The power of solitude navigating the world as an introvert.
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Show Notes

In a world that often celebrates extroverted communication styles, have you ever wondered about the power of solitude and the unique strengths of introverts?

Join us in this thought-provoking episode of The Quiet And Strong Podcast as guest Tom Albrighton, author of “One for Joy: An introvert’s guide to the secret world of solitude,” engages in a rich discussion with host David Hall. Together, they dive deep into the nuances of introversion, exploring the concept of solitude and its impact on individuals navigating an extroverted world.

From exploring the distinct communication styles of introverts and extroverts to unraveling the essence of solitude as a source of strength and renewal, this conversation offers valuable insights into the quiet power of introversion.

Discover how introverts navigate the shifting landscapes of remote work and the misconceptions surrounding solitude. Join us as we embrace the unique experiences of introversion and celebrate the strength found in quiet moments.

From unraveling the true essence of solitude to uncovering the unique strengths of introversion, this episode promises unique insights and practical takeaways.

Tune in to gain a greater understanding of introversion and its significance in today’s society and be strong.

Embracing the Power of Introversion with Tom Albrighton

Hello everyone, David here, your host of The Quiet And Strong Podcast. In episode 147, we delve deep into the fascinating nuances of introversion with none other than Tom Albrighton, a prolific writer and a self-discovered introvert. His books, such as “The Freelance Introvert” and “One for Joy,” have been pivotal in exploring the world through an introvert’s eyes, particularly touching on themes of solitude and freelance life.

Understanding Introverts in Communication

Introversion and extroversion shape our communication styles in fundamental ways. As an introvert, I’ve always had this inherent need to process my thoughts internally before expressing them. Extroverts, on the other hand, seem to think out loud, discovering their thoughts as they speak. It’s important to recognize these differences, not as limitations, but as individual inclinations that affect how we interact with the world.

The Impact of the Pandemic on Introverts

The onset of the pandemic brought about a seismic shift in work arrangements, thrusting many of us into remote work scenarios. While it seemed like a dream come true for us introverts at first glance, the reality wasn’t as black and white as we expected. Tom and I discussed these complexities, highlighting the stress caused by economic instability and the challenges of working from home, which, surprisingly, isn’t always the sanctuary of solitude one might hope for.

The Significance of Solitude

During our conversation, Tom shared his journey in writing “One for Joy,” taking us through the secret world of solitude. Solitude has always been a personal refuge – a space where I gain clarity and reconnect with my continuous sense of self. Tom’s insights on solitude echo my own experiences and reaffirm the value of embracing it, not just as a way to recharge, but as a means to engage deeply with our thoughts and creative selves.

Hybrid Work: The Best of Both Worlds

Everyone’s work preference is as unique as their personality. I’ve found that a hybrid approach, combining office and remote work, offers a balanced rhythm for me. It allows the flexibility introverts like us crave while still providing opportunities for in-person collaboration that can be vital to our work.

The Introverted Listener

Tom is exceptional at listening and contemplating before making decisions. He prefers to hold his work close until it’s fully ready to be shared. This reminded me of how introverts often need a sense of control over their work and environment to feel comfortable and productive.

Solitude in Nature and Social Settings

Solitude isn’t always about being alone in a room. For Tom, it’s about connecting with nature and finding peace in quieter settings. We discussed how even within social gatherings, introverts may prefer to observe from the periphery rather than be in the limelight.

Embracing Your Introverted Self

Introverts live much of their life internally. Occasionally, this inner focus can be misconstrued as aloofness or arrogance, when in reality, it’s our way of engaging with the world. The imperative to embrace our introversion is not just about acknowledging this trait but also becoming our authentic selves without fear of misunderstanding or judgment.

The Value of Mindfulness and Solitude

Mindfulness practices enable us to be more present and centered – a state that is incredibly beneficial for introverts. Solitude provides a sanctuary to think, process, and recharge in a world that often overlooks the quiet ones among us.

Where to Find Tom’s Work

For those interested in diving deeper into Tom Albrighton’s world, his books are a must-read. The conversation we had offered valuable insights into the lived experience of introverted freelancers and the rich inner world that solitude nurtures.

Key Takeaways from this Episode

– Introverts think before they speak, while extroverts think by speaking.

– Solitude is a powerful and recharging experience for introverts.

– Solitude allows individuals to reconnect with their true selves and cultivate creativity and deep thinking.

– Introversion is not a weakness but a unique strength with its own set of valuable traits.

– Understanding and embracing solitude is essential for introverts to thrive and tap into their inner strengths.

Make Changes Now

After listening to this episode of The Quiet And Strong Podcast, you can take the following actions to further explore the topics discussed:

  1. Reflect on Your Communication Style: Consider how you approach communication and whether you lean towards introverted or extroverted styles. Think about how this impacts your interactions and how you can leverage your communication strengths.
  2. Embrace Solitude: Take some time to appreciate and embrace solitude as a positive and necessary aspect of your life. Set aside a specific time each day to be alone with your thoughts and reflect on your experiences.
  3. Engage with Solitude Resources: Look for Tom Albrighton’s books, such as “The Freelance Introvert” and “One for Joy: An Introvert’s Guide to the Secret World of Solitude,” to gain further insights into introversion and the benefits of solitude.
  4. Explore Mindfulness Practices: Consider incorporating mindfulness practices into your daily routine to cultivate a sense of calm and centeredness, as discussed in the podcast.
  5. Capture Ideas: Recognize the value of capturing ideas that arise during moments of solitude. Take note of any creative or insightful thoughts that come to you during everyday activities, and explore how these moments of reflection contribute to your overall well-being and creativity.

These actions will allow you to apply the insights from the podcast to your own life and gain a deeper understanding of introversion and the power of solitude.

