STEPHANIE: “11 Things You Should Know About Introverts”

“Small talk with strangers is my kryptonite.”

~Stephanie

 

11 Things You Should Know About Introverts

1) We need to recharge alone

This right here is the cusp of the entire introvert vs. extrovert debate (if there is one, anyway) — Introverts need to be alone to recharge. We tend to get completely worn out by socializing. This is basically what it means to be an introvert.

2) We don’t hate being around people, but we probably hate crowds

I love being with people, but if you drop me into a large crowd I instantly feel like I’m alone and invisible. I try to avoid situations where I feel that way, so I may decline your open invitation to some random event. It doesn’t mean I don’t like to be around you, it just means I like to have more control over my surroundings.

3) We don’t mind silence

I can sit beside you in silence and not think we are having a bad time. This is especially true on road trips and can be a little confounding to true extroverts. For this reason, I especially like going to the movies where it is already considered rude to chat. Rule #1 for dealing with introverts — Don’t tell me I’m “too quiet.” I hate that. Sorry I’m making you uncomfortable, but you really don’t get to decide how much I have to talk.

4) Just because we are introverted doesn’t mean we are shy

Introvert and shy are actually two different things. Google it! In my case, I’m a shy introvert (the double whammy!).

5) We can turn on an extroverted personality when necessary, but it is especially draining

See #1 and #2. I have no problem getting up in front of a group of people and giving a talk. I don’t even get nervous by a question and answer period. But — here is the thing — I will need major recharge time afterwards and I won’t be able to keep up this extroverted illusion all day. I can turn it on to dazzle a crowd, but if you take me out for lunch afterwards, I’ll probably just listen to you talk. I am an excellent listener.

6) We aren’t judging you

See #3. Did I get quiet? Do I have a mean look on my face? I’m not judging you; I’m just wrapped up in my thoughts with my resting-face on. I might have even forgotten you were there. Sorry, just poke me. I didn’t do it on purpose.

7) We secretly love it when you cancel plans

I like being with you, but finding out I suddenly don’t need to be “on” and it wasn’t actually me that backed out? — priceless! Don’t worry if you have to cancel, I’m probably thrilled to be able to stay in my pajamas.

8) We can get very wrapped up in our own thoughts

My inner monologue is epic. When you have a strong monologue constantly running in the background, it is pretty easy to settle-in and listen for a while. I have to work through things in my head before I proceed, so I usually need a few minutes. When I’m ready to move forward though, I am 100% on top of it!

9) We can be pretty bad at connecting

You know when you have had a really bad day and you just want to call up a friend and chat? Yeah, I’m bad at that. I tend to wait for extroverts to reach out and include me, so when the time comes that I need support, I can be a bit lost.

10) We don’t like to hang around

That time after an event or meeting ends and stragglers hang around to talk — yeah, I know this is the perfect time to make more plans, connect with new people, and get involved with future projects, but I really really really hate this. I’m probably already checking my phone in my car before you have even picked up your purse. Small talk with strangers is my kryptonite.

11) We have strong opinions

Just because I have difficultly sharing them sometimes doesn’t mean I don’t have opinions. Give me an extra minute to compose my thoughts and I will continue to push myself to speak up sooner. It is a give and take here.

 

BMSS Addendum by Gregg Prescott:

BMSS Addendum: On #2, we really don’t hate people or crowds… it’s just that most of us are empaths and we absorb everyone’s energies so it’s a lot easier staying away from crowds than being immersed in them. For me, if I were to go to some gala event, you would most likely find me near the outer wall of the room watching everyone and saying very little. Some would call this “antisocial” but as an introvert I know that it’s something that’s misunderstood by those who aren’t introverted.

If you’re an introvert (which is only about 25% of the population), don’t change yourself to appease anyone else. Just keep being YOU!

~ Gregg

 

~via BodyMindSoulSpirit.com

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JENN GRANNEMAN: “Here’s the Scientific Explanation for Why Introverts Like Being Alone”

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I’m an introvert, so I need plenty of “alone” time. If I don’t get enough, I’m not myself. I feel worn out and cranky. I get short with people, because every little annoyance seems magnified. I want to sneak away and hide for a while.

