Introversion and Extroversion …

Allow me, here, to debunk two pervasive and damaging myths about shyness:

You can have introverts who are not shy.
You can have extroverts that are shy.

Shyness and introversion are not, in fact, the same thing, and once we realize this we can see that shy introverts and shy extroverts have similar, but sharply different problems.

Shy extroverts feel shyness painfully. Shy extroverts thus have absolutely terrible lives, where they are continually desiring and grasping for social contact only to be incapable of actually achieving it. The flip side of this is that they have plenty of motivation to overcome shyness, and there’s almost nothing that they could do that would be more annoying or painful than their life without social contact, and initial set-backs will be more likely to push them to do something else than to give up entirely.

Shy introverts, on the other had, require less social contact (although they generally need some). Thus, a life spent mainly alone isn’t generally as acutely painful for them as it is for shy extroverts. Thus, a lot of their pain is actually situational, and so they tend to focus on specific things like not being able to get dates, or a job, or friends when they need it. But in general, they can be reasonably content with a more isolated life. The flip side of this, of course, is that they don’t have as much motivation to try to overcome it, and so if the measures they take don’t succeed immediately, they are more likely to simply give up than to try again.

I only have a little experience with shy extroverts from reading alt.support.shyness for several years. This is because I, myself, am a shy introvert. And, as you might expect, the most problematic situation for me was the lack of dates and that sort of social interaction. For the most part, simply chatting with co-workers and others would suffice for my other social needs, but getting a relationship was something that I considered important and an important lack. But if I tried things to improve this, like dating sites or spin dating or other things, and it didn’t work, then it was easier for me to just quit instead of trying something else or trying a bit harder. Thus, the convenience of the methods mattered, far more than it would be for a shy extrovert. If it was too hard, I’d simply think to myself that being by myself with my games and DVDs and books wasn’t all that bad, especially if it didn’t seem to be working.

So, because of this, the methods have to be different. Shy introverts need to set smaller goals for themselves so that they can see some progress which can encourage them to continue, but have an advantage in being able to focus in only on the things that really bother them. Shy extroverts, on the other hand, don’t need the smaller goals — although seeing progress always helps — but do have to change themselves and their condition far more to be satisfied.

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