This is the first of a series of articles exploring the Myers-Briggs, Jungian personality types. These articles will compare characteristics of the various sub-categories but will target common difficulties and misconceptions. It is a good idea to take the test online, and read the profiles which are presented. A vast amount of information is available regarding the various types, including videos and posters. My goal in these articles is to shed some light on some of the difficulties experienced by a few of the types in order to address some of the blockages encountered in self discovery.
Most people associate Extroversion/Introversion with a person’s ability to be outgoing in social situations. However, this is not completely accurate. For example, someone who is Introverted but also a Feeler may be very warm and engaging in their social interaction. They may even have a knack for public speaking and performance. However, because they are introverts they are very private and need time alone in order to process thoughts or simply to regenerate. The “Feeler” trait causes them to need human interaction and gives them an empathic, engaging quality. Introverts who are Feelers may often feel like they should be more outgoing and may dislike their personality because they lack the energy and gregariousness of their Extrovert counterparts. However, they enjoy the company of a few friends and would not sacrifice their privacy or intimacy for the sake of the “crowd”.
Extroverts, on the other hand, cannot resist the crowd, the excitement, and often, being in the center of things. They may feel like they have few close friends and that they live a “shallow” existence since their lives are full of traffic. They may also have difficulty setting boundaries and spending quality time with the ones they love due to their attraction to activity. As a general rule, Extroverts tend to display more energy than Introverts. Extroverts may also have difficulty keeping confidential information and maintaining social boundaries. Although they are outgoing, they may feel clumsy or inept in their personal relationships.
Generally speaking, Introverts “recharge” by spending time alone and processing thoughts and feelings internally, while Extroverts are energized by social interaction and activity. Those types who are the hardest on themselves are usually the ones who also have the “Feeling” trait and Introverts tend to isolate and overthink more often. The danger for Extroverts, especially with the “Feeling” trait, is doing too much, not setting proper boundaries and getting “lost” in activity and service.
The key to personal growth for these types is the same as with all types: Acceptance. Introverts need to accept the fact that they prefer time alone, privacy, intimacy and plenty of relaxation. There is nothing wrong with not feeling like going out on a Friday night, or not jumping into the latest project, or spending time relaxing and enjoying oneself. It is ok to have a close circle of friends, or perhaps even one close friend and not be “popular”. It is NOT ok to take mind or mood altering substances in order to “loosen up” or become uninhibited at a party simply because you don’t like your personality. If you wish to “let your hair down” and have a few drinks, fine. However, to establish a pattern of “altering” your personality through chemical substances is a lack of self love and acceptance.
Similarly, Extroverts need to accept the fact that they enjoy stimulation. If they are in relationships with Introverts they will have to find ways to meet their needs for activity and interaction. They will need to realize that their Introverted friends are not as much of an “open book” as themselves and need their privacy. A good practice for Extroverts would be to have a close, Introverted friend or companion with whom to consult regarding social expectations and boundaries.
Of course, one contributor to the lack of self love is comparison. Often we look at others and admire their traits or their ability to handle certain difficulties and wish that we could operate in the same manner. What we fail to see is our own gifts and abilities which are just as unique and valuable. We try to change ourselves and become like someone else which hinders the development of our personal and spiritual growth. Not only does it stunt our growth, but it introduces Negative Energy such as pressure, anxiety, self doubt and depression. The path back to Positive Energy is Acceptance of our true nature and developing a love for our unique personality.