Contacts and Links

Our chat with Tom Albrighton on The Quiet And Strong Podcast Ep 147 was an enlightening exploration of the introvert’s world. Whether you draw your energy from moments of solitude or thrive within the dynamic hum of company, understanding and honoring your own needs is key. Embracing introversion is not merely about accepting it; it’s about recognizing the strength it brings to your life and the unique perspective it offers. Thank you, Tom, for sharing your journey with us and extending an invitation to all our listeners to find joy in solitude.
Thank you for tuning in, and keep listening for more insights into the quiet and strong. Remember, it’s not only okay to be an introvert – it’s a superpower.

Tom Albrighton is a freelance writer and editor based in the UK. Tom is the author of four books. As a lifelong introvert and long-time freelancer, he is interested in how introverts can thrive when working on their own, and how they can build on their unique strengths to succeed.

Get Tom’s Books:
One for Joy
The Freelance Introvert

Contact Tom:
LinkedIn | X/Twitter

– – –

Contact the Host of the Quiet and Strong Podcast:

David Hall

Author, Speaker, Educator, Podcaster

quietandstrong.com
Gobio.link/quietandstrong
david [at] quietandstrong.com

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Time-Stamped Overview

02:45 Became a freelancer, cofounded pro copywriters, wrote a book.

03:40 Author transitioned to writing personal, introspective book for introverted freelancers.

09:47 Realized preference for small group conversations, enjoyment of nature.

12:28 Introversion is not lack of confidence or arrogance, just a personality trait.

17:06 The writer aimed to make copywriting simple and inclusive, while also infusing personal experiences into their work.

18:01 Freelancing is good for introverts, but can be lonely and challenging.

22:40 Solitude is a chosen state of being alone, different from loneliness.

27:12 Expressing the need for solitude is difficult due to societal judgments.

28:36 Introverts are seen negatively as embracing an absence or nothingness.

32:35 Expressing need for solitude through solo activities.

35:26 Emphasizes importance of charging for thinking in freelancing.

38:03 Solitude offers introverts escape from societal judgments and the constant performance of social interaction.

41:27 Mindfulness meditation is about focusing on the present moment without judgment.

45:02 Understand introverted strengths, needs, be resilient.

Podcast Transcript

Tom Albrighton [00:00:00]:

Writing about it. I just realized, you know, there’s there’s so much in history, in philosophy, in in culture, and in everyone’s experience because everyone can go to this what I call the secret world, and that’s the place you go to when you’re alone. So everyone has got a different experience of solitude. It’s completely unique to you. No one can share it. But at the same time, there are things that we all experience the same in solitude. So it’s kind of shared as well in in a different way. And it’s a place where you can go to recharge after you’ve been in company.

Tom Albrighton [00:00:35]:

I think that’s one of the main definitions of an introvert, someone who draws energy from being alone rather than from being in company and in for extroverts vice versa. So that’s kind of where it starts, you know. It it starts as somewhere to go and regain your energy but it could be much more than that as well.

David Hall [00:01:00]:

Hello, and welcome to episode 147 of the Quiet and Strong podcast, especially for introverts. I’m your host David Hall and the creator of quiet and strong .com. It’s a weekly podcast dedicated to understanding the strengths and needs of introverts. Introversion is not something to fix, but to be embraced. Normally, we will air each episode on a Monday. Be sure to subscribe on your favorite platform. Leave a review. That would mean a lot to me.

David Hall [00:01:26]:

Tell a friend about the podcast and help get the word out there that introversion is a beautiful thing. Tom Albrighton is a freelance writer and editor based in the UK. Tom is the author of 4 books, and as a lifelong introvert and a longtime freelancer, he’s interested in how introverts can thrive When working on their own and how they can build on their unique strengths to succeed. Alright. Well, welcome to the Quiet and Strong podcast, Tom. So great to have you.

Tom Albrighton [00:01:55]:

Hi. It’s great to be here.

David Hall [00:01:57]:

Alright. We’re gonna get into a couple of books that you’ve written. But first, Tell us a little bit about yourself and your journey as an introvert to now your writing career and and also writing for introverts.

Tom Albrighton [00:02:11]:

Yeah. Sure. Well, I’m a freelance writer. I do, commercial writing and editing for, for clients all around the world. I’ve been doing that for nearly 20 years now. Before that, I worked in publishing and design studios, so I did the 9 to 5, in an office with other people. Then I got made redundant from my job when I started freelancing. And I quickly realized that that was the perfect lifestyle for me as an introvert, you know, working on my own, working at home.

Tom Albrighton [00:02:45]:

That suited me really well, and I kind of wondered why I hadn’t done it earlier, really. Then, as a freelancer, I actually started I cofounded and ran an association of commercial writers here in the UK, which is now called pro copywriters. That’s still going. I’m no longer involved in it, but it’s still going strength to strength. And as an introvert, running an organization like that was quite a big ask. I had to do some public speaking, which is something that I find quite hard. And, after a while, I just thought, this is getting too much for me now, so I stepped away from that. And then I still wanted a side hustle on top of my freelancing, so I thought, well, how about I write a book? And I wrote my 1st book, which was called Copywriting Made Simple.

Tom Albrighton [00:03:40]:

That’s all about my work as a commercial writer. So I was writing about the craft of writing, you know, what what I did at my desk. And then I thought, well, you know, Maybe I could write something that is a bit more from the heart, you know, a bit more about me as a person. And I thought, well, a lot of Freelancing books are quite, quite sort of go getting, you know, very sort of on the confident side and putting yourself out there. And I just thought, well, what about something for, freelancers who were introverted? So I wrote a book called The Freelance Introvert. And that allowed me to talk about my work and also talk about, you know, my personality a bit and what other people might be feeling. Kind of an antidote to the sort of LinkedIn vibe, you know, where it’s all like, hey. Yeah.

