A lot of people chock all the stuff about extroversion and introversion up to a bunch of pseudo-science.
I think that’s not very fair because extroversion and introversion is real. It’s part of everyone.
It affects the way we are able to connect with people – romantically or otherwise. The way we behave, the way we conduct ourselves. Or our inclinations towards certain careers or roles.
It determines how we are in relationships, the type of people we are likely to have successful relationships with and so on.
So here are 8 facts about Introverts that will hopefully shed some light on this personality type.
1. Exhaustion after social interactions does not make you an Introvert.
There is a common misconception that you probably have.
If you are exhausted and need time to recharge after a social interaction even if you enjoyed yourself, it must mean you are an introvert.
This isn’t true though.
According to a new study, it is normal for everyone to need time to recharge after a social interaction. By putting yourself in a social situation, you are consciously engaging all parts of yourself.
It’s like exercising. After engaging your muscles in a workout, you feel tired/sore and need to rest and recover.
Same thing applies to a social situation.
You are engaging your mental, emotional and even physical muscles (oh, those smiles!), so it is natural for everyone, regardless of whether an introvert or not, to feel tired and need some time to recharge.
2. Introverts have a tendency to be social.
Introverts are not hermits. They don’t just like to stay at home and burrow away from people all the time.
This is another misconception about introverts. Introverts also like to socialise and be around their friends and family.
The difference, however, is that introverts are not really motivated to obtain the reward of social attention.
Wow Rachael, those are some big words you’re using there…
Let me break it down for you! According to some studies, introverts don’t really thrive when they are in the centre of attention in a social situation.
Because they don’t need that validation. They don’t even really enjoy being the centre of attention that much.
Extroverts, on the other hand, thrive on obtaining social attention. It is enjoyable to them, and if they don’t get it, they may even consider it a failed attempt at socialising.
They actually enjoy being the life of the party and feel very good when they obtain that attention. They thrive and get their energy from it.
3. There are 4 types of Introverts.
Yep, there is no longer just a ‘you either are an introvert or you’re not‘. Think of extraversion and introversion as a spectrum.
In certain situations we can lean towards the more extroverted part of the spectrum. In other situations we can lean towards the more introverted part.
So what are the four types of introverts?
These are people that rather not put themselves in social situations unnecessarily, or those that prefer socialising in small groups. But this preference for solitude or socialising in small groups isn’t driven by anxiety or shyness. It’s just a preference. Like how some people prefer apples to oranges. Ya feel?
This is a relatively new concept. Thinking introverts are just people who are very introspective, thoughtful and self-reflective (not in a narcissistic way). They love getting lost in their own internal fantasy world which is fuelled by creativity and imagination.
Anxious introverts are people who feel too awkward or self-conscious to be in social situations. They lack confidence. This is not an anxiety that fades when they are alone, though. They think about things that could potentially go wrong or that may have gone wrong over and over when they are alone.
This is basically people who prefer to think things over before they do something or say something. They also move at a much slower pace and can’t just simply wake up from bed and get going. They need time to properly wake up and warm up before they can ‘get going’.
4. Introverts use a different side of their nervous system.
Introverts use the parasympathetic side of their nervous system. Extroverts use the sympathetic side.
Know how we talked about the 4 different types of introversion? Well, this means that in the areas you are more introverted in, you will be using the parasympathetic side of your nervous system.
This is the side of the nervous system that prefers rest, relaxation and/or contemplation.
The sympathetic side is basically just a full throttle, ‘go, go, go‘ kind of area.
One side is not better than the other, btw. It’s just how we experience the world. In certain parts of our life we experience life full throttle. In other parts, we are more subdued.
It differs person to person and shapes our individuality, which is why everyone you come across is just uniquely and amazingly them.
5. Introverts and romantic relationships.
Please don’t listen when people say introverts attract extroverts or introverts can only be with other introverts and so on.
All that is kinda false.
People spend so long wondering if they are an introvert or an extrovert and then spend even more time wondering who they should be with.
