How to Care for Introverts (in 12 easy steps).

Via on Apr 4, 2012
(Via Tumblr)

“I’m an introvert… I love being by myself, love being outdoors, love taking a long walk with my dogs and looking at the trees, flowers, the sky…” 

~ Audrey Hepburn

I say this often but I’m pretty sure I was a cat in a previous life. If I believed in reincarnation, I’d be purring right now.

You know how there are only two kinds of people in this world: dog people and cat people. And, well, other people too. Not just people who like cats (or dogs) but people who are cats (or dogs).

People who need to be alone often, who are jealous of their space and privacy, who purr unexpectedly or stop purring for no apparent reason (who knows, maybe they just spotted a mouse); who never come when you call them but expect you to answer immediately when they call you. Who cry often, but nobody knows.

On the wiser side of town, they look like they’ve learned to become friends with their solitude.

I could raise my hand here and say “me, me”, but the older I get, the less black & white I see the world, but more like a faded sepia. Sometimes I dance with strangers on the street and others, I’m bothered by my own shadow.

Who sent you, Person in the Mirror? Is this god’s way of spying on me? ‘Cause I’m an atheist today.

(Screenshot Amélie via YouTube)

Overall though, I think there’s a cat in each one of us as much as there’s a dog. Only that in some, the meows are louder than the barks or vice versa.

So, just for the sake of non-violent communication with Self and others, I sometimes have to hand out this little map to my/your introverted heart and hope somebody out there can read maps.

“In an extroverted society, the difference between an introvert and an extrovert is that an introvert is often unconsciously deemed guilty until proven innocent.”

~ Criss Jami

(Via Questionably Late Tumblr)

{Based on Linda Kreger Silverman’s On Introversion.}

An introvert’s kind of life and sort of love: you, me & Amélie.

 

*Bonus – The Introvert’s Song of the Day.

 

I’m curious, do you consider yourself more of a cat or a dog? And what do you like or not so much about your cat/dog self?

 

~ Like elephant culture & elephant Introverted Society on Facebook. ~

About Andrea Balt

Co-Founder / Editor in Chief of Rebelle Society, Wellness Alchemist at Rebelle Wellness & Creativity Curator at Creative Rehab. Unfinished book with a love for greens, bikes and poetry; raised by wolves & adopted by people; not trying to make art but to Be Art. Holds a BA in Journalism & Mass Communication, an MFA in Creative Writing & a Holistic Health Coach degree from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition®. In her work she tries to reflect the wholeness of the human experience by combining Art & Health + Brains & Beauty + Darkness & Brilliance into a more alive, unabridged and unlimited edition of ourselves. She is also on a quest to reinstate Creativity as one of our essential Human Rights to (hopefully and soon) be included in the UN Declaration. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram and sign up for her Monthly Stroke of Renaissance.

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58 Responses to “How to Care for Introverts (in 12 easy steps).”

  1. nakedgaia says:

    Cassidy Likes: Listening to the soundtrack of Amelie and imagining she is a growing forest, the smell of something baking just as you open the oven door in the yellow afternoon light and observing humanity on a crowded bus. :) oh, and reading your lovely posts on elephant journal :)

  2. Eric says:

    Thank you Andrea. I am caring for my wife who has metastatic breast cancer. The long term prognosis is that she will leave this life in 5 years or so. We’re not resigned to that but accept that it may turn out that way. She is an introvert. She wants few others to participate in her care. We just finished a 5 month round of chemo that has drained her down. It can be difficult at times. This was a nice reminder for me to remember her need for privacy, for alone time, for independence in the midst of a dependent situation. I needed a boost today and you gave me one. Thank you. Peace.

    • Andrea Balt Andréa Balt says:

      I'm so sorry to hear that, Eric. Life is so short—and beautiful, in part, because of how short it is. We can all fit in one breath.

      I can relate to the way you describe your wife. I have a hard time asking for help or extra care (or receiving it), especially when I'm in a difficult situation or when feeling vulnerable – in other words, when I most need it. But the bonds you make with the people that you do choose to rely on during the difficult times, end up being pretty much unbreakable.

      Glad to add some introspection to your day. I wish you and your wife all the strength and beauty life still has to offer you.

    • Tracy says:

      Sending heartfelt prayers for love and health and strength for both of you! Your role in this is so much harder than many understand. Please remember to be patient and gentle with yourself, because you need it and deserve it! Blessing for both of you and wishes for special memories and experiences! Keeping searching for joy (even the quiet, simple kind)! Sending love and hope to you both!

    • rocky says:

      this comment is opposite of keeping personal things private

  3. I'm a dog person…100%. But…I need my little alone cat nap times too. I went to a lecture once where the speaker explain introversion as not being define by shyness, but by whether you find time with other people exhilarating or draining. For extroverts, people time is a boost. For introverts, it's their alone time that recharges them. I feel like I need both. But then, I do like cats and dogs (and elephants and monkeys and sheep and cockatoos!).

