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The terms ‘introverted’ and ‘extraverted’ are most commonly used to describe a person either being socially outgoing or withdrawn.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 If you are an introvert, you can become overstimulated by social interaction and become more withdrawn and fatigued, especially if the interaction is long in duration and/or intensity.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?
- The Key To Creativity: Introversion vs Extraversion (annahub.wordpress.com)
- The Reluctant Extravert (drdianehamilton.wordpress.com)
- Introverts, come to peace with who you are (thingscareerrelated.com)
- Interlude: On Introversion and being an Introvert (michaelmcmullen.wordpress.com)