Truthfully? You should be with whoever it is you choose to be with. It’s that simple.
If you are an introvert in a relationship with an extrovert, just know that this person will push you outside your comfort zone to socialise more.
You’ll find yourself doing more things and even experiencing more conflict, as extroverts don’t tend to shy away from conflict.
You will also find yourself having to speak up to get your alone time and space in whatever area of your life you require it.
But it will be a very complementary relationship. Yin and Yang, you know?
If you are an introvert in a relationship with another introvert, you’ll likely have a person who gets how you are without having to be told.
But it is also likely that you wouldn’t do much and you wouldn’t explore many things outside your comfort zones.
It can also be likely that too much of personal independence and space could cause some trouble in maintaining the romantic connection.
So again, it is not that one combination is better than the other. It’s just what you want and what you prefer. Apples and oranges again.
6. Introverts need more alone time.
Yes, this one is actually true and it is linked to how introverts use the parasympathetic side of their nervous system.
Introverts really do need more alone time.
You know how everyone has those pleasure centres in their brains?
It’s like how typically when you eat chocolate or whatever food it is that you love, and suddenly there is a rush of dopamine to your brain and you feel so happy.
Extroverts thrive on that dopamine rush. That chemical is what makes them feel good. It is what gives them pleasure. Dopamine stimulates the feeling of pleasure in an extrovert.
Introverts also do feel excitement from the release of dopamine, but it is accompanied by feelings of being completely overwhelmed, which takes away from the pleasurable aspect of that chemical extroverts tend to thrive on.
Essentially, for introverts it is a bit different. They thrive on the pleasure from a different chemical known as acetylcholine.
This is a chemical that is released when we look and turn inward. It powers our abilities to think deeply, reflect, and focus intensely. When an introvert does this and the chemical is released in the body, they get pleasure from it.
It makes them feel really good. As good as how the release of dopamine feels to an extrovert.
Basically, acetylcholine stimulates the feeling of pleasure in introverts!
7. Introverts cannot become extroverts.
If your child exhibits signs of introversion and you think you can do this or that to change their behaviour so that they will become extroverts, you can’t.
Same thing if you are an introverted adult and you want to become an extrovert for whatever reason. You really can’t.
This is because being an introvert or an extrovert is based on your DNA and you can’t change your DNA (yet).
This is linked again to the point above. It is in your DNA to receive pleasure from the chemical dopamine, or the chemical acetylcholine. You can’t choose this, just like you can’t choose the colour of your skin.
It’s something you are born with. Introverts can always learn to have better social skills, of course, and to manage things like social anxiety, or make the effort to not be a hermit.
But they will always be introverts because their pleasure will largely be stimulated by acetylcholine.
Parents can encourage their children to just be who they are instead, and teach them good social skills. But please don’t force your child to be something they are genetically incapable of being!
Also, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being an introvert. They’re awesome!
8. Introverts are more cautious. They take more calculated risks.
If you are in a relationship with an introvert and find yourself taking a longer time to hit relationship milestones, don’t worry. It’s not that don’t love or care about you.
According to research done by An Katrien Sodermans, it’s likely so because introverts have a tendency to really look before they leap.
They don’t make decisions lightly, especially life-changing ones. They don’t make hasty or rushed decisions, meaning that they tend to make better decisions.
They turn things over within themselves a million times before moving forward, to ensure that they are minimising risk and maximising reward.
You should maybe even be ten times happier when an introvert chooses to move forward with you – they are saying hey, I’ve thought about this like…a bazillion times and you are worth all the risk!
How romantic, eh?
This trait also makes them really valuable in the workplace, as they are able to give quite thorough risk-assessments, and inform on what risks are worth taking and what really aren’t.
And that’s a big asset in this day and age if you’re asking me.
So now that you have some insight on what it means to be an introvert, hopefully it removes any kind of negative stigma and stereotype you may have about the personality type.
And remember, as cheesy as it sounds, whether you are an extrovert or an introvert, you are awesome just as you are and there is no need at all for you to change (not that it’s even possible to change that, according to science).
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