Audrey Schenewerk, ND
Do you feel more sensitive or reactive to your environment? Does this sensitivity sometimes wear you out? Are you asking yourself, “what’s wrong with me, I should want to spend hours with this group of really fun people.” Perhaps, you would prefer to go home, read a book, or watch a movie. These are characteristics of a perfectly normal, though minority, personality called introversion. Our society is geared for the extrovert and encouraged to achieve success.
Carl Jung, the Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist, explored the differences between introverts and extroverts in his book Psychological Types. Explaining that extroverts dive into the external world of people and activities, while introverts are drawn to thoughts, feelings and the meaning of their actions. He also explored what will recharge these two different groups, finding extroverts will engage in social opportunities when they are feeling a decline in energy while an introvert will seek time alone. An introvert’s desire for restoration in a quiet and possibly solitary environment does not mean this person disregards other people or has social anxiety, rather they are likely sensitive to their environmental triggers. Jung’s work led to the popular Myers-Briggs personality test, which is used in many universities to guide students in finding a profession and in companies to gain success.
Society is telling us that loud, charismatic or assertive people are successful. In fact, there are many empowering training programs to make you a successful person by developing these characteristics. This is not true for everyone. Historically, we have introverts who have made enormous impacts on society, including Rosa Parks, Abraham Lincoln, Steve Wozniak, Eleanor Roosevelt, Dr. Seuss, and the list goes on. These people made quiet discoveries or caused change that influence our daily lives.
How can you tell if you are an introvert? You can take Myers-Briggs personality test, or consider whether you have many characteristics listed below:
- Prefer working alone, uninterrupted
- Think before you speak, and often do not get a turn in conversation
- Close people may find you to be a good listener
- Prefer a deep conversation with 1-2 people rather than small talk with many
- Think about ideas and goals rather than discussing and planning them with others
- Feel drained by social interactions, even if the events were fun
- Dislike conflict and prefer to resolve problems calmly
If you want to explore more about how your shyness, or sensitivity may be beneficial, and how these traits may help you enjoy life and be successful, consider reading the book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain. As a self-proclaimed introvert, the author explores our extroverted society and where the introvert can grow, share their strengths and care for themselves while making a quiet but significant impact on society.
As naturopathic physicians, we appreciate this acknowledgement to our diversity in strengths and preferences. We find that incorporating this into individualized care can support mental/emotional and physical health, while empowering your life.