By: Travis Hagen
A couple of weeks ago on My Life Experiment I wrote about “Gaining Self-Acceptance for my Not So Social Nature.”
In this article I just want to lay out some of the pro’s and con’s to having a social style that doesn’t desire all that much social interaction.
I enjoy laying out the cons to things, since then I can build up the thing with the pros at the end!
Some Cons to Having a Not So Social Nature:
- I will not seek many opportunities to socialize- I know that socializing is very important for maintaining mental and emotional health. My style leads me to isolate pretty easily if I am not careful. And isolation is not good for my continued growth.
- When I want to Socialize, others may not want to- Sometimes I really do feel like socializing. The whole introverted thing is not an all or nothing proposition, I just happen to be more inclined to not want to socialize than to want to. So, since I am really good at hanging out with myself, I sometimes find it difficult to let people believe I actually want to hang out!
- Style Strengthens with use- I understand that what I do most often, is what I am learning most about doing more. I don’t learn how to socialize more until I actually socialize more often. To be more balanced with my social life, acting out on my nature too effectively does not help me learn a new way of living my life.
- People Might Follow me- People that may watch what I do in recovery sometimes see my style and think, “well if Travis doesn’t socialize then why should I.” This could lead someone that naturally has a more social engagement style to isolate themselves from the growth that comes from interacting with others. I help other addicts in recovery, and we tend to take things to extremes!
- Not selling myself enough- Lets face it, to be successful in life requires selling our personal brand (reputation)! In order to be selling, I need to put myself in front of buyers! That goes for this blog, my job, my recovery, and every other relationship. If I don’t sell people on my reality, they will naturally go up into their heads and make assumptions about me. And these assumptions may not benefit the kind of life I desire to live!
Some Pros to Having a Not So Social Nature:
- Recharge my own batteries- Many people need others to recharge their batteries. I do find some recharge from other people as well! But more often than not, I find that other peeps drain my batteries more than charge them up. So, when I need to recharge I can do some meditating, do some writing or just relax, and boom my batteries are all charged up!
- A Unique Life Perspective- I have spent much of my life sizing up the world. I sit back, and I watch, I study, I read. When I open my mouth, the thoughts are usually from a perspective that other people haven’t thought about! This has led me to come up with creative ways to solve problems that maybe other people are not thinking of.
- Development of Self Knowledge- To not be surrounded by people has helped me get to know myself in a way that I would have had a difficult time doing while being constantly surrounded by others. I realize that gaining self-knowledge does require some social engagement, but ample time reflecting by myself is paramount for me getting to know myself.
- Freedom from social expectations- Now that I have been gaining more acceptance of my social style I have been able to separate the expectations of others, from expectations I actually care to take responsibility for meeting. This frees me up to do more things that I care to do, instead of running around co-dependently taking on too many other peoples
- Time for Making my own Decisions- Something that I deeply need and enjoy is having peace and quiet for making big decisions. I feel that if I do not think through my decisions that I may end up acting irrationally. Thankfully I am quite alright being solely in my own company, so I can peacefully come up with my own part of the plan without the presence of other people. Then If I cannot figure out the plan, I can then communicate with others to figure out the rest.
I realize that my nature is naturally Not So Social but writing this Cons and Pros list has opened my eyes to some new insights!
The world that I live in, in order to find great success, does seem to favor those that are more extroverted and willing to socialize. So, for me to find the kind of success I desire, and desire for my family, does require me to crack open my not so social shell from time to time!
I realize that just because my nature tends to be naturally not so social, that does not mean that I cannot learn to be more social. But that it is quite alright for me to respect my limits and not expect myself to be something that I am not.
If there is one thing I hope that you get out of this article, I hope that you can see that it is perfectly fine to be yourself. This goes for if you have a not so social nature, as well as if you have in my opinion, too social of a nature!