Tom Albrighton [00:04:30]:

We’re having success. We you know, we’re doing great. Here’s all my achievements. You know, it’s just something for the people who are a little bit more, little bit more quiet and reserved. And then my most recent book, which I think we’re talking about today, is One for Joy, and that’s a book all about solitude. So it’s just a collection of ideas, thoughts, stories, historical stuff, all about being on your own. It’s not a self help book. It’s not a psychology book.

Tom Albrighton [00:05:03]:

It’s not a psychiatry book. I’m I’m not an expert in personality, or psychology or anything like that. It’s really just a toilet book for introverts, just something for, for people to enjoy. If you like being on your own, then I think you’ll like the book. And, you know, there’s a lot of really good books about solitude that, you know, you you should check out, but I sometimes find they’re a little bit, quite earnest, you know, sort of quite serious about the topic. And I just wanted to do something a little bit more lighthearted, just to say that solitude can be fun. You know, it’s it’s got its lighter side as well. And that’s really where the where the book came from.

David Hall [00:05:42]:

Yeah. I’ve been enjoying it. We are definitely gonna get into both books there. But first, how did you figure out you were an introvert, and how did you learn to embrace that?

Tom Albrighton [00:05:51]:

Well, I don’t know when I put the label introvert on it. I think that’s That’s really a a watershed for a lot of people, isn’t it? When they actually realize that introversion is a thing and they they hear that label. I’m not sure when I first heard that. It was maybe when I read Quiet. I think that’s a that’s a huge moment for a lot of people recently. But as soon as I heard the distinction, you know, I knew it applied to me. As a child, I was always big on solo pastimes, so reading, playing with Lego or Legos as you call it in the states, making music, that that sort of thing. So yeah.

Tom Albrighton [00:06:29]:

And then when I did hear the word introversion and I understood what it meant, it was really great to have, a label or a diagnosis, you could even say, for all those habits and traits that I’d always had, you know, so I could stop thinking of them as faults and just start thinking of them as as features.

David Hall [00:06:46]:

Yeah. Absolutely. Yeah. That’s a great book, Susan Cain’s Quiet. I think it’s, going on 10 years. I think it’s 2013, Yeah. It’s helped so many people, and I’ve had so many guests on that have said the same thing that that was a book that really brought awareness. And It’s things like when you write in your book about, you know, maybe when you were a child needing that space, and I can definitely relate to a lot of that, you know, having some good friends, but Just a small circle of friends, but I remember, most of my school life, I actually lived Pretty far away from the school.

David Hall [00:07:21]:

I could take the bus, but I walked just because I really enjoyed it, this that long walk. And And I didn’t really realize what was going on or just, you know, having great, playing with you know, having a great imagination and and doing things like that.

Tom Albrighton [00:07:36]:

Yeah. Definitely.

David Hall [00:07:38]:

So what would you say is a strength or two, of yours being an introvert?

Tom Albrighton [00:07:44]:

I’m pretty good at listening, listening to people, really thinking through, what they’re saying. I’m pretty good at thinking things through before I act. So, you know, I think really carefully about things before I do them. And then When I commit to them, I’m pretty good at following through, and I like to follow through on my own, which is a real introvert thing. So, sometimes people say, oh, I’m gonna write a book about this, you know, or, you know, I’m writing a book about something and then, you know, you don’t hear anything else for several years and maybe never. But I I had my my first book. I had it, I had it pretty much completely written. I had a complete 1st draft before I told anybody else literally in the world that I was working on it, not not even my family.

Tom Albrighton [00:08:38]:

And that was really important to kind of just keep it close so that I could, I guess it’s a control thing, isn’t it? I mean, it’s maybe not even positive, but It’s really about being com keeping control over the work and just, you know, shaping it into exactly what you want it to be. And I think that’s an introvert Trade is like, I, you know, I know what this thing needs to be, whatever it is you’re creating, you know, it could be a book or anything, but it’s like, this is my vision and I really need to follow through on this, you know, until a point where I feel happy showing other people. And I I don’t know why that is. It’s like, I don’t know if we’re afraid that other people are gonna, divert it or reshape it somehow, but I think that’s a real introvert thing.

David Hall [00:09:19]:

Yeah. I I very much relate to that, Keeping stuff close until we’re ready to launch, I I I’ve I’ve definitely done that and, you know, so we can work on it in our way, I think. Because we definitely have some great ideas and and things we wanna do, but pretty sure about ourselves and how we wanna do that.

Tom Albrighton [00:09:37]:

Sure. Yeah.

David Hall [00:09:38]:

So we’re definitely gonna get into solitude today and the need for solitude. Are there any other needs that you’ve discovered as as the introvert that you need?

Tom Albrighton [00:09:47]:

I think recently, I’ve really realized that, I like to be in company and I need to be in company, but I kinda need to be off to one side of the so, I mean, 1 on 1 is is like that that’s a certain way of being, you know, when you’re actually communicating with somebody all the time. But then once the group gets bigger than that, I really like just hearing people talk, being in on the conversation. You know, I’m I’m not zoning outright. I’m not drifting away. But I just like to be part of the conversation without playing an active role. And I used to worry about that and I used to think like, oh, I should say something, you know, I’m thinking I should express my thoughts or impose myself, or, you know, I should take part in this conversation and the older I’ve got, I’ve just come round to the fact that, you know, I enjoy just being there, and I I try and just savor that now. And the other thing is I really like to be in nature. So that could be my own garden or it could be out and about, you know, walking or cycling in the countryside.

Tom Albrighton [00:10:51]:

And for me, a quiet natural environment is an introvert environment and a loud urban environment is an extrovert one. And I kind of equate those things, and I don’t think that’s that’s not necessarily true, you know. I think you can be introvert or extrovert in either in either one, but that’s the association that I’ve made. And I think being in nature is just about this need to have, just to have less going on. So less going on in the outer world, less going on in your mind at the same time.

