All signs point to a social revolution in health. As I’ve put it, the internet gives us access not only to information, but also to each other. Crucial advice can come from a just-in-time someone-like-you as well as from a clinician.
So what happens to people who are shy or introverted? If sharing and learning from others is a key to health, how might we support those who do not easily participate in social settings, on or offline?
A friend wrote to me this week and gave me permission to share his question here:
While putting a ton of energy into helping guide my dad’s care — he’s not doing terribly, but aging incredibly quickly — I’ve learned I’m unable to be there for my mom as much as I’d like. I’m probably the one person in the world she can most talk to, but I don’t have the strength to also help her with the process of letting go of the idea that we can’t fix him.
She is yet another caregiver who doesn’t have the support she needs.
She’s also very private. She has very few friends she’s really open with and would never consider being in an online community.
What to do?
I wrote back:
I’ve been meditating on a related topic for a few weeks: how do shy, introverted, private people solve the problems in their lives? What can I learn from them? How can I walk in their shoes and understand how to serve them, as well as the extroverted?
Because although your mom may have heard about and even believe in the good of support groups, on or offline, she may not be able to see herself in that story. She may some day, but for now, it’s not an option she sees or seeks.
Do you think it would be useful to ask her: When she solved problems or overcame adversity in life before, what resources did she use? Did she talk with a faith leader, read books, talk with your dad, talk with you, seek expert advice in person or on the phone, share the issue with one trusted friend? See if you can guide her to seeing other resources in her life that she can tap into besides you.
What else can we offer as advice to my friend — and to our industry?