One of the most profound things I’ve learned about myself and my personality is that I am quite clearly on the introvert side of the introvert/extrovert continuum. What does that mean? Well, introverts:
- Need time alone in order to relax and recharge
- Tend to consider only deeper relationships as friendships
- Generally listen more than talk, although may talk a lot about ideas of importance to them
- Like to think before they speak or act
- Are quietly introspective and oriented more to the inner world of ideas and emotions than the outer world of people and activity
To be honest I used to think there was something wrong with me because I felt uncomfortable a lot of the time but didn’t know why, since generally our society is geared toward supporting extroverted traits. (Everyone loves a party, right? Um, me, not so much).
Turns out I’m more like a rechargeable battery than a solar panel. Marti Olsen Laney, Psy.D., uses this analogy in her book “The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World” to describe the difference between introverts and extroverts. Extroverts are like solar panels, they need to be out in the sun to gain energy, which for them is being around people and stimulation. Introverts are like rechargeable batteries, in order to recharge they need to stop expending energy and rest, away from action and people.
Of course no one is all one or the other and many people are fairly balanced between introvert and extrovert traits. But it’s interesting to consider. Just knowing that there are these different styles of being in the world can shed some light on why we behave the way we do AND maybe help us to be more understanding of traits in others that we find frustrating. For example, introverts think extroverts talk too much, and extroverts think introverts are too secretive and quiet.
“The Introvert Advantage” that I mentioned is a great book for both introverts and extroverts to read in order to understand this trait more fully. And if you’re really keen you can go online and do the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (for a fee), www.myersbriggs.org which is a personality assessment that will provide you with other info about yourself besides where you fall on the introvert/extrovert continuum. I know, don’t push it with the self-awareness. I can’t help it, I’m a therapist!
Here’s to honoring how we all show up in the world in our own unique way.