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How does an Extrovert become an Introvert?

How do you go from being an Extrovert to an Introvert?

No, I've not discovered some magic formula to make it happen, but I can report how it's happened to me, and how it could happen to you too.

Over the years, I’ve noticed that I've moved from being an out-and-out Extrovert to not just understanding Introversion, but actually finding myself behaving in a decidedly Introverted manner. While wondering if there was any substance to this observation, I decided to re-test myself. My Myers-Briggs category was - and still is - ENFJ (Extrovert, Intuitive, Feeling & Judging), but I noted the results have changed in one detail, as there is now only a very slight leaning towards Extroversion over Introversion.

Despite being a reader of long standing and never having enjoyed being the centre of attention, high levels of social interaction have always been very important to me. Only some 10 years ago, when about to live alone for the first time, I spent considerable time and energy worrying how I’d cope. 10 years later, I can confirm that however much I enjoyed living alone - for I truly did - it is noteworthy that I balanced that solo living with an active social life.

The thing is, while I still like the idea of socialising with people be they friends or strangers - I now recognise the need for topping up my own tank. As a person who’s always cared (not just about what others think of me, but also about the welfare of other people), I can attract the emotionally wounded. As a result, my emotional resources have a tendency to become drained, leaving me lacking when I need those resources to recover from my own troubles.

Unsurprisingly, I've increasingly found time alone not just necessary but attractive. When meeting new people, I've started to consider whether they're drawn to me by their need for nurturing. As a result, it's become easier to limit my social interaction to the few, rather than risk burnout from the needs of the many. Do I look back with fondness on my previously busy social life? Yes, absolutely, but as an independent and responsible adult, I need to take care of myself so I don't become a burden to my loved ones.

These days I totally understand how necessary time alone is for an Introvert. How Introverts find social interaction exhausting rather than energising. I’ve long prided myself on my ability to empathise, but now that I’ve actually walked around for a few years in Introverted shoes, I find I not just understand, but also share their needs.

While you're extending kindness to your tribe, remember to look out not just for your Introvert friends, but for the Extroverts too - you might be surprised to find how much they appreciate being on the receiving end of your kindness.

© 2021 Caring Coaching