Tag Archives: introvert

masks-5I think when any of us look back at the experiences we’ve had with another person we can’t help but wonder if our connection to and feeling about them somehow tempers the way we relate to them. This is the most prominent in people that we’d like to make a good impression on or those whom we want to continue our connection to them feeling that our interchange with them either encourages us to feel differently about ourselves and/or that we feel that they match some ideal or preference that we have about the people and circumstances we’d prefer to be associated and connected to. There are a number of different dimensions that we must consider when we wish to assess our part and presentation to the world and those whom we wish to be with. The first thing we need to look at is the difference between who we are and how we behave when in or out of their presence.

Who we are, essentially, never changes. How we behave does. It’s our behavior that other people see that’s used to decide and define who they believe we are. We, in turn, accept this as our identity. Remembering that we believe that who we are is our perception of how the world sees us, we know that that can only be defined by the things we do, the possessions we have and Programmer-1activities that we participate in that the world can observe. So we can say that we are a computer programmer because our daily work consists of working, getting paid and being response-able with others concerning computers. If we behave by the employer’s rules, others will perceive us as a programmer. We know that if we want to keep our job there is a specific rapport that is required for us to maintain that type of connection with our preferred company. If we do it as a hobby, we might be more inclined to say that we dabble in computers only because there are some unspoken rules about what we can call a job or career and what we can call a hobby. So our identity, as transient as it may be, is what the world sees of our behavior NOT who we actually are. Who we are remains the same. We are a perceiving, feeling, thinking person. The moment the world becomes involved in that identification, outside circumstances come into play making our behavior the determining factor as to our identity. This may seem like I’m splitting hairs but when we perceive, that is one dimension of relationship; our core or who we are. When we conceive of and perceive ourselves with another person or the outside world, that behavior or identity changes because it includes the reflections and responses of others. The point I’m making is that the behavior and rapport that we offer or support is dependent on whether we’re by ourselves or whether we’re with others and the type of connection that we wish to maintain in our career with them. The same is true with personal relationships. We all know that we can feel and behave very differently just being friends with someone or being intimate with them and even that intimacy can have a differing rapport being radically different between person to person and our imagined or hoped for rapport with them. So, to recap, when we’re by ourselves, we can, and usually do, behave one way and when we’re with others we can, and usually do, behave differently. On other words, when we’re by ourselves, there’s no impression to create or maintain. When we’re with others, there is. Are you with me thus far? Now, let’s look at why we would behave differently with different people.

Irresponsible parent1Our childhood upbringing creates experiences that push us toward choosing how we feel about ourselves. If we’ve been encouraged to make our own decisions, trust our own instincts and intuitions, we begin to feel confidence in ourselves as a “valid” person and come to believe that we have nothing to hide. If we have been discouraged from making our own decisions, over protected or dominated into NOT trusting our own instinct and intuitions, we begin to feel inadequate and come to believe that we must hide our perceived inadequacy, aka, we have something to hide. This is true for everyone whether acknowledged or not. Every one of us has some degree of this emotional current running below the surface of our awareness. Some of us may be aware of it, but most of us are either not or choose to ignore it. This difference in feeling is the one of the major deciding factors in why we feel compelled to behave differently with different people in different circumstances. Dependent on the level of perceived inadequacies it can lead to some unbelievable compensation made in our behavior in order to avoid the exposure of them for fear of feeling anticipated interpersonal or public shame. The other major contributor factor occurs when we do feel adequate but don’t feel compelled to cover believed short comings because we feel comfortable in whom we are or we have worked through many of the challenges of our childhood that might have created these inadequacies within us. In this second case we simply might just want to limit our exposure to masks-4or interactions with people that we have decided are, in our opinion, arrogant, imbalanced or combative. For those of us who feel comfortable in our own skin and who, essentially, don’t feel fearful of exposure leading us toward compensating, this is not an issue. We have our Self-Trust and a stable self-confidence well ingrained. Our major concern here is to determine what occurs when we do feel compelled to compensate or “adjust” our behavior in order to create an image or prevent exposure.

There are two directions that this compensation or “adjusted” behavior may present itself through us. Depending on how badly our spirit was damaged in our upbringing will determine which way we go. We can, either, project outward and “paint” a better image of ourselves in our interchanges with others or we can retreat into the shadows in order not to be discovered. When we project ourselves or strike out “painting” what we feel might be a better picture of who we think or believe we are, we then more actively lean toward compensating. When we retreat into the shadows we lean more toward hiding. With those of us who choose the active Wild_and_crazy_guysShyness-1path, and depending on the degree of compensation that we feel we need to apply in order to evoke what we consider a more favorable response from those we interact with, we may ramp up our output. With a mild need and a mild ramping, others might not feel anything odd in our approach to them. But for some of us who have a very low self-image, our push to create an image may sometimes become overwhelming to the point where it becomes overly obvious to others and they start to feel our overcompensation as something being “off” with us. These are people we often label as “obnoxious.” Those of us who retreat into the shadows we label “shy.”