I also hope that you take one more thing from this article. I hope that you see that whatever social type of nature you have, there are many bonuses to learn how to be more of your opposite!
My Life Experiment is all about learning new ways to live. I cannot simply accept my not so social nature, and let it be that. I have my tendencies but there is always room for improvement!
Thank you so much for stopping by!
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By: Casey Hagen
I have experienced great excitement in my life on several different occasions, but each of those events doesn’t even seem to come close to the level of excitement that I have for bringing my baby Ada into this world with my husband. Our lives are about to drastically change, and we are ready. Although there is also great anxiety!
At this point we are waiting in anticipation to lay eyes on our little girl for the first time. The house has been filling up with things for her and her room is finally finished. To see the bassinette in the bedroom, to sit in the new rocking chair, and to wash and fold her tiny cloths are all things that fuel this excitement.
I picture her sleeping, crying, smiling, crawling, and the laughter of each of us as we enjoy these moments. I even picture the messy house, sleepless nights, and the dirty diapers. We are ready! I love each of these thoughts as they come up and I feel an immense amount of gratitude. I even feel gratitude for the hard moments that are about to come as well because it is all part of the process.
But to go along with all this excitement there is plenty of worry and anxiety. When I first learned that I was pregnant I had to quickly wean off a certain medication that I was on. It helped me with depression and anxiety symptoms. This has been difficult for me at certain points throughout my pregnancy.
I work a customer service job and I have noticed a significant increase in anxiety when it comes to talking with people. When it comes to any type of confrontation I feel like I am ready to crawl out of my own skin. And now that we are down to the last few weeks everything physically and mentally seems so hard. One thought that helps is knowing that this will not last forever.
This is all completely uncharted territory for both my husband and I and new experiences can be scary. From time to time I wonder whether I will be a good enough mom or worry about the birthing process. It’s ok, even normal to feel some amount of anxiety for what’s coming.
Right now it is so important for me to take care of myself so that I can be in the best spot mentally when Ada is born!
This means that I need to continue the practice of feeling grateful, keep talking about these feelings of anxiety so that i am not harboring them all to myself, and continuing to maintain a healthy daily routine no matter how uncomfortable I am emotionally.
When I am practicing gratitude in all my affairs I start to feel better. Thoughts like “I can’t do this, or I am not good enough,” turn into thoughts of loving myself and knowing that I can accomplish what I set out to do. Gratitude has the ability to turn my mood around.
This has been one area that I have been lacking in at work and I can see the impact that it has on how I am interacting with people. It makes for a long and hard day when I fail to focus on why I am grateful.
The reason that I find it so important to continue to talk about my feeling of anxiety is because it seems to lessen those feelings. I am able to listen to feedback from others and keep myself accountable to what is going on.
Maintaining a healthy daily routine will help keep balance in my life especially when everything feels so hectic. This will take stress off my shoulders and allow me to feel somewhat normal right now.
As long as I am focusing on these things I know that I will be ok. I WILL be in the best place I can be. In fact, I already am!
Thank you for taking time out of your day to read my article. If you like what you read today please feel free to share on social media. You can also click to be put on the email list as well. Until next time.
Today I have been thinking about some of the gifts that recovery has given me. Many of the things that recovery has blessed me with are more tangible things, things like being in a happy marriage, a very soon to be father, owning a nice house, and having a decent job.
But many of the gifts of recovery are what have actually made those more tangible gifts possible.
Recovery has helped me develop sanity by finding a principled way of living. Helping me learn, Honesty, Open-Mindedness, Willingness, Patience, just to name a few. Without practicing these in my life, I don’t stand a chance at staying sane, and staying clean.
There was a thought I had today that spurred me writing on this topic. The thought was “what is the most important thing I have learned from recovery?”
Although it is difficult for me to pick a most important thing I have learned. The self-knowledge and self-awareness I have learned seem to be a clear stand outs for the most important!
