Sometimes you need to pursue peace and quiet.

Peace and Quiet Is an Escape, but It Needs to Be a Pursuit, Too

The peace and quiet you need as an introvert sometimes materializes only as a quick, unplanned escape. Make sure it’s also an active pursuit in your life.

Often, right after our family has finished dinner and the kitchen cleanup has begun, the audio volume in our house seems to double.

I probably don’t have to tell you that kids are involved.

Kids are kids, of course, and especially when they are young and forced by ridiculously old-school parents to do actual chores, they—well, they often yell their conversations when merely talking to each other would do just fine.


You gotta be kidding—I have no idea.

Situational deafness?

I only know that:

  • When I was a kid, my siblings and I did it too (sorry, Mom and Dad).
  • The same is undoubtedly true in other families.
  • All I can think about when it happens now is getting away from it. Fast.

So I typically retreat to the bedroom for a bit of peace and quiet, closing the door 
behind me, perhaps working on a crossword puzzle, and hoping not to get caught.

Peace and Quiet as a BAND-AID

This is a form of alone time that is the equivalent of direct pressure on a wound to stop the bleeding: It’s helpful, and it’s important. But it’s not exactly satisfying.

And it certainly isn’t chosen.

Contrast that scenario with a very different form of alone time—the kind of alone time that revitalizes.

I just got back from a silent, 15-minute walk around the block. I was all by myself, cell phone left purposely at home.

This walk was a true walk—an easy stroll—and when I got to the final corner before turning back toward my house, my mind kept telling me “just keep going instead!”

But alas, there’s work to do.

So here I am.

Now, though, I sit here refreshed and renewed.

The headache I had before my walk is gone.

I’m thinking more clearly, despite my sleep being a little rough last night.

The words are flowing more freely from my fingers than they were just an hour ago.

Everything’s just … better.

Not merely stabilized.


The Power of Choice

Not all alone time is created equal, it turns out.

As Durham University researcher Thuy-vy Nguyen and her colleagues have found in studies 
they’ve conducted, a personality characteristic known as dispositional autonomy combines with introversion (and extroversion, for that matter) to determine how you feel about solitude and what you end up getting out of it.

Dispositional autonomy is a fancy name for believing you have a choice when it comes to managing your daily experiences.

“People with an autonomous personality [i.e., dispositional autonomy] feel that they have chosen to do what they’re doing, instead of seeing themselves as pawns at the mercy of the external environment,” Nguyen writes in her Aeon website article “Time Alone (Chosen or Not) Can Be a Chance to Hit the Reset Button.

Nguyen continues:

“[W]hen we created a manipulation in the lab where some people were forced into experiencing solitude (thus reducing their sense of autonomy) and others were invited to take interest in it and try it out (fostering their autonomy), those who were forced into solitude saw less value in experiencing it and, in turn, derived less enjoyment from it.”

Pursue Peace and Quiet

You won’t always be able to get chosen alone time, of course. Sometimes, living in the real world, you won’t be able to get alone time of any sort.

But you can work on building up your reserves.

So consciously pursue solitude whenever and wherever and however you can, even if it’s only for a few minutes at a time.

You’ll enjoy it so much more—and get far more out of it—when it’s a pursuit, not an escape.

2 replies
  1. S
    S says:

    I’m excited to find this blog site.
    Nine years ago I discovered the Highly Sensitive Person trait. I was 50. Up to that point I really thought there was something wrong with me.
    A couple years ago I realized I am an introvert. How wonderful to discover that being alone energizes me. Sad though that these differences weren’t taught in school or that my parents didn’t nurture my natural traits. Instead, I was forced to try to live in the non HSP extroverted world. Burnout after burnout.
    I love your phrasing of how peace and quiet need to be a pursuit for introverts. Wonderful. And I like the idea of building up my reserves.
    It’s December 24rth. I just spent 3 hours with extroverted people and I’m tired. Actually more than tired. I almost feel sick. I once read a quote about small talk being like sandpaper to the introvert. So true. And what’s worse is when there is no escape. On the drive home I asked to be dropped off at the corner. I walked 10 minutes in the winter air with almost a full moon above me. I could have walked longer.
    Due to health concerns, I might very well be retired now. However, I do wonder what kind of employment introverts can work in when we need a lot of alone time during the day.

    • Peter Vogt
      Peter Vogt says:

      Welcome, and thank you for your comments and kind words. I’m glad you found the blog!

      I’m also glad that, over the last few years, you’ve discovered (re-discovered?) introversion in your own life, and that you have found ways to take care of yourself so that you can be healthy and happy your own way. Getting dropped off so you could walk a bit, for example, was definitely an advanced introvert self-care move! 🙂 Well done.

      You asked about employment options for introverts. I obviously don’t know you, and even if I did I certainly couldn’t “tell” you anything in terms of a particular job/career path you could or should take.

      I can tell you these two things, though:

      1) Many introverts—especially in this relatively new age of working from home—are indeed doing work that allows them to not only protect their introverted psyches, but also allows them to leverage their many introverted strengths.

      2) Many introverts are also finding ways to adapt in their current workplace (i.e., the workplace with lots of people around) so that they can get at least some of the alone time (and other things) they need to do, be, and feel their best. You can almost certainly do the same, so that you would at least get a little bit more of what you need when you’re at work.

      Anyway … I’m glad you’re here! Please continue looking around and, especially, reading the blog posts, as there is other material here that I’m confident will be helpful to you.

      Take care!



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