What I learnt about myself from “Quiet: The Introvert

I have mentioned in my last posting, I am an introvert. What I didn’t mention was I am a 100% introvert. How did I know? I took Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) assessment of personality to assess how we experience the world and make decisions, an extenstion of Carl Jung typology theories. How accurate is it? I thought it was very accurate, but further reaffirmed after I started to read “Quiet” written by Susan Cain. (http://www.thepowerofintroverts.com/)

I knew that I am an introvert for a very long time and I thought I understood it. Yet since I have started this soul searching mission, there are a lot of things about me that I kept on wondering why and what does it behold. I didn’t put any dotted lines between the fact that I am an introvert and these different things I was wondering. My instincts told me that there are something in there but I couldn’t quite define it succinctly. For some reasons, I have a belief that there is an absolute answer to it.

For example, I like to think. Whenever I was asked to list all the things I have ever enjoyed doing, I naturally will link it back to tasks that are technical, or mind boggling. I don’t think this quite describe what I actually wanted to express. The word I was looking for is “intellectual”. For example, I learnt on my own how to create Macro/ use VBA script. It gave me tremendous sense of achievement. Or I like to learn about how to use the DSLR camera, or the fact that I like to cook from scratch rather than buying the ready made. I am more interested in the mechanisms or the logic behind it rather than actually producing a beautiful results out of it. Well having a beautiful results definitely encouraging. It is like a complimentary prize.

Sometimes my mind is so busy, so talktative, so restless, I feel so tired. I have war within my head and I don’t know why. Do I just like to think unnecessarily stuff? Sometimes they are negative but there are times, they are constructive. Yet however constructive they are, I still blame myself for a lack of actions. So in the end, I still feel bad or guilty about it. And as time goes by, my patience wears thin and I started to get frustrated and annoyed with myself. And if it is a week or 2 before my mentruation, when my mood heightens, I would even get more frustrated and anxious. I feel there is a little person inside my head waiting to get out of my head. I just feel so trapped within.

So I resorted to meditation, as suggested by Robin Sharma in “The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari”. I try to keep my mind quiet and think nothing for a moment. Perhaps I have not really embraced meditation concept yet, as I keep finding myself still noisy within. But now I know why. I am not “quiet” yet because I haven’t embraced the true me.

Sometimes I will feel very emotional. Little things can make my tears shed. With or without any external triggers. My husband always forbid me and can’t quite understand why I cry over something I watch. I can be very sentimental. But there are also times, when I am all alone, I just feel that I want to cry. Especially if I haven’t cried for a long time. I feel that crying is like a long lost friend who will come to visit me once a while.

Now I understand why. In Chapters 4 and 5 in Quiet, Susan introduced “high reactivity” and “high sensitivity” concept to me. These chapters explore biological composition of the introverts and the extroverts. Without going into too technical or jargons, introverted people are just naturally highly reactive or sensitive. And hence we will cry or be sentimental easily.

When I read these chapters, I couldn’t help but laugh even though “Quiet” is not a comedy book. On the contrary, anyone who picks up and reads “Quiet” would have thought it is such a heavy book, not by the weight but by the matters of discussion.

I know this laugh is different comparing to, for example, when I read “Confessions of a Shopaholic” by Sophie Kinsella, a fiction comedy novel whereas Quiet is a dry non-fiction book exploring the introverts world, within and scientifically.

To prove my point, I have listed the content of Quiet here:

Part One: The Extrovert Ideal
1. The Rise of The “Mighty Likeable Fellow”: How Extroversion Became the Cultural Ideal
2. The Myth of Charismatic Leadership: The Culture of Personality, a 100 Years Later
3. When Collaboration Kills Creativity: The Rise of the New Groupthink and the Power of Working Alone
Part Two: Your Biology, Your Self?
4. Is Temperament Destiny?: Nature, Nurture and the Orchid Hypothesis
5. Beyond Temperament: The Role of Free Will (and the Secret of Public Speaking for Introverts)
6. “Franklin Was a Politician, But Eleanor Spoke Out of Conscience”: Why Cool is Overrated?
7. Why Did Wall Street Crash and Warren Buffett Prosper?: How Introverts and Extroverts Think (and Process Dopamine) Differently
Part 3: Do all Cultures Have An Extrovert Ideal
8. Soft Power: Asian- Americans and the Extrovert Ideal
Part 4: How To Love, How to Work:
9. When Should you Act More Extroverted Than You Really Are?
10. The Communication Gap: How to Talk to Members of the Opposite Type?
11. On Cobblers and Generals: How to Cultivate Quiet Kids in a World That Can’t Hear Them?
Conclusion: Wonderland **

As you can see, this is by no means a comedy book. Yet for the first time, I felt truly relieve and happy. Happy from within because this book, this research compilation by Susan Cain is like a bible to me. Like those good old Jackie Chan’s movies, he found the book of all kung fu trainings, from a master.

I can’t quite express in words anymore, but this is me. I find myself in Quiet. A lot of the descriptions of how the introverts think or deliberate within resonance mine. I feel peace finally.

For the first time, I know why I always feel I can’t quite fit in in the society or sometimes even the different people I encountered in my life. I think I have so far taken different route, for example, I chose not to hold wedding reception, despite my family constant reminders or the fact that I don’t want to have my own children. I didn’t mean that all introverts wouldn’t have children of their own. They do but I am perhaps an extreme case.

Obviously if you have an introverted child, your life probably would be easier than having an extorverted child.
(If you want to find out whether your child is an introvert or an extrovert, you can try this little test on the baby. If your baby is about 3-4 months old, observe his/ her reaction when he/ she is exposed to external stimulating senses, such as popping sound of a balloon, or colourful mobiles dances, sharp smell like perfume or alchohol on swab cotton. The more reactive he/ she is, the more introverted the baby is. This is based on an ongoing research conducted by a Harvard developmental psychologist/ scientist, Jerome Kagan. He is also one of the key pioneers in developmental psychology). That is why Chapters 4, 5, and 11 I think are very important for parents who have an introverted child. ** The world is almost all conditioned for the extroverted people to live and therefore it is harder for the introverted people to survive in this world, I think. At least I am and I think there is a need for this kind of awareness.

I think I have moved towards my goal closer again. My goal of soul searching and understanding myself. I believe by understanding the way I behave internally and externally, I now accept myself more. I don’t see myself a freak anymore or feel bad for not following the social norm. People always say, don’t care about other people’s opinion, what matters most is yours. Yet it is easier to say than to act. But first of all, it has to be understood truly before can be embraced with an open heart and arms. I think I can now.

I am definitely not anti-social, I just want to have time on my own to recuperate. That is the word that I like – recuperate. But I like the word “introvert” now better.

For that I hope is the key to open my heart and world to myself and re-learn how I can start living my life and not plodding through it.

** I will elaborate more about the book in another posting.

This entry was posted in Carl Jung, Introvert, Life, Myers Briggs, Personality, Soul Searching. Bookmark the permalink.

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