How to embrace being an introvert in an extroverted world

Are you an extrovert or an introvert? Or could you be an ambivert?  Which just means you’re somewhere in between.

Recently I read a book by Susan Cain titled “Quiet – The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.” It is a book that shows a deep reverence for the strength in those who are “quiet.” In the book she has a short quiz you can take that tells you whether or not you are more of an introvert or an extrovert.

It seems that I definitely lean towards being more of an introvert but I also know that deep down my alternate ego has some extroverted tendencies. As much as I relish my alone time and I can navel gaze for what seems like hours, I do get pleasure by being with people. Those who know me, know I love to talk!

It’s hard to deny, though, that we live in a very noisy world and everywhere we turn we are bombarded with “HEY! Look at me!” type distractions which makes it seem like the extroverts are in charge. In every area of our lives it feels like it’s just a game about getting noticed, whether it’s about being included in the “popular” clique in school, getting asked out on a date, being offered the job, driving traffic to our website, having a full social calendar, or just getting lots of “likes” and “followers.” People are much more likely to admire those who are “seen and heard” than those who are operating behind the scenes invisible.

In the book the author, Susan Cain, talked about how it used to be the thinkers and intellectuals, the writers and the artistically inclined, quiet, reserved people who were revered and respected in our culture. They were often our leaders and those who people admired and looked up to. We went from a Culture of Character to a Culture of Personality, as historian Warren Sussman states.

Research has shown that the difference between extroverts and introverts is more about how they process stimuli coming into the brain. For extroverts, the pathway is much shorter. Their brains run the incoming information directly through an area of the brain where the five senses are processed. Whereas the introverts run stimuli through a long, complex pathway in areas of the brain that are connected with remembering, planning, and solving problems. Extroverts recharge their battery by being around other people and introverts recharge their battery by being alone.

Here’s a list of questions that will help you decide if you are more of an introvert or an extrovert. Answer “true” or “false.”

1.) I prefer one-on-one conversations to group activities.

2.) I like to express myself in writing.

3.) I feel rejuvenated after having some alone time.

4.) I’m not motivated by wealth or fame as much as most people.

5.) I like in depth conversations and am bored with chit chat.

6.) I’m a good listener.

7.) I don’t like taking risks.

8.) I don’t like being interrupted.

9.) I like small, intimate parties over large gatherings.

10.) I’m soft spoken.

11.) I prefer to not show my work to others until it’s finished.

12.) I avoid conflict.

13.) I don’t like raising my hand in public to be called on.

14.) I tend to think before I speak.

15.) I feel drained after being in a crowd.

16.) I don’t start conversations very easily with people I don’t know.

17.) It doesn’t bother me to not have lots of activities planned.

18.) I don’t like when I have to multi-task.

19.) I get overwhelmed easily when I have too much on my plate.

20.) I can easily entertain myself with my own thoughts.

The more questions you answered “true” the more introverted you are. So if you are an introvert take heart. Our extroverted world needs you so embrace your introverted nature. We may be a quiet bunch. We may not get all the fanfare as our extroverted counterparts. It may appear that those who are “noticed” have more influence, more successful and are more important but looks may be deceiving.

There’s zero correlation between between the best talker and having the best ideas.                                                               ~ Susan Cain

light-bulbBut in my experience it is the introverts who are actually the ones who are responsible for blazing the paths that are leading us toward healing, growing and evolving.  Introverts are the ones who initiate the process by posing the thought provoking questions in the first place.

Whether it looks like it or not on the surface, power and change start with a thought for that is the birthplace for everything. The thoughts we put out into the world do matter. They become part of the universal consciousness and the seeds for which everything else springs from.

It is the introverted people who are the ones ultimately responsible for getting us to have an expanded awareness of the world in which we live. They are the ones brave enough to explore the world within which is where all true transformation starts. Extroverts may get all the credit for fanning the flames of change and growth, but it is the introvert who was the igniting spark.



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