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By: Rose B
Qualification: Ph.D
Psychologically Speaking … About Introverts

Senior Blogger:


We are born in a social setting.


As babies, we have built-in responses that evoke care and attention from others around us. We grow up in families and then we meet friends, teachers, and neighbors. Our social world expands. Being with people is so human and natural that it should come easily to us, right?


Nope. Social skills seem to be some of the most difficult skills to master. Of course, some people do better than others. Unfortunately, I was not one of those people. For those who are on the more socially awkward side of the spectrum, it seems much safer and more comfortable to spend the day at home and live vicariously through the internet.


Many theories on personality include introversion as a defining trait. Carl Jung, a neo-psychodynamic theorist, believed that introverts focused their energy on themselves rather than on others, so they are more stimulated by inner thoughts and feelings than on anything going on in the outside world. They prefer to live in their head, content is this sort of imaginative activity.


There are also studies surrounding the biological basis for introversion vs extraversion.  Hans Eysenck, a German psychologist, came up with a model that accounted these behaviors to cortical arousal. Introverts are more easily stimulated and as such are more likely to be overwhelmed in a loud bar than extraverts.


Introversion is one the explanations for this lack of social flair at cocktail parties and dislike for talking on the phone. People who are introverted do not just like being alone, they need to be alone. They use this time to recharge and re-center themselves. For the more severe cases, communicating with others is so difficult it’s completely avoided (dabbling in the range of mental illness). In my experience, people who suffer from mental illness sometimes have both poor social support systems and extreme introversion.


There’s nothing wrong with introversion per se, but being introverted myself, I’ve learnt that to be successful and happy, sometimes you have to venture out of your shell. Social relationships and connections are vital to survival. You aren’t going to find that soulmate without getting out there. The competition at work for that promotion will edge you out if you can’t be assertive. Important opportunities may be wasted without a little extraversion from time to time. I struggled with this through college. I am not the type to volunteer answers and raise my hand first at all. So I suffered when I needed recommendation letters and none of my lecturers knew who I was. At the point I realized the importance of speaking up in class, no matter how shy I was.


The most important thing is being able to balance introversion and extraversion. A little bit of adaptability goes a long way. Yes, socializing and fraternizing can be cumbersome, but they really are unavoidable. On the other hand, appreciate that alone time!  I believe the French philosopher, Jean-Paul Sartre, said it best; “If you are lonely when you're alone, you are in bad company.”



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