What's All the Fuss?
💓 What's all the fuss about introverts and extraverts? What does it matter if you figure out which side of the fence you sit on?
💛 Why not 'hold your cards close to your chest' so others can't use who you are against you?
💙 Why do you resist identifying yourself as an 'innie' or 'outie' and attempt to straddle the divide between the two preferences--wishing to be seen as a plain old 'vert' rather than an 'intro' or 'extra' vert?
💚 Why is it better to clarify who you really are?
Resistance is Futile--You Are Who You Are--And We All Know it!
Surprise! You show who you are every day in every moment to every person. You can't hide. So stop squirming.
When you resist knowing what your preferences are for being in the world and acknowledging who you are 'so others can't use who you are against you' it's like you're hiding under a blanket in a crowded room thinking no one will know that you're there. Yoo-hoo...we see you!
Why do we resist? We resist accepting ourselves as introverts or extraverts because:
💢 We incorrectly prejudge what it means to be one or the other, or
💢 We think defining ourselves as one or the other limits who we are and allows others to prejudge and limit us.
But you are who you are. Others always see who you are no matter how you attempt to obfuscate the truth. The more you attempt to hide, the more you show who you are!
Why it Pays to Know Thy Self
Stop worrying about others using who you are against you and start using who you are to make better choices for yourself.
When you accept the truth of how you prefer to deal with the world as an introvert or extravert you give yourself choices about acting au naturel or acting differently when it serves you better. And you make it easier for others to communicate and negotiate with you when you have clarity about who you are.
The sooner you identify your preference for introversion or extraversion the sooner you can get on with living a happy, healthy life--one guided by your preference for living more of an inner or outer life and showing you what energizes, stresses, or interests you.
What Makes for Happy Introverts and Happy Extraverts
If you're an extravert you prefer to scan and interact with the world outside yourself; if you're an introvert you prefer to scan and interact with the world inside your head.
💓 Extraverts' interests whose attention turns to the outer world have broad, expansive interests.
💓 Introverts' interests whose attention turns inward have narrower, deeper interests.
What makes for happy introverts and happy extraverts? Following our interests. No one is happier than when we're being the proverbial 'dog digging diligently in our preferred dirt, barely coming up for air'.
💓 Those of you who are introverts need to disappear behind your eyes, hold your own counsel, and lose yourself in the depths of your interests.
💙 You need to keep digging deeper to discover the roots and foundation of your interest.
💚 You need to spend more time in your inner world and less time engaging in the outer world to be content. It's more tiring for introverts to engage in the outer world than it is for extraverts. Balance your time to favor more down time in your head.
💛 When you come out to engage in the outer world you need to already know what you think before you speak to feel comfortable and competent. Know what you're expected to address before a meeting so you can prepare ahead of time.
💜 You are happiest when you're not caught off-guard by people asking you a question and expecting an immediate response. You need time to think so you can organize your thoughts. You can facilitate better communication by having a plan. When you're asked an off-the-cuff question, have a ready response: 'I'll need to think about that. Let me get back to you.'
💓 Those of us who are extraverts need the freedom to burst into the world to engage others and fully explore the world around us--without being concerned if we know what we're doing or thinking before we open our mouths. We like to just jump in and figure it out as we go.
💙 We need our attention to flow freely from one possibility to another, making connections and constantly broadening our explorations of the world to figure things out as we go. This can look messy to introverts, but no matter.
💚 The outer world is our natural habitat. We need to spend more time actively engaging in the outer world to be content. This doesn't necessarily mean talking to others. It can mean physically engaging and acting in the outer world--gardening, walking, painting, creating, dancing and writing. Don't be surprised if some of your best ideas show up while you're actively engaged in one of these physical activities.
💛 We like to share what we discover with others. Once we figure things out for ourselves, we are often compelled to share what we've learned.
Healthy, Happy Extravert
Extraversion and Introversion in Action: How We Look to One Another
I once had an Introvert (introverted sensor thinker judger) look at my resume (I'm an extraverted intuitor feeler perceiver) and say, 'No one knows this much.'
From his introvert perspective (narrow, deeper interests), my very broad range of interests and experience was overwhelming. But from my extraverted perspective I was just getting started.
For me it has never been about 'knowing it all'. It's always been about being curious about it all--and sharing my curiosity with you.
True to my extraverted nature, my interests are broad and ever-expanding. I constantly scan my environment for things that interest me and the list is endless as every day brings new possibilities..
My ENFP preferences have me scanning for things pertaining to people and how they work: healthy living, stress management, conflict management, communication, body and self image, time management, healthy relationships, getting the most out of life, disease management...you get the picture.
I once overheard my father, an ENTP (extraverted intuitor thinker perceiver) and theoretical physicist say to one of his physicist friends, "Susan is like a gas. When she enters a room she fills every available space." I felt so understood (even though he was referring to my tendency to fill up the physical space with my stuff)!
My father's own ENTP interests were even more expansive than my own. His realm of ENTP interest and fascination embodied the entire universe and how it worked.
My husband, an ISFJ (introverted sensor feeler judger) used to describe me as 'a weed--spreading out over everything'. Again, an accurate depiction of my large space, expansive nature. I, of course, did not take offense, preferring to translate the image into 'may all you(r) weeds be wild flowers'!
True to his introverted nature, my husband's own interests go deep. As a financial analyst in the hospital setting he became an expert in medicare reimbursement delving deeper and deeper into the finer nuances of the very complex medicare system. And he is an avid student of history, absorbing book after book detailing events and the lives of public figures.
I met my introverted husband at a professional conference where he showed himself to be a social butterfly and adept at public speaking. I watched him give a lively presentation, get people on the dance floor, and organize a social gathering of people on the beach to share Hagen-Daz ice cream. I didn't figure out until a year and a half into our marriage that he was an introvert because he was so skilled with people.
When we were first married we worked together in the Health Promotion department at a local hospital. In the beginning, when we'd head home after work he would say, 'I don't want to talk about work when we get home'. I tried to talk with him about other topics, like the people we worked with and what was happening in their lives. But this always got me into trouble, ending with him saying, 'I said I don't want to talk about work.'
One Friday night at the end of our work week, I planned a cozy evening. I decided to cook a special dinner followed by a long walk together in which I would introduce a topic that couldn't possibly lead to work. I'd ask him when he wanted to start a family.....
Of course, not realizing I was talking with an introvert who needed time to think about what he thought before he spoke, the conversation did not go well. Instead of the intimate sharing I'd imagined, we spent the next hour 'processing' how I asked the question.
Eventually I learned that not only did my husband, the introvert, not want to talk about work...he didn't want to talk after work because he needed time to refresh himself. And I learned to give him time to to think about what he thought before answering.
Over time, instead of processing my day with my husband, I learned to go for walks and chat it up with girlfriends, get on the computer to write, or call my Sister. This parting of the ways--a la introvert and extravert preferences--made for a much better marriage.
Why It's Better to have Clarity about Who You Really Are
Introverts aren't better than extraverts and vice versa. We're just different in our preferences for dealing with the people and world around us. When we have clarity about who we are and accept our different preferences life is good.
The more clarity we have about how we prefer to be in and deal with the world around us the better we will be at communicating with those around us and the happier we'll be.
Figure out who you are relative to others so you know how to best set up your environment and your communications so you get the most out of your life.
For more than 35 years, Susan Meyerott has been helping people lighten up and step over invisible barriers to change one step at a time. She speaks to your heart, puts you at ease, and makes letting go and moving forward with life easier than ever before.