An Introvert’s Journey 4

by Evan on 2010/03/28

Early to Middle Adulthood

Leaving Fusion I got to work with a couple of other Christian groups – largely unsuccessfully.

I also fell in love. This was the first time (and so far the only time) I have fallen in-love in the intense and intensely sexual sense of the term. I love my current partner very much, but it was from liking and respecting and being attracted to each other that we got together; there wasn’t that in-love insulated-from-the-world aspect to it. So far my relationship with my new partner is far better than with my first one and my new partner had been in a relationship that started with in-love and ended up including domestic violence. While in-love for me was precious, delightful and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world, there can be some unpleasant sides to it too.

If falling in love is a transition to adult-hood then earning your income is more so. I have always done this but in quite unconventional ways and there have been periods of government support too. I have always been on the margins of the economy. This has its pressures.

I have also often been self-employed. This usually involves marketing yourself in some way and this has peculiar difficulties for introverts. For instance, I can happily evangelise for the Myers-Briggs’ Type Indicator or Gestalt Therapy but feel far more constrained when trying to talk about what I do or what I sell. There are added difficulties if one of your chief concerns is authenticity (as is the case for me). Most marketing joyously embraces ‘perceived value’ but for me this smacks of phoniness. [By the way, as I understand it, ‘phoniness’ was a term invented by the early gestaltists – it was describing the special phone voice some people used to make up for the poor quality of early phone lines: it became a metaphor for starchy, proper and lacking emotional tone.] Self-presentation is quite a hot button issue for an introvert one of whose core concerns is authenticity. This is an on-going issue for me. For instance: what if I’m authentically shy? How does this fit with authentically promoting myself? I still am in the middle of sorting this out.

In one way my early and middle adulthood have been about extraversion: learning to negotiate the external world. I was privileged to have the chance to develop my awareness of my internal world up to the end of my 20’s: this was a rare privilege. I have done less well in becoming familiar with the ways of the external world. One way of saying this is that my adulthood has been dominated by finding a way to make my income by doing what I love. Blogging is part of this journey for me.

Being ‘grown up’ sounds like no fun to me. It connotes doing what you don’t really want to do. In his book The Divided Self the author RD Laing has a preface written several years after its first publication. He ends it with the sentiments that the book (originally his Ph.D.) was written by an old young man, that if he is now older he is also younger. I applaud these sentiments. I was way too serious when young – my adulthood in one way has been becoming more comfortable with the childlike part of me.

Finding my own spirituality has also been a theme of my adulthood. I still see myself in the Evangelical Christian tradition i.e. we need to take scripture seriously. (Others in this tradition would violently disagree with me.) The most distinctive aspect of my own take on Christian spirituality is that it is Christian spirituality is physical.

As I was beginning to explore what on earth it would mean to have a physical spirituality – nothing in my evangelical heritage prepared me to even think about this – I had a busy head and some fortunate experiences.

I formulated my central question about physical spirituality this way: if aerobic exercise helps us be less stressed: what movement would help us be more compassionate? At this stage I found a book in my local library called Shintaido – a book about physical spirituality that excited. What’s more they had a group in Australia. Shintaido is a self-development system that grew out of Okinawan karate. For a little while I was intensely involved. It showed me that a physical spirituality was possible. Unfortunately I joined when the group had just been going through a difficult time (due to authority conflicts in my opinion) and the hierarchical Japanese approach didn’t really appeal to me. [Anglo-Saxon Australians have a distinctive attitude to authority. It is something of a sibling society – achievement is recognised and celebrated but people thinking highly of themselves and looking down on others is regarded pejoratively. There is no hereditary class system and treating others as equals is taken for granted. This has much to do with the children of the white invaders being the children of convicts in my view – which also explains a pragmatic acceptance of and dislike of violence.]

I also discovered a book on the Old Testament by Pedersen- Israel: it’s life and culture. This was a breakthrough book for biblical scholarship. It demonstrated that the OT conception of the person was unitary. This meant for me that the body was part of personhood. This gave me a biblical base for my concern with physical spirituality – it was a liberation for me.

This lead me to writing up my own physical spirituality (it currently waits on illustrations). The way I organised it was in body segments going up the body and with different dimensions to each segment. For instance with the feet I began with exercises to get people in touch with the sensations in their feet, dealt with being grounded, and for the spiritual perspective talked about pilgrimage. I also ran some retreats – largely attended by friends – around these concerns.

This brings me pretty much up to date with my journey seen from the perspective of introversion. Any comments you may have are extremely welcome (even from extraverts). It is hard for me to know how much my struggles have been just my own weirdness (which I don’t underestimate) and how much they have to do with introversion itself. I’d love to hear whether you have had similar problems and struggles to mine whether you prefer introversion or extraversion, Evan.

