Where To Turn
April 18, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Introvert, extrovert, and ambivert are built on the latin verb verto, to turn. So in literal terms, if your thoughts are constantly turned inward (intro) you are an introvert; outward (extro), an extrovert, and in both directions (ambi), an ambivert.
Depending on your personality and unique brand of principles, one chooses the directions they’ll turn daily. And often (but not always) consciously we shift our alignment towards those worldly interactions that make feel us the most comfortable or at home in our skin.
For myself, choosing where best to turn can tend to cause a weeee bit of angst sometimes. While I might wish to flow freely, reaping the best of all worlds, I have a tendency to get “stuck” and associate regret or even shame with choosing one path over another, regardless of where it’s going. Yet the ‘angst’ of these anxious moments is often followed by a hidden superhighway of potential growth and discovery. Which of course I always, always forget at the time.
And in a way, life inevitably finds some way of nudging us in another direction, or plopping us in an interaction which we may never have chosen otherwise. Into a serious conversation with ourselves, a heated conversation with others, or just finding yourself somehow alone, with a television and full tub of ice cream on a Saturday night.
In practice I often find myself suggesting to patients that they turn inside, to listen to the still small voice that hums quietly for health, while the outside manifestations of dis-ease (aka. symptoms) flash wildly in bright neon lights.
There is power in introversion. This part of our personality that orients us towards exploring our own inner riches, even if it may feel like they’re hidden beneath piles of muck or, worse, not there at all.
Solitude and contemplation is a standard part of the story for almost all spiritual gurus (think Buddha under the Bodhi tree, or Jesus out in the wilderness). Exploring this space allows us to come up with our own unique solutions to problems, and within it there is a certain comfort in getting to know who you are, the good bits and the bad.
However life as a straight-up introvert can separate one from the world. And especially during illness, we can isolate ourselves, believing that people won’t understand, or just don’t want to listen to what it is that we’re going through (note: if your nose is full of dripping green snot… you should probably just stay home). Our outer world should energize us, and being interested in other people and their stories is the brilliance behind the efforts of extroverts.
And so this dance of the ambivert becomes I think important for health.
Pendulation between the inner reflection of our joys and pains, our angels and demons; while sharing and listening to each others stories is an integral form of healing itself.
In the words of Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen:
“I can trust another person only if I can sense that they too, have woundedness, have pain, have fear. Out of that trust we can begin to pay attention to our own wounds, and to each other wounds – and to heal and be healed.”
And so maintaining our physical and mental health is not so much what we do with our lives but what we allow to happen. Honouring our natural processes of stillness & action, sitting back & speaking up, moving us toward greater health and wholeness.
Whether your wander into the wilderness is spent alone or surrounded by party-goers, bring back what you’ve found and share your suitcase of souvenirs (slash Intstagrams?) with the world…or maybe just your bestie and a tub of ice cream