Finding Meaning As An Introvert
Carl Jung, one of the early pioneers in the field of psychiatry during the late 19th and early 20th centuries was the first to create a classification system for personality types. Jung placed individuals in one of two main categories; Extraverted (E) or Introverted (I). He also added two pairs of additional subcategories; Thinking (T) versus Feeling (F) and Sensing (S) versus Intuition (N). An additional pairing, Judging (J) versus Perceiving (P) would eventually be added to ultimately create a four letter code whose various combinations created a total of sixteen different personality types.
I – Introverts prefer working/being alone or with a small group. Introverts get their energy from within.
E – Extraverts prefer being around others. Extraverts find their energy in the external world.
T – Thinkers tend to be logical and like to weigh the pros and cons.
F – Feelers tend to make decisions based on values and consider the feelings of other’s.
S – Sensors are realistic people who like to focus on the facts and details as they exist in the here and now.
N – Intuitives see the bigger picture, look towards the future and are imaginative
J – Judgers like to be organized and stick to the plans
P – Perceivers like to keep their options open, be spontaneous and flexible with plans.
This blog will focus on the most introverted of personality types and how creating a sense of meaning and purpose can be challenging for those individuals.
Introversion is oftentimes confused with shyness. What is the difference between being shy and being introverted? Shy people typically have a fear of interacting with others. This is usually the result of low self esteem or a lack of confidence. Introverts, on the other hand, prefer solitude over social interactions. This does not mean that introverts are afraid of socializing. I know many introverts who are teachers, public speakers and generally successful at navigating the complexities of networking with other people/professionals.
Many introverts, especially those who are coded as INTJ, INFJ or INFP struggle to find a balance between staying engaged with others while needing time for themselves.
Individuals with these personality types typically struggle with the following;
- Feeling emotionally/physically drained after a social engagement or prolonged personal interactions.
- Needing time to recharge after such a social event and wanting to be alone or engage in solo activities.
- Feeling bored or uncomfortable with small talk or conversations that feel meaningless and empty.
- They often like to work problems out in their mind before they speak, which can leave others feeling as if they are disengaged or don’t care.
- Uncomfortable being acknowledged publicly such as a surprise birthday party, an award or other accolade.
Coping as An Introvert
So can introverts find meaningful connection with others while not causing themselves unnecessary stress? The answer is YES. Follow the four steps below should when faced with social stressors.
First; Acknowledge that certain social gatherings are just not enjoyable or appealing. This is perfectly appropriate to communicate that to others. People will be more understanding with an explanation rather than a chronic, last minute cancellation or no show.
Second; If you do decide to attend a large function, then set a time limit on how you stay. There is no rule that states you need to attend all 5 hours of a wedding reception. Try a two hour time limit and then assess your energy levels. If you feel like you have had enough, then say your goodbyes and be on you’re way. If you’re having good conversations and feel connected, then stay a bit longer. The point is that you are in control of when or if you go, and how long you stay.
Third; Seek out quiet, uncrowded venues. Introverts thrive in small intimate gatherings where the conversation is meaningful and stimulating. A loud club or bar is not conducive for having conversation. Instead, choose places like a coffee shop, a quiet restaurant, the park or even a quiet evening on the back deck.
Fourth; Consider seeking out activities that stimulate your intellectual or creative needs. You can attend a lecture, take an art class, join a book club, explore cultural events or find a hiking group. I often suggest that people explore the social app MeetUp. This may sound like a cheesy dating site, but it actually allows individuals to look for local groups like ones mentioned above.
It is important to note that personality types are never this black and white. Carl Jung and those who continued exploring these theories believed that everyone has both introverted and extraverted traits. Neither trait is more beneficial or superior than the other. The need to create meaning and purpose are intrinsic to everyone, regardless of personality.