I am writing yet another blog about introversion because it seems to me to be such an important aspect of who someone is. Author, Susan Cain, in her book Quiet, explains that the distinction between introverts and extroverts is born out of how one deals with stimulation. Cain clarifies that the term introvert describes a person who gets refueled by being alone or in small groups. She differentiates introversion from shyness by stating that shyness is primarily a fear of social judgment. She also explains that everyone falls somewhere along the spectrum of introversion to extroversion and no one is purely one or the other.
In her book Cain talks about how profoundly one’s personality type can affect all aspects of one’s life. She describes it as, “the single most important aspect of personality- the north and south of temperament, as one scientist put it –is where we fall on the introvert-extrovert spectrum. Our place on the continuum influences our choices of friends and mates, and how we make conversation, resolve differences and show love. It affects the careers we choose and whether or not we succeed at them. It governs how likely we are to exercise, commit adultery, function well without sleep, learn from our mistakes, place big bets in the stock market, delay gratification, be a good leader, and ask ‘what if.’ It’s reflected in our brain pathways, neurotransmitters, and the remote corners of our nervous systems.”
It is because of the enormity of the impact of one’s personality type, that I wanted to suggest this book. What feels so important to me is for an individual to understand what type they are so they can better care for themselves. And from there, it is often easier to be more connected to others. For introverts this is enormously important. They may find that they have to connect to themselves before they can reach out for a partner. In my work with couples these differences seem to manifest a lot. I have found that often an introvert may be drawn to an extrovert and vice versa. These differences are not insurmountable they just have to be discussed openly.
In Cains TED talk which I think is a great summation of her ideas, she explains how all great religious thinkers would retreat to solitude for reflection, have an epiphany and then come back to share their wisdom. I love thinking about it this way. Often in couples therapy I work to help each person understand themselves and then how their part in the cycle with their partner is affecting the other. But it is this aspect of self awareness that can be complicated and tricky to navigate. It is a process and as we work through it hopefully each person understands themselves and then can empathize with their partner more. This is at the core of creating a lasting connection. If you would like to see the Ted talk click below.Google+