Signs of an Introverted Personality Type and How To Be More Assertive

The aloof, the forever reserved, the infinitely awkward. Death of a party! Introverts. What do we really know about them? (other than the obscure, one-dimensional premise of one’s entire identity) Legend has it that individuals with an introverted personality type cannot help but be (or at least appear to be) shy, asocial, withdrawn, depressed, anxious, distrustful, and 360-timid. – and God knows, human beings feast on stereotypes.

You hear: “Have you met Mike from accounting yet? He’s so awkward.” -“I know, right? He’s an introvert.” Now, the involuntary impulse in us has already pictured Mike from accounting: He loves beige and gray. Pullovers? Most likely. Glasses? Check. Has a cat – double-check. Or three. – question mark. He’s also into coding and has successfully remained single ever since college. True? Probably false. We know nothing about Mike. Stereotypes. So, what’s the truth behind the introverted personality type? Let’s talk.

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Introversion: a multidimensional take

What defines an introvert? “They are loners. They are quiet. If their social ineptness allowed it, they would most certainly call shotgun on those chairs in the corner. Oh, and the majority of them probably spend their free time searching for the best affordable online counseling.” Another fine quality of our collective – generalization. Although it may be true for some introverted individuals, there are so many layers to this personality type.

A swiss psychologist named Carl Jung was the first to introduce the personality type theory, as well as the “introvert” and “extrovert” terms (also spelled extrAvert). That was in the 1920s, mind you. Anyhow, being introverted or extroverted has to do with how we gather and spend our energy reservoirs. Jung claimed that introverts turn inwards (i.e. their minds) in order to recharge, whereas extroverts seek out energy sources from external stimuli. (i.e. other people)

assorted lollipops on pink background
Introverted Personality Type vs. Extroverted Personality Type; Black and white?

Introversion: causes

Nature vs. nurture. Are we born introverted, or is the personality trait strictly of an empirical nature? Although not scientifically proven, we say: probably a bit of both. However, this much we know to be true: the brains of the two polar opposites (introvert vs. extrovert) function and react a bit differently when subjected to stimuli. Physiologically speaking, it really comes down to RAS ( reticular activating system) whose purpose is to regulate our arousal levels.

A psychologist by the name of Hans Eysenck proposed a theory: arousal levels in introverts are inherently high; unlike an extrovert brain whose reward center invites and welcomes new stimuli (the more, the merrier), introverts tend to seek ways to escape from overstimulation. Hence, the hermit phase. The solitude and quiet give introverts the opportunity to reflect and process without tiptoeing around the definition of a breakdown.

Introversion: types

The definition of an introvert is not set in stone; not every non-extroverted individual will be compelled to look up the best anxiety treatment online; introverts can and do differ greatly. Individualism, hey. No two snowflakes are alike, right? A study from 2011 showed that introverted personalities usually fall into one of the four domains, or subtypes:

  • Social introverts – the opposite of a “social butterfly” as one can imagine, they don’t thrive in larger groups but prefer quiet settings over pandemonium; alone or in smaller groups
  • Thinking introverts – the inner world is dominant: they enjoy pondering, absorbed, and fully immersed in their inner topography. They are daydreamers with exceptionally creative imaginations.
  • Anxious introverts – the company of people (especially unfamiliar people) invites feelings of social awkwardness, excessive shyness, and a lack of confidence. They prefer spending time alone where they can enjoy their rich, vivid inner worlds without experiencing hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating) and other socially frowned upon occurrences. Additionally, they are prone to rumination and perpetual worry; that’s why most introverts of this type tend to seek the best online cbt therapy for anxiety.
  • Inhibited (or restrained) introverts – Impulsive action is a stranger; this type is all about “think before you speak/act.” There is no winging it. – and that’s okay. They usually keep their feelings and thoughts to themselves and are less than likely to pursue new stimuli and excitement until they’ve considered every possible angle.
person in red sweater sitting near body of water depicts an introverted personality type
Enjoying quality alone time doesn’t mean we’re socially inept.

