In the last month I've begun to feel a natural shift from the hibernation and introverted energy that Winter brings, to the more expansive and extroverted energies of Spring. As I watch the flower buds around my yard begin to open, I feel my own cravings to come out of my shell and connect, begin to over-power my natural introvert tendencies.
I've begun to deeply desire community once again and have naturally been planting seeds and cultivating more of it. Modern society has created a sense of isolation amongst us, so it's easy to forget that, at our core, we humans are tribal creatures.
We thrive and grow through connection and relationships with others, not in isolation.
So while alone time to reflect and recharge is important, connecting with others is equally important. And by "connecting" I don't mean the superficial chit chat that seems to pervade most social environments (although chit chat does have its place too), but real deep, raw connection.
If you too have been feeling Spring's pull to connect more and on a deeper level, here are some ways to cultivate more community and connection in your life (especially if you're a natural introvert like me). And also some things you may want to watch out for as an introvert getting out there again, after a long winter of hibernation.
1) Schedule "friend dates"
As a natural introvert, winters always leave me with extreme anti-social and home-body tendencies. I think I'd stay in every day reading, drinking tea, and watching movies if I could! And even when the spring naturally awakens my desire for deeper connection, I still often struggle with the introvert's desire to just stay in, alone or with my boyfriend.
So I've found that scheduling "friend' dates" just as you would schedule a Dr. appointment or work-out session is so helpful to cultivating that regular connection. My favorites are connecting over a weekly hike or walk, cup of tea, happy hour, or even just a phone call. If you're anything like me, if it's not scheduled, you're much more likely to get a little too cozy on the couch, ignore calls, and just hang out solo.
Alone time is important, but won't satisfy your human need for connection.
2) Learn How to Manage Your Energy
Introverts have a tendency to be very sensitive. So it's easy to feel drained when you begin connecting and socializing more. This can lead to feeling cranky and possibly even lead you to make poor decisions or react out of character.
Beginning to notice when your energy is low and replenishing yourself is key to connecting successfully as an introvert!
My favorite way to do this is to have a consistent meditation practice.
Beginning or maintaining a consistent meditation practice doesn't have to feel hard or take up a lot of time. Here's a free resource to help you get started > the "Meditate with Ease: Mini Course".
3) Be Mindful of Your Consumption of Mind-Altering Substances
This may or may not apply to you, but I feel that it's important to mention because I know it's a common struggle for introverts (particularly those who are sensitive).
Over-consumption of any mind-altering substance (caffeine, alcohol, etc.) can affect your energy and ability to connect mindfully and authentically.
I'm not saying to avoid these things, I'm just saying to be conscious of how you use these substances and how they make you feel.
For example while I enjoy social drinking, I can also have a tendency to use alcohol to help soothe anxiousness around connecting in groups or with new people. But often times it makes things worse. I'm also sensitive to caffeine and notice it can cause more anxiousness when connecting with others. So just be mindful of your usage habits and how they make you feel, so you can make more empowering choices.
4) Join a Women's Circle
You can learn so much about yourself and grow, when you allow yourself to go deep, open up, and be vulnerable with others.
The best place I've experienced this is in women's circles. If you desire these types of deeper connections and don't really have relationships that satiate that craving (or are just looking for something more), women's circles are aaahmazing!
I discovered the power of women's circles when I moved across the country six years ago to finish up acupuncture school. I really didn't know anyone out there and found myself feeling pretty lonely and isolated, despite meeting people in classes. You see, as an introvert, I had a hard time taking the superficial friendships I made in class to a deeper, more fulfilling level.
So after trying out several meet-up and networking groups (which felt draining and still didn't help me cultivate the deeper connections I craved), I serendipitously discovered a women's circle. And it was transformational!
Ever since then, I've participated in several in-person and online women's circles, and have even led my own. And each has been powerful and changed me in some way. Finding a group might take a little exploring. Here are some options:
- Search for local yoga studios, wellness centers, meditation centers, or new age/ spiritual shops. Check out some of their events or ask the owner if they have a women's circle or anything like it.
- Join my private Facebook community here. It's an online community where you can connect with me and others who are on a spiritual path. We're a tribe of like-minded souls who strive to grow and create more joy and fulfillment in our lives (and support each other along the journey). Also by being a member of the group, you'll soon have the opportunity to attend a women's circle, hosted by moi, from the coziness of your own home!
- Start your own local women's circle. If you have some friends who you think you'd like to do this with, you can even start your own group. Check out this book for inspiration and guidance.
- And if you're a man, you could look for some local (or virtual) communities as well. Although I don't have as much experience with men's groups :)
I so look forward to seeing you in the Facebook community if it's something that resonates with you! And if you do join us, you'll also be the first to know when I start a virtual women's circle.