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All Things About Introverts: The Seemingly Mysterious Personality That Often Gets Misunderstood!

All Things About Introverts: The Seemingly Mysterious Personality That Often Gets Misunderstood!

A Sneak Peek To “What is an introvert?

Introverts – shy and withdrawn, mysterious people that don’t particularly need human interaction, or do they? With all of the buzz about introverts, extroverts and ambiverts going on lately, are we sure we are not jumping to conclusions regarding someone’s personality, and more importantly, how much of the information we have is accurate and not leading to generalizing and misconceptions?

There’s no doubt that extroverts are easy to spot and recognize since they are outgoing and tend to be the center of the attention. On the other hand,introverts tend to keep everything to themselves and don’t talk too much. They tend to be misunderstood as shy, not friendly and socially disconnected.

Finally, ambiverts are perceived as being in the middle with having some of the traits that belong to introverted, and some of the extroverted personality with neither personality being the dominant one.

Carl Jung defined introversion [1] and introverted people as being completely opposite from extroversion and extroverts. He explained that while extroverts are more prone to focusing their energy outwards, introverted people are more focused on their inner life, their subjective thoughts and feelings. With no single definitive definition of introversion being constructed to this point, it is no wonder that we are prone to misconceptions and generalizing.

However, there are a great number of works and research that have managed to analyze the introverted personality type and draw insightful conclusions.

Some Obvious signs of an introvert

Since they are more focused inwardly, introverts enjoy alone time. They thrive and find inspiration from taking the time for their favorite hobby. In those moments best of their ideas are born. As opposed to popular belief, introverts are a beneficial part of the team at work. Even though they would restrain from giving their opinion, and talk only when asked, their ability to think more independently provides valuable different perspective on the matter being discussed.

As far as daily social interactions are concerned, introverted people would most often choose not to get involved in discussions that involve people who show signs of anger. According to the research [2] by psychologist Marta Ponari and collaborators of University College London, this trait of introverts may come as a result of their sensitivity to potentially negative evaluations.

Most often introverts are wrongly judged as people who don’t enjoy social interactions that much. People can sometimes perceive them as rude or uninterested. This misconception comes from the introverts’ tendency to avoid being evaluated by others, so they would always choose not to engage in small talk with strangers, or people they don’t feel truly close with.

It is also a common misconception that introverts aren’t able to withstand leader positions. Actually, introverts have the potential of being great leaders and drawing the most potential out of the team, given that the team is comprised of people who don’t need extra stimulus to perform well. [3]

How Different Types Of Introvert Act Differently? 

With the more thorough research done on introversion, it has become clear that introversion is a far more complex term that has four subcategories. As the psychologist and academic Jonathan Cheek’s research done on 500 adults suggests, there are four types of introverts. Cheek has developed the STAR model [4] in order to explain the four main types of introverts: Social, Thinking, Anxious and Restrained.

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1. Social introverts

Social introverts tend to rely more on their alone time for regaining energy. As Cheek explains “The idea that introverts need to alternate sociality and their recharging time, that’s very important in social introversion”.

2. Thinking introverts

People who don’t necessarily shy away from social interactions, but tend to be more introspective and inward oriented are described as thinking introverts.

3. Anxious introverts

Most anxious introverts get described as shy, due to their anxiety when around other people. Anxious introverts tend to feel anxious about how they will be perceived by others and, unlike social introverts, the anxiety doesn’t stop when they are alone. Even though they like to be in social situations, they tend to over-analyze their words and behavior and worry about how they will be interpreted by their peers.

4. Restrained introverts

Inhibited, reserved, or restrained introverts most often think before taking any actions and lack spontaneity. They will most certainly decline a last-minute call to a party, because they like to make plans and sudden events make them uncomfortable.

How are introverts Different From Extroverts?

While Carl Jung was the first to coin the terms “introvert” and “extrovert” and provided theory explaining the main differences between the two types, later research showed the differences in the brain structure of the two types of personalities as well as the different ways in which they react to stimulations and recharge their energy.

Namely, extroverts possess lower levels of arousal, therefore they are always on the lookout for new exciting adventure, while introverts, possessing higher levels of arousal, will look for activities and situations that require lower levels of arousal. [5]

Additionally, extroverts are much more adventurous than introverts due to the difference in their brain structure. The pathway of stimuli of extroverts is shorter than the pathway of introverts, therefore the stimulation process of extroverts is shorter, making them “hungry” for more excitement.

Moreover, introverts would always choose a more relaxing activity for recharging, while extroverts are more likely to choose rewards through excitement. This has to do with the fact that brain of extroverts feeds on dopamine, making them feel pleasant only through challenges and excitement, while introverts’ brain prefers acetylcholine, which creates pleasure through introspection and more self-focused activities.

