We all know someone in our respective circles who would prefer a quiet weekend reading books, someone who often makes an excuse when asked to join an office party, someone who seems to have ideas but isn’t necessarily the one who speaks the loudest in a brain storming session. We often call them the “serious types”, the loner or even a snob. They are the introverts amongst us. And believe me, most of them are used to being misunderstood, misinterpreted and probably have been asked to change their behavior since an early age.
Our school system favors and promotes extroversion making introversion seem like a personality flaw. Extroversion becomes the standard that all of us feel we need to conform to. To put things into perspective, until recently left handedness was also frowned upon, and left handed kids were forced to become right handed (sounds weird now)! Our prejudice comes from our ignorance about human behavior and our inability to accept the diversity in behavioral pattern.
Our prejudice comes from our ignorance about human behavior and our inability to accept the diversity in behavioral pattern.
It becomes important to understand where we fall on the introvert-extrovert spectrum – because introversion and extroversion are at the heart of human nature. When we make life choices that are congruent with our temperament, we unleash vast stores of energy. With a misunderstanding about introversion and the social conditioning of extroversion being a desirable behavioral trait, most introverts end up spending their life emulating extroverts to fit in. The stress of not being “true to yourself” results in a feeling of void.
“Isn’t it refreshing to know that what comes perfectly natural for you is your greatest strength? Your power is in your nature. – Laurie A. Helgoe,
Neither is introversion shyness nor are introverts anti-social or arrogant people. Shyness is the fear of negative judgment, while introversion is simply the preference for less stimulation. Famous personalities like Albert Einstein, Mahatma Gandhi, Warren Buffett, JK Rowling, Steven Spielberg, Elon Musk, Emma Watson and Mark Zuckerberg are all introverts. It just proves that – you don’t have to be the loudest personality in the room to be at the top of your game.
Carl Jung brought the terms `intro vert’ and `ex trovert’ into the spotlight in the 1920s. He defined an introvert as a person who gets his energy from within. An extrovert, however, is charged due to external stimuli. So while introverts need solitude to think things through, extroverts are stimulated by activities, people and places around them. As per Jung’s clinical studies, there are no pure extroverts or introverts – most people fall in different ranges of the spectrum.
Recent scientific research have found that the brains of introverts and extroverts are activated differently. Extroverts are less sensitive to dopamine, so they need more of it to feel happy. While introverts are more sensitive to dopamine, so too much of it makes them feel overstimulated. Also, the Introverts prefer to use a different neurotransmitter called acetylcholine. Like dopamine, acetylcholine is also linked to pleasure; the difference is, acetylcholine makes us feel good when we turn inward.
Introverts & Relationships
One of the gifts of introversion is that we have to be discriminating about our relationships. We know we only have so much energy for reaching out; if we’re going to invest, we want it to be good.
~ Laurie Helgoe, Introvert Power
It’s a misconception that introverts are not interested in people or relationships. The truth is they actually crave intimacy more than extroverts do. They are built for deep connections. They usually avoid small talk. They love to share emotions, feelings and ideas.
Does an introvert – extrovert relationship work? Yes, it can. An introvert – extrovert combination can be a complimentary relationship as long as the extroverted partner understands the introverted partner’s need for recharging and downtime and the introvert partner respects the extrovert partner’s need for significant social interaction.
Relationships make everyone happier and that very much includes the introverts too.
Here is a TED talk from Susan Cain who is the author of the book QUIET: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. She is also the co-founder of Quiet Revolution, which empowers introverts for the benefit of everyone.