All over social media, articles with titles like “5 Ways to Know You’re an Introvert” or “Why Introverts Are Great to Date” continue to gain popularity. Suddenly, it seems like being an introvert is the latest trend. However, the reality is most people still do not know what it means to be an introvert
Many assume that introverts are simply shy people. This is far from the case. In fact, introverts are often actors, performers, and motivational speakers. Introversion has more to do with how you enjoy spending your time re-energizing, and not how shy you are.
Extroverts tend to re-energize by engaging in social activities like going out to eat with friends, or mingling at a party. While introverts may enjoy these activities, they do not find them to be energizing. Instead, they are likely to re-energize by staying home, reading a book, or meeting a friend one-on-one for coffee.
Everyone is different. Introversion and extroversion occur on a spectrum. No one person is completely an introvert or completely an extrovert. However, introverts tend to share certain traits and challenges. Recently, Heidi McGuirk, the co-founder of Revolutionary Health and life coach, opened up about what introversion means.
McGuirk affirms that it is crucial that introverts discuss their personality type with others. Otherwise, it is easy for relationships and friendships to suffer due to misunderstanding.
Introverts vs. Extroverts
McGuirk explains the difference between introverts and extroverts in by using her career as an example:
“The easiest way to explain it is my husband and I do the exact same thing for a living: we both speak, we both teach, we both do seminars and workshops. He can speak all day long, do an eight-hour training and at the end of that training, want to go out to dinner with as many people from that workshop as possible, and stay up and talk and continue to go,” she explains.
However, McGuirk does not respond the same way to social stimulation.
“After I do a workshop, whether it’s two hours or eight hours, I need to go home, fold the blinds, get cozy comfy and disappear and take a hot bath and kind of not talk to anyone.”
Why is there such a huge difference?
McGuirk explains it’s because introverts need to recharge. If this is not understood by all parties involved, it can often come across cold and aloof.
Another example she uses is when she and her husband go to Disney World with their toddler. While McGuirk loves to go to Disney World, at a certain point, she finds she must take a break from the constant stimulation.
“Being an introvert, I love being there, but there’s a certain point that I have at Disney that’s like the breaking point where I just need to kind of go find a spot to be alone, and just be by myself,” she explains.
It’s important to communicate this need, McGuirk says, because otherwise, the people around you will wonder what suddenly went wrong.
“If I don’t communicate that, it can look like 0 to 60 in a split second because I’ll be having fun and all of a sudden, uh-oh, I’ve reached my boiling point,” she says. “ If I don’t tell [my husband] what’s going on with me, he’s left scratching his head going, ‘What’s wrong with her? Is she bipolar or crazy? Or is it me?”
Instead of hiding, introverts need to expose themselves, rather than pretend. Introverts have a tendency to try to overcome their introversion through behaving like an extrovert. However, after a while, introverts burn out and cannot hide behind that façade anymore.
Why Introverts Detest Small Talk
Introverts have a need for solitude and a more focused communication style. It is important to explain those to others who lean on the more extroverted side, McGuirk explains.
Furthermore, introverts tend to detest small talk. Small talk is seen as wasted energy that introverts would rather save for more important, meaningful conversations. For example, introverts are not likely to want to have long, lengthy conversations with their server at a restaurant.
“A ten-minute conversation about fish drains me quicker than anything you can possibly imagine,” McGuirk admits.
On the other hand, introverts find they can withstand deeper conversations much easier.
“If you want to sit and talk about your childhood or if you want to talk about something deep and meaningful, I can do that all day,” she says. “But small talk depletes me.”
Introverts are the type of people who will go to a party or event and talk to one or two, instead of mingling around the room. Deep, meaningful conversations do not drain the introvert like small talk. An article in the Huffington Post explains that most introverts view small talk as meaningless conversation and view it as a barrier to more meaningful conversation.
Author Diane Cameron states, “Introverts crave meaning, so party chitchat feels like sandpaper to our psyche,” or like the depleting of precious, precious energy.”
Introverts Need to Expose Themselves to Friends
Introversion can seriously affect friendships. It is common for introverts to make plans with friends and want to cancel last minute because they desperately need to recharge their batteries.
“You might love your friends and want to be around your friends, but guess what, sometimes you make plans with your friends, and you instantly regret it,” McGuirk says. “But instead of communicating that, you make up a lame excuse or just don’t tell them anything at all, and they’re left wondering what’s wrong with them or what’s wrong with you instead of having an open communication.”
Introverts struggle with very extroverted friends because they feel over-stimulated.
“You might have a friendship that’s overwhelming to you where it’s too much; it’s too fast. It’s too much, it’s too intense, and they want to do stuff all the time,” she says.
Heidi McGuirk says it’s crucial to explain your personality type to these types of friends, so they know where you stand, instead of disappearing. Let them know that you have a threshold for stimulation, and the two of you must adjust to meet each other’s need.
“It’s important that you communicate that because if you don’t, you’re going to suck it down and suck it up and what will happen is eventually, you’ll be overstimulated, and you’ll blow up. You’ll reach a breaking point, and for many people, that’s actually when they start using other coping skills,” McGuirk says.
Communicate or Risk Negative Coping Strategies
These other coping skills may include numbing these desires for introversion with drinking, flaking, disappearing, isolating or cutting people off. Instead, introverts must make themselves a priority. They must expose themselves to others, so they are aware of these needs.
Introverts tend to be highly sensitive people who need time to process the world around them. Introverts do not need to be cured or fixed, and this is not possible regardless. Instead, they need to be understood, just like all types of personalities.
Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Have you discussed your personality type with those around you? Do not try to numb or hide your true self. Instead, expose who you truly are. If you are struggling with mental illness or addiction, please reach out. We want to teach you the right coping mechanisms. Call today.