Today we’re discussing a very simple principle to better know yourself and capitalize on your strengths.
Out of all the different “personality tests” and “personality types” that exist, it’s one basic personality distinction that has ACTUALLY been incredibly helpful to me:
INTROVERSION VS. EXTRAVERSION*
(*I’ve seen this word also spelled “extroversion” but I hear that “extraversion” is technically the more science-y way to spell it.)
Now before we get a little more into the details of what it means to be extraverted or introverted, I’m going to immediately point out that everyone is a bit of both.
No one is purely one or the other – you probably exhibit some characteristics of each type.
That being said, almost everyone leans at least a bit to one side or the other.
More introverted people tend to value time by themselves. They tend to be more quiet, thoughtful, and reserved. They’re often self-aware and insightful. Being out around crowds, in very stimulating environments, or socializing with others is “draining” or “exhausting” to them.
More extraverted people are outgoing, love being out around others, and thrive off of social energy. They’re often friendly, talkative, and can be excellent at meeting and charming others. Being alone for too long is “isolating,” “lonely,” or “boring” to them.
(Do you immediately see yourself relating a little bit to each? Or that you really lean toward one side?)
It’s quite useful to take some time to think about which one you lean towards (and how much you lean toward it), and see if you can optimize your lifestyle to match that tendency.
Matching your lifestyle to your specific level of introversion/extraversion will tend to make you happier, but it will give you something else:
Possibly more than anything, the introversion/extraversion dichotomy describes how you get your energy.
Remember how being out around others is “exhausting” to introverts?? That’s a perfect example. Introverts get energy from being alone; being out with others requires them to spend energy. They need to get some time alone afterward to “recharge.”
If you’re an introvert, one of the things you can do is schedule and prioritize time alone. Treat it as vital. Make sure that you’re aware, in advance, that being around crowds and engaging in social activities is going to be draining, so try to time-constrain these activities.
If you’re an extravert, on the other hand, one of the most powerful things you can do is start spending more time with more people throughout the day. Seeing more people – even if it requires sort of ‘doing more,’ in a sense – may actually leave you feeling more energized.
(This works in almost the same way as active recovery, where doing certain activities more frequently is also counterintuitively energizing.)
If you think you might be more the extraverted type, experiment with packing your schedule more with seeing friends, getting out of the house, or at the very least getting work done with other people around – in a coffee shop, for example.
(I’m typing this in a coffee shop right now, by the way.)
If you’re an introvert, and you find yourself stuck with others the majority of the day, try scheduling some sacred time to yourself to journal, do something you enjoy, or just be alone with your thoughts. Does that sound like it would be lonely or boring to some? It’s likely very energizing to you. Protect that time.
If you’re an extravert, and you find yourself plopping down on the couch after work to flip on the TV, try using that time to go see people you enjoy instead. Does that sound too exhausting to some, after a long day of work?
You may find that you actually do have the energy to do it, because seeing them will energize you and leave you feeling better. Try it out and see.
Take some time to get familiar with how introverted or extraverted you are. And – while of course always prioritizing basic emotional self-care – match your lifestyle to your introversion/extraversion level.
IMPORTANT NOTE –
Okay, this is a little bit complicated, but here goes: You may be somewhat of an introvert, but you may be spending too much time alone for your specific level of introversion. Similarly, you may be somewhat extraverted, but actually spending a bit too much time with others for your specific extraversion level. (A lot of extroverts who constantly work around people seem to experience this social burnout, and a lot of introverts who keep to themselves don’t get quite enough social time). Find the golden amount for you. Be sure to experiment. Try being around people more.* (Or maybe less, if necessary.) Find the perfect amount to maximally energize you.
*Especially people you like.
You may be surprised with the incredible amounts of energy you gain by getting this right.
Best of luck, as always.