Many of my clients seek my help to "manage their anxiety."
I hear these phrases regularly: I feel more comfortable at home. I don't like going to school/work. I get nervous in groups of people. My heart beats faster when I hear loud noises, and so on ...
Well, come to find out many, if not most, of the women and girls I see in my practice are introverted, and many had no idea. The feelings of unease, worry and panic they experience are in response to a world that is made for extroverted folks.
The majority of my clients are creative, intelligent, sensitive and highly introverted, yet at some point in their lives, usually early on, they had been pathologized for not adapting to or even thriving in environments based on extroverted preferences.
For those that are confused by the terms introverted and extroverted, put simply, introverts recharge in quiet and tend to prefer small groups or one-to-one social interaction, while extroverts tend to recharge via social activity and enjoy large groups. There is of course a spectrum, but in general we talk about folks as being introverts or extroverts to better understand their social needs.
That said, much of my work with introverted clients focuses on (1) helping them understand their reactions are understandable and (2) helping them identify ways to best take care of themselves in an extroverted world.
This can be tricky, and goes far beyond avoiding loud music festivals. Work and school environments are moving toward project-based learning and team models, which can be draining for those who are more introverted. Bright lights, sounds and scents can be overwhelming. Too much talking can be overwhelming. And so it goes ...
In next week's post, I'll talk about specific strategies to care for your introverted soul. But until then, from one introvert to another, know your introversion is not a flaw!
Till next time,