Painting by Cathy Schoenberg
I don't know how many people reading this are introverts, but I most definitely am. I am not shy; I am fatigued by spending too much time in people's company and need a lot of alone time, which I don't usually get. Here is an article I recently discovered that has some interesting points.
Introverts Are Not Mentally Ill
One of the biggest differences between introverts and extroverts is how they react to stress.
Some people don't understand how introverts react to stress. Because of this, they think that introverts are "neurotic" or mentally ill. Let me explain why this is a misperception.
When extroverts are stressed, they "act out". They may smoke, drink, yell and scream, throw a punch, stomp around or generally raise the roof. Although this behavior is difficult and even obnoxious, it is not considered "mentally ill".
When introverts are stressed, they withdraw. They do this to recharge their batteries, not because they are neurotic. Introverts need time alone to bring order back into their inner world. They give energy to others and receive energy when alone.
Let's look at some of the things that can stress introverts.
- Introverts are territorial. Someone cannot take their seat, move their stuff, lean on their desk, ignore their closed door or borrow their clothes without making them angry.
- Introverts need more time to recharge their batteries. If denied time alone, they may become irritable and depressed.
- Introverts value privacy. When their boundaries are disregarded, when someone has a loud personal conversation on their cell phone in their captive presence, such as waiting in the checkout line at the grocery store, they can be annoyed and offended.
- Introverts fear failure in public and experience deep humiliation because of it. If the teacher grabs an introvert for a demonatration of a new skill or a spouse puts an introvert on the spot to put a bicycle together it can be extremely stressful.
- Introverts prefer to communicate in writing. They may feel exhausted by too much verbal communication that "isn't going anywhere". Introverts hate small talk.
- Introverts like being prepared. If rushed to present a solution or opinion, they may be extremely uncomfortable and sometimes refuse to do so at all.
What are some ways that introverts restore balance?
- Introverts need to spend at least half of their time alone for optimal good health.
- Introverts love long trips, walks in nature and usually enjoy the company of animals. These activities restore their peace of mind and equilibrium.
- Introverts give energy when they are with people and need to be alone to recharge their batteries.
- Intoverts need a room of their own with a door that closes.
- Introverts need to give themselves permission to communicate via email or in writing and to ingore the phone.
- Decision making should take place without time pressure if possible. Introverts like to be prepared!
- Introverts hate surprises. It's natural to try and control your own world as much as possible... learn to let the rest of it go!
If you're an introvert, it's important to understand your natural reactions to stress and what you can do to restore your equilibrium. Retreats into self are neither neurotic nor mentally ill. They are a natural restorative to introverts.
Also read Caring for Your Introvert, by Jonathan Rauch - the best!