As you may have guessed, there as a very poignant reason why some of us will push the point and others of us will just back down. Its cause comes from two sources. First, the soul or spirit we are before we enter this life and body may have preponderance toward either projecting outward or retreating inward. Then, once we enter these bodies, we are now subject to the additional exposure to and training by those whose care we are entrusted to and the environment we find ourselves in. These two different sources are what scientist call nature vs. nurture. The first influence we can clearly see is innate or a given resulting in our accompanying disposition. But the second is “adjustable.” This “adjustable” dimension can make or break our choice between projecting out and retreating. Projecting outward we label being extroverted and retreating inward we label being introverted. To understand the difference we can look the process of training.

I don’t want to speak “science-eze” but in order to make a point I need to say that in the training of any sentient being (we are one…hopefully) there is always a combination of rewards and punishments used as a compellent or force for change. Scientists call this training conditioning. Some parents train with rewards and/or bribes. Some train with punishment and/or withholding. Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages. But to avoid any human emotional prejudice on our part, let’s look instead at horse training or “breaking” as ranchers would label it rather than people.

horse breaking-2Each horse has a spirit and resiliency which usually returns them to a comfortable and active state after any trauma or difficulty has passed. This resiliency differs from horse to horse. Some horses may be able to take more punishment (trauma) or abuse than others. It takes a skilled trainer to “know” or feel where that limit is. When a trainer successfully trains or conditions a horse to respond to specific commands, their spirit, their life and liveliness is retained. They still have an expressive personality. They still have spunk and energy. But when the trainer estimates that limit badly and pushes beyond what the horse is able to recover from, the horse’s spirit dies. The spunk disappears. The life goes out of their eyes. They become void of personality and expressiveness. This same process takes place in the training of children. If a parent is authoritarian or abusive and misjudges the resiliency of the child, they may, literally, kill the spirit of the child through using excessive discipline or punishments to induce specific behaviors. The child will then retreat and feel hesitant or even immobilized toward expressing or performing for fear of more punishment or abuse. In parenting, the overall effect of over-protection and abuse is the same. With excess directives, protections, punishments or abuse the child becomes reluctant and/or unable to act at all because they have either not been given the opportunity to learn how to be independent or for fear of behaving in a way that will draw more punishment and disapproval. Allowing for lesser punishments or abuses we find that this type of exposure produces only mild inhibition and shyness. So, we can safely say that depending on how far the “trainer” has gone beyond the child’s ability to recover and to be Abuse-1resilient will determine how shy or buried the child’s spirit and personality will be. Those of us who lean more toward being shy or introverted are usually reacting to over conditioning by virtue of an authoritarian or overprotective parent. Before I move on I think that it’s also worthy to note that children who grow to become abusers themselves regain their spirit through reclaiming their power by becoming the abuser but at someone else’s expense.

So where does this leave us? Those of us whose spirit has been “broken” will retreat inward and behave as an introvert. Those of us whose spirit remains intact will project, compensate and behave as an extrovert. Remember, both may not actually be inadequate or incompetent but feeling and believing that we are will lead us toward modifying our behavior when we’re with others.

Shyness-3In answer to our opening question, “Do we behave differently when in a relationship as opposed to when we’re not?” We almost always do to some degree. Even the best of us who have done an outstanding job in becoming accountable and have been ruthlessly honest with ourselves will still have things that we feel we need to hide. This is only human. But that little bit of a “discrepancy” won’t lead us toward needing to compensate for anything. We’re comfortable to just let it go unnoticed. However, if our conditioning has left us feeling that we are somehow just not enough or competent enough, it is here where the need to compensate begins to grow. The more intense our perceived denigration is, the more intense will be our feelings of inadequacy. The more intense our feelings of inadequacy are, the stronger will be our urge to compensate.

who-am-i-2So, when we speak with someone, and it’s usually with someone who might be important to us, and we feel the urge to “flower up” a description of our experience or heighten the “wow” value of what we’ve done, we have to ask ourselves, “Where is this urge coming from? What makes me feel that I need to do this?” This will be the beginning of recognizing where our imagined and assumed inadequacies lie. The reality of it is usually not so and it’s only a factor of how we were taught and perceived our self-value as a child. Who led us to feel this way? Why? This is the root and the core of where we can kill any urge for us to compensate.

Hyper-sensitive-2In this world of being politically correct, socially acceptable and morally accountable comes a new participant bringing with it the ability to regulate how others perceive who you are, what you should say and how you say it. Our sensitivity cuts two ways. Either we can be considered too sensitive (hyper) or insensitive (hypo). But before we get too deep into pros and cons it would be best to be clear on what we mean by being sensitive.

Bodily senses-1Most of us, at least initially, associate sensitivity with our physical modes in connecting with our environment. That is to say, what we see, hear, taste, smell and feel (tactile) is usually what first comes to mind when we talk about our senses. But the word itself isn’t limited to just the physical. When we’re by ourselves or just dealing with bodily sensations our perceptions are mostly just physical. But when we connect with others the field becomes expanded to other domains which are structured and monitored by our minds and our perceptions of how we are affecting others or being affected or perceived by others.

