When you think of introverts do the labels shy, stuck-up, aloof, boring and antisocial come to mind? If you are an introvert does hearing these descriptions make you feel misjudged and misunderstood? As an introvert who has struggled greatly with these societal stigmas over the years, I felt compelled to write this article to bring some understanding and awareness to this personality type.
On a mainstream level, introversion is usually linked with a lack of social skills or social enjoyment. All of the above notions are completely false and misguided and can feel completely unfair to an Introvert!
What does being an Introvert really mean?
Introverts are just wired differently than extroverts and have different traits and needs. That’s all. Yes, there are other characteristics such as shyness, social anxiety and high sensitivity which can also be experienced by an introverted person, however that is a much lengthier and separate topic!
I love the straightforward definition by Laurie Helgoe, PhD, in her book “Introvert Power”.
She states: “Introversion is an inward orientation to life, and extroversion is an outward orientation. Introverts prefer introversion; we tend to gain energy by reflecting and expend energy when interacting. Extroverts have the opposite preference; they tend to gain energy by interacting and expend energy while reflecting”.
How does that definition translate into everyday life for an introvert?
Well solitude is a big deal for us introverts. Inner reflection is our energy source. Introverts look within for answers, we are primarily oriented towards our inner world. Introverts are energized and excited by ideas and love meaningful conversations with a few close people or those whom we feel a deep connection.
Introversion also involves a preference for environments that are not overly stimulating.
We need time to be by ourselves – to recharge our internal batteries and regain our sense of centre. This can be seriously difficult and draining at times for so many reasons (family and friends who just don’t get us, a widespread culture that favours extroversion, the everyday demands of work and family life). Facing these misconceptions from those who don’t understanding the introvert personality type can be depleting and exhausting for our sensitive souls and over time they may wear us down.
It’s not about other people. It’s about the solitude we need to replenish our sensitive souls so we can show up as our best selves for ourselves, our families, our work and the community.
With some insight and education over the years, below are the lessons I have found most helpful:
Tips for Introverts:
Be unapologetic about your need for solitude. Those who love and respect you will understand. Communicate openly with your spouse, children and close relationships and compromise! Drive to events separately, plan ahead, be open and discuss options – there are always so many available when we open ourselves up!
As Anais Nin so eloquently stated “Our culture made a virtue of living only as extroverts. We discouraged the inner journey, the quest for a centre. So we lost our center and have to find it again”.
Tips for Non-Introverts who want to better understand the Introverts in their lives:
We are all wired differently. Instead of perceiving an introvert’s decisions with judgement and criticism be open to the fact that we all have different levels of energy and different internal compasses. Do not scold or embarrass your introvert in public.
I hope the above tips are helpful! Remember, the key for introverts and extroverts to have magnificent relationships and family lives is for each of us to honor each other and the differences between us.
- Irene Rizzo
Irene Rizzo is a mom and wife, employed in the insurance industry as a claims adjuster. Her passions include reading, writing, yoga and volunteering with Big Sisters of York Region. She considers herself a lifelong learner and dedicated student of spirituality, personal and professional development. Irene lives in Ontario, Canada
You can find her with her IG: @irenelizrizzo
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