David Hall [00:11:21]:

Yeah. Yeah. And we definitely thrive in the want more 1 on 1 or small group environments, and Mhmm. You know, we just gotta figure out What we want, like you said, you know, and it and what we want is absolutely fine even if your extrovert friend wants something different.

Tom Albrighton [00:11:39]:

Yeah.

David Hall [00:11:40]:

Figure out how to thrive and do what you wanna do, you know, whether it be in large or small group and be good with it.

Tom Albrighton [00:11:48]:

Yeah. Sure.

David Hall [00:11:50]:

And then so on this show, we definitely talk about the strengths of introverts, the needs of introverts, and we do a little myth Busting. Is there a myth or two about introversion you wanna bust today?

Tom Albrighton [00:12:02]:

Yeah. Well, I’ve listened back to some episodes, and I think you’ve You’ve pretty much blasted them all, but I’ll just I’ll give you my favorites. I think the main thing is that, Introversion isn’t a weakness. I mean, the the title of the podcast says it all really, you know. It introversion can be a strength. It can be a strength in the workplace. It can be a strength in relationships. It can be a strength in family.

Tom Albrighton [00:12:28]:

It, you know, it it can be a positive thing. And then building on that, I would say that introversion is not a lack of confidence. So, you know, just because, Well, you know, maybe you feel a certain way in some social situations, but that’s just your personality. That’s just just some traits of your character. It doesn’t mean that you don’t believe you don’t have strong beliefs, that you’re not confident in your abilities. It just means that you don’t wanna talk about them particularly loudly. And the other thing I would say is that, introversion is not arrogance, which is the thing There’s a a conclusion that some people come to is that introverts are kind of trying to put themselves on a pedestal or they look down on other people. It’s really not the case, you know, it’s just about us saying what we want, making certain choices in certain situations, and we don’t despise ex extroverts.

Tom Albrighton [00:13:27]:

You know? We don’t think we’re we don’t think we’re so great. You know? It’s just just the way we are.

David Hall [00:13:33]:

Yeah. Yeah. It’s a strength. If someone’s not confident, they can gain confidence. Absolutely. But, I had you know, I I’ve had that too where where just because I think it’s because we live in our heads, you know, and people don’t see everything that’s going on.

Tom Albrighton [00:13:51]:

Yeah.

David Hall [00:13:51]:

And sometimes we can come off as arrogant. And, you know, I’ve been accused of that before, and it’s like, no. That’s nothing’s further from the truth, you know. Just people can’t see what’s going on inside our head and we can be misread for sure.

Tom Albrighton [00:14:06]:

Yeah. It’s a similar thing with shyness where, You know, if you’re you’re feeling like you say, you’re feeling in your head, you’re worried about what to say, and it can come across like you’re being aloof from a social situation, you know, you’re you’re not making it you’re not making any effort. And people infer from that that that you don’t care, you know, you’re you’re not bothered about the occasion, you’re bothered about the people, you think you’re above it. But in fact, it’s the exact opposite. You know, if you didn’t care then, you know, you wouldn’t care, but you do care. You care a lot. You’re really trying to get into this situation. You’re trying to think of, you know, the right thing to say or you’re trying to think of anything to say, and that comes across the wrong way.

Tom Albrighton [00:14:48]:

But, you know, you you’re you’re very much concerned, very engaged in the occasion. You just don’t quite know how to how to get involved.

David Hall [00:14:55]:

Yeah. So sometimes it could be someone doesn’t know how to get involved, but the other thing is we’re not saying as many words. It’s just you never we’re like, you know, I talk about how you can be a strong introvert, but you’re never gonna be the chatterbox. You’re never, you know, because We think, and then we speak, and we think and share what we think is most important. And, again, we’re never bashing extroverts, but Their process is different, so they’re gonna share most everything. And so they might appear to be more engaged because they’re sharing everything, But we’re processing things and and and putting a succinct response together, and that can be misunderstood often.

Tom Albrighton [00:15:37]:

Yeah. Yeah. I think extroverts think by speaking, don’t they? Yeah. They they they speak to think.

David Hall [00:15:43]:

Yeah. Most of the time. And and, again, that’s where a lot of misunderstanding comes from is that, you know, we think first and then speak because we’re putting all of our ideas together and sharing a main point Where they’re kinda talking out loud, and, again, it’s just we’re wired that you know, we’re each wired that way. Who knows why? And it’s just something we need to understand.

Tom Albrighton [00:16:04]:

Yeah. And sometimes, you know, sometimes it takes too long. Well, for me anyway. It just takes too long to think of what I’m gonna say and the conversation’s moved on. Just to think, well, yeah, I had that thought, but now it’s gone, so we’re talking about something else now.

David Hall [00:16:20]:

Yeah. That happens. And, you know, we we definitely talk a lot about How? We can mitigate some of that by preparing. You can never fully prepare for everything, but you can definitely prepare and and Think about ahead of time what you wanna say to a certain

Tom Albrighton [00:16:34]:

extent. Yeah.

David Hall [00:16:38]:

Alright. Well, Tom, You’ve written 4 different books, copywriting made simple, how to write clearly

Tom Albrighton [00:16:45]:

Mhmm.

David Hall [00:16:46]:

The freelance introvert. I’m gonna go ahead and read the whole Title, Work the Way You Want Without Changing Who You Are. I love that. And One For Joy, your latest book, An Introvert’s Guide to the Secret World of Solitude. You’re a writer, but, you know, a couple of these books are focusing on introverts. How did you decide to to do that?

Tom Albrighton [00:17:06]:

Well, like I was saying earlier, I I really just I wanted to put something of myself into my writing, because I’ve made a big effort to make copywriting made simple sort of authoritative and universal, you know, something that everybody could get into. And I will identify achieve that or not, but, you know, that was my aim anyway. But I felt that It was really for other people. It was really to help other pea it’s to help newcomers to copywriting get into it and that, you know, that’s great. If it helps That’s great, but I just wanted to put a bit more of myself into my writing. And I just thought about my lifestyle as a freelance writer, working on my own, working at home. I think I was reading quiet at that time and I just thought, well, you know, let’s let’s just put these things together. And and that led me to the freelance introvert.