A Pedant’s Post-Script: introversion is spelt with an ‘o’ and extraversion with an ‘a’.


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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Barbara March 29, 2010 at 4:30 am

Hi Evan,

Sorry to have to do this but all parts of the world of English are apparently just not the same.

I was taught the words are most correctly with “0”. However, exceptions, yes, due mostly in part to the origns. Greek and then German break down the word with meanings beginning ‘extra….’. Hence, extravert.

Webster makes the distinction of extrovert, the noun; extravert, the adjective. They also indicate interchangable.

But if we have to do it your way here, in the effort to get along, so be it. I’m rather partial to “A” in general.

I guess in a similar vein to, you having spelt the word extravert and I have just spelled it extrovert?

Chris Edgar March 29, 2010 at 7:12 am

Hi Evan — now I think I get what you mean by a “physical spirituality.” I get the sense that, for many people, spiritual practice is about reading books and trying to follow rules in them — the Ten Commandments, for instance. This might be called a “mental spirituality.” “Physical spirituality,” it sounds to me, is about developing a tolerance for a wider and wider range of sensations in the body, such that we don’t find ourselves running away from what we’re feeling as often and we get more choice around our behavior.

Evan March 29, 2010 at 7:30 am

Hi Barbara, not much of a big deal. I’m going back to Jung’s original usage. The intro and extra occur in other words in this way Eg introduction and extracurricular. Australian usage is a rather large mess – alternating between British and American and sometime accepting both. The Appalling Murdoch insisted that all his papers in Australia follow American usage (thankfully he is no longer an Australian citizen – our gain your loss!).

Evan March 29, 2010 at 7:31 am

P.S. hope your not a fan of FOX NEWS

Evan March 29, 2010 at 7:31 am

Thanks Chris, that puts it very well.

Barbara March 29, 2010 at 10:25 am

Evan,

You’ll be pleased to know I was unaffected by what you said. Newspapers have been relegated to my very distant past, with TV news not far behind. I think I could confidently tell you I don’t think I’ve ever seen Fox news. The only reason I think I know Murdoch owns newspapers is because his personality is so ‘loud’, he became unavoidable at some point. If there were a quiz tomorrow about any of the three, I’d be finding reason to stay home from school, failing would be inevitable!

bikehikebabe March 29, 2010 at 11:31 am

I know that I could look into understanding myself, improving myself & I do that to a small extent. But change is hard (at my age?) so I just accept myself & hope others do.

You enjoy your journey of understanding yourself or you’d just go with the flow like most people do. I know you well enough to know that you’re very likable. As for being too shy to be a salesman, so be it. There’s plenty other jobs. I’m talking off the top of my head so I’ll quit.

Adelaide March 29, 2010 at 5:55 pm

There’s so many wonderful books about physical spirituality, especially from Jessica Kingsley, which is where I heard about shintado first.

And it’s awesome to learn about Israel as a country and as an idea. A powerful representation of the idea was the kibbutz.

Love the description/explanation of “phoniness”. Those Gestaltians knew what they were doing. (Holden Caulfield too).

It would be great to have more of an explanation of a sibling society. Somebody at Healesville Sanctuary put it best, “We are all brothers and sisters”.

I would definitely have a problem with shyness as inauthentic.

Evan March 29, 2010 at 7:42 pm

Thanks Adelaide. I’m afraid I can’t find Jessica Kingsley in Amazon or in our local library catalogue. Do you have some titles I could look for? There is a publisher called Jessica Kingsley which complicates things.

Maybe sibling society isn’t the best way to put it. What I meant was the presumption of equality. Eg success guru’s saying stuff like, “Hey, I’m just like you” in most Australians evokes a response like – ‘We know that!’. I meant things like referring to our Prime Minister by their first name. I hope this makes sense. The Australian inclination is to demolish hierarchies of authority.

Thanks for your comment.

Evan March 29, 2010 at 7:45 pm

Thanks bikehikebabe. I think that accepting ourselves is the key to change (paradoxical). I’m glad you find me likeable. Thanks for your comment.

Evan March 29, 2010 at 7:45 pm

Thanks Barbara.

Adelaide March 30, 2010 at 2:24 pm

I meant the Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

They have an imprint called the Singing Dragon.

Here they are:

http://www.jkp.com/

Evan March 30, 2010 at 10:47 pm

Thanks Adelaide I’ve bookmarked them and will check them out.

Joan White April 2, 2010 at 1:47 am

I think everyone has his or her own physical spirituality.

Evan April 2, 2010 at 8:16 am

Hi Joan, welcome. I’m sure what you say is true. Thanks for your comment.

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