Saying No

A lot of importance is put on the power of “yes”. Inviting opportunities, “positive energy”, money etc etc etc into our lives. By saying “no” we are closing ourselves off to all the good possibilities of life, you have to grab it by the horns, live everyday like it’s your last day… insert more cliches in here please.

I have always always said no, to most things. I do not like parties, drinking, travelling, loud music, sports, meeting new people… these things make me feel uncomfortable and if there’s one thing in the world I love more than anything, it’s feeling comfortable. This is why I admire cats, being comfortable is the only thing they live for! I love quiet, peace, comfortable nooks in which to sit, think and observe the world. I observe rather than participate.

When I not depressed this was fine, just the way I was, when I got depressed this became a major character flaw… maybe even the cause of my depression.

Bollocks!

I have family over at the moment. I cannot get a word in edgeways, they are so loud and they really knock the drink back! I realise that I had begun to attach some labels to myself: nagger, bore, over-cautious, difficult… not how I like to see myself. I’d like to stop this please.

I may not want to drink 3 beers and head off to the pub for more, and I may not want the attention of everyone so I can tell another rip-roaring anecdote and yes I may tell people when they’re not being sensible but that’s ok! I need to claim these things. Like the toddler learning to say no to assert her independence so I can affirm what I don’t need in my life. It is my life afterall.

Advertisements

Self-reflection and introversion

Continuing on my investigations into introversion

I have always been a thinker, and a watcher, and a listener. I’m not so much a person who “gets involved” and I have certainly never been the life and soul of any party.┬áNothing interests me more than how other people behave, unfortunately I have always found it hard to understand two things

  1. Other people do not have the same brain/experiences that I do so do not think the same thoughts and…
  2. Other people do not analyse their own behaviour/thoughts/experiences as much as I do

Now I think that at the age of 26 I think can accept this… but I do not understand. Why would you not want to spend your whole life reflecting on your own thoughts and feelings and motivations and beliefs? What else could possibly be more interesting??

Consequently I find a lot of other people’s behaviour very frustrating. Like the friend who wants to start exercising but can’t quite work out why she can’t get going, or the parent who struggles her whole life with hoarding but never takes any steps to help herself. With a little bit of self-reflection I think, judgmentally, they wouldn’t have any of this confusion, they’d be able to know exactly who they are and what they want.

I disregarded my own inner compass as to what was best for me when I was 19 and at university and I ended up so mired in my own misery and anxiety I developed depression. At age 22 I came home determined to forget what anyone else proclaimed about what was “best” for me and (in between crippling episodes of misery) I sat down and thought about what I needed, for me. All around me I heard voices which said I should be getting “out there” and socialising, meeting people, taking up social hobbies, looking for jobs, moving out of my house. I ignored these people. I read a lot, researched, learned how to meditate and practice yoga. After a lifetime of sports-avoiding I took up running and strength training. I did all this alone, with the internet and my books for company and I learned the values of determined, patient persistence. Being alone was the only way I could have learned to decode the pathways of my brain and the only way I could begin to find my way out of the misery I was in.

-As an aside I do not think that this is justification for isolating people with depression, I could have recovered a hell of a lot faster if I had had more understanding, supportive people around me. I found social support lacking so I had to develop my own, anti-social support system. It basically involved getting the hell away from people who weren’t good for me, which turns out is most people-

Meditation came easy to me, it was pleasant even. I found instant (if not consistent) peace in the practice. Whenever things were overwhelming I knew I could sit with it and I could find peace. I would tell myself very often “I can find peace”. In the peace I listened to my mind, with its beliefs, anxieties and doubts and I began to understand them and live with them. Turns out most of them have as much substance as a wisp of smoke. All I had to do was listen and I could understand this.

So why don’t others just do this?

After reading Susan Cain’s book on introversion I can begin to understand why. As an introvert my brain gets overstimulated easily, especially by social activity. This may mean that I am more likely to develop depression in the first place. Introverts find much more rewarding stimulation in the safe environments of their heads, where they can control and process the stimulations. Extroverts may find disciplines like seated meditation, or the process of self-reflection boring… perhaps like the way I find meeting endless new people and making small talk boring. For me, as any introverted meditator knows, there is nothing quite like settling into the stillness and peace of your own contented brain after a long day. Everyone’s different.

So it turns out that the very thing that may have caused my slip into depression may also have been my path out of it. My fantastically analysing, easily overwhelmed brain.