Introvert + Highly-Sensitive

I told you that I have been reading lately. And asked if it would be okay if I tried to write about it, without it being perfect. And from the “likes” I got, I’m assuming that’s okay. And that you won’t judge me. Even though I’m a stranger and mean nothing to any of you!

I read the book Quiet by Susan Cain. It’s all about introverts. About what an introvert truly is. About how “introvert” and “shy” are not synonymous. nor are “introvert” and “loner” or “introvert” and “no friends.” About how the world is built for extroverts and how introverts end up withdrawing into themselves, or forcing themselves to act extroverted when they’re not. And it all resonated with me. Especially when Cain tied introversion to the “highly-sensitive” trait. I’ve known forever that I’m highly-sensitive, and have written about it and talked about it, and everyone knows it. Having the two tied together, having proof that they go together and that it’s a real THING, not just “I’m the only one like this” thing is incredible.

And I’m overwhelmed with organizing my thoughts into writing. So, to start, my most favorite quotes from Quiet. I hope they resonate with you, or are enlightening, or at least just interesting. And thanks for bearing with me.

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“Many introverts are also ‘highly sensitive,’ which sounds poetic, but is actually a technical term in psychology. If you are a sensitive sort, than you’re more apt than the average person to feel pleasantly overwhelmed by Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” or a well-turned phrase or an act of extraordinary kindness. You may be quicker than others to feel sickened by violence and ugliness, and you likely have a very strong conscience. When you were a child, you were probably called “shy,” and to this day feel nervous when you’re being evaluated, for example when giving a speech or on a first date……(No one knows exactly how many introverts are highly sensitive, but we know that 70 percent of sensitives are introverts, and the other 30 percent tend to report needing a lot of “down time.”)

“Studies have shown that, indeed, introverts are more likely than extroverts to express intimate facts about themselves online that their family and friends would be surprised to read, to say that they can express the “real me” online, and to spend more time in certain kinds of online discussions. The same person who would never raise his hand in a lecture hall of two hundred people might blog to two thousand, or two million, without thinking twice. The same person who finds it difficult to introduce himself to strangers might establish a presence online and then extend these relationships in to the real world.”

“What scientists haven’t realized until recently is that these risk factors have an upside. In other words, the sensitivities and the strengths are a package deal. High-reactive kids who enjoy good parenting, child care, and a stable home environment tend to have fewer emotional problems and more social skills than their lower-reactive peers, studies show. Often they’re exceedingly empathic, caring, and cooperative. They work well with others. They are kind, conscientious, and easily disturbed by cruelty, injustice, and irresponsibility. They’re successful at the things that matter to them.”

“The highly sensitive tend to be philosophical or spiritual in their orientation, rather than materialistic or hedonistic. They dislike small talk. They often describe themselves as creative or intuitive…..They dream vividly, and can often recall their dreams the next day. They love music, nature, art, physical beauty. They feel exceptionally strong emotions — sometimes acute bouts of joy, but also sorrow, melancholy, and fear. Highly sensitive people also process information about their environments — both physical and emotional — unusually deeply. They tend to notice subtleties that others miss — another person’s shift in mood, say, or a light bulb burning a touch too brightly.”

“The other thing Aron found about sensitive people is that sometimes they’re highly empathic. It’s as if they have thinner boundaries separating them from other people’s emotions and from the tragedies and cruelties of the world. They tend to have unusually strong consciences. They avoid violent movies and TV shows; they’re acutely aware of the consequences of a lapse in their own behavior. In social settings they often focus on subjects like personal problems, which others consider “too heavy.”

“A Free Trait Agreement” acknowledges that we’ll each act out of character some of the time — in exchange for being ourselves the rest of the time. It’s a Free Trait Agreement when a wife who wants to go out every Saturday night and a husband who wants to relax by the fire work out a schedule: half the time we’ll go out, and half the time we’ll stay home. It’s a Free Trait Agreement when you attend your extroverted best friend’s wedding shower, engagement celebration, and bachelorette party, but she understands when you skip out on the three days’ worth of group activities leading up to the wedding itself.

“When your conscientiousness impels you to take on more than you can handle, you begin to lose interest, even in tasks that normally engage you. You also risk your physical health. “Emotional labor,” which is the effort we make to control and change our own emotions, is associated with stress, burnout, and even physical symptoms like an increase in cardiovascular disease. Professor Little believes that prolonged acting out of character may also increase autonomic nervous system activity, which can, in turn, compromise immune functioning.”

 

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