Living as a Quiet Australian
Most of us are familiar with the distinction between an introvert and an extrovert; we usually have a pretty fair handle on which of these we are. Both are normal, natural states. Yet, we often think of introversion as somehow being inferior to extroversion. How can an introvert live a life of a quiet Australian?
The pressure on introverts to change
It isn’t clear why this should be so. One possibility is that by nature introverts are less likely to share their thoughts and feelings; consequently, they are less likely to defend their perspective to extroverted people. In contrast, introverts are more likely to keep their thoughts and feelings to themselves.
No matter the reason, it seems the world is full of introverts; and introverts are drawn to partner with extroverts! Unfortunately, they face pressure from themselves or from their partners to change; to ‘come out of your shell’ or to ‘let yourself go a little’. Needless to say, these are things that introverts do not want to do; however, they feel swayed by diffuse popular notions of what is socially acceptable behaviour.
From pressures like this, even introverts come to doubt their own needs for isolation.
Why introverts seem to feel less
There is also the notion that introverts feel less than extroverts. Whatever difficulties there are in trying to compare one person’s feeling state to another, you are certainly less likely to hear about the feeling state of an introvert. In my experience, it is likely that introverts are less comfortable with feelings than extroverts, and so try to minimise their emotional lives.
This not only applies to feelings which anyone might wish to avoid, such as fear, anger and sadness, but can also apply to feelings which many people feel comfortable with, such as joy and overt happiness. For an introvert these ‘good’ feelings are dangerous as they might lead the introvert to dropping their sense of control in the excitement of the moment.
If the introvert was to do this, he or she may well feel too exposed.
The birth of a quiet Australian
As far as it is possible to generalise, introversion is partially due to genetics and partially due to the effect of early experiences. Putting aside the genetic component for a moment, a common reason that people become introverts is that they have had experiences where they have openly displayed their inner selves to their care-givers and, rather than being confirmed and encouraged, have been cut down and shamed.
Getting to feel your wants are legitimate
Psychotherapists often work with introverts, and one of the issues introverts commonly face is how to feel legitimate in asking for the isolation and inward activities that they need to stay functional. Through the process of therapy, introverts may gradually come to realise that their instincts were right all along – the alone-time they want is usually healthy and normal.
Tell me what you think in the comments.
– Tim Hill
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