Original Link : https://medium.com/@krisgage/how-to-engage-with-the-outside-world-f56cb211971f

How to engage with the outside world in healthy ways

Yes, full disclosure, this is effectively Part 2 of my last post on “How To Be A Happy Introvert.”

I’m still thinking about it A TON and I will probably have even more posts along these lines in the future because I find it so useful to understand.

Engagement isn’t only about “talking” or “being friendly.” It entails at least four different avenues, all of which can be pursued in healthy and unhealthy ways. And as I start to play with each of these myself, I wanted to share what I’ve learned and discovered:

How to engage with: PEOPLE

Extroverts and introverts alike can engage with people — many extroverts already do — but introverts who are naturally busying themselves with “clarity” or “insight” stand to benefit a lot from engaging with people…

Other individuals, yes, but also human lives; the human experience overall — human values and fears and aspirations and motivations and influence, etc.

But without doing so in a healthy way, both are at risk of doing so a bit recklessly, introverts engaging with others awkwardly, clumsily, or critically sometimes with no better social or emotional awareness than adolescents or children. (And I say this as one of these introverts — mama is awkward AF.)


Priding yourself on: being “logical,” “independent,” or “disliking people.”

Also: being critical, suspicious, gossipy, judgmental, anxious, angry, dismissivedefensive, etc. Or thinking people are against you (or having it out for them)— all people or individual(s) in particular. Lashing out at others, obsessing over their mistakes, lack of competence, flaws, etc.

Pulling away from others, shutting them down or icing them out because they: don’t “understand you,” don’t “validate you,” “aren’t logical,” aren’t helping you with your goals, or put your need for certainty at risk.

How to engage with people healthily:

  • Listen. Absorb. Don’t just think about what you want to say, or start judging, or bring it back to yourself. Let your perspective (and response) be adjusted by what they’re saying. Don’t rush or interrupt.
  • Ask questions. Get better at asking them in ways that elicit trust, rapport and camaraderie.
  • Be present. Don’t drift off. Really listen to what they’re saying, as they’re actually saying it, and nothing more. Don’t read into it. Just be there.
  • Speak. It’s very tempting to just surround ourselves with people — go to a festival, for instance, or — #goals —show up for work every day. As I wrote before, engaging with people means,

“Something more than a ‘passive consumption’ of others’ lives (literature, film, etc.) “People” with a heartbeat, with the rhythm of live dialogue (you being included), something organic, that runs the risk of interruption (and I say this as someone who loathes interruption.) Something where you speak and say words, not just listen. (Which, again, I know is scary. Part of the reason I write.)”

From there, you can:

  • Give them something new, of (higher) value than what they have
  • Build, generate or create something new for them, ideally to solve their expressed (or in some cases unexpressed) problems
  • Get feedback from them and back it better
  • Express more sincere, less superficial care — and love
  • Test things, play with things, see if you can make people happy. See if you can get them to share.
  • Actively generate desired reactions, guide, lead, persuade, etc.

Signs of UNHEALTHY OVER-engagement:

Priding yourself, basing your identity on, or your self-worth by: “other people” (including our relationships and/or their opinions.) Seeking validation, accolade, appreciation, affirmation, or “love” as security or a status symbol, etc. Going to any lengths to please others, regardless of whether it’s reasonable, and stress / burnout. Being unaware of your own feelings (and/or the fact that we all have them), or feeling critical, defensive, or angry.

Temper “engaging with people” by:

If any of the above start to happen, circle back on self-love and self-thought — self-originating / self-constructed feelings, insights, logic, etc. (But then come back out! We ❤ you.)

Signs of healthy engagement

Rich relationships (romantic, family, friends, work.) Generally positive views of “people” overall.

How to engage with: OBJECTIVE MEASURES

Doing things that can be measured in numbers or clear, binary results — i.e., pass/fail, win/lose, etc. — and exist in the real world, not in our head. In other words, feeling like we’re “winning” or “losing” “at life” falls into this a bit, but playing (and winning or losing) the Milton Bradley “Game of Life” board game gives clearer objective results.

Signs of UNHEALTHY DISENGAGEMENT with objective measures:

Basing your identity and sense of self on your emotions and creativity. Believing that your personal feelings alone will bring you wholeness.

Or: never achieving something measurable because you’re “unmotivated,” “uninspired,” “don’t know if it’s what you really want,” or “just don’t wanna.”

Even: Pulling away from goals because they aren’t “true to you.” Being individualistic to the point of making external measures the enemy; priding yourself on being a “starving artist.”

How to engage with “objective measures” healthily:

  • Set measurable, external goals that are within your control (i.e., weight loss, sales, wins, etc.)
  • Brainstorm ideas, take new approaches, take action
  • Have fun!

From there you can:

  • Line up a bunch of them in a row and build / create / achieve something increasingly bigger

Signs of UNHEALTHY OVER-engagement with objective measures:

Basing your identity or sense of self-worth on conventional measures of success; being preoccupied with objective external validation. Sacrificing creativity, feelings, and personal values, believing that pragmatism is more important. Pursuing external goals regardless of whether they’re logical, authentic, or honor relationships that matter to you. Believing that external success will bring you “wholeness.”

