(Sent this as a message by mistake. Sorry about that!)
I was talking to a friend yesterday about this. Her husband is also an introvert and lives in his head like you'd expect. He is an artist, he is helping set up a museum, he works in a political capacity so he must be abreast of news, and that's what he spends his time on. When dealing with the kids he is extremely abrupt and uncompassionate of their age and abilities. He has little patience, he is demanding, he tends to bully or use drama to get his way. He feels his role in the family is to make lots of money to keep everyone happy, and go paint or something and let the wife handle the details.
Problem is, he says over and over this is who he is, he likes who he is, and he doesn't want to change who he is.
Now I can understand the idea of being impatient with the stupid, I feel the same thing. But that aspect of my personality is not good for me, it serves to actually prevent me from succeeding. I think the smart introvert acknowledges his or her nature, but then resolves to overcome that nature, through whatever means necessary.
For me, in this case, I always remind myself to be more patient, to pleasantly repeat myself, to offer multiple explanations worded differently, etc.
What are some ways you find your introverted nature limits you or hampers your success, and how do you deal with it?
Well, first, yes I understand what MY introversion is. I am still on the path to learning more about it. I think we are all on different "points" of a "plane" (an analogy) and some of us have more introverted traits than others, yet we all qualify as "introverted".
I have read a number of discussions. Many of your links are familiar to me from previous reading. But I don't get the opportunity to discuss introversion very often. I'd be interested in anyone's critique of my idea of introversion, I am all for respectful discussion!
Can't say I recognize the name Susan Cain, but I will look it up. Thanks for the tip.
Your idea of Introversion is all wrong.
Please read this - you will be glad you did.
I wrote this list in late-2008. Around that time, I was lucky enough to discover a book called, The Introvert Advantage (How To Thrive in an Extrovert World), by Marti Laney, Psy.D. It felt like someone had written an encyclopedia entry on a rare race of people to which I belong. Not only had it explained many of my eccentricities, it helped me to redefine my entire life in a new and productive context.
Sure, anyone who knows me would say, “Duh! Why did it take you so long to realize you’re an Introvert?” It’s not that simple. The problem is that labeling someone as an Introvert is a very shallow assessment, full of common misconceptions. It’s more complex than that.
A section of Laney’s book (page 71 through page 75) maps out the human brain and explains how neuro-transmitters follow different dominant paths in the nervous systems of Introverts and Extroverts. If the science behind the book is correct, it turns out that Introverts are people who are over-sensitive to Dopamine, so too much external stimulation overdoses and exhausts them. Conversely, Extroverts can’t get enough Dopamine, and they require Adrenaline for their brains to create it. Extroverts also have a shorter pathway and less blood-flow to the brain. The messages of an Extrovert’s nervous system mostly bypass the Broca’s area in the frontal lobe, which is where a large portion of contemplation takes place.
Unfortunately, according to the book, only about 25% of people are Introverts. There are even fewer that are as extreme as I am. This leads to a lot of misunderstandings, since society doesn’t have very much experience with my people. (I love being able to say that.)
So here are a few common misconceptions about Introverts (not taken directly from the book, but based on my own life experience):
Myth #1 – Introverts don’t like to talk.
This is not true. Introverts just don’t talk unless they have something to say. They hate small talk. Get an introvert talking about something they are interested in, and they won’t shut up for days.
Myth #2 – Introverts are shy.
Shyness has nothing to do with being an Introvert. Introverts are not necessarily afraid of people. What they need is a reason to interact. They don’t interact for the sake of interacting. If you want to talk to an Introvert, just start talking. Don’t worry about being polite.
Myth #3 – Introverts are rude.
Introverts often don’t see a reason for beating around the bush with social pleasantries. They want everyone to just be real and honest. Unfortunately, this is not acceptable in most settings, so Introverts can feel a lot of pressure to fit in, which they find exhausting.
Myth #4 – Introverts don’t like people.
On the contrary, Introverts intensely value the few friends they have. They can count their close friends on one hand. If you are lucky enough for an introvert to consider you a friend, you probably have a loyal ally for life. Once you have earned their respect as being a person of substance, you’re in.
Myth #5 – Introverts don’t like to go out in public.
Nonsense. Introverts just don’t like to go out in public FOR AS LONG. They also like to avoid the complications that are involved in public activities. They take in data and experiences very quickly, and as a result, don’t need to be there for long to “get it.” They’re ready to go home, recharge, and process it all. In fact, recharging is absolutely crucial for Introverts.
Myth #6 – Introverts always want to be alone.
Introverts are perfectly comfortable with their own thoughts. They think a lot. They daydream. They like to have problems to work on, puzzles to solve. But they can also get incredibly lonely if they don’t have anyone to share their discoveries with. They crave an authentic and sincere connection with ONE PERSON at a time.
