Imagine your identity came from one label that was attached to you as a child.
Quiet. Unsocial. Shy.
Now imagine that as you grew up, your life followed that path.
You believed you lacked social skills, so you didn’t attend networking events.
You felt bad for wanting to stay in rather than going out partying, so you created a habit of negative thought patterns.
You watched opportunities pass you by, so you became resentful.
This is the power labels have.
Labels help us put people in boxes, which simplifies our view of human beings.
However, one size rarely fits all.
This is the case for introverts as well.
How would you define introversion?
Ask a bunch of people what it means, and you’ll get different answers. Even experts can’t agree on what it means. Definitions range from “shy-socially anxious” to “preference for quiet, minimally stimulating environments.”
Recent research by psychologist Jonathan Cheek indicates that rather than one introverted “type,” there are four shades: social, thinking, anxious, and restrained.
Introverts can be more strongly one shade or a mix of all four (find out your shade here).
Your introversion is a part of your identity, and knowing it helps you understand how your mind works.
The four types of introverts
If you are a social introvert, you prefer to go out with a few close friends rather than large groups. Or sometimes it’s a preference for staying home alone, nose in a book.
This choice isn’t based on fear and anxiety, rather a personal preference for quietness and intimacy. Social introverts enjoy their own company, and spending too long in the presence of others may emotionally drain them.
If you’ve been called indifferent or aloof, you may be a social introvert.
Self-care tips for social introverts:
- Clear boundaries: if you know you need to go to a large gathering, take time to energize beforehand.
- Look after yourself the day after being around lots of people—schedule time to re-energize.
- Create a circle of loved ones you trust, who accept and understand you for who you are.
Do you find it easy to get lost in your head? Could you spend hours daydreaming? Do you love thinking deeply about life?
You may be a thinking introvert.
Social situations don’t bother you, and you don’t mind the presence of other people. Rather, you’re an introvert in the sense that you have a rich inner world.
You tend to be thoughtful, introspective, and self-reflective. You spend time thinking about how you feel and who you are as a person.
Self-care tips for thinking introverts:
- Give yourself permission to reflect on your thoughts, feelings, and emotions (such as journaling).
- Fill your life with activities that bring you joy: have hobbies that bring your creativity to life.
- Create meaningful relationships to ensure you don’t lose touch with reality (no matter how deep in your thoughts you may get).
Anxious introverts are those of us who genuinely struggle around other people. You may purposefully avoid anything social, but in contrast to the social introvert who chooses not to, it is because large groups make you feel anxious.
You may feel awkward, shy, and self-conscious because you’re not confident in your own social skills. Turning down social invitations is the norm.
This anxiety doesn’t fade when you are alone. You have a tendency to ruminate, to lose yourself in a downward spiral of the anxiety of things that could go wrong.
Self-care tips for anxious introverts:
- Set a time limit for 10 minutes a day, specifically for worrying. When the timer goes off, stop. Allow yourself this time, then try not to do it the rest of the day.
- When you feel yourself getting anxious, focus on your breath. This calms your mind and heart. Breathe and count:
Breathe in and count 1….2….3…4…
Wait and count 1….2….3…4…
Breathe out and count 1….2….3…4…
Wait and count 1….2….3…4…
Repeat 4 times.
Become aware of situations that make you feel anxious and research methods that will help. It may be tough, but try to remember that “this too, shall pass” and things will be okay.
Restrained introverts are reserved and slow-moving. You are someone who takes the time to think before speaking.
You may take a while to get going and are very deliberate in your intentions. You find it difficult to immediately spring into action and need time to gather your thoughts before venturing out.
This type of introvert is not afraid of social situations (rather the opposite) but are very selective about who they open up to. But once you have earned their trust, you’ve earned it for life.
Self-care tips for restrained introverts:
- Allocate extra time during the day (particularly in the mornings) to gather your thoughts and prepare for what’s ahead.
- Finding it hard to speak in conversations because others jump in first? Have a few go-to phrases that create time to think. For example: “Hmm yes, I’m just thinking of a time when I experienced a similar thing….”
- Create a lifestyle that suits who you are but avoid isolating yourself from loved ones.
Did you find out what your shade of introvert is? Having a deeper awareness of who you are can lead to greater self-compassion and purpose.
Your introversion can become your superpower.
- There are 4 types of Introverts: Which one are you? - December 18, 2020