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Am I an Introvert or Is It Social Anxiety?
Many of us our familiar with the term ‘introvert’ and some of the associated characteristics. But does a preference for introversion ever become a problem? What’s the difference between an introvert and shyness or social anxiety?
What is an Introvert?
Introverts have a personality trait that means they prefer to focus on internal thoughts and feelings rather than external stimulation. The introversion and extroversion spectrum is a sliding scale with most people not at either extreme. In fact, the term ‘ambivert’ has been coined to describe people who associate with both.
Introverts tend to be quieter and more reserved than extroverts. Extroverts may feel like they gain energy and ideas from social interaction whereas many introverts actually expend energy in social interaction. It’s not necessarily that they don’t enjoy it, but they may need some time alone to recharge afterwards.
If you have the following traits you may be an introvert….
- can be seen as aloof or mysterious
- are sometimes quiet
- can be happy alone
- are self-aware
- have a rich fantasy life
- think things through carefully
- have a small group of close friends
- can be left feeling drained by social interaction
- enjoy spending time with close friends over meeting lots of new people
- tend to shy away from small talk and chit chat
How does being an introvert translate to everyday life?
Introverts at Work
As an introvert your learning style might be different. You may prefer to learn by watching and like to wait until you feel capable before giving things a go. Conversely, extroverts may be more willing to jump right in and learn by trial and error. Introverts prefer to practise privately until they feel secure in their skills. Clearly there are some jobs where this is a benefit and others where it might be more difficult. Think of a trainee doctor having to learn on the job, surrounded by observing people and often in high pressure situations.
Introverts may sometimes not contribute as much in meetings because they like to fully consider a problem from every angle before commenting. They want to have a full understanding before offering input. Many workplaces will appreciate this considered approach. Being careful about what you say is vital in many situations at work. However, in others it can be more detrimental – think about a creative, lively office where brainstorming and thinking out loud is the norm.
Introverts can find small talk tedious and difficult but it can be an important skill when socialising with new people, especially at work.
Many introverts will choose careers that involve independence and solitude. They may struggle in jobs that involve a great deal of social interaction or relationship building. Some extroverts may have struggled during the recent Covid pandemic being forced to work from home, alone away from the hustle and bustle of office life. Introverts on the other hand may have thrived.
Someone with social anxiety may struggle at work. Working from home could be perfect for them but even a zoom call or phone chat can feel like a challenge. Some people’s social anxiety at work manifests as a fear of authority. Social anxiety at work can significantly affect success.
Introverts and Dating
Many introverts desire deep and authentic connection so can struggle in the early parts of relationships where things are more surface level. They may struggle with small talk or feeling the pressure to perform.
However, in the right environment introverts enjoy dating and meeting new people. Especially when they bond over shared interests and values. Many introverts prefer to meet in a quiet place where they can concentrate on getting to know the person rather than a club or busy bar where there’s a lot of other distractions.
Someone who has social anxiety may panic at the thought of dating. The idea of being in a social situation with a stranger may feel so scary that they simply end up not doing it at all. Again, it’s not necessarily that they don’t want to form a relationship but the challenges involved are just too high.
Introvert or Social Anxiety
Being an introvert is not the same thing as being shy or having social anxiety. Although, the two may coexist. Introversion is more about preference. How do you prefer to spend the majority of your time and who with? What energises you and how do you experience the world and express yourself?
Introverts do have a desire to socialise, although they may choose the times, places and people differently to an extrovert. People who are shy often have feelings of tension or anxiety when in social situations or even just at the thought of them. Shyness influences the way someone acts when in a social situation and may mean they don’t feel comfortable or able to fully be themselves.
If you feel like your introversion tendencies are the result of shyness or social anxiety that is negatively affecting your daily life perhaps it’s time to change them. I have helped many clients with shyness therapy. Hypnotherapy is a really powerful and effective way of doing this and allows people to make positive change in a short space of time. Please do contact me to learn more about how I can help you or for a free no-obligation consultation.
Why wait to change your life for the better?
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