The Path to Self-Acceptance: A Highly Sensitive Introvert’s Journey

Do you live your life in alignment with your Authentic Self, or do you operate the way you think you should or have to?

When I was young, I didn’t know that I wasn’t being true to my Authentic Self. No one taught me the difference. I didn’t know that I was a highly sensitive introvert.

My coping strategy was to be a Pleaser and a Performer who needed affirmation from people. I also needed internal strokes from my Inner Critic. My Critic set standards that I had to meet, like getting A’s in school and excelling in my career. All the while, I needed to look cute.

Striving filled my days and nights. I was running as fast as I could inside a whirling hamster wheel. I felt stressed, but I thought that was normal. I didn’t know to call it anxiety. I got depressed when I didn’t get the attention I wanted from a man, or when a relationship ended, or when I made a mistake in my career. I rarely felt inner peace.

A counselor told me that my life reminded her of the myth of Sisyphus. Camus’ character spent every day pushing a boulder up a hill only to have it roll back down each time.

I was trying to be my best self. I had no idea how to lead my life differently. This struggle lasted through my 40’s.

I was not aware that I didn’t know my Authentic Self.

Striving covered up shame.

My driven behavior served an important unconscious purpose: to cover up the shame of feeling insecure. I would have never been able to tell you that I felt insecure or needy when I was 43. I identified as a high achiever. I could have told you that I felt anxious and depressed sometimes, and that my body ached.

Highly sensitive people with an insecure attachment style often experience this life theme. A retreat for highly sensitive people when I was 45 years old helped me find myself.

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Now, after a lot of therapy and deep introspection, I know my Authentic Self. These are some of the ways I’ve changed:

My Inner Critic has stopped barking orders at my Inner Child to remind her that she is not good enough and that she has to try harder. Self-love has taken root deep in my soul. The stress of having to prove myself has given way to inner peace. My anxious attachment style has transformed into a secure attachment style.

I’m no longer afraid to be different. Some people love me, and some don’t. Some understand me, and some don’t. I love myself. God loves me, and so do many others. I don’t need everyone to like me. When I let go of self-judgment, other’s judgment of me stopped being a big deal.

My worth isn’t determined by my accomplishments, who I know, what I know, or the next step in my career or my love life.

Some people talk about themselves a lot, and they never ask questions to get to know me. I choose to associate with people who reciprocate. It’s important to be seen, known, and cherished. This is part of good self-care.

I meditate for 30 minutes every afternoon because I need to, even if no one else does. I stopped trying to convince other highly sensitive introverts to do the same. I suggest it, but I no longer see myself as their “savior.” I know they are more stressed than they need to be, but people have the right to make their own choices. They will learn from the consequences of their life style choices or not.

I used to worry about missing out on something (FOMO – fear of missing out). Now, if I didn’t attend an event, I make a conscious choice to be content with whatever I am doing. I like being at home in my comfy sanctuary. It’s my introverted nature.

I wear the same clothes several days in a row if they are clean. I don’t have to do as much laundry. I’ve bucked my societal programming. I like being efficient.

I wear aqua most days because I love it. It’s my color.

I hate noisy restaurants and prefer to eat outside whenever possible. I no longer feel guilty when I tell my dinner partner that it’s time to leave a noisy restaurant. I don’t let myself get so stressed. It’s part of good self-care. I choose to associate with people who understand the needs of a highly sensitive introvert.

I won’t attend a concert just because my friends invite me. I want to know the artist and their music before I decide to spend two hours of my precious time at a concert. I don’t mind saying “no thanks.”

If you want to experience this kind of self-acceptance, I applaud your decision.

I’ll support you to become your own best friend. I’ll help you be true to yourself even if others judge you, reject you, make fun of you, or call you too sensitive, or too picky.

As self-love percolates deep inside of you, you’ll find yourself choosing friends who cherish you. You’ll create a kindred tribe. I wouldn’t be surprised if most of them are highly sensitive people.

You’ll find kindred spirits at our Highly Sensitive Person Retreats. They are the best place to make rapid progress on your Hero’s Journey to the Authentic Self.

 

Contact Information

If you would like help to become your Authentic Self, I’m happy to assist you. As a highly sensitive person myself, I can easily understand you, your challenges, and your beautiful gifts. Zoom videoconferences are available worldwide.

Please complete the application on the Contact Page. This is the first step to see if we are a good fit.

Feel free to ask about life coaching, spiritual counseling, and intensive retreats for Highly Sensitive Introverts.

Benita A. Esposito, MA is the author of the bestseller, The Gifted Highly Sensitive Introvert: Wisdom for Emotional Healing and Expressing Your Radiant Authentic Self available on Amazon.

Click here to read more about Benita Esposito’s personal story.

Credit: Alysia Hargus Photography

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