Everyone wants to be liked and loved. Everyone likes to hear praise from people they admire and respect. But there’s a big difference between wanting and enjoying the love and admiration of others and needing it to feel worthy. If you can only feel good about yourself when you have an incoming stream of affection and love and don’t feel happy or confident if that stream slows or stops, then you need to reflect on your sense of worthiness. The trick with developing self-worth is that, ideally, you won’t have a time when you don’t feel loved or that you’re not getting praise, so it can be hard to determine where your sense of worth is coming from. Adding to this opacity is the fact that love and admiration are good. In general, they do suggest that you are a valuable person, and they feel good to receive. So, understanding the foundations of your sense of worth can be challenging. The key is the difference between want and need—the difference between independence and dependence.
We all need time to ourselves—time to rest, recharge, and reflect.
But it’s important to distinguish between finding meaningful alone time (see “Alone”) and escaping from our connections or retreating from our engagements. All of us, even the most extroverted, have times when we don’t have any more energy for people. We also need time to ourselves to gain perspective on what is happening in our lives and to plan for our futures. This time is not only important for our mental health, it’s also a critical aspect of a meaningful and fulfilling life. We have to have time to ourselves to truly get in touch with what we’re after and where we’re going, to maintain our connection with who we are at our cores, and tounderstand our values and passions. BUT we have to make sure we have a healthy balance and aren’t avoiding people or problems when we need to engage.
Every day I look at my calendar to see what meetings I have and begin to psych myself up for them. I look at the people that are going to those meetings and what I need to accomplish. I think about what kind of people I will be meeting. It’s not that I don’t like people—I do—it’s just that when I interact with people it takes significant energy, and I have to bring that energy to the surface. It’s like warming up a diesel engine.
Yes, that’s right, I’m an introvert.