Extroverts are more aggressive. Does that mean they are more successful?

With introverts getting more positive press, it is refreshing to see the negative stigma surrounding them being erased. For so long, it seems our society has been praising extroverts as go-getters and great leaders and achievers, while introverts were considered awkward and underachieving.

Although at first sight introverts may seem like their performance career-wise may seem poor, their natural abilities to listen, stay focused and calm, provide them with great benefits and make them perfectly able to achieve great success.

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If we take a look at the lives and careers of some of the most successful introverts in a number of different areas, we will notice that introversion doesn’t in any way prevent people from being great at what they do. Some of the most famous and successful introverts of our time include

Albert Einstein

Bill Gates [6]

Steven Spielberg [7]

Sir Isaac Newton [8]

Mark Zuckerberg [9]

JK Rowling [10]

Meryl Streep [11]

Introverts: Core strengths and weaknesses

Focused and devoted in every situation, thoughtful to others, insightful and visionary at work, those are some of the common denominators for people with introverted personality type. These are, at the same time, their greatest strengths that make them irreplaceable and beneficial workers, partners, friends, parents…

On the other hand, being introverted usually means being perceived as slightly snobbish, or even rude to others. Also, the more inner focused nature of introverts makes them less likely to get noticed, make more friends or business contacts.

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What Are The Ideal Occupations For Different Introverts? 

There are plenty of great positions for introverts to thrive in depending on their natural abilities, education and preferences. As mentioned before, not all introverts are the same, therefore not every person with introverted personality will be happy in the same work position. However, certain occupations have been shown to better suit introverts as they require some of the natural strengths that introverts possess.

According to the four types of introverts, there is a list of potential jobs that would perfectly suit each type’s needs.

Ideal jobs for social introvert

  • Database administrator
  • Private chef
  • Electrical or electronic engineering technician
  • Commercial diver
  • Animal trainer

Ideal jobs for thinking introvert

  • Aerospace engineer
  • Industrial engineer
  • Computer programmer
  • Web developer
  • Video game artist
  • Fashion designer
  • Interior designer
  • Graphic designer

Ideal jobs for anxious introvert

  • Statistician
  • Commercial pilot
  • Technical writer
  • Accountant
  • Medical lab technician or technologist
  • Aircraft mechanic
  • Audio engineering technician

Ideal jobs for restrained introvert

  • Physicist
  • Biochemist or biophysicist
  • Management analyst
  • Market research analyst or marketing specialist
  • Anthropologist or archaeologist
  • Creative or non-fiction writer or author
  • Wildlife biologist
  • Career or education counselor
  • Mental health counselor

How introverts can improve themselves?

Introverts can face many challenges, especially at work and in social situations. Since most introverts won’t speak first at meetings, or sound convincing on job interviews, their careers can suffer as those around them don’t always see their true potential.

There is a way for introverts to how their greatest skills at work while still staying true to themselves. At meetings, they can show their great ability to focus and show their insightful and creative side, and contribute to new ideas.

They can start by asking questions to get the pressure off, and then follow the impulse and speak on the idea. Furthermore, they don’t need to become social butterflies all of a sudden, yet they can use their natural abilities to create meaningful relationships, and use it to make a few genuine connections or allies at work that would help them shine. When it comes to nailing job interviews, introverts can be truly successful if they rely on their natural abilities to prepare well, think before they speak and listen to the person they are talking to.

Since introverts prefer one-on-one conversations to group meetings, they can use their ability to connect in these situations. Moreover, as introverts don’t enjoy talking about themselves, they can show their skills in a manner they are more comfortable with – they can imagine it as sharing instead of bragging.

How To Build Better Relationships With Introvert?

Here are some guidelines on how to understand and respect your introverted friend, partner, or a kid.

If you have an introverted friend

Introverts possess some of the best qualities that make true and genuine friends. In order to keep them around, make sure not to pressure them to hang out in crowded places, as they prefer more intimate atmosphere. Also, give them time to be by themselves to recharge, and time to think before making decisions. Keep surprise adventures at a minimum.

If you are in love with an introvert

Introverts are great partners as they can provide genuine love, support and thoughtfulness to their love interest. Since they don’t act before they think things through, their partners can be assured that they are the only center of their attention. If you are in love with an introvert, make sure to respect their need for private time, don’t interrupt them, and don’t force them to make quick decisions about your lives together.

