We will do better as a society, if we do not stigmatize introversion.
The world is highly biased when it comes to likability traits, leaving segments of our population uncared for and underutilized. Most times the world associates happiness with vibrancy, loud music and loud chatter. This can be stressful for an introverted person. With offices and homes being such vibrant environments, the world is actually designed for extroverts.
Most teachers and parents try hard to inculcate extroverted traits in children, because people who are charming, talkative and are social butterflies come across as leading a happy life. Appearing happy doesn’t naturally translate into happiness and vice-versa. Continuing on the same line, being bold and having tons of friends seem to be traits that make people want to gravitate towards you and want to be friends with you.
While this is heaven for extroverts, it can be very challenging for introverted people. Most introverts need a quiet time for themselves after being with others, They thrive in their privacy. Introverts feel energized when they are with their own thoughts and environments that are sober and not overly stimulating. Introverts have a higher aroused internal state and so being in the company of loud people and crowded situations can make them further aroused and be a cause of distress for them. While Introverts tend to be more quiet, reserved, and introspective, extroverts gain energy from social interaction and being in the spotlight.
We live in times when the overpowering notion of alpha males or females is one who can be comfortable being the heart of the party, loves being under the spotlight and makes people comfortable by being their most gregarious self.
Having said that, introversion and extroversion are traits that are not water tight. There are a little of both tendencies in most people, 70 % of people to be precise are ambiverts. Also because of the intense conditioning that we go through in life, there are several introverts who have not come to terms with their ideal state. They pretend to be extroverts leaving them flustered and distressed. While both qualities of introverts and extroverts can be good individually, there are always people who have not quite learned to tame their innate powers and be productive.
A good starting point for parents and schools may be to develop awareness and build a mechanism in place to appreciate every child / adult for being authentic. Oftentimes we see things so much at a surface level that we completely miss seeing the point of life – being happy. A Culture that promotes competitiveness and dominance to win the race, can be one of the most unproductive mechanisms that we propagate in our schools and homes.
Confusing shyness with introversion is another big mistake we make being superficial. Because both qualities look kind of similar from far, doesn’t mean they are the same internal states. Shyness is mostly a result of fearing negative judgment and introverts are just peaceful staying out of glare.
This confusion can lead to a lot of introverts having to battle their natural states and thereby depleting themselves. If we as a society can be a little more inclusive and less judgmental, we can find people living lives that are most suited for them. If such a social structure were to evolve we can see extroverts who are less impulsive and introverts, more calm and productive.
Children are born with an innate genetically predetermined temperament, however the early experiences of a child’s life has a direct influence in the child having or not having a wider range of limit for tolerance. Parents have a huge impact on how these basic tendencies are nurtured. However, research says a child’s basic disposition, which is based on the blood flow in a child’s brain, is decided by his genetic makeup. Stigmatizing a child’s predisposition is the biggest disservice we do to a child.
The universe is designed for diversity and inclusion. Ridden with fear and losing rationale we as a civilization end up destroying the brilliance among us. When we become open minded and truly inclusive we see how we are full of biases from the social norms and ideals.
About the Author
Rosama Francis started her career as a teacher and soon found herself motivated to help students find their potential. She went on to head schools soon after and found all her work centered around finding people's strengths. It was an intuitive understanding that everyone has their unique potential and only by focusing on that, will that individual find success. She soon gravitated towards her career as a coach and still wake up to a life that she loves. Rosama Francis is the co-founder of Innerkern and you can read more about her work here.