There are many benefits to different personality types, but one that doesn’t get shouted about enough is the power of introversion. Here, chartered psychologist Dr Audrey Tang shares six reasons to celebrate introverts
I enjoy solitude; it gives me time to re-energise. Like many of you who may feel the same, it’s not that we introverts can’t deal with social situations, rather I can ‘turn on the charm’, but need time to myself to recharge.
The terms ‘introversion’ and ‘extroversion’ are colloquially understood as “extroverts are outgoing and introverts are quiet loners”. This common misunderstanding is an oversimplification of psychoanalyst Carl Jung’s original approach. According to Jung, these two concepts are attitudes: “Each person seems to be energised more by the external world (extroversion) or the internal world (introversion).”
Both can perform well in quiet and busy scenarios, but they are best energised by situations relating to their preference. There are benefits of each, and where the social charm of the extrovert is often celebrated, it’s time we took a look at how the “introvert advantage” can even the score...
The world is full of ‘social’ and ‘solitary’ situations
If you need others to help you recharge after working alone, it’s not always easy to find people exactly when you need them – everyone has their own life. As an introvert, solitary time may be refreshing, and you are likely to be quite self-sufficient in your recharge pursuits.
It may be worth, however, being mindful of the small group of people with whom you do feel comfortable, and try to make plans to check-in with them once in a while – just as an option.
You don’t often need someone else to motivate you
If you want to do something, you might find a useful “how to” video or seek out the information yourself. You don’t mind trying things out on your own, you enjoy your own company on walks, and over a meal or a coffee. However, you may find it can be hard to ask for help sometimes. Remember that there is a lot of help out there, but it’s also OK to choose carefully who you come back to.
You’re rarely lonely
Loneliness is sometimes confused with isolation – the latter is being physically alone, the former is a feeling of sadness because loved ones are not there. You may be happy to know friends and family are around, but don’t always need to see them.
Don’t fear telling people that you love them, you think of them, but you don’t always need to see them. Find other ways of showing you care, such as with a handwritten note or a video message.
You’re less affected by competition
It seems everyone is an expert these days, and it can be quite easy for people to be influenced into thinking they need to do things a certain way. But you are quietly confident with what works for you.
However, it’s important to keep an open mind. When you have more choices available, you can be even more effective – so watch, read, and learn, but know it’s OK to still choose a tried and tested path.
You’re not usually bored
You’ll often have enough to keep you occupied, but that doesn’t mean you’ll always make efficient use of time. Especially if you have a tendency to get “in the zone” to the exclusion of other things.
Have a routine, and try to stick to it as much as you can – for example if you’re working from home, try to keep relatively set hours for work and breaks, as well as different locations to separate business and pleasure.
You think things through
Often, when others are thinking about what they are going to say next, you are pondering the situation, and so when you make a contribution it’s a good one. The only problem is that, sometimes, the conversation may have already moved on.
Consider using a notepad to write your ideas and thoughts so that you have something to refer to. If you find yourself put on the spot, you can look at your ideas and remain unflustered.
There are indeed advantages if your preference falls on the introversion side of the scale, but as behaviour is so dynamic, the best thing you can do is...
• How am I best energised? (With people I love? Alone? Engaged in a hobby?)
• How often do I do this?
• How can I make more time for it?
… and then do it.
For more support and insight into your emotions, talking to a professional can help.