I am an introverted person. I am not entirely that way, but probably more often then not, I turn inward to resolve issues. This is due to DNA, upbringing, and my reaction to childhood playground politics I am sure. However, since my early days, I turned inward for solutions rather then outward. The funny thing about introverted people, or those that have this tendency more than others, is that they can be very highly functioning. People will often think of them as extroverted, they can be viewed as dynamic outgoing and “type A” but what they do not realize is that the brief moment of outward expression costs a great deal.
Introverted people find that being around a bunch of people causes a great emotional energy drain. They develop strategies to reduce that drain and exhibit some interesting behaviors in their attempt to do so. Almost all of them will have to spend time recovering from a gathering of multiple people. I would imagine somewhere around 25% of the population is like this, based on my unscientific observations. I spend a lot of time thinking about people around me and analyzing behaviors trying to determine the reasons why people think and act like they do. I have determined, out of the people I am regular contact with about 25% of them have a similar reaction to people that I do.
Being around people is a draining, not a building experience. Introverted people have a very limited and small number of close friends. People who do not know you find that you “are difficult to read.” Introverted people tend to like isolating activities. For me going for a long run is rejuvenating more for the solitude than the physical experience. Finally, a introvert tends to be extremely self aware and as a consequence very self critical. If I say something to someone that they I know that hurt or impacted them in someway, I will spend weeks agonizing over it tearing it apart, thinking it through. It is the greatest source of my internal anxiety.
So I consider myself a bit of an expert on the strengths and weaknesses of introverts. I have been a student of this since I was born. Which is a long way to lead me to this critical and crucial point for all introverts to take heed. When you hold emotions in, you run a great risk of clouding them as well. The more you hold back on an emotion that you are experience because of something you said, or something someone said to you, then you are at increasing risk of having a cloudy judgement as to what was right or wrong about that. My wife, who is not that introverted, will let an emotion out very shortly after she experiences it. When she does hold back it is out of respect, or deference to someone, but even then it will come out pretty quickly. When I first was married, this was off putting to me. I tended to hold things in, and never reveal them. My wife might hold something in, but only for a while before it would come out. Many times it would immediately come out. When you leave that dish there and not clean it up it feels like you are personally attacking me. Huh!?? I would never say that, but see that is the introvert speaking. I would hold that in, for a long, long period of time. Who knows if I would ever say anything at all. Overtime, my accuracy of that emotion would get cloudy, real cloudy. I could forget it completely or I could blow it out of proportion. Often times the later. I would over analyze it to death, spend way too much time on it and in the end probably judge wrongly.
My wife and I have gone back and forth for years on what is best. The older I get the more I realize that she is probably more right than I am. That is hard to admit, because an introvert thinks they are always right. An introvert spends a lot of time thinking it through, so how could they be wrong? Well they are wrong, often times, because they get real cloudy after holding things in. So cloudy that their thinking is just wrong. Getting the emotion out quickly, in as non offensive manner as possible, clears the air and gets the introvert better data to make a judgement. When I think I offend someone, it is better to just come right out with it. Find out the persons opinion. Perhaps they were not offended at all? This is more data that the introvert can use to think things through, ultimately reducing the anxiety of thinking about it for weeks and weeks later.
I think the natural tendency of the introvert to hold things in, is just not a healthy behavior. The introvert has a great strength in that they are self aware, conscious of how others think and feel, concerned about their impact on other people. They also do not need others for self healing, and tend to be very strong in their own self confidence. Those are all good characteristics. However, just like with any super power there is always a weakness. Holding things in and not addressing them with others leads to cloudy judgement and incorrect thinking. Be wary, introverted self reflecting soul. If you hold, you cloud.