Tom Albrighton [00:18:01]:

I just thought, well, You know, there there must be something here around why freelancing is is a good choice for introverts, but also some things around, what they might find a bit difficult. So things like in person networking can be very daunting for an introvert, the hazards of working at home as well. I mean, you know, working at home is wonderful, but I think, you know, you can end up being to insular sometimes. You know? It can be a a little bit of a trap for introverts. I think that, you know, the home thing. And, you know, you can end up brooding on things especially, if things go wrong or maybe a client just says something to you and they express it a certain way. You don’t have an outlet for that. And intro even introverts need a sounding board sometimes, you know.

Tom Albrighton [00:18:54]:

We need a confidant sometimes. So if you don’t have that, you can go into a bit of a spiral. So, you know, it’s the plus side of freelancing for introverts, you know, why it’s good, why your strengths will help you, but just also talking about a few of the downsides. Yeah. Definitely.

David Hall [00:19:09]:

That’s a big part of this show is is looking at how we can be success various areas such as Freelancing or whatever it is, networking or public speaking, because our approach to success, we can be very successful, but our approach might look different. And you, you were definitely working from home long before the pandemic. Right?

Tom Albrighton [00:19:30]:

Oh, yeah. Yeah.

David Hall [00:19:32]:

And, I wasn’t. So apparently

Tom Albrighton [00:19:34]:

Okay.

David Hall [00:19:35]:

Was my first, introduction to fully working from home, and And, you know, there was a lot of there was a lot of myths out there. Oh, introverts are just loving this, and I’m like, well, not not completely. You know? There was definitely, Maybe a lot of home environments that weren’t set up for work or, you know, some isolation like you’re talking about that, you know, people, you know, had to cope with, but, you know, there definitely is a good side to it too, and so your book gets into all of that.

Tom Albrighton [00:20:05]:

Yeah. Yeah. The big thing about the pandemic was that, I mean, it was distressing in itself, right? So, you know, it it might have been, you know, it put you in a home working situation and maybe you found that you liked that. But, you know, I’d already been working from home for a long time but I ended up quite short of work because of the, economic impact of the pandemic. Plus, you know, there’s a there’s a there’s a really dangerous disease on the loose it was a really, really stressful time. So, you know, I certainly wasn’t going on social media saying, hey. It’s, you know, it’s the season of the introvert because I think it was It was really tough on introverts as well.

David Hall [00:20:43]:

Yeah. Absolutely. And that’s that’s a good point. And so it wasn’t necessarily a great way to judge how much She liked working from home with all that was going on. So I I do a I do a hybrid approach now where I I’d go into the office Couple days in work from home, and I think it’s a pretty good approach for me. But everybody’s gonna be different, so we can definitely check out more about that in your in your book. In your latest book, 1 for Joy, you talk about the secret world of solitude. Let’s talk about solitude.

David Hall [00:21:14]:

And We definitely talk a lot about solitude in on this podcast, but I’ve I’ve really been enjoying your book and where you go with that.

Tom Albrighton [00:21:22]:

Yeah. I mean, like all my books, it wasn’t really, it didn’t start out as a major inspiration. You know? I didn’t have a mission to write a book about solitude, but I it was just something that I kept thinking about. I kept going back to it. I just started writing a few things down and I thought, you know, maybe this could be a book. And then I realized, you know, how much there is there as soon as I started thinking about it and writing about it. I just realized, you know, there’s there’s so much in history, in philosophy, in in culture, and in everyone’s experience because everyone can go to this what I call the secret world, and that’s the place you go to when you’re alone. So everyone has got a different experience of solitude.

Tom Albrighton [00:22:05]:

It’s completely unique to you. No one can share it. But at the same time, there are things that we all experience the same in solitude. So it’s kind of shared as well in in a different way. And it’s a place where you can go to recharge after you’ve been in company. I think that’s one of the main definitions of an introvert, someone who draws energy from being alone rather than from being in company, and then for extroverts, it’s vice versa. So that’s kind of where it starts. You know? It It starts as somewhere to go and regain your energy, but it could be much more than that as well.

Tom Albrighton [00:22:40]:

It can be a place where you remember who you are. You know, you get back in touch with your own inner character, can be a way to speak with yourself, which could be literally, you know, talking out loud to yourself or just communing with with yourself, asking yourself questions, reflecting on what’s been going on in your life, thinking about what happened recently or maybe a long time ago, thinking about what’s gonna happen soon or what might happen a long time in the future. So it’s got all these different sides to it. And it’s different from loneliness as well. This is something that, I think this is where it’s maybe gets some of its negative connotations as people associate solitude with loneliness, but they’re really they are different by nature. Because loneliness is an unpleasant emotion that comes from being alone when you don’t want to. So an excess of solitude or unwanted solitude. But solitude is a chosen state of being alone.

Tom Albrighton [00:23:45]:

And since you choose it, that implies that it gives you something pleasurable or valuable. So loneliness is an emotion and solitude is a state.

David Hall [00:23:54]:

Yeah. That’s an important distinction because, you know, another myth is That we hate people. We we we we’re humans. We absolutely need people. We have people we love, we care about, But sometimes, we want and need to be alone, and I think we both say it’s not just a want for us introverts. It’s a need. You know? Solitude is is definitely something that we need, but we don’t need it all the time and we do need company. And so, you know, loneliness introverts can definitely be lonely.

Tom Albrighton [00:24:24]:

Yeah. Absolutely. And it’s really just a matter of degree or, you know, the amount of solitude that you want. I think when I was writing the book, I talked about I was writing a bit about saying that I need to be on my own a lot. And as soon as I wrote that and I saw it on the page, I thought, well, who’s who says it’s a lot? You know? That that’s that is someone else’s judgment. You know, I need to spend a certain amount of time alone. Other people might judge it to be a lot. Someone else might judge it to be not enough.