The word sense can be used in terms of a noun or a verb. The noun will describe a state of being and the verb will describe our action. This differentiation is at the root of how we apply its meaning. As a noun it will be what we perceive or believe to be true or not. As a verb it will be the act of sensing itself but not necessarily what we are sensing.

When we are by ourselves sense is more about the verb or the act of sensing such as “I see the sun is setting” or “I feel the chair slipping out from under me” which we most likely feel but not necessarily say to ourselves. In contrast, when we are with others its emphasis is more on the noun and a statement about what’s being sensed. Such as “I sense that you’re wanting to leave” Thinking-vs-Doingor “I sense that you’re being considerate.” So, when the sensing is connected to others and the state of things the mind assesses and pronounces the condition. When the sensing only involves ourselves, the verb or the action is felt and the mind doesn’t come into play. Although the state may only be the direction of the sensing when we’re alone, it’s the action of sensing that is most important. But when the sensing involves others, it’s the state, condition or conclusions arrived at that’s most important. Notice that in both cases, alone or with others, both the noun and verb are in use but which has more emphasis is determined by whether we are alone or not.

This may seem like splitting hairs but it’s very important for understanding how we process our sensing and how it’s perceived differently when dealing with other people. When we’re alone, we focus mostly on the action. When we’re with others we focus mostly on the results of that action. That being said, let’s move on to understand our thresholds for sensing relative to the intensity of what we’re receiving.

For some of us, we limit our ability to sense to our physical faculties. In doing this it also mutes our capability to sense beyond what we sense physically. Why? Because when we open up to other dimensions such as intuition or feeling we can become overwhelmed if our environment is perceived as being very stressful. It feels like there is too much happening for us to comfortably process. Much of the stress we feel in our day to day environment comes from waves and energy surges coming from others that broadcast below our physical senses that run contrary to where we prefer our head space to be. That is, what comes from the outside world often seems to feel overly coercive and interferes with the peace and comfort we work at establishing within our own space. This seems to be felt the strongest by those of us who are introverts. Introverts are, the most often, very sensitive receivers of emotional currents. Generally, extroverts are too busy projecting to notice that anything is being received, let alone, that it might have any effect on them. What is ironic is that many extroverts project as strongly as they do so they don’t have to feel or receive. They may be conscious of what they’re doing but most often they’re not. So the extrovert projects their own current to mute or dampen the incoming interference and the introvert simply turns off or mutes their “receptors.” Both extroverts and introverts receive but they handle the “overload” differently.

Hyper-sensitive-3Senior business man shouting at young business man, studio shotSo, back to our hyper and hypo sensitivity. If what I say follows, then introverts are perceived as being hyper-sensitive because they are being perceived as being too sensitive to what others project and extroverts are perceived as being hypo-sensitive because by projecting they are being perceived by others as being insensitive or not listening to what others might feel from their projections. Remember, both are simply trying to prevent being overloaded and losing their balance and comfort.

Now, let’s take this understanding a step further. It is usually the introverts that accuse the extroverts of being hypo-sensitive or insensitive and it is usually the extroverts who accuse the introverts of being hyper-sensitive or over-sensitive.

Let’s bring one more dimension into play; the method or ploy used by each to get what they want. Now mind you, I’m looking at their individual conditions as being representative of personalities who are imbalanced.

Bully-1People who feel ineffectual in dealing with the world and who are extroverts often assume the position of a bully. They will use their projection as a means of overwhelming others into behaving in a way that makes them feel like they have control. The extrovert’s tool of choice is fear. When the ones they bully object to their attempted coercion, the extrovert accuses them of being hyper-sensitive.

Poor-me-2People who feel ineffectual in dealing with the world and who are introverts often assume the position of the persecuted. They will use accusations of oppression and persecution as a means of shaming others into behaving in a way that makes them feel entitled and must be compensated for their oppression. The introvert’s tool of choice is guilt. When the oppressors refuse to offer retribution, the introverts accuse them of being insensitive. This method of manipulation has often been referred to as the Tyranny of the Weak.

So, when someone accuses you of being hyper-sensitive, a little red flag should be raised in your awareness. Where is this accusation coming from? Am I really being hyper-sensitive or is it simply a ploy to manipulate me into giving them what they want?

When someone accuses you of being insensitive, are you really being so or is it simply their ploy to make you open up to what they want you to believe that they are entitled to?

Both ploys are immature and come from a place of low self-esteem. They believe that their feeling of being undeserving has left them no other option but to get what they want from you than through manipulation. Whether they get what they want this way or not, either way, it is a hollow victory for them. If these are people who you value and are close to you, your only Tough love-2option is applying tough love and adhering to what you want but making them aware that when you give to them it is because you choose to not because of their manipulation. Over time, your repeated pointing to this understanding might eventually make them feel comfortable enough with you to trust your right to choose your own life path and values and to trust that what you feel about their worth might be enough for them to accept themselves as being “worthy.” Realize, you may be counteracting years of childhood training that told them otherwise. Do what you can do in this way and it may provide enough encouragement for them to change their opinion about their own value. The need for manipulation may then just fall away.