“People empty me. I have to get away to refill. I´m what´s best for me, sitting here slouched, smoking a beedie and watching this screen flash the words. Seldom do you meet a rare or interesting person. It´s more than galling, it´s a fucking constant shock. It´s making a god-damned grouch out of me. Anybody can be a god-damned grouch and most are. Help” – Charles Bukowski from The Captain is Out to Lunch and the Sailors Have Taken Over the Ship
I’ve mentioned in the past that I am prone to what essentially comes down to crippling introversion. If Carl Jung stuck his finger in my butthole, he’d say I’m an INTP. The “I” stands for Introverted. We won’t go into the rest today. When in conversation with my folks, I’ve told them that I’m an introvert and get uncomfortable in overtly social situations. They then relate a story about Ol’ Rojo being a young whippersnapper at a car show or some shit. It’s said that I just went up to a group of strangers and introduced myself and played with them all day. I don’t remember that, and I can tell you that for the majority of my conscious life I’ve never been like that.
However, there are things I want out of life. One thing I omitted in my previous post, is that I’ve been able to make the majority of my scratch by freelancing around town. In order to do that I’m forced to interact with a large number of people, and I have to go even further and sell myself. By selling myself, I mean I have to promote my services constructive manner. That shit sucks. It’s why I always had trouble with the music scene, because there’s a business side that is a complete foreign language to me. I want to show up, rock out, watch the last acts, get my money and leave. I don’t want to negotiate wages, I don’t want to promote my merchandise. I just want to play.
Though I had this post rolling through my cranium for a while now, seeing this tweet by Mark Braivo inspired me to kick out my experience.
In an earlier post by my pal, Lucky Lothario, he states that introversion is not the same as shyness. It wasn’t until I read Party of One: the Loners’ Manifesto by Anelis Rufis that I understood the concept of introversion. I knew I liked some people, I just didn’t understand why I couldn’t do small talk on any level for an extended period of time. If you’re confused about what it means to be an introvert, I highly recommend that book. It helped me out a lot.
I learned that I am not shy, I just get worn out in social situations. That’s why I don’t want to go the river with a bunch of people the day after the monster party and instead I’d rather walk my dog and play some music alone. I have a necessity to recharge. What I get to do because I understand that, is decline certain invitations in order to honor the introvert in me. To excuse myself from a social setting when I am overwhelmed with my introversion is a healthy way to honor that part of who I am.
On the other hand, it can be a lonely fucking world for an introvert, and as Mr. Braivo said, there’s no reward for those unable to adapt to our extroverted world. It’s tough to adapt though. People are constantly staring at their phones with ear buds in. It’s hard to even buy a smile from someone passing on the street and it seems everyone but me, is packing heat. But it’s more than possible. If I can do it, you can do it too. I read yesterday, that introverts react differently to reward neurotransmitters in the brain. They don’t get energized by dopamine like extroverts and are more prone to use the reward neurotransmitter acetylcholine which makes introverts feel better when turning inwards.
Now that we have brief understanding of what introverts are, let’s look at a few things I’ve done to overcome this. These are going to be suggestions without the use of substances. As you know, if you hang out here, I have given up alcohol so the opiate of the masses, that social lubricant, is not available as a tool for me. This isn’t about losing control, this is about being in the moment.
Mindfulness Meditation is a form of meditation which brings ones attention to the present moment. I probably don’t do it “correctly” but there isn’t exactly a correct way to do it. What I do is I sit still, firmly grounded, either sitting in a chair with my feet flat on the floor and my back straight, or cross legged on the ground with a straight back. I then close my eyes, try to relax my body and breath. I take deep breaths into my stomach and release each one slowly. I focus on my breath and picture I am bringing golden light into my body and releasing dark energy on my out breath. This slows down my thought process and brings me into the present moment. I will probably talk more about this in the future because it’s benefits stretch further than just focusing the mind.
For starters, try sitting still for 10 minutes a day.
Stop Dissecting Body Language All the Time
I’ve read a plethora of books on body language and how to analyze it. This has been a tool for me in my past, when picking up women, when meeting people for the first time, when figuring out how someone feels about me, when figuring out if someone is lying to me. But this tool does not serve me when I am trying to be in the moment instead of inside my head. Often I’ve noticed if someone has closed body language towards me, that they are thinking I don’t want to talk to them or I don’t like them or something similar. If I open my mouth and say something then I can possibly open up a conversation which gives me opportunity to break out of my shell. This brings me to my next suggestion:
Say Anything at First
This is just to get out of my shell and practice being more open to small talk. I say stuff to people, anyone, man or woman. It’s amazing to watch extroverts in action. They will be looking at peaches in the store and start talking about the fucking peaches. I saw this the other day, two strangers start talking about peaches. Then they split, and the guy comes back, and talks some more about peaches located elsewhere in the store. The other part of this is to have no expectation for the conversation. If I don’t get a response, or its not a welcoming one, I don’t take it personally. I don’t even try to justify it. Let it go, move on, there will be other people to practice on.
Try making a comment to a stranger no matter how stupid it might sound.
Lucky mentions it in his post, but warming deserves mentioning here as well. In that article, Lucky says that even one on one goofing around and socializing with give him the ease to proceed into more involved situations. He says to avoid going from zero to social. This is great advice. I’d like to add that I’ve used other ways to warm up as well. A few years ago, as a prelude to going out on the town, I’d go to the gym with a couple guys and put in a brutal workout. We didn’t work out together. But we worked out. We got our endorphins flowing and were therefore in a better mood when we went out.
Play this Game
A strange part of extroversion is if you listen and ask prompting questions, the cat who is talking will consider you a good listener. An extroverted friend of mine recently told me of a game he likes to play when talking to people. He likes to see how long he can keep the conversation going and how much he can learn about them. I try to do this when I talk to people now. I don’t push it, dragging the conversation on, but sometimes, a lull in conversation can be prodded along with a short comment or question.
Those are five things that have helped me move toward being more social on a daily basis. I don’t do any of them perfectly, nor everyday, but I work on them constantly. Being more social goes against my introverted programming so it is way out of my comfort zone. This is good because it allows me to grow as a person. The more rounded physically, mentally, and spiritually I am, the more successful I will be in this world. These are just a few exercises I have used to move me in that direction.