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  • Aditi Surana

‘A Survival guide for introverts’

Let me rephrase today’s topic. This is a survival guide for three kinds of people:

  1. All the confused introverts who have been trying to fit in forever by pretending to behave like others.

  2. All the full blown introverts who have given up on the world as it doesn't make sense &

  3. All the victims who have struggled to survive with introverts

As a part of my training I studied a swiss psychiatrist Dr.Carl Jung. He is the father of analytical psychology & he is relevant to today’s discussion as he coined the terms - introvert & extrovert or extravert as he called it. He believed you can't be 100% introvert or 100% extrovert. You are always a mix of both. However, if you are 50 - 50% mix then you are an ambivert. I liked his approach so much that I got certified to conduct psychometric tests called MBTI based on Jung’s personality model.

I meet so many introverts who struggle to survive in the world filled with people who are constantly seeking interactions. Unfortunately, we live in a world that is designed for extroverts.

We all went to schools with big classrooms, which automatically means a group environment. In the initial years, create this demand where introverted kids learn to act like extroverts. They remain closeted & as they are introvert, I don’t think they care about coming out. Jokes apart, these introverts do everything in their capacity to master the art of communication. They create backdoors, shortcuts & even coping mechanisms.

In this short survival guide let me show you three stages of surviving the

overwhelmed introvert:

1. Identify if you are an introvert.
2. Embrace it. Accept it.
3. Help others to function around you.

Stage 1 - Identify if you are an introvert.

Introverts have a high level of internal stimulation. They have a greater need to shield themselves from external stimuli. They need to withdraw to recharge their batteries.

On the contrary extroverts feel stimulated by interacting with others. They actively seek interactions to recharge their inner batteries. Basically one is IOS & the other is android. They appear similar but designed differently.

Stage 2: Embrace it. Accept it.

There are two important chemicals found in all our brains. Dopamine & acetylcholine. Dopamine is like a hit of energy when we take risks, meet new people & it makes extroverts feel great. But introverts are more sensitive to dopamine & get quickly over stimulated. That's why they prefer a slow stream of feeling happy when their brains release acetylcholine. That happens when you concentrate, read or feel absorbed in an activity. It makes introverts feel relaxed & content.

We need to celebrate introverts in the world. They hold the power to shake the world in a gentle way. They are essential for the balance. They are yin to all the yang in the world. They are deep thinkers, researchers, poets, writers, scientists & great business minds. Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, JK Rowling, Warren Buffett to name a few.

Stage 3: Help others to function around you.

  1. Instead of struggling to participate in small talk or even avoiding it. You can choose the role of a patient listener.

  2. Schedule alone time in your calendar.

  3. Nurture your inner circle. Meeting new people and being friendly can be an exhausting and tiring process for you. Acknowledge it.

  4. Find activities that will demand isolation.Choose swimming or cycling over zumba group class.

  5. Mediate

  6. Box breathing - In Yoga sadhana it is called ‘Pranayam’

  7. Yoga sadhana at home

If introversion is understood by all of us, we can make a massive difference to our collective world.

Thank you allowing me to open up a discussion on this unpleasant and yet essential topic. Haruki Murakami, Japanese novelist says beautifully (another word) - “What happens when people open their hearts? They get better.”

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