Tom Albrighton [00:24:55]:

You know? Maybe I should spend spend more time on my own. So there’s there’s all these judgments and it’s quite easy to internalize those judgments, I think, you know, whether other people are making them or not. Just because they’re there in the culture, it’s easy to take them on board and kind of judge your own solitude, and there’s really no need to.

David Hall [00:25:11]:

Yeah. So I had a cool experience preparing for this. As we’re talking about, you know, definitely, We need solitude to recharge, you know, whatever it is that drains us. And I always say, you know, I’m not drained by everybody, just some people in some situations. Yeah. So that’s part of it, but we need solitude is for a lot of other things that you talk about. You know? We need time to think, To plan, to be strategic, to do our work. Sometimes we need it, and sometimes we just enjoy it like you write about.

David Hall [00:25:44]:

I’m home on a Saturday, and I’m preparing because I I definitely that’s one of my, needs and also strengths as an introvert. So I’m preparing for this Talk with you and I’m reading your book and my wife, my 2 kids, one of my one of my kids is off at the university, but the 2 that are home, All 3 of them are at work, which isn’t usual, you know. Yeah. I don’t I think since the pandemic, it’s been rare to have the house to myself. Mhmm. So All 3 are gone. I have the house to myself. I’m in my favorite spot in my recliner, in my room, reading about solitude, thinking about, Hey.

David Hall [00:26:20]:

You know, what do I wanna talk to Tom about? And it was just it was just a really great experience. Like, yeah, it was here I am in solitude. I love this. I need to do this because I need to think about ahead of time what what I would like to say. I I’m enjoying doing the research, and it was just It was really kinda cool to have that experience in solitude while I’m preparing for this chat with you about solitude.

Tom Albrighton [00:26:45]:

Yeah. Sure. I like to think about people reading the book on their own and I might, you know, I kind of address the reader at a couple of points in the book and sort of talk about their experience of solitude they might be having right at that very moment.

David Hall [00:26:57]:

It was something I needed to do because, again, I I do prepare for the podcast with guests, But, also, it was just it was really enjoyable, you know, just doing the research and thinking about it and thinking about what I wanna do. So it was it was just all all of those things that we’re talking about.

Tom Albrighton [00:27:12]:

Yeah. It’s great when solitude is, is given to you like that. And there’s a question I know you wanted to talk about, you know, articulating the need for solitude or asking for solitude. I mean, that that is a really, really difficult thing because of all the judgments that can go on around solitude. I mean, it’s easy to say that you want company or you need com like, You know, I’m feeling I’m feeling a bit lonely right now, you know. I’d love to have a chat. That’s an easy thing to say. It’s a really hard thing to say that you want solitude because that feels like a rejection of somebody or everybody or, you know, whatever it is.

Tom Albrighton [00:27:49]:

And I don’t know how other introverts find this. But the danger for me is that I just withdraw or I kind of go a bit sulky or irritable, you know, I find myself just not relating to other people very well just because I can’t there isn’t a way in that situation or, you know, It’s something I’m not able to do is just say that I need to be alone at the moment. And I don’t really know why we find that hard because You know nobody who loves you is going to withhold something that you really need. Now if you say I really need to be alone, this is something that I need now, I think people will say it’s okay, but it’s still just a really difficult thing to come out and say.

David Hall [00:28:31]:

Why do you think it’s looked down on to have solitude? And it definitely is.

Tom Albrighton [00:28:36]:

I think it’s, it’s, because it’s seen as a negative, generally. It’s generally seen as an absence or a lack, a gap between what life is really about. So, you know, life is what we live with other people, well, that’s what extroverts would say. And being on your own is is just is just waiting for something to happen or downtime, you know, it’s it’s just a gap in between other things. So if you actually seek that out, that’s kind of It’s like turning towards darkness, you know, and away from the light. I think that that’s what people think. They just think, you know, why would you embrace an absence? Why would you embrace this this nothingness? They don’t think of it as an experience in itself, which is what it is, you know. It’s a chosen experience.

Tom Albrighton [00:29:30]:

It’s it’s a way of being. But I think people just think of it as a as a nothing, and that’s why they look down on it. That’s my best answer anyway.

David Hall [00:29:38]:

Yeah. Yeah. So it’s definitely misinterpreted. But as introverts, we have one of our greatest gifts is our ability to think deeply. And with that, you know, we Need to and also often want to, you know, be alone to to use that gift and and and think and and get into that inner world of ideas, and Often, we do have some rich imaginations.

Tom Albrighton [00:30:05]:

Yeah. Absolutely. But that also speaks to the way that thinking is not regarded as an act or an activity, right? You know, if I am just sitting there, you know, you come into a room and I am just sitting there in a chair, you might say, well, what are you doing? You are not doing anything, you know, Do the dishes, you know, clean the house or something, but, you know, I am doing something. I’m thinking.

David Hall [00:30:27]:

Yeah. Like, my wife might think, what are you doing there? And I’m like, I’m working on my podcast. You know? And I really am. I’m just thinking about it. You know?

Tom Albrighton [00:30:35]:

Yeah. I

David Hall [00:30:35]:

might not be, Actively writing anything down, but I I’m I’m engaging in thought.

Tom Albrighton [00:30:42]:

And that’s really important, whatever you’re gonna do. You know? The the thinking that comes before the doing is just as important as the doing itself because it deter the thinking determines the doing. Right? When it comes to take action, it’s the thoughts that you’ve had before that determine the action, the quality, and the outcome of the action that you take. So, you know, there’s there’s kind of a prejudice towards doing, isn’t there? Like, something must be done, you know, I’ve gotta do something about this, maybe it’s more important to think about it first.

