Being an Introvert – Understand Your Introvert Personality Type in an Extrovert World
What do you think of when you hear “introvert”? Some people define introverts as loners, anti-social, party poopers, nerds, withdrawn, hermits, shy, unfriendly, and poor with social skills. These definitions are probably similar to your vision of an extreme introvert, but are fallacies.
Inaccuracies make being an introvert more of a pain than it already is to attend parties, network at events, and socialize anywhere. Introverts must understand the truth about their personality type to maximize their career, build a fun social life, do well in dating, and enjoy happy relationships.
What is an Introvert?
On the playground, children compare their belly buttons with one another. If you had an outtie, you were laughed at and probably labeled “weird”. If you had an innie, you were considered a part of the group.
The feelings of belly buttons in the playground are reversed for the extroverted and introverted personality types. Innies (introverts) are considered weird while outties (extroverts) are normal. This perception of introversion and extroversion flow from misinterpreting their original definitions, making it scary to be an introvert.
Carl Jung brought the “introversion” and “extroversion” terms into our language. Jung’s definition of an introvert is “the state of or tendency toward being wholly or predominantly concerned with and interested in one’s own mental life.” He defined an extrovert, which some people refer to as an “extravert”, as “the act, state, or habit of being predominantly concerned with and obtaining gratification from what is outside the self.” These definitions when misinterpreted confirm most people’s idea of introverts being self-centered anti-social beings while extroverts happily socialize and enjoy relationships.
Introverts are not narcissistic persons. Just as introverts are not necessarily self-centered, extroversion is not synonymous with popularity and compassion for others.
The correct definition Jung gave introversion and extroversion is the direction of psychic energy. Psychic energy is hard to conceptualize, measure, and even describe. This makes some modern psychologists disagree with the concept. I like to think of it as a life force exchanged with the world.
The flow of psychic energy describes where your energy tends to reside when you think and socialize. If you have an inward flow of psychic energy, your energy builds from solitude making you an introvert. You get energized from reading, listening to music, and being alone.
If you have an outward flow of psychic energy, your energy builds from interactions with people making you an extrovert. Extroverts need to be around people otherwise they feel drained.
Lets look into this further. The knowledge in this article has given me (an introvert) freedom and acceptance that nothing is inherently wrong with me. The more I understand myself, the more acceptance, self-love, and compassion I have for who I am. This self-love allows me to make great friends.
Introversion and Extroversion Model
If you have an inward flow of psychic energy, your energy builds from solitude making you an introvert.
Since Jung, the Myer-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) test is famous for its accuracy at defining people’s personality type. Introversion and extroversion is one of four dichotomies in a MBTI test, but by itself provides insight into your way of feeling and behaving. Knowing the signs of an introvert is a great way to understand this personality type.
You may occasionally have the opposite personality type surface from your behavior. For example, if you are an introvert, sometimes you find yourself excited and energized talking to people. Similarly, extroverts need moments of silence in solitude. Rare persons have the “pure personality type” of extreme introversion or extroversion.
Jung said the degree of introversion and extroversion varies along a continuum. We exist between the two extremes. It’s common as we age to move towards the center of introversion and extroversion by losing the introverted or extroverted characteristics once embodied.
The Challenge of Being an Introvert
According to introvert expert Marti Laney, an innie herself and author of The Introvert Advantage, we live in an extrovert world. Lang says about 75% of people are extroverts, leaving 25% to be introverts.
Signs of an Introvert
The introvert personality no longer has to be a mystery! Introverts are predisposed to:
- Keep quiet in groups
- Concentrate well
- Take time to say what’s on one’s mind
- Relate to others through one’s experiences
- Be misunderstood by strangers
- Have a public and private self
- Reassess initial plans
Interestingly, introverts may organize their desk and workspace to discourage coworkers and bypassers from stopping says Sam Gosling, author of Snoop. Gosling says extroverts like to make candy available, leave their doors open, and decorate their workspace to encourage attention and interaction.
I’ve created a personality test to see if you’re an introvert or extrovert. Do it and have some fun while you’re at it!
Like Laney, I’m an introvert! ToP subscribers are surprised to hear I’m introverted. They envision a communication skills coach as someone with wit, who loves to talk with people, and who is dominant in conversations. I have some of these characteristics, but I’m absolutely an innie. I think that’s why a lot of shy people love connecting with me.
From my experiences, I have wondered why introversion makes life and socializing feel like an uphill battle. The general perception of introversion is bad for several reasons – some of which were revealed earlier.
Extroverts are put on holy ground reigning over introverts. Extroverts enjoy themselves in conversations, move forward in their careers, give the best presentations, persuade people to buy, and win dates. What about introverts? They are labeled as anti-social nerds that cannot converse with people because they have no social skills. Both beliefs are myths.