Most of my life before recovery I spent bouncing off one experience to another without really any clarity of why I was doing it. If there was “clarity,” the logic came from a very foggy mind, and I could convince myself of some crazy stuff..
What is very interesting is that I didn’t happen to bounce from one healthy experience to the next healthy experience. No, it was quite the opposite!
The actions I took seemed to be led by two puzzle pieces:
1. The easiest action I could take.
2. The most exciting action I could take.
Now I realize I am staring at another question here. Was it easy to deal with the consequences of committing crimes, or to create so many more problems for myself and others? Hell no, it wasn’t but those were not things that I thought through before tearing off into the next, probably not so good decision!
Of course, I felt remorse and regret when I caused problems. And when I felt those things, I desired to change my behavior. Sometimes I would change them, for a little while. But eventually I would find myself sliding back into old behavior.
Sure, through my life I have caused a lot of problems, but to me there is one main problem. I had no clue who in the hell I was. I lacked self-knowledge and self-awareness!
To me, without self-knowledge there is no self-awareness. And without self-awareness, there is no maintaining the required actions to hold my best possible life together. There is also no keeping me from destroying my life with the tendencies I resort to on default.
A huge piece of self-knowledge I didn’t have for many years, is that I am an addict. That there is something in my brain that, when triggered, begins a downward spiral of negative thinking and negative actions.
Getting control of this spiral, keeping myself out of it, and learning how to move myself in the other direction has been what recovery is all about.
So today I know that I am an addict, and I am aware of what I need to do to recover. I am more aware of what thoughts and actions, bring me closer to starting my downward spiral, even subtly.
I have also learned how to separate my feelings about myself from the negative behaviors I habitually engaged the world with! And the troublesome thoughts that lead me to feel like acting on those behaviors are mostly nipped in the bud, as soon as the arrive in my mind.
Over the years I have come to learn more about who I truly am. I know that if I am seeking excitement by something that is illegal or destructive, that there is a bigger issue. Up above I mentioned two puzzle pieces that guided my addict behavior.
Here are the puzzle pieces that primarily guide my actions today:
1. What is best for my family?
2. Does this fit positive direction I have?
3. Do I really want to behave like this?
4. Am I going to regret this behavior later?
I notice that the above puzzle pieces were not based on questions, but these ones are. That is because I have a good relationship with my conscience today. When I ask it questions I get answers back that are more in tune with who I am!
For many years I didn’t have a good relationship with my conscience, I didn’t ask many questions about what was best for me. Like I said I seemed to just bounce from each experience to the next, basically lost. Unaware of the conscience I had, and the possibilities that existed on the other side of the insanity I lived within.
Gaining self-knowledge and self-awareness are beautiful things. I don’t necessarily like everything I am learning about myself, but at least my thoughts and behavior are not such a horrible waste of my time and energy! On the flip side of the bad, I am growing quickly into the kind of life I adore living.
Now, I don’t claim to have full knowledge and awareness of who I am today. I would be a damn fool to believe I had that. If My Life Experiment has taught me anything up to this point, it has taught me that there is much more to be discovered about life. There is also much more to be discovered about myself!
Thank you for stopping in to My Life Experiment. We will definitely have more to say on the subject of self-knowledge and self-awareness in the future. But that is all I have to say today!
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Much love everybody and take care!
By: Travis Hagen
“Man is by nature a social animal; an individual who is unsocial naturally and not accidentally is either beneath our notice or more than human. Society is something that precedes the individual.
I do believe that human beings are naturally led to be socially engaged. And that too much seclusion from other human beings is a practice that is detrimental for the individual who secludes themselves as such.
What I have an issue with is about what Aristotle says about those who are naturally unsocial. Aristotle mentions being naturally unsocial is “beneath our notice.” Which I take to mean “less than human.”
In society I truly do believe that an individual that is not so social, is perceived, and in a sense, is generally treated as less than human. When someone spends just a little bit too much time alone and speaks in ways that are outside the bounds of social acceptability even slightly, most people already begin wondering what’s wrong with this person.
