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Restorative Niches

Updated: Oct 9, 2021

August 19, 2012. Written by Leila Ruth Novales.


Quiet.  The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

Quietby Susan Cain.  I’m currently reading this book, and it interests me a lot.  It explores the differences between introverts and extroverts and explores deeper into these two personality types and how to best function if you’re an introvert or an extrovert.  It has shed a lot of light on why I behave and feel the way I do.  As you can probably guess, I consider myself an introvert.  This book has helped me understand myself better and accept and appreciate myself even more.

There are a lot of insights that struck me culled from research and scientific tests and studies done over the years on personality psychology.  One I’d like to share with you is the following:

Restorative Niches

I’m sure this is not new to many of you.  We all need time out, from the world, every now and then.  Some time to be alone and to hear ourselves think. To feel ourselves breathe. To feel that we are alive and not just moving from one activity and event after another at a frenetic pace.  This is especially important for introverts who tend to be overwhelmed by stimulation and can feel drained of energy from social events. Some introverts who are successful and seem socially at ease with crowds and public speaking often cope by having restorative niches.

The book talks about a highly popular university professor and lecturer whose classes are always full, with waiting lists, and whose lectures and seminars are jam-packed.  The hallway of his office is always lined with students waiting to consult with him.  This professor is an avowed introvert and he spends the time before his speeches and lectures in a bathroom stall, where he is able to find time alone, reflect and energize for his upcoming talk.  When he was invited to do a series of lectures in a university overseas, he was asked to spend lunches with high-ranking people just before his lectures.  He was dismayed and to get out of the situation and be able to have his restorative niche, he asked if he could be excused from the lunches as he was an avid admirer of ship design and would like to take the opportunity of his visit to “admire the boats passing by on the Richielieu River.”  This allowed him to spend his lunch hour strolling up and down the river pathway and have his much needed time alone to recharge.

According to this professor, “Restorative niche” is a ““term for the places you go when you want to return to your true self.  It can be a physical place, like the path beside the Richelieu river, or a temporal one, like the quiet breaks you plan between sales calls. It can mean canceling your social plans on the weekend before a big meeting at work, practicing yoga or meditation, or choosing email over an in-person meeting.”

 Next time, I’ll share with you a key idea on how introverts are able to cope and become successful in highly social (and for introverts, this can equate to stressful) environments.



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