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Nancy Okerlund
Volume 3, Issue 4, 03/12/09

"Ask Without Hesitation…."

A few days ago I was in a coffee shop that's not my regular hangout, staring at the huge menu board above me. When the woman behind the counter asked what I wanted, what came out of my mouth was "Decisions, decisions, decisions…" She said, "Yeah, I heard a report on public radio that too many choices causes stress."

I think I read about that research myself awhile back. It makes sense.

These days I'm carrying around two sayings, given to me by friends (both extroverts). One goes, "Ask without hesitation, give without depletion." The other is, "How can I make it easy?"

Some time ago I wrote about the Dalai Lama saying the most important thing we can do is to "steward our energy". I think he could have added "and it's a fulltime job."

I have compassion for introverts and extroverts alike in the face of all the information we process, all the stuff we interact with, and all the decisions we make.

As an introvert, though, I notice I'm feeling impatient lately. I'm trying to steward my (precious) energy and it's not easy.

I once heard Marti Olsen Laney (author of The Introvert Advantage) describe the introvert body as the kind that's designed to be sitting in a cell, working on old manuscripts. Introvert minds feel very alert wondering, looking into things, going in-depth at an unhurried pace. I like the image of quiet monks.

But these days it seems like the monks are so busy picking the size, shape, color and bristle-type of their toothbrushes, it's hard to get at the old manuscripts.

Here's another complaint: let's say I do have an old manuscript and I'm sitting in my cell with it. I might have an introvert brain, with its ability to focus and concentrate deeply for long periods of time, but I've got it programmed to feel guilty about doing that. I've trained myself to feel in a hurry.

It's a busy, complex world, not oriented to introverts, and I'm in the middle of it, coping.

Complaining aside, I'm going for being a happy, relaxed monk (in street clothes :-) so I'm grateful to have these two sayings. I carry them around on a little pink slip for easy reference.

Introvert brains are natural planners, so I like to think I'm training mine to plan on making things easy, just by posing the question a lot: how can I make this easy?! Even if I can't or won't come up with an answer on the spot.

"Ask without hesitation, give without depletion" I think of as a soothing balm. In this busy, complex world it reminds me to conserve my precious introvert energy and to trust that partly how it happens is by being willing to receive.

End of food for thought – on to some practical ideas:

A Practical Idea for Introverts

Make a "pink slip" to help you remember to be good to yourself.

A Practical Idea for Extroverts

If you have some compassion available, extend it to an introvert in your life, by remembering that what gives you energy – people, places, things – drains her or him.

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