I believe I was born a quiet, introverted person. My mother often tells me that as a baby, I was happy playing by myself for hours. Growing up, I generally felt misunderstood and marginalised by others and my focus turned further inward. As an adult, I prefer spending time by myself and being with other people can totally wear me out. Most introverts will likely recognise this pattern to some extent in themselves.
Extreme introversion grows out of a sort of self-protective mechanism.
When we introverts feel threatened, we turn further inward, tucking ourselves into our shells just like a tortoise. ‘Coming out of our shells’ can become an increasingly difficult thing to do and may require a good deal of energy and focus. Some of us will continue to fight against the tendency to pull inwards, but for others that feeling of comfort and safety is just too tempting. We spend more and more time inside the safe space of our own minds and less and less in interaction with others.
There are several potential problems with this. We still have a basic need for some type of social contact and communication with other people. That’s a core human need, even if we introverts would prefer otherwise. If we’re not in the habit of communicating with others, our ability to communicate can actually atrophy. Thus it can become very difficult to even have a conversation with another person, which in turn makes us feel uncomfortable in social interactions and sense that they may be unsafe. This feeds further into the cycle that keeps us locked up in our own heads.
After many years of keeping my thoughts and feelings to myself, I realised that I was no longer even mentally processing things into words any more. I would feel an emotion, perhaps the physical effects of that emotion, the colour of the emotion, or a general sense of the emotion, but not necessarily be able to put it to words at all. I might realise I felt sad or frustrated but not be able to figure out why, or I might sense some mixture of feelings but not be able to recognise them cognitively. This is the point at which I realised that my inner communication system was broken, basically rusted into disrepair, atrophied.
How is this relevant to you?
Oftentimes as women we experience a certain amount of disregard by society. We are less likely to be taken seriously, listened to or treated with respect. Our thoughts and ideas are often seen as neurotic, silly, overly emotional or in some other way devalued. This can cause us to shut down and be less likely to take the risk of allowing our feelings or thoughts to be known by others.
However, your ability to communicate your vision outwards depends directly upon you being able to communicate your feelings, thoughts and beliefs within yourself. In order to be able to communicate with others, you must have an efficient inner communication system. You must fully understand, be fluent in and able to communicate your own vision, which requires being able to put your thoughts about it into words.
Whatever direction your work is taking you, communication is your key to sharing it with the world. You can not be successful if you can’t help people understand your vision.
How is your inner communication system functioning?
Here are some questions to ask yourself that can give you an indication of how you’re doing in this area:
- If you were overcome with a strong emotion, would you immediately be able to put it into words and describe your feelings about it to another person?
- When you are writing, do words flow with ease and do they really get to the heart of what you’re trying to say?
- When you’re feeling sad or frustrated, are you able to understand, think and engage with the reasons behind your pain?
- Do you experience emotions in words as opposed to merely colours, raw feelings, physical sensations?
If you answered no to any of these questions, you will benefit greatly from improving the efficiency of your inner communication.
How can you heal your inner communication system?
As someone who has struggled for many years with not being able to express myself clearly (or at all), the single most helpful thing I have found for improving my inner communication is writing. Writing every day, whether that be for myself or for publication, has been the key in bringing words back into my thought process. The reason for this may be obvious; writing forces you to take nameless, wordless thoughts and form them into sentences, over and over again. Writing is a fabulous method for rewiring your brain into more efficient communication patterns.
There are many reasons to begin a daily writing practice but the number one benefit, in my opinion, is that being able to understand your own thoughts and feelings improves all areas of your life. Once you can understand what is going on in your own head, you’re in a position to be able to analyse and understand your own problems. If you can understand these obstacles in your life, you’re able to plan ways to have victory over them.
With understanding, guts and diligence you can overcome anything standing between where you are now and where you want to be.
Communication is such a vital building block for you as you begin on your path.
I can’t really overstate it. This is why I want you to commit to start writing every day. I want you to pick out a day and time to start, and commit to writing every single day for the first month. At the end of that month, you will already be seeing the benefits in your life.
- You’ll be thinking more clearly and your brain will not feel as cluttered.
- Communication with others will be easier.
- You will be able to hold a conversation with someone and not come out of it totally exhausted.
- You may even begin to have ideas and plans coming together as you release a lot of clogged emotions and thoughts and allow your brain to start processing things again.
What you write about, and where you write it is totally up to you. You may prefer a pretty journal and some fancy gel pens, or scrap paper and a sharp pencil. You might like a simple word processing app on your computer. I myself use an online journalling app called Penzu, which has an excellent free version.
You can write personal journal entries, or things relating to the work you want to do. You may find you go back and forth between the two, and that is fine too. It doesn’t matter at this stage, the point is to get words on paper (or screen). Get that processing centre in your brain working to translate your wordless thought blobs into words that you can understand and act upon. That’s it!