Do you often worry that you are too much of an introvert? Would you rather be an extrovert? Someone who is often said to be the “life and soul” of the party?
But what does extrovert mean? Is being an introvert really such a “bad” thing?
In this article, we’ll find out:
Extroverts and introverts
It was the psychologist Carl Jung who first came up with the idea of extroverts and introverts back in the 1960s (actually he called them “extraverts”, but there’s no extrovert vs extravert argument. The two terms mean the same thing).
According to Jung, the deciding factor which made you more of an introvert or more of an extrovert was the sort of activities which gave you energy:
1. More extroverted: gain energy from interactions with people, large events and being in crowds.
2. More introverted: gain energy from time spent alone.
But Jung thought it was important to point out that his idea did not argue that a person was either an extrovert or an introvert. Everyone exists on a spectrum somewhere between the two.
In fact, Jung himself said that there was no such thing as a pure extrovert or a pure introvert. It was his opinion that “such a man would be in the lunatic asylum”.
What is an extrovert?
An extrovert is a person on the “gain energy from other people” end of Jung’s spectrum.
They will usually be someone who enjoys working and spending time as part of a group, who likes to communicate by talking, as well as possessing a wide variety of other characteristics:
1) Will not need (or particularly like) spending time alone
Because extroverts gain their energy from being around other people, regular socializing and group meetings will tend to make them feel better.
An introvert is more likely to need some time on their own to recharge after activities like this.
2) Will like being in groups
Whether it’s at work, playing team sports or setting up group weekends away, an extrovert will be looking for and keen to organize events with large groups.
3) Will like to try new things (and will be less afraid of the risks)
An extrovert is more likely to have a large range of interests, hobbies and activities which they enjoy. This may be at least partially because they tend to be less afraid of risk than more introverted people.
It’s been conjectured that a more extroverted brain produces dopamine rewards for all kinds of theoretically risky activities. It has actually been suggested that the brain’s response to dopamine could actually be the entire key to where a person ends up falling on the extraversion spectrum.
4) Will be likely to have a lot of friends
All that time spent in groups, trying new things, meeting new people and enjoying being there makes an extroverted personality more likely to create large numbers of friends for themselves.
5) Will be more likely to externalize problems
If you are an extrovert, you will be less happy keeping things bottled up. You are more likely to talk through your problems with someone else.
An extrovert will also usually make their choices known and be better at expressing themselves in general.
6) Will be near the center of attention (and possibly unhappy if they’re not)
Someone who is extroverted may be seen as the “life and soul of the party”. They might come across as a very happy and positive person. Problems they experience are less likely to phase them for very long.
The downside of this is that some extroverts like being the (or near the) center of attention. They may become dissatisfied if they are not.
7) Will be more likely to be adaptable
When problems arise, an extrovert is less likely to be put off by them.
On the flip side – possibly because of that willingness to take greater risks – an extroverted person is also less likely to require a detailed plan before they commence an activity or project which can actually lead to problems.
They may prefer to be spontaneous.
What is an introvert?
An introvert is a person on the “gain energy from time spent alone” end of Jung’s spectrum.
They will usually require a certain amount of time spent on their own in between any social activities they may engage in.
However, it is important to note that there are major differences between being introverted and being “shy”:
- Shyness: as a shy person, you will be afraid of or anxious about social interactions. You may consciously avoid social interactions. Strangely, even extroverts can be shy.
- Introverted: as an introverted person, you will simply not need social interaction. You may not be the one to begin a social interaction, but you are also unlikely to try to avoid them.
What is an introverted extrovert?
An introverted extrovert is simply someone who is comfortably close to the middle of Jung’s spectrum of introversion to extroversion. They will possess characteristics of both.
Some people refer to this as being an “outgoing introvert” or a “social introvert”.
The key fact is that introversion vs extroversion isn’t a black or white situation. Almost everyone is a mix of both.
How to become an extrovert
That said, many introverts dream of being just a little bit more extroverted. It’s vital to remember though that being towards the introverted end of the spectrum isn’t a bad thing:
You are less likely to indulge in risky behavior, for example. Plus, even if you aren’t always the one initiating big social events, you will still probably enjoy attending them. You also don’t need other people in order to stay energized.
But if you are dead set on getting out there a little more, here are a few tips on how to be an extrovert:
1. Check for introversion vs. shyness: if you are actually afraid of attending social events, you may have some kind of social anxiety. If you find this is causing you serious disruption in your life, it might be worth considering consulting a therapist.
2. Explore yourself: getting to know yourself a little better may help you accept yourself as someone who is a little introverted or choose to become a little more extroverted. Self-knowledge is one of the major reasons people visit us at the Spirit Vine Center. It is one of the traditional uses of ayahuasca and has been for centuries. Some people gets anxious about sharing their experience with strangers but since the very beginning of the retreat we work on trust issues and fears. The group becomes a source of support and each member of the group is opening their hearts. Also many cases of shy or introverted people by the end of the retreat they volunteer to talk about their experiences in the video testimonial.
We have a workshop where the participants are guided to go to the cause of their blockages and we teach how to heal the trauma associated with the blockage.
3. Make a plan: simply telling yourself you’re going to get out there more is unlikely to work. Why not make a plan? As a rule, introverts like plans! Choose specific goals like talking to a stranger each day or eating lunch with someone new at work each week and then mark off whether you’ve done it or not.
Remember that – especially from childhood to adolescence to adulthood – peoples’ personalities change. Also, don’t forget that being an introvert isn’t necessarily “bad” nor being an extrovert necessarily “good”.
Everyone is somewhere on the wide variety of spectrum which human personalities can reach. It all adds to the variety of life.