or for the moms, from the moment our tummy bump appears), we apparently send out an open invitation for anyone and everyone to talk to us. A short friendly exchange with a stranger can be pleasant (even for an introvert), but the full-on unexpected grilling and life story exchange in the supermarket checkout line can be overwhelming for an introvert.

If you are an introverted parent, can you relate to these? At least take comfort in knowing that you are not alone. Rather than looking enviously at those animated extroverted parents, look around for the more withdrawn ones like yourself. Seek them out. Now you’ll both have someone to stand next to while you smile around awkwardly.

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Featured photo credit: Little Girl in Amusement Park/Viktor Hanacek via picjumbo.com

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Last Updated on January 24, 2021

How to Say No When You Know You Say Yes Too Often

How to Say No When You Know You Say Yes Too Often

Do you say yes so often that you no longer feel that your own needs are being met? Are you wondering how to say no to people?

For years, I was a serial people pleaser[1]. Known as someone who would step up, I would gladly make time, especially when it came to volunteering for certain causes. I proudly carried this role all through grade school, college, even through law school. For years, I thought saying “no” meant I would disappoint a good friend or someone I respected.

But somewhere along the way, I noticed I wasn’t quite living my life. Instead, I seem to have created a schedule that was a strange combination of meeting the expectations of others, what I thought I should be doing, and some of what I actually wanted to do. The result? I had a packed schedule that left me overwhelmed and unfulfilled.

It took a long while, but I learned the art of saying no. Saying no meant I no longer catered fully to everyone else’s needs and could make more room for what I really wanted to do. Instead of cramming too much in, I chose to pursue what really mattered. When that happened, I became a lot happier.

And guess what? I hardly disappointed anyone.

The Importance of Saying No

When you learn the art of saying no, you begin to look at the world differently. Rather than seeing all of the things you could or should be doing (and aren’t doing), you start to look at how to say yes to what’s important.

In other words, you aren’t just reacting to what life throws at you. You seek the opportunities that move you to where you want to be.

Successful people aren’t afraid to say no. Oprah Winfrey, considered one of the most successful women in the world, confessed that it was much later in life when she learned how to say no. Even after she had become internationally famous, she felt she had to say yes to virtually everything.

Being able to say no also helps you manage your time better.

Warren Buffett views “no” as essential to his success. He said:

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

When I made “no” a part of my toolbox, I drove more of my own success, focusing on fewer things and doing them well.

How We Are Pressured to Say Yes

It’s no wonder a lot of us find it hard to say no.

From an early age, we are conditioned to say yes. We said yes probably hundreds of times in order to graduate from high school and then get into college. We said yes to find work, to get a promotion, to find love and then yes again to stay in a relationship. We said yes to find and keep friends.

We say yes because we feel good when we help someone, because it can seem like the right thing to do, because we think that is key to success, and because the request might come from someone who is hard to resist.

And that’s not all. The pressure to say yes doesn’t just come from others. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves.

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At work, we say yes because we compare ourselves to others who seem to be doing more than we are. Outside of work, we say yes because we are feeling bad that we aren’t doing enough to spend time with family or friends.

The message, no matter where we turn, is nearly always, “You really could be doing more.” The result? When people ask us for our time, we are heavily conditioned to say yes.

How Do You Say No Without Feeling Guilty?

Deciding to add the word “no” to your toolbox is no small thing. Perhaps you already say no, but not as much as you would like. Maybe you have an instinct that if you were to learn the art of no that you could finally create more time for things you care about.

But let’s be honest, using the word “no” doesn’t come easily for many people.

3 Rules of Thumbs for Saying No

1. You Need to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Let’s face it. It is hard to say no. Setting boundaries around your time, especially you haven’t done it much in the past, will feel awkward. Your comfort zone is “yes,” so it’s time to challenge that and step outside that.

If you need help getting out of your comfort zone, check out this article.