If you have an introverted kid

If you are raising and introverted child, again, make sure to respect their ways of doing things. Don’t pressure them into making a lot of new friends, having a few, genuine friends is what introverts prefer. Help them cultivate their own skills and talents instead of pressuring them to take part in activities they don’t enjoy. Be aware that they won’t always ask for help, so make sure to be observant and present in order to offer your assistance when needed.

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Books you can read if you want to get in-depth knowledge of introvert

If you are interested in learning more about introverts, here are some great reading suggestions.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

    “The book that started the Quiet Revolution” is an ultimate guide on what it means to be introvert, how to care for one, and how introverts help the world go round, all filled with real life stories.

    The Introvert Advantage: How Quiet People Can Thrive in an Extrovert World by Marti Olsen Laney Psy.D.

      As the title says, The Introvert Advantage helps introverts overcome their weaknesses, realize their strengths in order to achieve success in every aspect of their lives. The book also debunks most common myths about introverts and provides better understanding of introverted personality type.

      The Introvert’s Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World by Sophia Dembling

        Another great piece of writing that empowers introverts to stay true to their nature and realize their unique potential.

        Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life Is Your Hidden Strength by Laurie Helgoe Ph.D.

          In this truly powerful book, Helgoe inspires introverts to turn their natural strengths into their unique supremacy and show their invaluable geniuses to the world.

          The Introvert Entrepreneur: Amplify Your Strengths and Create Success on Your Own Terms by Beth L. Buelow

            Insightful and actionable tips on how to become a super successful introvert entrepreneur without getting too overwhelmed by extroverted ways of doing business.

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            Last Updated on October 16, 2018

            How to Overcome Your Irrational Fears (That Stop You from Succeeding)

            How to Overcome Your Irrational Fears (That Stop You from Succeeding)

            She could hear her beautiful baby crying but was frozen in the doorway unable to move. The crying got worse and she knew that unless she comforted the infant soon the baby would be inconsolable, and yet her feet wouldn’t move. She didn’t look at the cot but the floor in front, where the venomous hairy monster sat before her…. .okay it was a UK spider so not likely to kill her at all, and yet still her body was frozen as the tears fell down her face. “What a useless mother you are” she berated herself.

            That awful mother was me 14 years ago. My fear of spiders had not been controlled for years and I was at the stage where I wouldn’t open a newspaper until my husband had read it and removed the images of spiders. I hated houses that had wooden floors or skirting boards because every knot in the wood could be a spider about to crawl across me.

            At the height of my fear, I tried to get out of a moving car. Clearly this harmless 8-legged creature had massive levels of power over me but now that fear is gone, I’m never going to love spiders but I’m not going to leave the room because of one and I can read the word without freaking out and sobbing.

            If you think that fear is irrational, what about the fear of going to airports? Or the fear of not asking for help?

            Today I want to look at how our irrational fears impact on us, how they can destroy (and I don’t use that word lightly) our success. They can damage our health and even stop us from living our lives. And then I’ll share the benefits of fighting that fear and most importantly how you can fight your fears too.

            How irrational fears impact your life

            The thing about irrational fears is that we are not keen to look at them. It makes us feel inadequate, weak and daft because we can’t do things that it seems everyone else can. That gives the fear power.

            Fear loves negative emotions and saps up yours making your fear bigger and uglier and even more powerful. Not ideal to say the least. Fears can cause us to:

            • Avoid situations where that fear may have to be faced. Dodging parties, new jobs, new experiences where we aren’t sure we will be able to protect ourselves.
            • Stop us from sleeping for fear the thing we fear will “get us in the night.” For me this was massive, and I stopped sleeping which had massive implications when my job was to look after a toddler and a baby. I felt half dead most of the time!
            • Feel ill with the stress. Stress can be the cause of wrong decisions. Drinking alcohol when we shouldn’t, eating chocolate because it makes us feel better, the list of excuses is long that we hold on to so that we can avoid the cause of our stress.
            • Cause more distress as our minds overload us with negative thoughts of inadequacy. This can damage our confidence. Having coached thousands, I know that a lack of confidence is usually the underlining impactor on most people’s success across all areas of their lives.
            • Risk looking aloof or arrogant because we won’t participate like other people. Our fears can even isolate us in our personal and professional lives too.
            • Feel debilitated. Needless to say, these fears may look irrational and shouldn’t exist to the outside world but to the sufferer they are debilitating. Even impacting on their earning potential, love life, hobbies, travels and personal and professional success.

            Why bother to fight the fear

            Couldn’t you just ensure you live your life in way that you don’t have to deal with your fear?

            I had a client that was so scared of flying that they couldn’t even take their partner to the airport, another who had avoided public speaking for over 20 years and yet now at the height of their profession they had no choice, what were they going to do? Quit? There was another who could never ask for help and another who feared people finding out who they really were.

