In today’s post, we talk about what introversion is, the unique challenges you may face as an introvert, and inquiries to consider when thinking about how you feel as an introvert.
Note: If you don’t identify as an introvert but possibly know one (maybe your spouse, child, someone you supervise at work), this article may prove valuable to you, too!
So whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, keep reading.
What is an introvert?
Introversion is a core personality trait that, along with extraversion, exists on a spectrum within each of us.
Those of us who fall more heavily on the introverted side of the spectrum tend to have an inner-focused orientation to life while extroverts tend to have a more outer-world focused orientation.
Generally speaking, those of us who self-identify as introverts at one point or another are:
- Usually concerned with and deeply reflective of the richness of our inner mental and emotional worlds;
- We get more energized by time spent alone versus in crowds or with others;
- We may prefer to have a smaller group of very close friends over a larger group of acquaintances;
- We can be very self-aware;
- Networking, small-talk, and meeting new people at parties/events can feel very challenging to us;
- And too much stimulation may overwhelm us and make us feel crabby, tired, scattered, and prompt us to “shut down.”
Of course, these are only a few of the characteristics of introverts and, like with everything else in life, how introversion shows up in you personally will be subjective.
Just because you don’t identify with the above short-list of criterion doesn’t mean that you’re not introverted.
Unique Challenges of an Introvert
Accepting your inherent introversion can be helpful as it allows you to understand that you may have unique challenges and needs that your more extroverted counterparts do not have in navigating the modern workplace, home environments, and relationships.
The majority of those who identify as introverts may also have what’s known as sensory processing sensitivity (not to be confused with sensory processing disorder), which, in essence, is a high or hyper-degree of sensitivity to external stimuli, a greater depth of cognitive processing than our non-introverted counterparts, and higher than average emotional reactivity.
Not all introverts will possess sensory processing sensitivity, but those of us that do may struggle in the modern workplace, school, at home, or in general social settings given the inherent amount of external stimuli in those environments.
For example, in a typical workspace, there will be bright lights and sounds, groups if not crowds of people to engage with, more opportunities for external interruptions (colleagues stopping by desks, etc), few or no private rooms in which you can control the environment, etc..
At home, particularly if you have family members or roommates who are more extroverted, you may struggle setting boundaries with them when you need space and they want to socialize, or have people over, or play music or TV loudly.
All of this can contribute to stimulating or over-stimulating an introvert.
If you struggle with identifying what you need and want and, moreover, feel challenged by advocating for your needs and setting appropriate boundaries, you may want to do some self-reflection and get support around this.
How does it make you feel to identify as an introvert?
Like so many of us who are naturally introverted, you may have had (or still have) some shame and resistance around identifying as an introvert. Use these questions to think about how you feel as an introvert.
- Do you feel any sense of shame or resistance to identifying as introverted? Why is this?
- What messages did you receive about wanting to spend time alone or not wanting to participate in groups when you were younger?
- Was your natural introversion perhaps mistaken for shyness, or being anti-social or distant and aloof?
- Did those messages stay with you as you entered college and the workplace?
- Did you often feel other or different and not fully understand why?
- Do you only see the traits of introversion as negatives? Can you list out some gifts and advantages that come along with being introverted?
- Today, do you allow yourself to embrace and claim your introversion? Supporting yourself with good boundaries and those who see and accept this part of you?
Asking these questions is essential. Uncovering and healing any shame or resistance to who we naturally are can only be helpful for our overall well-being and mental health.
We hope you found today’s article helpful, normalizing, and maybe even a little inspiring if you identify as an introvert.
Remember: introversion is a beautiful, wonderful, perfectly normal behavioral personality trait.
Please feel free to reach out to us to set up a complimentary consult call so we can match you with the best therapist for your situation. We’re here for you.