I am NOT a morning person. So when I am awakened before my brain/body wants to be awake my mind often gets started running on some random thought and it just takes off from there. This morning was one of those mornings and this is what I came up with….
Ok…so…I’m an introvert. (I know…many of you don’t believe that…but trust me. I am. When you see me engaging with people outside of my head…it is something I have learned and it takes a whole lot of preparation, and effort to interact.) I’m not certain all introverts are this way but I suspect they are. So let me share with you what goes on inside my head on most days and maybe you can begin to understand the challenges.
Anytime I have to have a conversation with anyone for any reason my brain starts processing in order to come up with the appropriate responses to the situation. I’m assuming that Extroverts don’t do this. This is my ASSUMPTION. No fact, just a theory I have. I believe based on watching my children that extroverts just speak and they often don’t think before they do. I have one child that seems like every thought inside their head just rolls out their mouth. I’m not sure that child can process anything internally. Maybe I’m wrong here. It’s not a bad thing. I’m not saying they speak inappropriately. I’m just saying that my theory here is that when an extrovert has a conversation it goes like this.
Extrovert: “Hi. How are you?” (meaning. Hi…How are you?)
Other person responds
Extrovert: “That’s great.” blah blah blah blah blah.
Ok. Now here’s how my brain handles conversations of any kind (yes even calling someone on the phone not just in person.)
Me: (Introvert — INSIDE MY HEAD) “I need to call X today.” “What am I going to say?” “Well, what if we say ABC”. “Well ABC is ok but what about DEF.” “Ok. That might be better.”
Me: (Introvert – STILL INSIDE MY HEAD) “Ok. what will they say to that?” “They will say XYZ.” “If they say XYZ what will I say?” “If they say XYZ then I’ll say GHI”. “Ok.” “No…what if they say QRS?” “Hmmm…ok let’s think about that. How about GHQ?” “Ok. that works.”
Now, this can go on for fifteen minutes and sometimes longer depending on the seriousness of the intended conversation.
Finally, I will come to the conclusion that this dialog is necessary and unavoidable at which time I with total trepidation will begin the conversation with the approved wording.
Me: (FINALLY my mouth speaks with nervousness) “DEF”
Me: (INSIDE MY HEAD) “What….I didn’t think of that. How could that be their response? Now what?”
At this point, everything in my brain begins the process over again and it spins wheels trying to find the correct words to say. Sometimes this process is easy and finds the appropriate response and sometimes it takes longer. But at this point, we are committed to having a conversation and we must respond. The pressure is on.
Ok. Now, consider that type of brain activity and the fact that inside my head I can have entire parties at times of all the characters that will be at an event being represented by parts of my brain acting out entire scenes as if watching a movie and depending on how those scenes play out entirely inside my head I will choose to either engage in activity or not engage in activity. Also, consider that how those things play out inside my head on any given day are affected by my mood at the moment, past interactions with those people, past interactions with other people who have nothing to do with this situation, how I feel about myself, what I’ve been listening to lately, etc. Everything I’ve ever heard, read, assumed, felt, believed is all wrapped up inside those conversations in my head and affect what I will choose to do.
Now. I’ve tried telling myself that. “You don’t know what they will say.” And I’ve tried NOT doing this but the thing is…I’m wired to be this way. Changing it takes a lot of work. For me to just step outside my head and interact with anyone in any way is like throwing a tortoise into the water and expecting it to swim.
Now I’m asking myself…what is the purpose of this post? That’s a good question. I think the point is…that many of us have so much stuff going on inside our heads that we miss out on LIVING the LIFE we were given. Instead, we live the possibilities and the issues inside our heads that we miss out on some of the best of life. There are times when my crazy head conversations are beneficial preparing me for some serious interaction like when I worked and had to give presentations of any kind. I could thoroughly prepare myself for the event and stay focused. However, in everyday life, it isn’t always a good thing. I’ve been trying more to LIVE outside my head but there are days I could actually just stay in there living my imaginary life. Sometimes my imaginary life is a good life and I’m quite comfortable with the outcome and some days my imaginary life is a huge mess.
