If you consider yourself an extrovert, you may have realized that you have an “introvert” part of you that has enjoyed slowing down and having a lot of you-time the past few months while social distancing. Society wrongly assumes that introverts are shy, socially anxious or even unhappy. There is actually a ton of benefits to this personality type that we have not fully appreciated until recently — now that we are all forced to tap into our inner introvert.
Psychologist Carl Jung introduced the word “introvert” in 1921 to differentiate between people who feel more connected towards their inward thoughts, according to Promises Behavioral Health. Being introverted does not necessarily mean you avoid people, but you do enjoy time to yourself and operate best by deeply engaging with one or two other people at a time. Introverts do not need as much stimulation as an extrovert, they are great listeners and their social meter exists — it just runs out quickly.
Here, experts and self-identifying introverts explain what we can learn from this personality type.
You do not always have to share
Introverts do not need as much stimulation as an extrovert, they are great listeners and their social meter exists — it just runs out quickly.
“Sharing is caring” is a lesson our parents taught us on the playground, but as adults, caring for ourselves may mean protecting what is ours. This can mean everything from our finances to our time to our ideas at work, and so on. As an entrepreneur and self-identifying introvert, designer and speaker Eve Simon says learning when to say “no” can be just as powerful as saying “yes.” Especially as we develop relationships, careers and friendships, being able to identify what they want to share and more importantly, what they want to reserve for themselves, is a big lesson to learn — introverted or not. “Introverts love having their own space and time to do whatever recharges them,” she explains. “No matter if you share your life with a partner or a child or even a roommate, introverts know that it’s perfectly okay to take some time just for yourself.”
In fact, there is power found in protecting our energy, according to a hypnotherapist and certified holistic nutritionist, Julie Hefner. When we do what is best for our own mojo, we are able to return to our jobs, our relationships, our friendships and so on, without feeling drained. You will see the benefits of doing what you actually want, rather than what you think you need.
You can focus on yourself
Being quiet gives introverts time to process their thoughts and their emotions, without having to tune-in to someone else’s needs. Many people who associate with this personality find ways to express themselves through poetry, writing, painting, drawing or photography. Extroverted folks tend to always be out in the world, feeding off of other people’s vibes, discovering ways to hone their own thoughts and ideas can help build focus and calm. So. finding ways to exude energy through these mediums can be a helpful, meditative practice, Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D., shares.
You can learn a lot from listening, rather than speaking
If you have a best friend who is an introvert, you know what wonderful listeners they are. Even though they still may have a lot to say, they enjoy listening to what others have to say, without chiming in every few seconds with their opinion. They also will not be the ones to cut you off mid-sentence, just to share their two cents. Simon says this is because introverts pay attention and their natural, innate empathy allows them to be supportive without being pushy. Even if you are a mega-extrovert who is happy being loud, outspoken, passionate and excitable, Simon encourages the practice of learning how to listen. This includes biting your tongue until the person you are chatting with finishes what they are saying, as well as removing all distractions (aka, our phones) when we are in conversation, to truly digest the dialogue.
Another perk? Tessina says the act of observing also gives us the opportunity to see ourselves in others. And to identify areas where we could improve as humans, friends and partners. “Because introverts don’t spend as much time interacting, they can spend more time and energy observing themselves and others,” she explains. “When anyone takes more time to listen than to speak, they can achieve a great understanding of their feelings and motivation.”
You can define ‘alone time’ however you like
One of the biggest misconceptions about introverts, according to Tessina, is that they want to be alone 24/7. Though sure, having solo space is essential to their overall happiness, she also notes this does not have to take place in a dark room, void of any light, color or sound. Rather, introverts can also feel their best when with one person, or two people, who they enjoy spending time with, and who understand their needs. Or, they may only need to disconnect for a single after-work evening, rather than all weeknights, as some people believe. The point is alone time can be defined in whatever parameter works for you and introverts have learned this through trial and error. Giving ourselves permission to determine what benefits us most will help us be happier and perform at our highest level.
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