I often fall into a web of excuses to blame my grumpy behavior on being an introvert. After all, science explains how introverts process information differently than extroverts. (See amazing article first appearing on Introvert, Dear)
As I traveled to see family recently, I was reminded that I was oh, so introverted, and when I can't allow myself to introvert, I get super grumpy. Here are some scenarios I faced when I asked myself if I was introverted or plain grumpy:
When I stopped for a sandwich, the kid in front of me in line, crossed and uncrossed his legs over and over and over again. Several times, he lost his balance and almost fell in to me. The personal space violation gave me a case of the jitters. I wasn't wearing my enforcer.
The kid behind me in line had a horrible case of hiccups. I felt bad for the kid because they lasted forever and were LOUD. They were the kind of hiccups that came from deep down, vibrated up and escaped with bullfrog enthusiasm. Every. Three. Seconds. I really did feel bad for him! But it was also the kind of over stimulation I did not need after coming off the highway during rush hour traffic.
The next day I hit the department store and someone came through my aisle wearing copious amounts of lavender or patchouli oil. For some reason these scents trigger massive headaches. I was not shy about hiding my nose in my shirt. Sixty seconds and I have a full on sensory headache. Much longer than that, and I risk a hard core migraine. I wasn't taking any chances.
What I've learned over the years is that if I don't take note of my sensitivities and allow myself time to unravel, I become grumpy. I'm not grumpy because I'm introverted. I'm grumpy because I choose to allow my thoughts and intentions turn negative, instead of learning from previous reactions and altering my behavior.
So here's how I tried to combat channeling my inner Ouiser Boudreaux:
I chose to let ten minutes be all mine. Granted I was only half way to my destination, and I hate driving in the dark, but I ate my sandwich in the parking lot and then set my timer for two minutes. Those minutes were precious as I leaned back in my seat and closed my eyes. I turned my talk radio off and focused on breathing deeply. I gave thanks to God for getting me through the rush hour traffic safely, then I let my mind wander.
I laughed. Before I pulled out of the parking lot I put on my favorite comedy channel on my music app and laughed the rest of the way to my destination. I found when I concentrated on listening to the comedian, I wasn't so easily distracted (read: angered) by all the, um, 'unique driving styles.' I wasn't quite so serious with myself and allowed the lightness to carry me through.
I chose a different path. When my senses went into hyperdrive at the store, I moved a couple of aisles over. However, when the same woman showed up again, I hid my nose in my shirt and went back to the original aisle. An old me would have huffed and puffed and stood my ground and complained about how people should know better and get myself all riled up. But it took no effort whatsoever to simply remove myself from a situation I knew would have an effect on me. Pride goeth before a fall...
So next time we find ourselves angry, bitter, mad, or a bit grumpy, we can't blame introversion like its the catch-all for getting out of unpleasant situations. Let's take some time for ourselves to let the day catch up with us and take control of our emotions - after all we're going to need that energy for something else much more important that grumpiness.