I think the other reason I’m sharing this is so that others who don’t think this way can understand that sometimes we don’t call you not because we don’t care about you but because the conversation in our head is so difficult to process we cannot agree on what should be said. Also, sometimes we may be slow to answer you not because what you said was wrong but just because it wasn’t something we pre-thought a response to and we’re having to process a lot of information to find the next sentence!
One other reason I truly believe this is a trait of introverts and not just my crazy self is that my late husband was also an introvert. We didn’t have a lot of conversations that we should have had and one day while discussing issues in our marriage this came out. You see, I was upset because he never bothered to ask for my input before making any decisions that affected me. I was trying to get him to treat me as a PARTNER in life and not always subjecting me to his will without me having any say whatsoever in the outcome. This is kinda how that conversation went.
Me: “You know I’d really appreciate it if you would talk to me about things like this. Even if you ultimately make the decision I’d like you at least to hear what I think and feel so that I feel like my opinion is considered.”
Him: “Why? There is no need for me to ask you what you think. I already had this conversation in my head. I know what you are going to say. I’ve already considered all your opinions and I’ve made my decision.”
Me: “WHAT? How can you know what I’m going to say when I don’t even know what I’m going to say? Heck…sometimes…I don’t even say what I think I was going to say originally!”
Yeah…that conversation did NOT go well. Now I don’t know if it was his arrogance, his total lack of care whatsoever for me, his self-centeredness or his introversion but the audacity of him saying that my opinions never mattered because he had already assumed in his head what my thoughts and feelings would be therefore there was no reason whatsoever to even ask me? Yeah…sometimes it can be a really bad thing. I may choose not to have a conversation but I don’t presume to ever know your feelings or thoughts. Heck, most of the time it takes me minutes, hours or even days to even know my own thoughts or feelings on something because I have to process all the possibilities before finding out the answer.
I also had a counselor ask me one time how I “felt” about something to which I thoroughly processed the possibilities and explained how I “thought” about something. We went back and forth on this for some time with him telling me how that wasn’t my “feelings” that was what I “thought” and he asked how I “felt” to which I finally replied something along the lines of…but I don’t feel…I think. I weigh the possibilities, ramifications, etc. and make a decision based on all of my input. To me often times my “feelings” are irrelevant to a situation because I know feelings are all based on the past not necessarily the truth but my perception of the truth. Feelings are not supposed to be the determining factor in our decisions. They are there to serve a purpose but not to be in control. I think we spent an entire counseling session discussing this and I’m not sure I ever was able to answer his question of how I “feel” about what he asked. It’s not that I don’t have feelings. I have them and at times I have a whole plethora of them. It’s that I put them in their place and I manage them and I don’t believe that they should be given all the attention people give them. My opinion of them is that they are often wrong, many times inaccurate, often a misinterpretation of a situation, that they cannot be trusted, that they will lie to me, they can wreak havoc on a situation. Sure there are good feelings but they are usually fleeting never lasting long enough, they are the ones that grace your presence for a brief moment and disappear in an instant. Then there is the lack of feelings. When you’re just sort of existing without really feeling one thing or another.
Now if you are like me living out much of your life without ever stepping outside of your head let me urge you to take a chance. Yes, it’s risky out there but LIFE is worth the risk. It’s funny that I often think that I could spend the rest of my life just inside my head interacting with all the images of people that I carry in there and I’d be just fine. I’m not sure it would bother me at all. But I’ve also come to know that interacting outside of my head with real people although at times it can be a bit of a mess it has its own rewards. You see no matter how many conversations exist in my head there is more enjoyment when they actually occur OUTSIDE my head in real life. It’s like some magic happens and often times more of those elusive good feelings come through and you see why people choose to interact with others.
If you’ve made it this far in reading this note then either you totally understand what I’m saying because you too have had these conversations or you have absolutely nothing better to do with your time right now because honestly, this post is as jumbled up as the conversations in my head some days. Some of you will totally understand that and others well, I have about 10 different ideas of what the rest of you will be thinking. The truth is. It doesn’t really matter what I think you might think. I will leave your thoughts to you.