David Hall [00:31:12]:

Yeah. Well said. Yeah. Absolutely. So, you know, like we’re talking about, it’s It’s important that we figure out how to communicate with, you know, those we care about or those that we work with, you know, this need, and, you know, it’s Part of the work here is just really getting the word out there, what introversion really is and what it isn’t and busting some myths. And, you know, just letting people know, I care about you, and this is a need that I have. You know? I’m gonna be better for it. I’m gonna be better for me and for you for taking this time.

Tom Albrighton [00:31:47]:

Yeah. I think that’s a really important point that I talk about in the book actually is, you know, about being your best self for as long as you can. And For an introvert to be their best self in company, like, you might not be able to do it for very long. You know? It’s something you have to accept. You know, like, you know, maybe I can, you know, I can only hold a conversation for an hour. You know, I can only I can only go to the bar for a couple of hours. You know, I can only go to a networking event for half an hour, whatever it is, you’ve got your limits and you have to know your limits and you have to respect them. And you have to appreciate that The time that you spend alone is kind of charging up your social, psychological batteries so that you can be with people better when when the time comes.

Tom Albrighton [00:32:35]:

And again, you know, it it would be great to just say to the people close to you, you know, I can’t I can’t be good for you right now because I just need to go and be on my own eve even if it’s just half an hour or something like that. I mean, the closest I get is sort of expressing a preference for solo activities like going in the garden. So I just say like, I’m going to go in the garden now which is really me saying I’m gonna go and be on my own now because no one’s gonna help me in the garden in my house anyway. So so I just so that means I’m going to be working on my own. So I’ve kind of got these proxies for solitude, you know. If if I say I’m going to do This task, that means that I’m gonna go and be on my own. And I think probably people understand that.

David Hall [00:33:17]:

Yeah. Yeah. That’s really good. Back to starting to work from home all the time, I realized that even though I don’t like driving in traffic and paying for gas and all that stuff, my drive time was a time of solitude for me. And when I was solely working from home, I found that I did need to find a replacement for that, And I I would joke with my wife, you know, even though so I’m I’m working at my home office, and I’m done for the day, and I, You know, I’m I’m gonna walk a few steps to my bedroom to sit in my recliner. I I would tell my wife, hey. I’m gonna drive home now, And just just meaning, I I need a little space. I love you all, and I’ll be I’ll be, you know, downstairs in a minute, but, I I need a little bit of time.

David Hall [00:34:04]:

So, yeah, I like that. Going to the garden or or I’m gonna drive home now, something like that.

Tom Albrighton [00:34:09]:

Yeah. Yeah. That that’s that’s great. It’s great that you can say that, and that that really points to the importance of, liminal experience as well, liminal spaces, you know, the spaces in between, the times in between. Because again, I think a lot of people would say that’s just downtime, dead time, you know, wasted time, you know, sitting on the train, sitting in traffic, waiting in an airport, some something like that. You know, people would just think this, you know, This is a waste of time, but it’s not a waste of time, that’s a solitude opportunity. And, you know, if solitude is scarce in your life, you need to really embrace that opportunity, you know. Don’t feel don’t feel irritated by that, you know.

Tom Albrighton [00:34:51]:

Don’t feel that’s limiting or wasting your time. That’s an opportunity to be on your own that that you can take. And like you say, when those things are taken away, like when your drive is taken away, you suddenly think, oh, actually, I really needed that time, you know, I didn’t enjoy sitting in traffic, but I was I was getting something from that that experience, and now I need to replace it.

David Hall [00:35:10]:

Yeah. So It definitely sometimes was recharge time, but a lot of it was I had some of my best ideas on those drives. Yeah. You know? And sometimes I joke that my My work should pay for my drive because I had a lot I solved a lot of problems during that time.

Tom Albrighton [00:35:26]:

Yeah. Well, I I mean, writing about, God, I’m working on another book about freelancing, and I talk about, how you can charge your clients for thinking. Because like I was just saying before, you know, thinking is is it just as important as doing. And you’re really thinking about stuff all the time, you know, thinking about everything all the time. Your subconscious is always processing stuff that you’re that you’re thinking about and sometimes it comes up with ideas in these liminal times, you know, like you’re in the shower or just walking down the street, you know, driving the car. You never know when your mind is gonna come up with something like that and I just talk about how important it is to to charge clients for thinking. You know, whenever you do, you might do that thinking, at your desk or you might do it in the shower, but the point is you’re giving value and it could be the most important value that you provide.

David Hall [00:36:16]:

Yeah. It’s a little harder to capture those ideas in the shower.

Tom Albrighton [00:36:21]:

Well, there is a you can get the shower pad. You can get this, showerproof pad that hangs in the shower, and then you could write your ideas down.

David Hall [00:36:29]:

Yeah. Yeah. Definitely. I should look into that. We definitely we talk a lot about solitude, you know, on this show. I write about it, But your book took me in a different place that I hadn’t really thought of, and we know ourselves best. And you talked about being in solitude was really a chance To to be yourself. And that struck me because, you know, this podcast, I’d like to think that I I am being my self.

David Hall [00:36:54]:

That’s the whole point is, you know, learning to embrace your introversion and being your authentic self around others. Mhmm. Mhmm. But when I was reading your writing, it’s like, Okay. Yeah. I I am doing that, but no matter how much I try to be my authentic self, no one is ever really fully Gonna know me better than I do, and that solitude is really a opportunity to, you know, be myself like in no other situation.

Tom Albrighton [00:37:22]:

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, there’s this idea that we all have our social self and we have our inner self. And when you talk about being yourself in company, I guess you’re really saying, you know, that you get those 2 selves as close to each other as you can. You know? You you get them as as much in harmony as you can. But there’s all like you say, there’s always gonna be that inner self that no one ever sees, and, some people don’t wanna see it. I think that that’s an interesting point maybe about extroverts. Not all extroverts, but, You know, people do use company as a way to get away from themselves sometimes, you know. They they don’t wanna sit down and listen to their own thoughts.

