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By Katie Omohundro, LCSW – January 22, 2019 –

First popularized by psychiatrist Carl Jung, the terms “introversion” and “extroversion” have been used in a variety of ways. From “the shy one” to “the social butterfly,” there are a number of generalizations which are often mistakenly used regarding the introvert/extrovert spectrum. But once we know where we stand, what’s next?

Attention and energy are significant dividing points between introversion and extroversion, particularly where one puts their attention and how one gets their energy. Extroverts are more likely to focus on the outer world of people and things, while introverts are more focused on the inner world of ideas and images.

For introverts, understanding their strengths, as well as how to handle their challenges, is a multi-step process. The sooner we learn how to manage our differences from those around us, the more we can keep from draining our batteries.

Here are four things that conscious introverts have done to help them be more successful:

  • Reframing: Being an introvert is an asset.
    • Negative stereotypes about introverts are easy to come up with: unfriendly, withdrawn, shy, lacking social skills.
    • The gifts of introversion are many – but less understood. Introverts may just be processing all the information in ways that are much different from extroverts.
    • Introvert and extrovert brains are wired differently! What an asset it would be to have the best of both worlds and have a super team of both introverts AND extroverts!
  • Make re-energizing a high priority.
    • Introverts get re-energized from the inside – from their ideas, impressions, and feelings.
    • Introverts need considerable ‘down time’ for that re-energizing to happen.
  • Create ‘introvert’ ways of doing things.
    • “Normal” in our culture is extroverted.
    • Research shows that up to 75% of people are extroverts. That’s 3 in 4 people!
    • Getting good at being an introvert on purpose makes life a lot easier.
  • Develop “extroverting” skills.
    • Sometimes it’s smart or essential to act like an extrovert.
    • It is important for introverts to recharge those batteries and be ready to take on that draining task of talking in front of peers.
    • When introverts are prepared and use their skills and preventative measures to keep that energy-level up they will be more successful.

It is believed that everyone has both an introverted and an extroverted side, but typically one side is more dominant than the other.  Understanding where we are on this spectrum is half the battle of learning how to manage our energy and learning ways that work for us so we can truly thrive.

Author and Marriage and Family Therapist Marti Olsen Laney writes in her book “The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World,” “Our culture values and rewards the qualities of extroverts.

America was built on rugged individualism and the importance of citizens speaking their minds. We value action, speed, competition, and drive. It’s no wonder people are on the defensive about introversion.”

For those that identify more as an introvert, the world may make them feel isolated, weird, or misunderstood. When an introvert first learns they are an “innie” and then learns how to tap into their skills and ways to recharge, they can be unstoppable!