Do you have an introvert in your life? Are they your sibling, or your best friend or perhaps your romantic partner? Introverts can often be misunderstood and so it’s important that you know how to care for your introvert.
What is introversion?
The terms extrovert and introvert were coined by noted Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Carl Jung in the 1920s to describe the two types of personalities. Extroverts mostly feel energized from social interactions while introverts tend to energize themselves by doing solitary activities. In fact, introverts may feel mentally, emotionally and physically drained by socializing as crowds and loud environments are overstimulating to them.
“In its modern sense, the concept goes back to the 1920s and the psychologist Carl Jung. Today it is a mainstay of personality tests, including the widely used Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.” explains Jonathan Rauch, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. The fact is most extroverts are unable to understand them even though 25% of the population are introverts. “Extroverts have little or no grasp of introversion. They assume that company, especially their own, is always welcome. They cannot imagine why someone would need to be alone,” adds Jonathan. And this is why extroverts often fail to properly care for them. So if you are an extrovert, it is likely that you are unable to properly care for your introvert.
Also read: 6 Great Reasons To Date An Introvert
Introverts are different
But why do extroverts often misunderstand introverts? Because introverts are very different from extroverts. And the reason why the two personalities are so different is due to the neurotransmitter dopamine.
According to several studies, dopamine is a chemical that is released in the brain and is linked with reward-seeking behavior. This neurotransmitter enables us to pursue external goals to accomplish external rewards. So dopamine may make you feel the rush of reward by earning more money, getting a promotion, making new friends or attracting a mate.
Although extroverts and introverts have equal amounts of dopamine, the main difference is how these two personalities react to the dopamine reward network.
According to Scott Barry Kaufman, the Scientific Director of The Imagination Institute, extroverts have a highly active dopamine reward network. So during a social event, an extrovert feels energized, while an introvert feels drained. The reality is, the more you learn about introverts, the better you will be able to care for your introvert.
What makes introverts happy
Due to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, introverts feel energized by doing solo activities and turning inwards, according to educational psychologist Christine Fonseca, MS. This enables introverts to enjoy individual tasks and the ability to reflect. As it is easier to turn inwards with minimal distractions, introverts prefer to stay alone or in a peaceful environment.
However, that doesn’t mean introverts are aloof, rude, arrogant or shy, says Jonathan Rauch. He explains “ Introverts are not necessarily shy. Shy people are anxious or frightened or self-excoriating in social settings; introverts generally are not. Introverts are also not misanthropic… Rather, introverts are people who find other people tiring.”
Now that you know what makes your introvert so different from you, it is crucial that you understand how to best care for your introvert.
How to care for your introvert
If you want to truly care for your introvert you have to start by understanding who they are inside and what motivates them to behave and act in the way they do. Author and senior fellow Jonathan Rauch believes there are 3 main ways to care for your introvert:
- Understand who they are and realize that they do not choose to be an introvert. He explains that introversion is “not a lifestyle. It’s an orientation.”
- Never ask an introvert if they are alright when you find them lost in their thoughts.
- Do not interrupt them in any way and just let them be. “Don’t say anything else, either,” says Jonathan concludes.
Here are some other helpful tips that will help you care for the introvert in your life and show them how much they mean to you.