Introverted personality type: traits

Extroverted or introverted, each individual holds a distinctive, unrepeated persona. The majority of introverts can and will display qualities of an extrovert – an introverted social butterfly? Is that a thing? Pf, you bet. Many introverts enjoy the social aspect, and to the same extent as their polar opposites. (and vice versa!) So, are you (is Mike?) an introvert? Here are a few hints:

  1. Self-awareness comes naturally to you
  2. Social interaction drains your entire being
  3. You find excessive stimulation overwhelming
  4. You have a close circle of friends
  5. Solitude is a soothing affair

Self-awareness comes naturally to you

For an introvert, the light passes through an internal prism; most of the psychological wiring is turned inward. Micro instead of macro. And it works. A mind of an introvert is the ultimate playground – that’s where all the magic happens. (well, most bits) For the “quiet types”, inner processes are their most precious possession, as they spend plenty of their earthly hours dissecting their thoughts, experiences, emotions, and the meaning behind it all. (Currently trending – Me and my Valentine’s Day depression) Hence, a gift from the universe: self-awareness. Introverts were inherently granted direct access to gaining deeper knowledge about self. They think, read, and explore. Understanding is exceptionally important to those with an introverted personality type.

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Social interaction drains your entire being

Introverts are very much like phone batteries; the more you call them, text them, and see them, the quicker the battery drains. 11% – 7% – 1% Truth be told, not all introverts experience the draining part so intensely; some truly enjoy socializing and interacting with others, but they will (9/10) always prefer the company of their closest friends. One of the major differences between extroverts and introverts is that extroverts charge their batteries and draw their energy from social interactions, unlike introverts who shell out for a single Saturday night out. Introverted personalities often need time to recuperate after an immersive, social episode. Solitude and quiet.

You find excessive stimulation overwhelming

Again, extroverts thrive on impending information and stimuli. Their inner universe feels empty and restless without commotion. As the Latin would say: Perpetuum mobile (i.e. perpetual motion). Now, we loop back to our arousal levels topic; extroverts cannot experience overstimulation, due to their natural levels of arousal. External stimuli are their fuel. An introvert’s brain, however, goes directly into overdrive when placed in a hectic environment. Anything from excessive noise to blinding lights, to someone’s nauseating perfume (or sweat, if we’re dancing at a party). All senses are completely awake, making their best effort to detect a possible threat. “Fight or flight”, as we know it.

introverted personality type sitting at a party with feet turning inward
“It’s my party, and I’ll cry if I want to.”

You have a close circle of friends

“Introverts don’t like people. They are just weird.” – Aren’t we all a bit on the quirky side? Also, no; it’s not true. Introverts like (and love) people, just not all and everyone. And before you say it – no, they are not elitist (well, some of them, surely). While they typically don’t enjoy a large circle of casual friends and acquaintances, they certainly do enjoy spending time with a smaller group of people. Quality vs. quantity. Intimate friendships play a vital role in happiness for the type. Instead of indulging in parties with complete strangers, they turn to a few loyal, trustworthy friends when experiencing depression and stress.

Solitude is a soothing affair

Most people dread being alone. It invites discomfort, unwanted questions, and a bit of fear, even (pardon us, extroverts). For introverted personalities, solitude prompts feelings of utter calmness and sometimes even elation. Don’t forget: introverts run on solitude and processing. Quiet on the outside, thunderous on the inside. Activities such as reading, nature walking, Netflix, woodchopping, music making, singing, or painting; personal expression is exceptionally important to them. When choosing therapy, most introverts opt for something creative, like art therapy, where they can quietly process their intricate feelings and thoughts. Their modus vivendi? “Double R” – Reflect and Recharge.

