You know the feeling. Head aches, ears buzz with that post-concert-like hum, mouth is cotton-dry from repressing outbursts of irritation and nervous system is set on “If one more person even speaks to me, I’m gonna lose it”. And when in this state, we promise ourselves that we’re never going to indulge again. We’ll move to a shack on an island devoid of all other humans to avoid ever having to feel this terrible again.
Forget the shack. I’ve discovered a much more accessible cure for the People Hangover that doesn’t involve perpetual isolation. With practice, you can indulge occasionally, enjoy the benefits of interaction with others without over-doing and suffering the spirit-splitting consequences.
You know who you are, or do you? if you resonated at all with the concept of having a People Hangover, chances are you’re an introvert. By introvert, I do not mean shy, quiet or socially awkward. Introverts are simply those who need to have sufficient alone time to re-charge their batteries, to refill their energy reserves and to process life in peaceful surroundings. Introverts are often mistaken for the socially-challenged, under-developed or anemic cousin of the proud and potent extrovert but not so, my contemplative cohorts!
Introverts are often gifted with introspective intelligence. Cultivators of the inner landscape, they notice details others often miss, make connections, and have the ability to ponder, wander and wonder elegantly. Yes, yes, introverts are prone to occasional bouts of melancholia and can sometimes be sullen and sorrowful. It’s precisely that balance of dark and light that compels introverts to become poets, artists, dreamers, thinkers, tinkerers and gleaners of the subtle magic of even the most ordinary of moments.
If introversion was tattooed on your soul at birth, accept, embrace and nurture it. It was not a mistake, you are not inadequate and your acceptance of this is the first step to preventing the dreaded and avoidable People Hangover.
If you are like me, and your job involves working with people all day, then the opportunities to over-indulge are fierce and frequent. The key is to accept your need for solitude and to inject moments of it in your day at every opportunity. Think of these moments as small power-up sessions to tide you over until the end of the day when you can enjoy some longer, uninterrupted solitary serenity. Be unapologetic if, right in the middle of your work day, you choose to:
- Close your door.
- Let your phone go to voice mail.
- Go for a walk.
- Go for a drive.
- Schedule spaces between meetings.
- Re-schedule a meeting.
- Ask for a deadline extension.
- Eat lunch alone.
- Say ‘no’ to social invitations that happen immediately at the end of a work day.
Shift to Celebration
The world at large is primarily geared towards extroverts but that is no reason to try to fit a mold that asks us to reject who we are at our core. You are the architect and can design a life fit for an authentic introvert that does not require isolation.
- Celebrate who you are. Sing the song of the Intrepid Introvert by living a life designed with deep respect for your particular need for solitude and peace.
- Re-write the old script that suggests there is something wrong with being introverted. Make the re-write a bold affirmation of how your being in the world so fully and completely is based on a foundation of courageous solitude.
- Challenge that thought that says there is something wrong with you when you are alone. Choose to see being alone as simply one way of being.
- Develop relationships with other introverts. Enjoy socializing (infrequently, of course) with others who don’t require constant stimulation to be entertained and who can actually have an unexpressed thought!
- Know your boundaries, push them, create new opportunities for engagement within communities then reward yourself with a quiet space, a good book or even better, a nap!
With prevention and cure now firmly in hand, go forward and boldly, creatively and without apology, live an introvert’s dream life without fear of occasionally over-indulging to the point of having to nurse a People Hangover.