2. You Are the Air Traffic Controller of Your Time

When you want to learn how to say no, remember that you are the only one who understands the demands for your time. Think about it: who else knows about all of the demands in your life? No one.

Only you are at the center of all of these requests. You are the only one that understands what time you really have.

3. Saying No Means Saying Yes to Something That Matters

When we decide not to do something, it means we can say yes to something else that we may care more about. You have a unique opportunity to decide how you spend your precious time.

6 Ways to Start Saying No

Incorporating that little word “no” into your life can be transformational. Turning some things down will mean you can open doors to what really matters. Here are some essential tips to learn the art of no:

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1. Check in With Your Obligation Meter

One of the biggest challenges to saying no is a feeling of obligation. Do you feel you have a responsibility to say yes and worry that saying no will reflect poorly on you?

Ask yourself whether you truly have the duty to say yes. Check your assumptions or beliefs about whether you carry the responsibility to say yes. Turn it around and instead ask what duty you owe to yourself.

2. Resist the Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

Do you have a fear of missing out (FOMO)? FOMO can follow us around in so many ways. At work, we volunteer our time because we fear we won’t move ahead. In our personal lives, we agree to join the crowd because of FOMO, even while we ourselves aren’t enjoying the fun.

Check in with yourself. Are you saying yes because of FOMO or because you really want to say yes? More often than not, running after fear doesn’t make us feel better[2].

3. Check Your Assumptions About What It Means to Say No

Do you dread the reaction you will get if you say no? Often, we say yes because we worry about how others will respond or because of the consequences. We may be afraid to disappoint others or think we will lose their respect. We often forget how much we are disappointing ourselves along the way.

Keep in mind that saying no can be exactly what is needed to send the right message that you have limited time. In the tips below, you will see how to communicate your no in a gentle and loving way.

You might disappoint someone initially, but drawing a boundary can bring you the freedom you need so that you can give freely of yourself when you truly want to. And it will often help others have more respect for you and your boundaries, not less.

4. When the Request Comes in, Sit on It

Sometimes, when we are in the moment, we instinctively agree. The request might make sense at first. Or we typically have said yes to this request in the past.

Give yourself a little time to reflect on whether you really have the time or can do the task properly. You may decide the best option is to say no. There is no harm in giving yourself the time to decide.

5. Communicate Your “No” with Transparency and Kindness

When you are ready to tell someone no, communicate your decision clearly. The message can be open and honest[3] to ensure the recipient that your reasons have to do with your limited time.

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How do you say no? 9 Healthy Ways to Say “No”

    Resist the temptation not to respond or communicate all. But do not feel obligated to provide a lengthy account about why you are saying no.

    Clear communication with a short explanation is all that is needed. I have found it useful to tell people that I have many demands and need to be careful with how I allocate my time. I will sometimes say I really appreciate that they came to me and for them to check in again if the opportunity arises another time.

    6. Consider How to Use a Modified No

    If you are under pressure to say yes but want to say no, you may want to consider downgrading a “yes” to a “yes but…” as this will give you an opportunity to condition your agreement to what works best for you.

    Sometimes, the condition can be to do the task, but not in the time frame that was originally requested. Or perhaps you can do part of what has been asked.

    Final Thoughts

    Beginning right now, you can change how you respond to requests for your time. When the request comes in, take yourself off autopilot where you might normally say yes.

    Use the request as a way to draw a healthy boundary around your time. Pay particular attention to when you place certain demands on yourself.

    Try it now. Say no to a friend who continues to take advantage of your goodwill. Or, draw the line with a workaholic colleague and tell them you will complete the project, but not by working all weekend. You’ll find yourself much happier.

    More Tips on How to Say No

    Featured photo credit: Chris Ainsworth via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Science of People: 11 Expert Tips to Stop Being a People Pleaser and Start Doing You
    [2] Anxiety and Depression Association of America: Tips to Get Over Your FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out
    [3] Cooks Hill Counseling: 9 Healthy Ways to Say “No”

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