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  • Writer's pictureDayna Culwell

Are you an introvert?

I restore myself when I’m alone.

-Marilyn Monroe

Six years ago, Bill, my husband, and I signed up for a premarital course at Emmaus Catholic Parish, here in Lakeway, TX. It was a husband and wife team who shared lovely anecdotes from their very long and rich marriage. My favorite story was the story about the dishwasher. Bill doesn’t remember this story but I do. After dinner, Richard, the husband, would randomly throw in dishes and cups in whatever order pleased him into the dishwasher. Pat, the wife, would then carefully remove all of the dishes and glasses and replace them into a nice orderly fashion. How many of you take pride in how you arrange the dishwasher? I had never given it a thought until that moment. There are simple things we do that we like HOW we do.

One day, Richard, after seeing all of his work redone again, asked Pat why she would rearrange all of his hard work. The point was, Richard’s feelings were hurt when she wordlessly let him know that she did not approve of his work. Funny how we have our own way of doing things. When you live with another person, seldom do the two parties complete tasks in exactly the same way. Recognizing how our actions or our response can be loving or even cruel may prevent a big nasty explosion.

This thinking then went into a deeper discussion of personality styles. We had the opportunity to complete a comprehensive questionnaire that explored our personality styles. From Richard and Pat’s stories, Bill and I knew quickly which category we belonged to. What I loved, however, was how the point of the discussion was not which category we belonged to, but how our communication can improve by recognizing how we think and speaking to the other person with a conscious awareness.

It is often said that opposites attract. When I first met Bill, I was attracted to his energy and his BIG personality. His two children (and my step children) share his same extrovert personality traits. What surprised me from our training is that I learned that I am more of an introvert. It completely made sense, but at first I was somewhat dismayed. Somehow the word “introvert'' is a negative characteristic in Western society.

How wonderful that we entered our late life marriage with this very important awareness. I then started looking at my friends and students, at my family members, at people in our church, with these new “glasses”. I learned that you can be a teacher, a politician, a clergy member, and a parent and do your job well even if you are an introvert. At the end of a day with friends, my husband Bill would still be energetic in a room full of other people, whereas, I could sense my energy waning and knew it was time to replenish (before I turned into a nasty old pumpkin!).

Giving yourself an hour each day to practice yoga and meditation provides a means of replenishing. All of your energy goes inward. For extroverts, this is a great exercise in learning not to depend on others for all of your well-being. For introverts, it is a much needed time to simply move freely without entertaining or making conversation.

Blessed are those who do not fear solitude, who are not afraid of their own company, who are not always desperately looking for something to do, something to amuse themselves with, something to judge.

Paulo Coelho, author

Paulo Coelho is one of my favorite authors. I read The Alchemist in Spanish many years ago. It was easy to follow because there was only one person to keep track of! What do you think of his quote? Does it resonate with you? I see much energy in both introverts and extroverts--in different ways. Perhaps you have a friend that you are struggling with, or a family member. Take into account this week the difference in personality styles. Perhaps you can find a different way to resolve differences between you two?

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