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Nancy Okerlund
Volume 3, Issue 8, 07/07/09

Six Years of Introvert Bliss

A few days ago I realized The Introvert Energizer is two years old this month. That got me looking back on the past six years of my (happy) preoccupation with being an introvert.

Six years ago I found out about the hardwiring of introverts (and extroverts.) It made a big impact on me. I went from oblivious about being an introvert to fascinated. But more important, I got a remarkable sense of relief. It came on fast and hasn't gone away.

I'm not disinterested in biology but it's not one of my favorite subjects I was a little surprised that the neurobiological research on temperament was so compelling.

But as I began to understand how the introvert/extrovert differences in brain blood pathways and neurotransmitters and autonomic nervous systems, etc. make such a difference in daily life, I wasn't bored.

And as those of you who've been reading this ezine for some time have probably noticed, what started as relief soon translated into happiness.

I was relieved to find such good, concrete reasons for my lifelong experience of so often seeming to be going "up the down staircase" in our extroverted culture.

I think my happiness comes from understanding there was nothing wrong with me after all. But also from getting to know what a fine model of human being the introvert species is. And from life getting more satisfying as I've turned myself into what I call a conscious introvert.

In my armchair analysis of the world, it wasn't long before I was theorizing that life would be better for everybody if there were more recognition of these concrete (and complex) differences between introverts and extroverts. And not only recognition.

I became interested in the possibility of things changing - the world working in a way that, overall, suits introverts better.

That won't be a small change who knows what it'll take :-).

Six years ago Marti Olsen Laney's book on the physiology of introversion (The Introvert Advantage How to Thrive in an Extrovert World) seemed about the only resource focused exclusively on introversion. Since then she's written two more (one on introverts and extroverts). I'm currently reading another guide for introverts, published last year, called Introvert Power Why Your Inner Life is Your Hidden Strength, by Laurie Helgoe. And I notice a book called The Introverted Leader, by Jennifer Kahnweiler, is just out. Looks like awareness is growing.

Six years into my own conscious introversion, it seems more natural than ever to me. And I watch my clients being more at ease, more skillful in negotiating their way in an extroverted world.

In the two years of writing this ezine, I've received messages from many places in the world, mostly about how challenging even painful it is to be an introvert. It makes me wonder if the whole planet is due for a shift.

When I boil it down, what I see as the introvert contribution is a slower pace, a quieter way and more thoughtfulness. I don't think Planet Earth would mind :-).

These days there's less clarity about how many introverts there are. The Introvert Advantage proposes the ratio of three extroverts to every introvert, a statistic that's been used for some time. But two recent MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) population studies put introverts in the majority! Helgoe's book is based on that assumption.

I remain curious. In my reading of Laney's work it's not clear whether her numbers come only from MBTI sources or also from the brain research. And if more introverts are being born, what does that say? If the numbers were never accurate and there have always been more introverts than extroverts, what does that say?!

In the meantime, I love being a conscious introvert.

As for The Introvert Energizer, I notice over the past year it's come out monthly more often than twice a month, my stated commitment. It's time to make that official.

Thanks for your introvert (or extrovert :-) energy! See you in August.

End of food for thought on to some practical ideas:

A Practical Idea for Introverts

Name three things that make you happy to be an introvert.

A Practical Idea for Extroverts

Ask an introvert in your life what he or she likes about being an introvert.

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