Leanna Stockard, MA, LMFT

When you think of being an introvert or an extrovert, what do you think of? Do you think of once referring to yourself, as “I am an outgoing introvert,” or speaking of their friend who is the “life of the party” and they are “the most extroverted person I know.” I have realized that we have begun to think that the difference between the two dimensions of personality are that extroverted people are outgoing, and introverted people are quiet and shy. This is not exactly the case. The difference between being an introvert and an extrovert has to do with where they get their energy.

Extroversion

As previously stated, extroverts are commonly identified as people who are outgoing, and sociable. While some extroverts may be outgoing and “social butterflies,” what qualifies them as an extrovert is the energy they gain from doing activities, and being around other people. The Myers & Briggs Foundation describes extroverts as people who “like to spend time in the outer world of people and things.” When extroverts are around people, they become more energized. When they are alone, they begin to lose energy.

Introversion

Introverts are commonly identified as people who are shy, or do not like to be around others. While this may be the case for some introverts, the Myers & Briggs Foundation describes introverts as people who “like to spend time in their inner world of ideas and images.” Some introverts may actually be outgoing and fun people, but they lose energy from being around others, and will need alone time to re-charge in order to do it again.

Understanding the Difference

To put these two personalities into perspective, I will use an example of an introvert and an extrovert going to the same party at the same level of energy. While they are at the party, the extrovert will likely gain energy while they are there. They will feel more active; more awake, will be having a good time, and may want to stay out longer. An introvert, although may also be having a great time, will lose energy while they are at the party. They will get increasingly tired and want to leave, or go into a secluded place for a while in order to have their alone time and regain their energy.

On the flip side, if an introvert and an extrovert were at the same level of energy for the day, and they stayed at home to read because it was raining, an introvert will gain energy. They will feel more awake, and have more energy to do something for the rest of the day. The extrovert will experience the opposite and lose energy, begin to be tired, and will need to engage in some sort of conversation and/or activity with someone else in order to gain their energy back.

While we all spend time being introverted and being extroverted in our life, which one seems to more accurately describe you? If you are able to understand where you primarily lay between introvert and extrovert, you may be better able to identify which activities will be helpful for your recharging process.

Learning the difference between an introvert and an extrovert and where you fall on the scale can be helpful with gaining and understanding of who you are. If you are struggling with your identity or your coping skills, it may be helpful to connect with a therapist. Contact Symmetry Counseling today to get in touch with one of our talented clinicians.

Information in this article was received from The Myers & Briggs Foundation at: https://www.myersbriggs.org/my-mbti-personality-type/mbti-basics/extraversion-or-introversion.htm?bhcp=1