It’s truly remarkable how much we confuse as introversion. Unless someone is down and ready to day-drink and “bullshit,” smiling, about sports or celebrities or mutual friends at the drop of a hat, they’re chalked up as “introverted.” But the reality is, many of them are not.
There are a lot more variations of “introversion,” and a lot of things we confuse as introverted that are actually other personality traits.
The first two traits are from Myers Briggs, which breaks personalities down into: extrovert vs. introvert, sensing vs. intuition, thinker vs. feeler, and perceiving vs. judging.
And one from “The Big Five”,” which is more or less the same traits as Myers Briggs plus one. It’s represented by “OCEAN:” Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism.
The second letter of Myers Briggs is either sensing (S) or intuitive (N), with sensors preferring the past and present and intuitives preferring the future.
Myers Briggs expert Heidi Priebe wrote,
“Extroverted intuitives are the least stereotypically extroverted extroverts. They gain energy primarily through exploring abstract ideas about the world and speculating over various possibilities for the future. They are extroverts primarily in that their thoughts are oriented externally, toward the world of experiences they could have. These extroverts feed off the mental energy of others in order to form new ideas and come to intellectual conclusions. They particularly enjoy engaging in friendly debates and bouncing ideas off others. If others are uninterested in engaging in such conversations, the extroverted intuitive is likely to go engage their plans and ideas alone.”
Extroverted sensors, on the other hand, are either “energized and inspired by the physical world that surrounds them,” where “their preferred method of socializing is one in which they are sharing experiences with other people — they’d rather bond over doing something fun together” or sensors are the type to value “social and societal conventions. They are rule-followers and tradition-upholders. To them, life is an ongoing process of putting — and keeping — things in order.” Intuitives are none of these things.
Extroverted intuitives don’t socialize the way that extroverted sensors do. Extroverted intuitives don’t even socialize the way that introverted sensors do. Their idea of a good time is debating, brainstorming, theorizing, or imagining an endless series of “what ifs” — and if they find themselves day drinking or “doing something fun” with others, what they really love most is the dialogue.
To an extroverted sensor, what the extroverted intuitive is doing can often seem like something a whole lot more boring and closed off than “being social.”
Preferring Thinking Over Feeling
Now, while the introverted feelers are more often interested in personal values (and often work as artists, poets and therapists), the extroverted feelers are interested in people — as a whole. Everyone.
“Extroverted feelers are the most stereotypically extroverted extroverts in that they gain energy primarily through interacting with people. They enjoy listening to, learning about and sharing experiences with others in just about any fashion — be it a long, in-depth conversation or a simple exchange of small talk. Others’ joy and pain is their joy and pain.”
Thinkers, on the other hand, don’t channel their extroversion with “shared experiences.” Instead,
“Extroverted thinkers are… goal-oriented and aggressive… They gain energy through working with others to achieve their goals and taking hold of those hard-earned achievements. They are not the warmest extroverts.”
Neuroticism, which relays levels of anxiety, ability to deal with stress and maintaining calmness under pressure. It’s the scale of sensitive/nervous to secure/confident.
From Wikipedia, Neuroticism is:
“The tendency to experience unpleasant emotions easily, such as anger, anxiety, depression, and vulnerability. Neuroticism also refers to the degree of emotional stability and impulse control and is sometimes referred to by its low pole, ‘emotional stability.’ A high need for stability manifests itself as a stable and calm personality, but can be seen as uninspiring and unconcerned. A low need for stability causes a reactive and excitable personality, often very dynamic individuals, but they can be perceived as unstable or insecure.”
Social anxiety is part of this. And social anxiety is not introversion.
I almost want to write that like 3 or 4 more times, in like all-caps bold, because so many people fuck this up — including myself, regarding myself. I’ll refrain from actually doing so, but suffice it to say: this mistake is incredibly common, and the sooner we realize this — especially regarding ourselves — the sooner we can grow as people.
“Many extroverts suffer from social anxiety — they gain energy from social interaction but feel inept at initiating it, and therefor avoid it. Social anxiety is a disorder that can affect anyone, regardless of his or her social orientation.”
The sooner we know this, the better.
So, what IS introversion?
It depends on the rest of our makeup.
Introverts might value tradition, or they might value their own moral code. They might value extensive research, or they might value discrete answers.
Introverted sensors: “place a high value on tradition and are extremely respectful of social and societal conventions. They are rule-followers and tradition-upholders. To them, life is an ongoing process of putting — and keeping — things in order.” As compared to extroverted sensors, who live in the moment.
Introverted intuitives: “enjoy gathering a large database of knowledge about the topics that interest them and discerning which knowledge ‘clicks’ with their pre-existing hunches or perceptions about the world.” While the extroverted intuitive is expansive and never-ending, the introverted intuitive is deliberate and discrete, always wanting the answer, not all possible ones.
Introverted feelers: “are highly creative individuals, who often use alone time to create poetry, music or art. They come to understand the world by deciding how they feel about the experiences they’ve had and developing a personal moral code to help them make future decisions.” As compared to extroverted feelers, who define what’s right and wrong based on “what people do” or “what others would think.”
Introverted thinkers: “strive to acquire as wide a breadth of knowledge as possible… Introverted thinkers are the true scientists and researchers of the world.” As compared to extroverted thinkers, who are, above all else, specific goal-oriented.
It is important to know that we talked here about “cognitive functions” — the concept that we all possess two extroverted cognitive functions and two introverted cognitive functions that are opposite.
We are all either: extroverted intuitive + introverted sensing, or we are introverted intuitive + extroverted sensing.
And we are all either: extroverted thinking + introverted feeling, or introverted thinking + extroverted feeling.
Ne + Si | Ni + Se … as well as… Te + Fi | Ti + Fe
In other words, we’re all a little bit S and N, F and T, E and I — it’s just the way they manifest.
For an in-depth explanation of the Jungian cognitive functions, click here.