Myth #7 – Introverts are weird.
Introverts are often individualists. They don’t follow the crowd. They’d prefer to be valued for their novel ways of living. They think for themselves and because of that, they often challenge the norm. They don’t make most decisions based on what is popular or trendy.
Myth #8 – Introverts are aloof nerds.
Introverts are people who primarily look inward, paying close attention to their thoughts and emotions. It’s not that they are incapable of paying attention to what is going on around them, it’s just that their inner world is much more stimulating and rewarding to them.
Myth #9 – Introverts don’t know how to relax and have fun.
Introverts typically relax at home or in nature, not in busy public places. Introverts are not thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies. If there is too much talking and noise going on, they shut down. Their brains are too sensitive to the neurotransmitter called Dopamine. Introverts and Extroverts have different dominant neuro-pathways. Just look it up.
Myth #10 – Introverts can fix themselves and become Extroverts.
A world without Introverts would be a world with few scientists, musicians, artists, poets, filmmakers, doctors, mathematicians, writers, and philosophers. That being said, there are still plenty of techniques an Extrovert can learn in order to interact with Introverts. (Yes, I reversed these two terms on purpose to show you how biased our society is.) Introverts cannot “fix themselves” and deserve respect for their natural temperament and contributions to the human race. In fact, one study (Silverman, 1986) showed that the percentage of Introverts increases with IQ.
“You cannot escape us, and to change us would lead to your demise.” It can be terribly destructive for an Introvert to deny themselves in order to get along in an Extrovert-Dominant World. Like other minorities, Introverts can end up hating themselves and others because of the differences. If you think you are an Introvert, I recommend you research the topic and seek out other Introverts to compare notes. The burden is not entirely on Introverts to try and become "normal." Extroverts need to recognize and respect us, and we also need to respect ourselves.
I'm familiar with this list, it was one of the first resources I found.
Do you feel introversion never causes problems in socialization, in understanding people? I find it can. I have a very strong sense of "bring your A game or go home" in my work and activities. Often this leads to impatience with people who are less so. My main thrust, I guess, was my means of being able to avoid that aspect of my personality working against me.
Does that make a little more sense? Feel free to be blunt and specific.
How did that guy find a wife? People need to be really careful about who they marry--especially if they're going to have children.
As a retired teacher and counselor, I have heard this story over and over again. As I see it, there are two problems, one partner in a relationship wants to live life independent of and often in control of the other. The other tries to do everything possible to live up to the partner's expectations, even to the point of trying to be obedient or acquiescent to the controller. She, usually it is a she, denies her own wants, needs and desires and over time she gets tired of giving and giving and giving and giving.
There are several options:
1. Continue doing what they have been doing and use whatever coping mechanism necessary to at least survive.
2. Set some boundaries that both willingly agree to. If one can't agree, the deal is over.
3. Threaten with some retaliation, like no longer doing for the partner, ignoring the partner, threaten to leave; but never follow through with the threat, this maintaining and perpetuating the status quo.
4. Leave the relationship and build a new life, being careful not to get involved with another such as the first. The old joke among counselors is the wife who is addicted to alcoholic husbands, one after another.
So, it all comes down to how much, in this case the wife, wants to be in this particular relationship. If she is determined to not leave, then she has to learn some coping strategies if he is not willing to negotiate and compromise.
It may help to sit down with a skilled third party so that both sides can hear each other and know the reality, not delusions or denials. Work on clear communication, with assertion and active listening involved. Learn the compromise and negotiation techniques necessary. One or both of you may not want to do this so this then is not an option.
Some people choose the coping strategy and after a few years illnesses associated with stress show up: depression, anxiety, headaches, two people living side by side and not connecting. When this happens, it may continue on until death, or one or both may decide to leave the relationship. This is harder if dependent children are involved; it is even more important that both parents get their needs met in the relationship so children can learn how to be in a healthy marriage.
Rest assured, that is exactly what is happening and she is making changes occur to make things better for her kids and for her. Things are progressing slowly and while I don't know what the result will be, it will be better. Thanks Joan.
I do hope so. My best to each member of that family, may they find community even as they celebrate differences.
Thanks so much Joan for coming here to help me out on this. You have such wisdom - thanks for sharing it with us. So glad you are here.
I agree with everything you wrote on relationships. Perfect.
Steph, I have to emphasize that if one wants more independence and privacy than the other, and causes stress, each must be heard. It isn't that one is right or wrong. It is that the relationship is not working and change must happen if they want to remain together.
I have had students who live in such relationships and are perfectly happy. That is a sign that they have found a way to be happy even though with different needs.
I'm glad you liked my suggested process. I very much agree with your "Myths of Introverts." Sadly, couples don't discover their compatibility needs before marriage and children.