When my emotions are on my side and my introverted social tank topped up, I feel my most positive and energetic. I have plenty of optimism and I’m willing and ready to spread happiness around. I want to give the best of myself, to bring light into other peoples’ days.
But something I’ve come to understand fairly recently, since I’ve taken the time to actually notice what’s happening to me, is that extended periods of social interaction gradually drain me until I have very little left to offer.
This is particularly noticeable when interaction is forced, with people I don’t feel as comfortable or connected with; when conversations are more pressured, instead of easy-going and comfortable.
These more forced interactions, or situations that demand me to socially engage too much, for too long, or with too many people — especially those I’m less at ease around, gradually bleed me dry, sap me of my emotional energy and my chirpy friendliness and my ability to give. My desire to give.
Too much pushing myself to present as this more out-there self, to talk and interact and think for extended periods of time is never without cost — it will always affect my energy; and some days worse than others.
It makes me tired.
It makes me grumpy.
It turns me into somebody I don’t like being.
Many introverts are perfectly capable of holding conversation and being in social environments. We can and do enjoy the company of others and can benefit greatly from it.
But when we’ve had enough, we’ve had enough.
And some days, we may appear to have had enough sooner than others. Or perhaps we’ve simply been in too many situations or environments that have taken and taken from our energy tanks, and we are practically running on empty.
These are the times that we may come across as slightly rude or dismissive. The times when we simply can’t bear to engage in any more small talk, or have our quiet, introspective moments interrupted.
Our energy tanks are spluttering and coughing and pleading for more fuel.
This is when we need space.
We need quiet.
We need to be away from people.
Introvert or not, we all know what it feels like to feel drained of all our energy, not only physically, or perhaps not physically at all, but emotionally.
Physical tiredness and exhaustion is totally different to the mental and emotional kind.
Physical tiredness might make us feel lazy, or pleasantly sleepy, but emotional drain has the tendency to turn us into versions of ourselves we don’t want to be.
To remove the capacity for thinking logically, managing our emotions, and being the pleasant human we are generally capable of being.
I do my best to power through and maintain my positivity even when I’m feeling dangerously lacking, but sometimes I know my drain impacts this. Sometimes I just know I can’t give as much as I’d like to.
This even happened on my own hen do.
It’s not something we can easily control, and once we notice we’ve hit that low fuel point, it’s tricky to give what is being demanded of us. It’s as if we are watching down on ourselves, knowing we aren’t able to be in the social space the way we’d like to be, but unable to do anything about it. We’ve got nothing left to give.
When this happens it’s natural to feel guilty. You might feel ashamed of yourself for coming across short or dismissive. For appearing to have lost your good humour or light-hearted ways.
How to prevent getting caught on empty
As intrapersonal as these situations can be, they are still avoidable. The key is in knowing when to stop and when to pick up the phone.
Check your energy levels. Know your limits. Pace yourself. Do not allow yourself to become depressed or anxious. It will only bring you down.
If you find you are becoming frustrated or annoyed with your loved one, be honest. Put yourself in their shoes. What did they do last time you were annoyed with them?
Remember to be kind in return. They have to see you as you are, want the best for you, and most of all, enjoy being with you.
If there is a limit to the amount of time you can be annoyed at someone, tell them. The more you know about your emotional capacity, the easier it will be to deal with them kindly.
Tell them that you have reached the point where you cannot continue with the tantrum any longer. Let them know how disappointed you are that they couldn’t manage to do the work that you are doing for them.
Then, let them know how you feel. Keep your composure. And share the same desire to work together with them.
The decision to cheat or be faithful requires a similar level of thought and consideration