How do Introverts and Extroverts 

cope with anxiety?

 

 

 

My plans had changed so I ended up having the time and the ability to help someone who was dealing with a challenge. ”I’m free anyway” I thought “so why wouldn’t I help?”

For me it was an easy task. It just involved driving someone’s car to the garage as he was otherwise engaged and could not do it himself. As I drove along, I listened to the radio station which was already playing in the car. I would not, or could not, have had the opportunity to hear the information that wafted through the airways to me, had it not been for the timing of the ‘good deed’ I had offered to do. Sometimes our plans change, and we are in the right place at the right time even with the right radio station tuned in for us!!

Right now, I’d like to share with you what I learned while driving today and how interesting I found this information to be in understanding how people deal with living with anxiety. I’m referring to an interview on ‘Today with Claire Byrne’ on RTE Radio 1, where Claire chatted to two experts, Dr. Harry Barry, GP, Mental Health Specialist and Anne Marie Creaven, Dept of Psychology, University of Limerick.

They spoke generally about personality traits and Anne Marie Craven explained how these personality traits are, as she said, “patterns of behaviour that are consistent over time and across different situations”. But the real focus of the conversation, which I found fascinating, was in relation to whether you are an Introvert or an Extrovert and how these traits can impact on your everyday energy and ultimately on anxiety.

For the extrovert, socialising and meeting people is exciting.

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The extrovert likes nothing better than being the centre of attention and their energy levels rise with the thrill and the buzz of it all. They thrive and gain energy from social events and meetings. Without social interaction the extrovert may become lethargic and depressed. They crave the connection with others as chatting and socialising is what they need to boost their energy and their sense of enjoyment in life.

However, the opposite is true for the Introvert.

The very thought of going out, meeting people and socialising can be exhausting. Why? It is because introverts enjoy their own company and are very comfortable with themselves. The interview went on to say that introverts love to spend time alone in thought, they only have a few close friends and when attending a social setting, they are happiest when they find someone else with whom they can talk quietly and have a meaningful conversation.

A person sitting on the ground and meditating

It was when the conversation turned to talk of how anxiety affects the different personalities that I became really engrossed. My heart went out to the Introvert. While sometimes they may be considered shy, this is in fact, rarely the case. Dr. Harry Barry explained that while introverts love people, they find it hard to spend a lot of time with people, as it drains their own energy. He also explained that the introvert tends to ruminate and overthink situations. They tend to be perfectionists and are therefore very hard on themselves and tend to be self-critical. They have a heightened sense of self awareness and are always striving for self-improvement. Because of this they work very hard at being present to others and Dr. Barry referred to this saying that they “exert energy in social situations”. Hence, they leave a social gathering feeling exhausted and they need to recharge between meetings or events.

Anne Marie Craven explained that once the introvert understands their natural trait then they tend to be kinder to themselves. They are better able to say ‘No’ to social events they do not wish to attend, and they are also better able to allocate ‘alone time’ for themselves. This personal time is important because this is when they can renew and recharge their energy levels while in a self-care mode.

Anxiety and the Introvert 

 

It was enlightening, to listen to this interview and to learn from it, that anxiety is experienced differently by introverts and extroverts. For an introvert, anxiety is a sense of discomfort, both physical and mental in nature. It is the experience of worrying about and wanting to escape the social setting in which they find themselves. They are aware that there is nothing wrong with the social scene, but they are feeling uncomfortable and out of their comfort zone. They blame themselves for their inability to enjoy the people and the surroundings as they feel they ‘should’ be able to. The negative internal dialogue which ensues, has the effect of exhausting their energy, because they feel they failed to enjoy what should have been an uplifting and enjoyable occasion. This in turn has a detrimental effect on self-esteem and confidence.

 

These symptoms of anxiety are the more common everyday descriptions that we hear and read about, but from this interview, it seems that these symptoms are more prevalent in the introvert personality type. That I found to be most interesting, as the ladies I have worked with were very caring, were very self-aware and were striving for the self-improvement that would help them to release their anxiety and build their self-confidence and self-esteem.

The exciting thing is that those same ladies have found inner peace from their anxiety. They have the ability to say ‘No’ to people when they need to, and they have the techniques and tools to drop into  ‘alone time‘ even in the middle of a crowded room should they feel the need to do so. They no longer have to suffer their anxiety in silence… instead they can self-regulate anytime or any place they need to. This ability releases the power the anxiety holds over them and their newfound freedom is one of greater confidence and self-esteem.

Anxiety and the Extrovert

However, on the other hand it saddened me to learn that the struggle with anxiety and depression in extroverts is not as clear cut and is more alarming in its presentation. Because the extrovert is happy in the middle of the crowd, their smiling faces may be hiding the real truth of what is going on, from the outside world. Could it be that the extrovert is possibly the one that might decide to end their living experience without any warning and we are left in utter dismay as we say… “I never would had guessed…. I had no idea…. they were so unhappy.” This is, by far, too sad an ending.

It seems to me that if you understand your personality trait better, then you are equipped and know when to ask for help because…. asking for help is the brave thing to do.

The effects of Lockdown on Extroverts and Introverts

Lockdown has been difficult on the extroverts. They have literally been starved of their energy gains through social interactions and meetings. As we exit lockdown the extrovert prepares to thrive again and is excited to get back to enjoying life. However, the introvert may be feeling a growing sense of impending doom as they leave the relaxed space where they could recharge their energy by going within to think and be still in the absence of meetings and social gatherings. Knowing and understanding your personality trait makes you more aware of what makes you feel happy and fulfilled in your life.

Tune into the Podcast

Here is the link to the podcast https://www.rte.ie/radio/radio1/clips/21982119/

Listen in to @clairebyrne as she chats with her guests so that you can become aware of, and learn more about, your own personality trait.  Are you an Introvert or an Extrovert? Perhaps you may even be an Ambivert where you have a good balance of the two traits!! In reality, we all have a part of each trait within us and knowing when to tune into the dominant trait can benefit us hugely on how to honour our true expression.

Whichever trait you may be…. Be kind to yourself.

If you are finding situations in your life difficult, then speak to a therapist. I, for one, am interested in helping you find what will make life easier, happier, and more relaxed for you. Release anxiety and stress from your life and express yourself the way that best suits you. Thrive in the energy of extrovert social gatherings.. or.. thrive in the quiet inner reflection that makes you feel happy and content. Either way, be yourself, and above all be happy.

Related post  Overcoming anxiety – Helen Doyle Mind Coach

If you would like to learn the skills of Mind coaching, to use it in your own daily life, contact me for a free discovery call.  

Helen Doyle Mind Coach             Helen Doyle Mind Coach

As a therapist, a teacher and a parent, it has been my lifelong passion to help people learn the skills they need to deal with anxiety and stress. Your precious life is deserving of happiness and inner peace. I can empower you with the skills to learn to love yourself.

 

 

 

 

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