Temper “engaging with objective measures” by:

Checking in with your true feelings and making sure that whatever measurable goals you are pursuing is what you want.

Signs of healthy engagement

Measurable achievement of the goals you want and set for yourself.

How to healthily engage with: NEW IDEAS

Anyone can play here, but the two types who need it most and stand to make the most use of it are the artist and logical theorist, who need to either experiment and expansively express their thoughts — with logical experiments to share with or for the partial benefit of people — or feelings — with creative expressions for objective, measurable achievement, (respectively.)

The point here is that these ideas are first “thought exercises,” and then secondarily actual, tangible tries (tying back to one of the first, people or things) with ideally with one or two of them sticking, at least for a bit, for a sense of satisfaction and balance.

Signs of UNHEALTHY DISENGAGEMENT with new ideas:

Shutting down or disregarding all new ideas or possibilities in preference of what’s conventional, tried and true, certain, and proven. Imagining worst case scenarios and negative possibilities. Dismissing new ideas as “unrealistic” or “not worth it.” Believing that acting dutifully, according to past precedent, will bring you “wholeness.” Fear of uncertainty. Fear of change. Boredom. Anxiety.

Even: basing your identity — priding yourself — on being practical and consistent, rejecting change or unknowns as “the enemy.”

How to engage with “ideas” healthily:

  • Brainstorm
  • Play
  • Thought exercise or experiments
  • Engage with something open-ended, where “anything can happen”

From there you can:

  • Build on one, with success measured both internally (either a.) does it express your feelings? or b.) is it logical?) and externally (a.) does it serve others in some way? or b.) does it meet objective, measurable goals?)

Signs of UNHEALTHY OVER-engagement with “new ideas:”

Believing that “something new” will bring you “wholeness;” chasing novelty and opportunities; dropping each one to pursue the next; sparkly things for the sake of sparkle. Pulling up roots just as one endeavor starts to take hold and compulsively moving on to the next one. Lack of satisfaction. Anxiety.

Even: basing your identity — or priding yourself — on being innovative and pioneering; rejecting what’s known and established as “the enemy.”

Temper “engaging with ideas” by:

Maintaining a sense of balance with best practices and picking up wins with what’s worked before, when you can.

Signs of healthy engagement

Openness to new ideas. Comfort with change.

How to engage with: THE PRESENT

And, quite simply, just get the heck out of our heads.

This involves: presence, concrete things, and action. It’s engaging with the here and now and nothing more — nothing in our heads, nothing in the past, and nothing in the future. It is touch, sound, smell, taste, sights.

And, as I said, this is one of my favorites…

“It is so dang adorable and fun and easy — the Labrador puppy of the four! — making it a perfect distraction when I’m dodging ‘people’ and ‘objective measures’ but still trying, desperately, to ‘extrovert.’ It’s my ‘sneak out the bathroom window and run barefoot down the street’ escape from my own head, my last ditch effort to get the heck outta Dodge for the night.”

Signs of UNHEALTHY DISENGAGEMENT with the present:

Dismissing anything aesthetic or tangible as “stupid,” “shallow,” or “meaningless.” Hiding away in “meaning,” “logic” or sensitivity/feelings. Believing that holding firm to what’s in your head will bring you “wholeness.” Cynicism or depression.

Even: basing your identity — priding yourself — on “meaning” and “insight;” rejecting aesthetics and pleasure as “the enemy.”

How to engage with the present:

  • Literally just be present! That’s it!
  • Take action. Stop thinking. And definitely stop overthinking.
  • “Let it go” and “let it be”
  • Jump in, regardless of what’s going on or if you even really care.
  • Often best coupled with something else — either people or external measures — at least for me (and many others.)

From there you can:

  • “Be present” with things that are constructive — see above, people or things.
  • Touch, create, build, generate, etc.

Signs of UNHEALTHY OVER-engagement with the present:

Preoccupation with money, beauty, or other pleasures.

Also, this one quickly becomes hedonism, plain and simple. Physical recklessness and/or substance abuse of any kind, including alcohol, drugs, food, sex, etc. Not enjoying things so much as using them to forcefully obliterate and “kill off” whatever’s in your head; “losing ourselves” in the other direction. Little planning for the future.

Even: basing your identity — priding yourself — on being action-oriented or fun, rejecting seriousness or “overthinking” as “the enemy.”

Temper “engaging with the present” by:

Checking back in with your human, cerebral awareness.

Signs of healthy engagement

Being present. Living each moment. A sense of energy and lightness.

All that matters, really, is *engagement*

And the real big red flag to watch out for, for both introversion and extroversion alike, is either a.) basing our sense of self identity or self worth in any of these — people, achievements, thoughts, feelings, etc. or b.) losing ourselves to any of them.

The real goal is balance. And the real real goal is happiness.