The value of the closed door.

Wednesday March 19, 2014

Are you an introvert or an extravert?

The answer to this question is not always as simple and immediate as we may suppose.

Rather than looking at whether we are happiest at a big party or would rather book a two hour session with the dentist than attend that same party, we need to look at where we derive our energy. Some of us gain energy from being with others, while for many of us periods of solitude are vital for our mental and emotional well-being.

That person who appears to be the life and soul of the party may actually be an introvert, needing a quiet place to recharge for a few hours after expending all that energy being with other people; whereas the quiet character at the side of the room, who you thought was more interested in talking to their own shoes than to yours, may actually be absorbing energy from the social interaction around them, just like a solar panel.

When we are depressed our natural energy patterns are exacerbated. While our instinct may be to withdraw from human interactions as much as possible (Eric put it beautifully on Sunday when he said of his family "they look 'odd', like there's a barrier between us, and I think I don't like them.") we need to be self-aware. Are we withdrawing because we can't afford the energy it would take to be with others (because our self-recharging power has slowed down to a trickle) or is fear or a skewed perception of reality preventing us from being with the people who do recharge us?

I am an apparent extravert who needs lots of solitary time, especially if I have been in the company of others for an extended period. My husband is a much quieter character who actually loves being around other people, and always comes home from his voluntary work at the local school jumping and buzzing with energy.

If we understand just where our energy sources are, we can put interventions in place. For me, it's time with my study with the door firmly shut, which means "Family, friends – stay out, I'm recharging." For you, it may mean telling your friends they have permission to batter down that door to get to you if necessary and they are not to leave you alone.

First understand yourself, and then educate those around you to serve you well when you need it. Because you'd do the same for them, wouldn't you?

A Moodscope member.

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