The beautiful introvert brain
Understanding the experience of introversion.
How many times have you been accused of being shy? Cold-hearted? How many times did you feel like a ghost because there were so many thoughts in your head but nothing comes out of your throat? All that negative self-talk associated with your introversion comes out of pure ignorance.
Today is the day we change the narrative: let’s discover the beautiful introvert brain.
What does introversion mean?
According to the encyclopaedia Britannica, introversion is defined as ‘attention turned inward.’ The doctor psychiatrist Carl Gustave Jung described it, as psychic energy directed inward or outward. And what is very interesting about Jung’s typology is that we can distinguish introversion by the loss of energy when we are in contact with a group. As an introvert, after going through a day with high social stimulation, you might feel the need to withdraw yourself to recharge.
What are the secrets of the introvert brain?
Introverts tend to be cerebral persons (intellectually speaking), generally with hypersensitive tendencies. But hypersensitivity is not to be understood in the sense of someone crying at all times. It usually manifests as an acute awareness to senses and received stimulations (noises, smells, touches…). Through that special trait, they have the unique chance to live their own human experience. Feeling more is often portrayed as a curse, while it’s a chance to stare at humanity with open eyes.
Moreover, a remarkable difference between extroverts and introverts is how fast stimuli are detected. This difference is at the core of why their behaviours are contradictory when facing them. Stimuli affect introverts faster them extroverts, who get excited by them and perceive them as pleasant.
Feeling more is often portrayed as a curse, but it’s a chance to stare at humanity with open eyes.
It’s also worth noting that their brain conception typically means introverts are more divergent thinkers. This can be put down to the prefrontal cortex being more stimulated. This part of the brain is responsible for transmitting data, especially the ones related to emotions and the surrounding behaviours. This devotion to abstract thoughts can be explained by the higher presence of grey matter. Meaning introverts devote more neural resources to abstract thoughts. Much of the progress and happiness of our world were found in abstract thinking, so don’t ever feel guilty for having a vivid imagination.
The reasons behind all that overthinking
When external factors (sounds, touch, tastes…) are perceived by extroverts and introverts, they travel through two different pathways. Information travels through a longer pathway for introverts. Four areas are involved, but two of them are interesting: Broca’s area and the right front insular. Self-talk, plans, and speech are related to the Broca area. And when it comes to empathy, emotional thought, and self-reflection it corresponds to the right front insular. This is why introverts take more time to make decisions, speak or react. And why you should not feel weird for taking this time. If people thought before they’d speak, maybe they would build speeches full of empathy instead of hatred.
How to make sense of this knowledge and apply it in real life
Introversion and extroversion are not black and white. You might relate to some information just like you might not. Some people stand in between introversion and extroversion because they are ambiverts. The most important is to take what resonates with you so that you can get in sync with your needs.
As you might have noticed, being an introvert doesn’t mean that you cannot enjoy being surrounded by a lot of people (like at a party for example). You just need to notice when your surroundings are taking too much energy from you. It helps to anticipate this so you don’t get overwhelmed. And be fully present so that you take advantage of opportunities when they show up.
At least, this might be the opportunity for you to engage fully in that self-acceptance journey. If you are quiet, you don’t need to become loud because that is the form of leadership you have known so far. You are you, and you don’t need to change to fit the expectations of this world. Introversion is not contradictory to self-confidence. Introversion does not mean being shy. Many leaders are introverts: take the former American president Barack Obama and former French president Jack Chirac. Nowadays, we can hopefully recognise the huge potential of introverts in terms of leadership. Like active listening, empathy is gradually being promoted by new generations.