overwhelming emotions


(1) Introverts may experience overwhelm

Some introverts are highly sensitive persons. They may be sensitive to loud noises, bright lights, or large crowds. They may also be empathetic and sensitive to the feelings of other people around them. Their sensitivity may lead introverts to experience overwhelm, and then it may lead them to isolate themselves or seek solitude in some way. In other words, it may lead them to seek the comfort of The Cave—a dark, quiet place for rest and restoration…or for escape.


(2) Introduction to Dialectical Behaviour Therapy

It may be useful for introverts of this kind to learn something about Dialectical Behavior Therapy. This therapy was developed by the psychologist Marsha Linehan in the early 1990s. It aims to help people manage overwhelming emotions.

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) aims to teach radical acceptance of what has happened, what is…AND give us insight into the things we can change. That’s what the fancy word ‘dialectical’ means, like the word ‘dialogue’ that suggests a back-and-forth exchange between two people. ‘Dialectical’ in this context means a back-and-forth exchange, a balance and a tension, between acceptance AND change in our lives.

One point is important to add. If you have been mistreated in some way, acceptance does NOT mean that the behaviour of an abusive person is acceptable. Abusive behaviour is never acceptable. Nonetheless, it may be part of your reality, and you unfortunately have to learn how to cope with it. Acceptance here means that you cannot erase it from your past, no matter how much you might want to—no matter how much we wish you could. But what you can do, hopefully, is learn more effective ways of coping with it.

 (3) The Serenity Prayer and a Radical Acceptance poem

The basic message of Dialectical Behavior Therapy is much the same as the well-known Serenity Prayer:

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

the courage to change the things I can,

and the wisdom to know the difference.

With a slightly different twist, here is my Radical Acceptance poem:

This is The World.

Let it be, because it IS.

Inspect it.

Learn to respect it.

I am a small but important part of the world.

What can I do NOW?

It’s important to think about the phrase, “I am part of The World.” If I am part of The World, both my body and personality are realities that to a large extent I have to accept, although I can also work to change them in certain respects. After all, we are living organisms that are constantly in the process of change, and we can do some things to direct this process.

(4) The courage to come out of isolation and back into the world

If we as introverts suffer from overwhelm, we may for a while escape into the comfort of The Cave. The Serenity Prayer, or my Radical Acceptance poem, may help you to calm down and return to The World…BOTH with the serenity to accept the things beyond your control AND with some new insights into the things you can change. You may for example have an insight into how you can better manage the things that overwhelm you. You are a small part of The World. But you are also important! Retreat when you have to, but then return to us with your gifts.