A deeper understanding of introversion: Myers-Briggs

MBTI (or Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) derives from Carl Jung’s theory on “psychological type”. (the system was later developed by Katharine Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers) There are 16 personality types in MBTI’s introversion/extroversion realm (8-8). How come? Well, nothing in life is really black and white, is it? As humans, we all exhibit different preferences and act idiosyncratically, no matter how overlapping our personalities are. Nuances are, indeed, present. The ways we interact with the world and our ways of being are directly influenced by different social contexts.

The truth is, we are highly adaptable, and every one of us holds a degree of both extroversion and introversion. Yes, we tend to sway one way or the other (with E. or I. being a primary, dominant function), but it’s important to cognize: it’s a scale. And variations are plenty. According to Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, there are 8 introverted personality types:

  • ISTJ –  Introverted / Sensing / Thinking / Judging
  • ISFJ –  Introverted / Sensing / Feeling / Judging
  • INFJ – Introverted / Intuitive / Feeling / Judging
  • INTJ – Introverted / Intuitive / Thinking / Judging
  • ISTP –  Introverted / Sensing / Thinking / Perceiving
  • ISFP –  Introverted / Sensing / Feeling / Perceiving
  • INFP – Introverted / Intuitive / Feeling / Perceiving
  • INTP – Introverted / Intuitive / Thinking / Perceiving

The idea behind the MBTI concept is that personality traits that could otherwise appear absurd (when observed individually) can actually make sense when considered through a lens of a personality type.

pink puzzle piece surrounded by white pieces depicts an introverted personality type
And just like that; the jigsaw fell into place.

How to up your assertiveness game as an introvert

Becoming an assertive introvert doesn’t exactly happen overnight. Yes; no magic there. Just hard work. But, hey, if you’re an introvert, picking your brain is considered a reflex. Before we unlock this important skill, we must first come to understand the following:

  • my opinion is as valid as anyone’s; I deserve to be heard.
  • we are all equals; my introversion does not put me in an inferior position
  • I struggle with asserting myself because of my low self-esteem and self-confidence
  • I am in charge of my reactions and  fears; I am not powerless
  • working on my emotional and mental well-being is not selfish; loving myself and putting myself first is not an act of selfishness

Know your wants and needs

Numbing, suppressing, repressing – that’s what society teaches us. Socially acceptable emotions are very few nowadays, and many hypersensitive introverts experience nothing but utter hardship when attempting to articulate their wants and needs. Why? Through the lens of the extroverted, an introverted personality type simply doesn’t have what it takes to survive and thrive.What do I want?” Let’s start with that. Ambivalence does not birth assertiveness. Know what you want first.

Let your boundaries be known

Introverts can’t help but shy away from conflict. Oh, the anxiety, oh the turmoil! Anything but that. Sensitive to disapproval and criticism, they start avoiding conflict at all costs. Unfortunately, conflict is an integral part of our lives. Saying “OK” to a dispute is a sign of self-respect. – And so is setting boundaries. Introverts tend to bottle up their frustration and resentment (due to often disrupted channels of open communication), especially when they’re repeatedly misunderstood and underestimated. Setting boundaries can hurt other people’s feelings. – True. But we have to start somewhere. Grant yourself permission to communicate clearly.

stop sign with telephone wires and sky b&w
Boundaries first.

Play to your strengths

Introverts are notoriously bad at verbal communication (not all of them, of course). Why change? Use the written word for building assertiveness. Writing is an exceptional tool for conveying anything from “Farewell” to “I love you.” Use it to your advantage.

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The world may view any introverted personality type as weak and feeble, but, come on. We know the truth. Use your stealthy superpowers. Shake Whatcha Mama Gave Ya’. Are you ashamed of your sensitivity? Be proud. Are you kind? Be proud. Are you quiet? Good on you. Onward we go my fellow introverts. If you find that your gentle heart needs a pair of helping ears (or hands), we’re here. You can find all the best online therapy services and providers right here at your Consumer Opinion Guide. Our experts have all the information a quality introvert like yourself could ever need.


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