Saturday, May 9, 2015

Ambiverts All!

 There is no such thing as a pure introvert or extrovert. Such a person would be in the lunatic asylum.”, says Carl Jung whose contributions as psychologist, writer and philosopher, inspired the creation of the Myers- Briggs Type Indicator.

The dictionary on my computer defines introvert as ‘a shy person’. I think that’s ridiculous. The word ‘shy’ is in the same category as ‘lazy’, and  ‘guilty’. These ‘feeling’ words don’t really get to the crux of the feeling. A person who feels ‘guilty’ doesn’t really feel guilty. He/she might feel deficient or inadequate or even responsible. We don’t feel guilty. We either are or are not guilty. It is the same with shy.

Why would a person choose not to socialize? That’s the real question! Fear, humiliation, possibility of failure, rejection, shame, panic are feelings that could underlie “shy”.

Each of us has the ability to behave as an introvert and as an extravert. We need not chose between one or the other. We can find comfort in being both! Our behaviours, ultimately, are influenced too, by our past experiences, even as far back as our birth. 

I am beginning to recognize the vastness of my own potential as a human being. People tell me I am a social being….that I am friendly, amiable, cooperative, interactive, compassionate, …..essentially, an extravert! And I am all that, I believe!
                     And there's me, in a crowd...introverting

Much of my life is about circumventing conflict and creating fun and significant relationships. Whether it’s familial interaction, marital communication, developing teacher- student rapport, or establishing supportive and caring relationships with community, I know I have skill in making relationships work.

Lately I am noticing how much I appreciate my solitary quiet time. I have come to take great comfort in being alone. Over the years (60 of them) I have had much practice in self-reflection.  There, I find solace, comfort, patience, and a springboard for compassionate action. Through meditation, my journey for self inspires me to find responsible and thorough solutions to the questions that arise in my life.

I am loving my solitary life as much as I appreciate my active involved presence! I am, after all, an introvert! I revel in my extensive bike rides down the winding, hilly roads and the lush, aromatic forests of our island. My Yoga practise is solitary even when I practise with others. With my eyes closed I am present to my self. I find quiet comfort in time spent reading, writing, watching, walking, and swimming. I smile as I plant those miraculous tiny seeds in the garden or trot gently on the dirt roads as I jog. All this I do alone!

And yet, typically, as aligns with the characteristics of an extravert, my motives and actions are directed outward. I am more apt to act than to contemplate an action. I am a pretty friendly person, even to unknown people, and I usually am engaged and energized by social situations. I have many friends, close family relations and my work totally involves being with and talking with others. But none of this means I don’t also experience the exact opposite for each.

I am an introvert and I am also an extravert! And everything in between! Towards my ongoing pursuit of happiness, I might feel a certain disposition one day, and react to it so differently another day. The polarity of who I am gives me more potential to be more of who I want to be. I can be it all….any time and always. I can avoid the labels and avoid any predisposition for choosing one over the other.

I have come to realize that we each have the potential to exhibit behaviours that would characterize either an introverted or extroverted personality. We can love to spend time with people and still tire of it after a while. We can easily do things alone and, if we are spending too much time alone we can be sucked into depression or unproductive moods. We can love to purposefully interact and our conversations can be energetic and animated, or mellow and quiet.

Processing information both externally and internally makes for an easier experience. Being able to respond to life independently as well as being comfortable asking for help makes living easier. Enjoying access to diverse knowledge and engaging in many different activities can be as gratifying as focusing exclusively on one skill.

I like the way Jung puts it. He says that intoverts recharge by spending time alone, and extraverts gain energy from other people. They recharge by being social. He says that most of us are ambiverts… a balance between the introvert and the extrovert.

That makes sense to me and also validates the magnitude of peoples’ behaviours. We don’t need to be labeled or defined. We are free to grow and expand and become more balanced and whole and to honour the spirit in each of us……”Namaste”!

That's me....extraverting