I would classify myself on the socially awkward side of the spectrum. And sometimes socially isolative (yes, I made that word up). Now It isn’t that I don’t like people, I actually do like people. But I like people within a certain amount of human interaction, and over that amount (which isn’t a whole lot), I lose my interest rapidly.
I simply enjoy being at home, reading, writing, looking at YouTube or just hanging out with my wife more than hanging out with people!
I enjoy socializing at times, only that most of the time it feels more natural for me to spend time processing things in my mind away from people, instead of with others.
Many people around me seem to process their lives with other people so naturally. For me though It seems exhausting to think about talking to other people as much as I perceive the average human being does.
It seems exhausting to have as many lunches, parties, outings as I perceive the average human being partaking in as well!
With all of that being said, I go back to the knowing that human beings (which I know I am) do need social contact. And in My Life Experiment, periods of social isolation have had horrible consequences for my mental and emotional health.
Throughout my recovery from active addiction I have had to rely on other people for my well-being more than I realized I could handle. I have made strides in allowing more people into my world, which has kept me sustained and incredibly healthy over the last 9 years.
Though today, even though I am a healthy, responsible, and productive individual, I still find that it is simply part of my personality to shy away from much socialization.
Thankfully I have found acceptance with my style. Also, I have gained acceptance of the fact that I don’t need to socialize as much as others believe I should be socializing, or how much I perceive other people socialize!
I have come to accept that my personal style is my own. That it is no better, or no worse than anybody else’s. And it feels awesome to be cool with it! I don’t need to be something that I am not, in order to seem that I socialize just like all the others!
As for Aristotle, maybe I have him all wrong. But there is something within the “beneath our notice” comment that disturbs me.
I realize that this is a dog eat dog world, of sorts. And those that fit in, may end up more likely to not get eaten up as quickly. But I believe that those that end up accepting their more introverted social styles, will not get eaten up so quickly either. And they will also find their vital roles in society.
To believe that anyone that doesn’t socialize like the average human being is less than human, is crude and ignorant thinking.
Well, that is all I have for today on My Life Experiment! In my next article I will dig into a little more of the positives of the socially awkward, and more introverted styles of socializing!
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By: Casey Jo Hagen
My name is Casey Hagen. Recently my husband has been working hard on starting and maintaining My Life Experiment blog. It has been fun to see him develop new articles and it even feels as though I am getting to know him a little bit more with each one. I have watched his excitement rise as he finishes and publishes his articles.
Writing has many benefits for him, but what I didn’t realize is how many benefits I would receive from him starting his blog. Not only is it amazing to read what he is writing but I have also been inspired and encouraged through him to start writing something of my own.
When I was in college I took several writing classes because I liked the way developing a story and finishing it felt. It is something that I have not done in a long time. Although there is anxiety attached to the process of sharing it with others, it still feels good.
Each article that my husband writes is something that I can relate with. I too am a recovering addict (a few weeks shy of 6 years), with an added bonus of bipolar and anxiety. I say this jokingly because I need to. After all they are here to stay. My husband aims to share his experience, strength, and hope about his struggles through addiction and mental health and I am here to do the same thing.
So, when I say that bipolar is an added bonus I don’t say it mockingly or in a negative sense at all. It is a way of looking at it that allows me to recognize, accept, and live in harmony with them. I will not let these be things that define who I am because I AM SO MUCH MORE THAN THAT.
Although they can be extremely difficult to deal with at times I no longer allow them to break me or destroy my life. In the last six years I have learned how to deal with them and better my life and I feel that it is important to share with others. I have gained a wealth of knowledge from others. If they had not shared with me I never would have had the chance to grow in the ways that I have.
So, this marks the beginning of a new journey with my husband and I am excited. This is a new chance for us to grow as individuals as well as together.