Are you Solar Powered or Battery Operated? Understanding Introversion and Extraversion


As a “mind/body” therapist, I’m interested in helping you understand the physical aspects of your mental health.  In the two previous articles, I described sensitivity in regard to your physical nervous system.  In this article, I will be describing the physical aspects of how you get energized.

The terms ‘introverted’ and ‘extraverted’ are most commonly used to describe  a person either being socially outgoing or withdrawn.  Usually, extraverts are viewed more positively as “social butterflies” while introverts are seen as the more awkward “wall flowers” or “book worms”.  Some people can even be “ambiverts”, meaning they can go either way, just as ambidextrous refers to being right and left-handed.

Most people aren’t aware that extraversion/introversion has a genetic component as discovered in studies of twins.  There appears to be a difference in brain tissue stimulation, with introverts having higher levels of activity than extraverts and so are chronically more stimulated.  If you are an introvert, you can become overstimulated by social interaction and become more withdrawn and fatigued, especially if the interaction is long in duration and/or intensity.  It’s as though “batteries are included” and they require down time to recharge for further use.

If you you’re an extravert, imagine that you’re solar-powered, getting more energized by external stimulation, such as social interaction.  If you find that you don’t need much down time or are uncomfortable being alone for too long, you’re probably an extravert.  In light of our inherent genetic differences, it is important to recognize your own source of energy as well as to respect the fact that we are not all wired the same way.

Balance in Relationships

As with anything else, finding balance is important in nurturing yourself and relating to others.  For balance in relationships, communication is key.  Consider the following:


Just as with sensitivity, misunderstandings occur in the introvert/extravert relationship and you may end up taking things personally.  Your extravert partner may not understand your introvert need to have some time to yourself – or, your introvert partner may not understand your extravert need to socialize and interact with others.  Whether this is a best friend, significant other, family member, co-worker or otherwise – in these types of relationships, it’s very important to be clear that these behaviors are due to different energetic needs and it isn’t because you aren’t “good enough”.  You will need to communicate your needs to each other and compromise to find a balance or you could risk having unnecessary conflict or distance in the relationship.


If you’re in an introvert/introvert relationship, you will have similar needs for time alone or quiet time together, however you could find that you both hold back more of your thoughts and feelings as doing so will require more energy.  Holding back can also lead to distance in the relationship and misunderstandings.  You will need to find ways to express yourselves to one other.  If you are in an extravert/extravert relationship you will share in the enjoyment of outside or social activities, however, you could find yourself competing for attention or talking over each other as your need for expression is high.  You will need to take turns listening and speaking to communicate effectively.  You will also do best to have other support people as additional “listening ears”.

Personally, I’m an introvert.  Many have mistaken me for an extravert due to my outgoing nature at times.  What I have learned about myself is though I may enjoy connecting with others very much, I need time and space to recharge by “batteries”.  If I don’t take care of myself, I will have to shut down and withdraw into my shell.  How about you?  Are you an introvert or extravert – and how does it affect you and your relationships?

16 thoughts on “Are you Solar Powered or Battery Operated? Understanding Introversion and Extraversion

  1. Linda Leaf

    Hi Shannon. When I took that Jung test, you said I was more extrovert than introvert. I am totally unclear myself as to what I am. I used to be very shy and when I worked as a cocktail waitress and bartender, I would get butterflies because I felt the same as if I had to stand up in front of a microphone and speak publicly.. I was scared to death. Now, I am no longer afraid to speak publicly, it’s not my favorite thing to do, but I feel ok about doing it. I love people and love being around them. I love going go functions especially when it’s with people I know. I also like time to myself. I feel that recharging is very important for me to do too. I follow my feelings and do both when the need/want dictates. I’ll be alone at home, and this feels good, but I most often want to talk to people during the day so I either make phone calls or accept them with happiness. Or, I’ll be around people and enjoy myself and have a good time. I can’t really say I favor one situation over the other. WHAT AM I? This really confuses me.

  2. bluebeadpublications

    I am an introvert with an extrovert job who uses my Sundays and Wednesdays to recharge. Most people are shocked to find the I am shy and previous boyfriends (mostly Latin) find that my alone time impedes our relationship. I have tried to find more introverted men, but I think they all moved away from Miami. BTW Great info. Following here and on twitter.

    1. therapywithshannon Post author

      Very wise! I’m sure people are shocked since, as introverts, we don’t freely share this information with others. Many take it personally when we don’t want to hang out on our recharge time. 🙂

  3. Pingback: Becoming A Legend In My Own Mind | An Imperfect Girl's Quest For Perfection

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