If introversion is generally frowned upon, it makes sense then to try be an extrovert. Can such personality transform occur?
You cannot transform yourself from one personality type to the other contrary to common lies told by self-help gurus. I’m not saying introverts are forever stuck with a suck social life. I’ve found you can change from an introvert to an extrovert in the sense that you can become more social. You don’t really change from an introvert to an extrovert – you embody the characteristics often associated with extroversion.
You may mistake introversion for shyness or suffering from social anxiety. Such qualities and experiences have nothing to do with an introverted personality. I suggest you do this shyness test to help understand the side of shyness. Introverts are often uncomfortable meeting people because their personality pushes them away from socializing. Anyone becomes anxious without experience and practice.
Breakthrough Brain Battle: Introverts Versus Extroverts
Nerds in lab coats can see if you’re introverted or extroverted by injecting radioactive material into your body then looking at how your brain functions. You will not turn into Radioactive Man from the Simpsons, but the findings will help you appreciate how you socialize and feel about yourself.
In a popular study by Dr. Debra Johnson, positron emission tomography was used to look at the blood flow of extroverts and introverts after participants completed a personality test. The medical technique involves injecting patients with a small amount of radioactive material into their bloodstream before a brain scan to see the brain’s activity. Red indicates high blood flow and intense activity.
The first significant finding Dr. Johnson discovered was that introverts had more blood flow in the brain. Their brains were stimulated more than extroverts. Secondly – and more importantly in understanding the difference between introversion and extroversion – Dr. Johnson discovered that introverts had intense blood flow through brain regions responsible for memory, planning, and problem solving.
Introverts had intense blood flow through brain regions responsible for memory, planning, and problem solving.
Extroverts on the other hand had intense activities in faster regions of the brain where sensory information of sights, sounds, touch, and taste (not smell) is processed. This meant extroverts were soaking in the visuals of the scanning machines, voices of the researchers, and feelings of the surface they lay on. Fascinating!
Dr. Johnson had extended on Jung’s definition of extroversion and introversion. She concluded based on blood flow in the brain that introverts revel in their inner world while extroverts direct their focus on the outer world.
Benefits of Being an Introvert
Up to this point, you can now appreciate your personality type. This by itself helps you thrive in an extrovert world. You come to see where your strengths and weaknesses dwell.
Keep in mind that because we are blended with introverted and extroverted characteristics, you are not excluded from the benefits and downfalls of either personality type. There are further situations, careers, and skills each personality type is strong in due to the qualities in introversion and extroversion.
Extroverts thrive in situations and careers like emergency services, mediators, stockbrokers, and pilots that require quick responses. They love logical analysis for quick decisive action. They also have a curiosity for exploration and creation, which leads them to a career in science, marketing, investigation, acting, and entrepreneurship. Famous extroverted leaders are Bill Clinton, Muhammad Ali, and Steve Jobs.
An extroverted person tends to focus on the present moment. These people prefer to be around others instead of reading, sitting at a computer, or doing some other social activity.
Introverts on the other hand, thrive in unique situations on their own. They are reliable experts at assimilating information by gathering complex information and filtering it through their experiences and knowledge. Introverts may love a career as an accountant, engineer, computer programmer, or counselor. Famous introverted leaders are Albert Einstein, Warren Buffett, and Mahatma Gandhi.
An introvert generally has trouble meeting and talking with strangers, but they are good at building deep connections with people by listening, understanding, and appearing calm. Their ability to listen and understand with calmness makes them good writers and psychologists.
If an introvert learns to meet and talk with people, he or she may find the later stage of the relationship easy to maintain. People conversing with introverts feel surprised and intimate to discover a personal self hidden from others.
There’s a lot to love about your personality.
Your personality does not have to be the sole determinant of success and happiness. Michelle Pfeiffer, Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep, Steve Martin, and Clint Eastwood are a few famous introverts in an extroverted industry. I know many successful communication trainers like myself who confidently socialize and enjoy life with an introvert personality.
There’s a lot to love about your personality – stop being ashamed of it. Whether you are an introvert or extrovert, you can build friends, influence people, and live a life you enjoy. No matter your personality, it’s up to you to build the skills that give you the life you want.
(I developed the Big Talk Training Course to help the shyest introvert socialize and talk with anyone. What makes this course even better for introverts is I’m an introvert and know what’s it like to suffer at social events not knowing what to say. I recommend you check out the course if you’re frustrated with your social life, have few friends, and don’t know how to talk with people by by clicking here.)
Joshua Uebergang aka "Tower of Power"
Joshua Uebergang, aka "Tower of Power", teaches social skills to help shy guys build friends and influence people. Visit his blog and sign-up free to get communication techniques, relationship-boosting strategies, and life-building tips by email, along with blog updates, and more! Go now to http://www.towerofpower.com.au/free/