Have you ever wondered why some people you know prefer to stay at home to watch TV or read a book rather than go spend a night out at the club, or why they feel drained after large outdoor activities and are sometimes inept at small talk? Do you find it awkward that they always feel the need to spend time alone and prefer to cling to the sidelines rather than be the center of attention? Lets take a look at introversion as a commonly misunderstood personality.
An introverted personality is surrounded by a mystery that many people find hard to understand, and despite the fact that introverts are rarely the bubbly type, their reserved personality make them stand out in the crowd. This makes them highly susceptible to being perceived as anti-social, aloof and snobbish, which may suggest that they have a second-rate personality.
However, contrary to what most people think, introversion is not a personality disorder or a sociopathic behavior neither is it an uncommon personality type. Although some people have argued that only a quarter of the world’s population is introvertish, well known Psychologist Laurie Helgoe, says ‘’ there is no precise dividing line, there are plenty of introverts around. It’s just that perceptual biases lead us all to overestimate the number of extroverts among us ’’.
Introverts spend more time thinking and figuring out their environment and other people than they do talking, they enjoy exploring their thoughts and feelings. They may avoid social gatherings especially large ones with many unfamiliar people, being around many people for a long time drains their energy and would make them long for a time alone to do things they love to do. Spontaneity may also not be one of their strengths because they take time to think and analyze things before they talk or make decisions. This however doesn’t mean they lack good social and communication skills or that do not like people or enjoy their company.
Psychotherapist and author, Marti Olsen Laney, in her book titled, The Introvert Advantage,also gave an interesting description of the two personalities,she says‘’Introverts are like a rechargeable battery. They need to stop expending energy and rest in order to recharge. This is what a less stimulating environment provides for introverts. It restores energy. It is their natural niche. Extroverts are like solar panels. For extroverts, being alone, or inside, is like living under a heavy cloud cover. Solar panels need the sun to recharge—extroverts need to be out and about to refuel’’.
Are They Normal?
Paula, a teenage introvert says one of the things she finds so unpleasant is when people keep asking her if there is something wrong with her because she is quiet. “Sometimes I just want to be quiet, how does that make me abnormal?” she asks.
Introversion and extraversion has been the subject of many studies for centuries, and almost all the personality theories have touched on the introvertish traits. A study conducted by Debra Johnson, Ph.D., and John S. Wiebe, Ph.D., has also shown that the wide difference in the behavior of extroverts and introverts is because they show different activity in different brain structures. This means that Introverts are normal. Extroverts are normal. Neither of the personalities is a disorder, and there is also no ideal personality. They are just wired differently and their uniqueness influences their pattern of behavior.
Are They Shy?
If you think introverts are shy, antisocial, depressed and passive, you are wrong! Although many people think the words shy and introverts mean the same thing, they aren’t the same. For instance a shy person might stay away from a party because of irrational fear or anxiety when around people, introverts however, don’t feel like that (unless they are also shy), they would stay away because they don’t find it worthwhile and would rather be doing something else or because it will drain their energy. Many introverts are in fact very confident people who are not easily influenced by peer pressure, they often develop close friendships and much prefers a few close friends to many acquaintances.
Do They Need To Change?
One of the mistakes most people make when relating with an introvert is the urge to draw them out of their supposed shells. Introverts don’t need to be fixed to become extroverts, just as extroverts don’t need to change to introverts! It is not a right or wrong situation, no personality is superior to the other. Like introversion, extroversion is also a hard-wired temperament; they are both unique in their own way, each with its own set of strengths and weaknesses.
One blogger and introvert has this to say about it, “I think one of the most difficult aspects of being an introvert is dealing with those people in our lives who want us to become extroverts. I have experienced this phenomenon many times with individuals who I didn’t feel the need to impress or explain myself to”
Most introverts enjoy who they are and are not looking to change; they achieve their goals, make friends and have fun in their own way, which might not necessarily be the way an extrovert would do it. It is a great misconception to think introverts are miserable and don’t have what it takes to achieve their goals in an extroverted world. Successful people like Julia Roberts, Meg Ryan, J.K Rowling, Meryl Streep, David Letterman, Barbara Walters, Christina Aguilera, Late Katharine Graham, and Gwyneth Paltrow, are all known to be introverts!
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