Spending time alone—reading, writing, or just hanging around my apartment doing nothing—recharges me. It’s like what author Jonathan Rauch writes:

“For introverts, to be alone with our thoughts is as restorative as sleeping, as nourishing as eating.”

Rauch’s own formula is to spend two hours alone recharging for every hour he spends socializing.

Extroverts, on the other hand, actually feel energized when they’re on-the-go or hanging out with others. Many extroverts get restless and bored when they have to be alone for too long. But me? I could spend hours (or days) alone and feel great.

So why do introverts need more alone time than extroverts? The answer is found in the wiring of our brains.

It’s All in Your Head

Our need for alone time has to do with a chemical called dopamine. Both introverts and extroverts have dopamine in their brains, but they respond to it differently.

What is dopamine? It’s a neurotransmitter that helps control your brain’s pleasure and reward centers. It makes us notice opportunities to get external rewards (like money, social status, and sex) and take action to get them.

Imagine you and your extroverted friend are at a bar. You both see an attractive person across the room. Dopamine floods both of your brains as you think about flirting with this person. Your extroverted friend feels a thrilling rush of “happiness hits” from dopamine. But you feel nervous and somewhat overwhelmed. Sound familiar?

This is because extroverts have a more active dopamine reward network than introverts. Basically, they need more dopamine to feel its pleasant effects, explains Dr. Marti Olsen Laney in her book The Introvert Advantage: How Quiet People Can Thrive in an Extrovert World.

For introverts, too much of a good thing really is too much. We feel overstimulated when dopamine floods our brains.

When we spend time alone, we’re not faced with situations like talking to an attractive stranger. Essentially we’re lowering our level of external stimulation. Being alone feels just right for our dopamine-sensitive system.

Acetylcholine Is Where It’s At

Forget dopamine. Introverts would rather bask in another neurotransmitter called acetylcholine, explains Christine Fonseca in her book Quiet Kids: Help Your Introverted Child Succeed in an Extroverted World. Like dopamine, acetylcholine is also linked to pleasure. The difference is, acetylcholine makes us feel good when we turn inward. It powers our abilities to think deeply, reflect, and focus intensely on just one thing for a long period of time.

This helps further explain why introverts like being alone: it’s easier to turn inward when we’re not paying attention to other people.

Let Us Rest and Digest

According to Laney, everyone’s nervous system has two modes: parasympathetic and sympathetic. When we use the parasympathetic side (nicknamed the “rest and digest” side), we feel calm and are focused inwardly. Our body conserves energy and withdraws from the environment; muscles relax, energy is stored, food is metabolized, pupils constrict to reduce light, and our heart rate and blood pressure slow. The neurotransmitter acetylcholine increases blood flow and alertness in the front of the brain.

The sympathetic side is known as the “full-throttle” or “fight, fright, or flight” system. This side mobilizes us toward discovering new things and makes us active, daring, or inquisitive. The brain becomes alert and hyper-focused on its surroundings. Blood sugar and free fatty acids are elevated to give us more energy, and digestion is slowed. Thinking is reduced, and we become prepared to make snap decisions.

Of course, introverts and extroverts use both sides of their nervous system at different times. But just like introverts and extroverts respond differently to dopamine, we prefer different sides of the nervous system. You can probably guess which side introverts prefer: the parasympathetic side.

Are You Getting Enough Alone Time?

It can be hard to get enough alone time. We may feel guilty when we turn down social plans or tell our significant other we want a night to ourselves. However, not getting enough alone time can affect us physically and emotionally. According to Laney, you may not be getting enough alone time if you regularly experience some of these symptoms:

  • Trouble sleeping or eating
  • Frequent colds, headaches, back pains, or allergies
  • Feeling anxious, agitated, irritable, and “snappish”
  • Unable to think, concentrate, or make decisions
  • Confused and discombobulated, as if you are dashing from thing to thing in a blur
  • Trapped and wondering what is the meaning of life
  • Drained, tired, and put-upon
  • Disconnected from yourself

What should you do? Make it a priority to include alone time in your day, even if it’s only a few minutes of catching your breath alone in your car or bedroom. Laney writes, “Many introverts have felt so stigmatized about the private, reserved aspect of their nature that they have not allowed themselves the time to develop effective restorative practices. It’s time to change that!”  retina_favicon1


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