What does introvert mean?
Introversion is a personality trait characterised by extreme introversion, preferring solitude and reflection to social interaction and stimulation.
Introverts focus their attention and energy on their inner thoughts, feelings and ideas, and feel most comfortable and energised in quiet, low-key environments.
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Although introverts prefer to spend time alone or in quiet surroundings, they are still able to form meaningful relationships and socialise in moderation.
Introversion is just one aspect of personality. People can also have other traits that influence their behaviour and preferences.
Introversion is a normal and healthy personality trait, estimated to be present in 30-50% of the population. It can bring many strengths, such as the ability to think deeply and be introverted.
However, it can also present challenges for extroverts, such as feeling misunderstood or ignored in social situations.
What are the signs of introversion?
Introverts have certain characteristics and tendencies that set them apart from extroverts. Here are some common signs of introversion:
- The need to be alone: They feel drained and exhausted if they spend too much time in company or in large groups, and need time alone to recharge.
- Enjoy solitary activities: They often enjoy solitary activities such as reading, writing, painting or other creative activities.
- Avoid small talk: They prefer deep conversations with other people to small talk.
- Feeling overwhelmed in busy environments: You feel easily overwhelmed in busy and chaotic environments and prefer quieter and more peaceful sett Feeling overwhelmed in busy environments: ings.
- Think before you speak: You need more time to collect your thoughts before speaking and may feel uncomfortable in difficult situations.
- Being introspective: They spend a lot of time reflecting on their thoughts and feelings and enjoy journaling or other forms of self-reflection.
- Having a small circle of close friends: You prefer to have a few close friends rather than a large circle of friends.
It is important to remember that everyone is unique and introverts may exhibit some or all of these symptoms to varying degrees.
Am I an introvert?
Here are some characteristics of introverts that you may recognise in yourself:
- You like to be alone.
- You often seek solitude and prefer to spend time alone or with a small group of close friends or family. This is because being around many people can be exhausting or overwhelming.
- You are a good listener.
- Because you tend to be thoughtful, you can be a good listener and take in everything others have to say before responding. You value deep conversations and prefer one-on-one conversations to large social gatherings.
- You can have a rich inner world
- You often have a vivid imagination and tend to engage in creative activities such as writing, painting or making music. You may like to get lost in your own thoughts or spend time exploring your own ideas.
- You can be reflective
- You often take time to reflect on your thoughts and feelings, so you are more introverted than extroverted. You value the time you take to think and may find that you need space to process your feelings.
- You can be choosy about relationships
- As an introvert, you may prefer a few close relationships to many shallow ones. You prefer deep relationships to large groups and can be selective about who you include in your inner circle.
It is important to remember that introversion is a personality trait and there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to be introverted. However, if you find that your introversion is causing you stress or interfering with your daily life, support or counselling may be helpful.
What to do about introversion?
Introversion is not something that needs to be “fixed” or “cured”.
Introversion is just a personality trait, and like any personality trait, it is part of what makes each of us unique. Some people are naturally more introverted, others more extroverted. This is a normal and valid way of being in the world, and introverts can be successful in many areas of life.
Rather than trying to change your personality, it may be more helpful to learn how to manage your natural tendencies and develop coping strategies that will help you to be more successful in the world.
It is also important to remember that introversion is not the same as shyness or social anxiety, which can be very stressful and interfere with daily life. Some introverts have difficulty in social situations, but this is not a necessary part of being introverted.
However, if an introvert is experiencing stress or difficulties because of their introverted tendencies, they may benefit from the support of mental health counselling. Therapy can help individuals to understand and accept their personality traits and provide them with strategies for dealing with difficulties as they arise.
Treating introversion in children and adults
Introversion is not a mental disorder that requires treatment. However, adults who struggle with social anxiety or shyness may benefit from specialist treatment.
For adults, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can help introverts overcome their social anxiety, develop coping strategies and learn to behave in social situations in ways that make them feel comfortable and authentic.
For children, it is also important to recognise that introversion is a normal and healthy personality trait and not something that needs to be ‘treated’ or ‘changed’. However, some children may find it difficult to socialise, make friends or participate in group activities.
In these cases, parents and educators can help by providing opportunities for social interaction in a safe and supportive environment, for example through extracurricular activities, group projects or playmates.
Introversion is a unique aspect of a person’s personality that should be respected and valued. By creating an environment that supports introverts and provides opportunities for growth and development, introverts can thrive and reach their full potential.
What are the types of introversion?
Psychologist Jennifer Grimes has identified four different types of introversion, each with its own characteristics:
- Social: Social introverts enjoy solitude and prefer to spend time alone, with a small group of close friends or family. They may feel exhausted or overwhelmed at large social events or in unfamiliar surroundings, but can be very sociable and talkative when with people they know and trust.
- Thinkers: Introverts spend a lot of time reflecting on their own thoughts and feelings. They are usually very analytical and like to solve problems and be creative. They may not be as comfortable in company, but can be very engaging and passionate when talking about their interests.
- Anxious: Anxious introverts are often shy and may suffer from social anxiety or social phobia. They feel uncomfortable in social settings and are very insecure or afraid of being judged by others. They tend to avoid social situations completely, but can be very warm and engaging when they feel comfortable and safe.
- Reticent: Reluctant introverts tend to be reserved and can appear aloof. They are reluctant to share their thoughts or feelings with others and may appear distant or uninterested in social interactions. However, they can also be very thoughtful and empathetic and have a great love of art, music or other forms of creative expression.
Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, it is important to accept yourself for who you are. Each personality type has its own strengths and weaknesses, and by understanding and accepting ourselves, we can learn to live happy and fulfilling lives.
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- Baker, C. (2022, December 13). Introvert vs. Extrovert: How to Recognize and Manage the Differences / Introverted. Leaders.com.
- Cook, G. (2012, January 24). The Power of Introverts: A Manifesto for Quiet Brilliance. Scientific American.
- Ellis, R. R. (2019, October 2). Introvert Personality. WebMD.
- Grimes, J., Cheek, J. M., & Norem, J. (2011, January 29). Four Meanings of Introversion: Social, Thinking, Anxious, and Inhibited Introversion. Introverted ResearchGate.
- Oishi, S., & Choi, H. (2020). Personality and space: Introversion and seclusion. Journal of Research in Personality, 85, 103933.