Tom Albrighton [00:38:03]:

But for introverts, it’s a chance to get away from the way that other people see you. So even if you are being your authentic self, you are still, I think, always thinking about, the judgments that other people are having, you know, you’re seeing yourself through their eyes because you have to just to be in company. Right? You’re not just completely heedless of what everyone else thinks. You know, it’s a two way interaction, it’s a multi way interaction with other people so you’re thinking about what they’re thinking. And it’s kind of like a performance, you know, it’s like being on stage all the time. You are always thinking about the impression that you are giving, managing that impression, thinking what other people are, what they might want, you know, second guessing their motives, their their emotions because that’s what it means to be in company, right, that that’s that’s how we do it. So if all the world is a stage, then solitude is what you see when the curtain falls. That’s your backstage when nobody’s looking at you.

Tom Albrighton [00:39:04]:

You don’t have to perform for anyone anymore. You don’t have to think about what they’re thinking. And it’s just a place where you just get away from all those judgments and opinions, which might be real or they might not, you know. They might just be things in your head, you know. They might be your own second guesses, your own perceptions of what people are thinking. But even so, you still have to deal with them. And when you get into solitude, you don’t have to deal with them anymore.

David Hall [00:39:30]:

Yeah. In your book, you call it you call it paying yourself a visit. Why is that so important?

Tom Albrighton [00:39:37]:

Yeah. Well, there’s a quote from Hannah Arendt in the book and she defines solitude as being together with oneself. So there’s this and there’s this, distinction between the, I have to try and get this right. There’s the I, which is like the inner ego, the inner self, and then there’s me, which is the the one who knows the self. So you have yourself that is yourself and you have the the self that knows you as well, and it’s about bringing those 2 halves together. And you come back to this underlying sense of self that is always there, this continuous line of consciousness stretching all the way back to your birth and it will stretch all the way forward into the future to the end. And it’s always there. This constant thread is always there.

Tom Albrighton [00:40:26]:

But in normal life you’re not really aware of it, you know, you’re all, like I say, you’re always thinking about other people, what what they might think, and this sense of self gets kind of lost and messed up. And it’s a chance to just get back in touch with that, talk things over with yourself, find out what you really think. You know, may maybe you just need to Think about this for a while to, you know, to really understand what you think about something. Your your first impression maybe was wrong. First impression of a person or a situation. You come back to that. You think it through again, and you start to understand your own thinking, your own opinions.

David Hall [00:41:02]:

Again, I really value solitude and giving myself a chance to recharge or to think, but Often, my mind might go other places, and I might not I might be trying to be in the moment And not very successful at it. So how can we practice mindfulness? What what have you learned where you could be more in the moment?

Tom Albrighton [00:41:27]:

Well, the the practice of mindfulness meditation is really just about being in the here and now. It’s just where you focus all your awareness on what’s happening right now. So you can do this in quite a formal way when you, you know, you can sit in a lotus position, and you can visit a meditation center or whatever it is, but you don’t have to do that. You can just sit there and just Focus your attention on your own breathing. Just feel it coming in and out and just notice what’s going on in the inner world and in the outer world. So you notice your own thoughts as they go by, and you notice the sights and sounds around you. But you try not to get caught up in them, so there’s no judgment. There’s no analysis.

Tom Albrighton [00:42:16]:

There’s no thinking. Well, there is thinking, you know, your thoughts happen. Your mind has thoughts, which is what it always does. But you don’t get caught up in those thoughts. You just let your thoughts pass away. And if you just do this for a few minutes, it just gives you this real feeling of being calm and centered, and you can carry that on into the rest of your day. And that’s something I think you really well, probably have to be alone to do that effectively, I would say.

David Hall [00:42:45]:

Yeah. For sure. Tom, we’ve talked about a lot of great things. This time is going by really fast. Is is there anything else about Solitude, the need for, or the benefits of it that you wanna talk about?

Tom Albrighton [00:43:00]:

I don’t think so. I think we’ve we’ve covered a lot of the stuff that, that I talk about in the book. So, no. I I think we’ve it’s been a really good talk, actually.

David Hall [00:43:11]:

And thank you. Definitely, It’s a need that’s not often understood, but it goes far beyond just the need to recharge. That’s definitely an important thing for us as introverts, but There’s so much more, you know, of just being able to think, being able to be creative, being able to to use our gifts. So, Tom, where can people go to find out more about your books and the work that you do?

Tom Albrighton [00:43:38]:

Well, all of my books are available on Amazon. That’s the main place to get them. I think you can get them in some bookshops, but, it’s all on Amazon. They’re in, ebook, and paperback as well, and some are in audio. I’m kind of drifting away from social media a bit these days. I’m not so big on Twitter as I used to be, but I do still occasionally tweet, and I am Tom Coppy, t o n c o p y. And I also post on LinkedIn on in with more of a more of a work flavor on there. So just search me on LinkedIn, and, yeah, I’ll be happy to connect.

David Hall [00:44:16]:

Alright. Sounds good. Thanks again, Tom. This has been a wonderful conversation.

Tom Albrighton [00:44:20]:

Thanks for having me. I really enjoyed it.

David Hall [00:44:24]:

Thank you so much for joining me. I look forward to further connecting with you. Reach out at david at quietandstrong.com Or check out the quiet and strong.com website, which includes blog posts, links to social media, and other items. Send me topics or guests you would like to see on the show. If you’re interested in getting to know yourself better, there’s now a free Typefinder personality assessment on the Quiet and Strong website. This free assessment will give you a brief report, including the 4 letter Myers Briggs code. I’ll add a link to the show notes. There’s so many great things about being an introvert, so we need those to be understood.

David Hall [00:45:02]:

Get to know your introverted strengths and needs and be strong.

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