            All these fears and many more can be fixed but only if we can appreciate the benefits of fighting the fear.

            Let’s look at the benefits of fighting your fears:

            If you’re going to change the way you do something, something that has impacted on your life, thoughts and actions for years, it can be hard to believe change is possible.

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            The first thing you must do is give yourself a big enough reason why. Go back through your life and remember all the occasions that this fear was there.

            I can still see the spider trapped in my hair because it had obviously been on my hairdryer. I also remember that I probably looked ludicrous in the South of France in my underwear running down the lane screaming and flinging my hair everywhere. The poor spider had not only been flung a long way from my head but was probably destroyed in the flight.

            Remember the feelings, the actions, the negative feelings you felt afterwards, for me it meant that every time I picked up a hairdryer I could see a spider crawling towards my ear in my hair. Guess how helpful that was for reinforcing my reactions and irrational fear?

            Really experience the fear. Make it so painful that you probably notice your heart racing, your shoulders drawing up and your breath changing. That fear is causing physical change in your body, doesn’t feel good does it?

            When the irrational fear is challenged and destroyed, it can’t have power over you. So new opportunities can come your way and instead of fearing them and what people will think of you for your choices, you can be open to;

            • New hobbies
            • New travels
            • New opportunities
            • More success
            • Financially more secure
            • Happier
            • Healthier
            • Confident

            The list is long so what can you do to get rid of your fears?

            How to fight your irrational fears

            In my book Fight the Fear: How to Beat Your Negative Mindset and Win in Life, I cover 12 of the biggest fears that I see impact on success and happiness. Not all of these are obvious but they all have far reaching impacts on our lives.

            Here are some of those ideas to help you fight your fear and get more of what you want out of life:

            Why did this happen?

            For some people they really need to know why the fear started, for others all they want is to get rid of it. If you need to understand yours then don’t skip this tip. Learn how your fears are made and appreciate where yours came from. If you don’t care how it arrived, you can jump to top tip 2.

            I’ve seen some clients who are not prepared to look at how to get rid of the fear until they’ve understood how it got here in the first place. It’s not my place to tell them that is right or wrong, just to help them find the right steps to lead them to a happy path.

            When a fear first starts, we don’t acknowledge a fear has entered our lives. It is only after a few occasions that we begin to notice that there’s a strong negative emotion connected to this “thing”. That’s how fear is allowed to grow because as humans we have in-built responses that have kept us safe for our entire existence. This means we are meant to perceive fear and either run or fight, either way our bodies jump into action creating physical responses to the perceived threat.

            Look for when you first noticed the fast heart beat, the shallow breathing, the shaking hands, the redness. You have created an automatic way of dealing with this fear. It could be that it felt sensible to fear this because you had an unhappy outcome, although it is usually the case that your head has the facts and your heart is not prepared to hear them as it creates a version of the event that is far scarier than it actually was.

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            Learning how to remove the emotions and feelings will help you to change your body’s response. The first time I fixed someone’s fear of public speaking, they told me that it physically closed their throat, I worried that was it possible with words to change our physicality? The answer was yes! With the tools and techniques I share below.

            The tool kit

            From the many people that have contacted me after reading Fight the Fear to my clients, I know for even myself creating a tool kit is a must. This is not a bag that you physically must haul everywhere. This is about learning tools that really resonate with you so that when you can feel the fear start to impact on you, you’ve got your kit ready to take it on.

            I don’t have the space in one article to share all of those tools so let’s visit a few:

            1. Why I’m awesome

            Creating a 2-page handwritten document of why you are awesome can help. This document will be packed with achievements, successes, overcoming adversity and all of those will be full of positive emotions, actions and feelings. It is not easy to write, and I get many messages telling me so however it is a powerful reminder that you can stand up and accomplish.

            2. Draw out your emotions

            Earlier we looked at how irrational fears can damage every aspect of our lives. If you were to follow the negative spiral down you can follow the positive spiral up again.

            I draw these individually for clients and with each action, thought or feeling we put an arrow between them. Each arrow is an opportunity to do something different. If we know that irrational fear is an automatic thought process, then we can start to see that we need to think, do or feel something different. Top tip 3 will help with that.

            3. Acknowledge that you need to change

            It’s not easy to change, and that is a belief that many hold. Top tip 4 could assist further, however for this tip, remember that when you want to do, think or feel differently, you’ve already achieved the first step and that is recognizing something must change (you don’t need to know what). But if you aren’t sure yet if there’s really something different you want to do, this story about Nancy may help you to figure it out.

            Then it’s about acknowledging it. That means not only accepting it but feeling that it is yours to take on and change.

            Then for 2 weeks, decide that you won’t allow the thought to be in your head. There are usually some negative thoughts allowed to fester in your head. At this stage, just say “No I’d like you to stop.” After 2 weeks choose a new thought that you would prefer to hear in your head, maybe “I can cope with situations that scare me” or “I am stronger than I know”.

            There will be times when you fail. Don’t berate yourself because that is another negative thought you are allowing your head to process. Just start again and at times like that have a read of your “Why I’m awesome list”.

            4. Choose your words carefully.

            I’ve heard many clients tell me that “It’s going to be hard to change” “I can’t remember a time in my life where I wasn’t petrified” or “This is a lot to ask”. Any thought that gives power to your fear takes away power from you to fight it. Therefore, choose how you word your goal to overcome your fear carefully.

            Think thoughts like “I remember when I achieved xxxx and that reminds me I’m far tougher and more capable than I give myself credit for”. (Take the xxx from your why I’m awesome document.)

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            5. Believe that you have the control power

            The only person that can control what we think and feel is us. I know it can feel like other people are impacting on us, however they can only do that if we give them permission to do so.

            If you really think about that for a moment, can you see that you have the right to think and feel anything you want right now? I’m certain you wouldn’t choose pain, fear or anxiety. So, what would you choose to think about your fear?

            6. Put up physical reminders

            Working one to one, I can find the fear, work through it and create a tool kit of thoughts, feelings and actions that will help them fight that fear and get rid of it. For some, they don’t need physical things to help them; others do.

            For example, the CEO who was petrified of public speaking but could handle a conference call with 300 without a second thought, imagined the microphone was a phone when they spoke in front of 400 people to help reinforce the positive thoughts and ideas we’d created.

            Or the client that always worried that they were an imposter and “someone else can do this better” pinned on their office wall a tag cloud of all the words that made up their “Why I’m awesome document”.

            So they had a daily reminder. They were the right one for the job and they could do it. These daily reminders all come down to one key point — help you to Hack the Habit Loop.

            What would be your visual clues to remind you that you can overcome this?

            7. Physical supports

            Music, environment and even smells can impact on us. Know the music that makes you feel alive and ready for anything. Try aromatherapy oils to feel positive and energised. Even choose your work environment or clothing to empower you.

            Changing these things is physical and giving yourself physical ideas to action can help power up your emotional state too.

            8. Don’t go it alone

            The fear to ask for help is very real (and has a whole chapter in my book) so I know people really struggle with this. The fact is we all need people. We are not insular by design and as such it can be tough to admit that you have a fear impacting on you.

            However, by sharing your fear with a trusted friend, colleague or loved one can mean that when you are feeling the fear. you can talk to someone. It could be that you share with them the contents of your tool kit and ask their permission to be added to it. That way they know what works for you and how to best support you.

            It’s not a sign of weakness to tell people about your fear. It takes massive levels of strength to say, “I have this fear, and I want to get rid of it.”

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            9. Get physical

            One of the reasons that a fear can escalate is because we have come to accept that response. Our body reacted in a certain way, once repeated the behaviour and it became a formed habit that was accepted.

            Challenging a fear can be done using our body too when we appreciate that fear is actually a reaction inside our bodies. We don’t need to understand where in our brains or what chemicals are racing through us to use our physicality to help us challenge our fears.

            When I was writing my book, the Cuddy Superhero pose was proved and disproved by various researchers around the world 3 times. Whether it’s real or not, the fact is the way we stand, the way we breathe and even the speed at which we speak can impact on us as well as those around us.

            If you have a fear of public speaking or a fear of people thinking you are stupid or a fear of what people are thinking you can look at how you speak, stand and move. If you compare these with people you deem confident and happy in these situations, how do you look? What can you learn?

            The research around placebo’s reinforces us that if it feels like it is working, then keep doing it! What could you use to help reinforce your power and fearlessness?

            A little fear can be good

            As someone famous once says:

            “It is not fear, it is performance energy.”

            Despite having an absolute hatred of public speaking 10 years ago, I now love an audience and yet I have a healthy level of fear. That level of fear says “Are you well prepared?” “Do you know your audience?” “Have you rested your voice?” “You really want to deliver to this audience what they need” And those thoughts are sensible.

            And just remember, it’s never ever too late to face your fear and do what you desire most! It’s even possible to start over your life no matter what stage of life you’re at. Here’s the proof:

            How to Start Over and Reboot Your Life When It Seems Too Late

            So as you reduce your fear, be aware of a good level of fear.

            Featured photo credit: Isaiah Rustad via unsplash.com

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