    • Andrea Balt Andréa Balt says:

      Haha, yes, I thought you had a dog heart that meows. I agree with that definition 100%. And I also need both. It's quite a gray area for the most part. But, I do think that speaking in general, some people tend to identify with one side (slightly) more than the other. I need more time alone than with people. But I can't live without people. :) Although it goes beyond just the way one relates with others, I think – it extends to how you deal with most aspects of your life.

      Purring now. :)

  4. Dawn says:

    Wonderful! Meow.

  5. oz_ says:

    Thanks for posting Andrea! I've long felt it would be helpful if we were all tattoo'd with our Jungian typology on our foreheads at birth! Although, my observation is that this can change somewhat over time, so not such a great idea, it turns out. ;-)

    More worth reading on this important and vastly overlooked subject:
    http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2003/http://www.psychologytoday.com/print/46944

    And a superb recent TED talk on the subject: author Susan Cain on the Power of Introverts:
    http://www.ted.com/talks/susan_cain_the_power_of_

    Cain's currently got a book out on the subject which I have not read yet, but understand it's excellent – it's called "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking"

    • Dawn says:

      oz, I am reading Susan Cain's book now and it is indeed very interesting. It delves into a lot of the early mainstream marketing that targeted people's insecurities about feeling "left out" and how they needed to be social and outgoing to "get ahead" in life. Its definitely a different take on the issue than Elain Aron's "The Highly Sensitive Person" http://www.hsperson.com/
      The latter explores the genetic trait from a biological and then a personal point of view and gives insight to how one might cope with introversion and use it as a strength, not a weakness. Aron's book is definitely an eye opener and a life saver for anyone who is struggling with feeling uncomfortable in a world where "the squeaky wheel gets the grease", so to speak. I love how she explains it in terms of "Warriors" (extroverts) and "Priestly Advisors" (introverts).

      • oz_ says:

        Thanks Dawn – this is useful info.

        I've read some of Aron's work, and found that her ideas about HSP go a bit beyond/outside of introversion. For example, a sensitivity to scratchy clothes and 'funny tastes' are among her criteria for HSP which are not definitively traits of introversion. In fact, Aron herself says, on her web site:

        "In fact, 30% of HSPs are extraverts, although the trait is often mislabeled as introversion."

        That said, I think much of her work may apply and/or may be analogous to introversion. And I also think that many who think they are introverts may in fact be HSPs, so very good info to bear in mind.

        We are complex beings, of this there is no doubt. :)

        • Andrea Balt Andréa Balt says:

          Thanks for your insightful comments. I'm taking notes and bookmarking all these suggestions. I think I'm going to follow up on the two book recommendations right away. Just from the title, they sound like something I'd enjoy — during my quiet and alone cat time with a cup of tea, of course. :)

  6. guest says:

    most of those tips work for extroverts as well. they are common courtesy. Can we stop this silly us vs. them already? Do we need to define "others"? And people are not 100% extrovert or introvert anyway (almost no one). I would consider myself an extrovert but only as long as I have some time to myself.

  7. Mamaste says:

    Beautiful job, Batman!
    ~Mamaste

  8. Kristi says:

    This … perfection!

  9. paul says:

    Yes, a correct list. Thank you, ( ◕◡◕)ノ ✿✿✿
    Seems to come from Linda Kreger Silverman, Ph.D., http://www.infj.com/INFJ_Introversion.htm

  10. @emilyalp says:

    Exquisite post, Andrea!!

  11. Susan says:

    ♥. Purring and feeling a need to watch Amelie again. I completely relate and agree with your comment, "I need more time alone than with people. But I can't live without people".

  12. Z Egloff says:

    Here's to introverts!! In a quiet and understated way, of course. . .

    I second the recommendation of Aaron's work on Highly Sensitive People. When I read her books, they explained so many parts of my life and my traits that I'd had judgment about. Although not all HSPs are introverts, a majority are. I've recommended the book – quietly and understated-ly – to many friends, who have also benefitted.

    I also love your inclusion of the 12 ways to care for an introvert. Much purring, all around.

    Lovely post!!

    Z

  13. creativewhimsy says:

    Oh Yes, definitely a cat here. Living with another cat. We need a dog in our lives, though, to get us out of the house once in a while!

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  19. Tracy says:

    Hmmmm…though we've never met in person, I must question how much of an introvert you really are, since you seem quite extroverted to me on this side of the world and this side of your outstanding writing.Methinks you are a hybrid.
    I am undoubtedly an extrovert (though a bit of a hybrid myself) which has brought me very close to many introverts. I love them and they love me b/c we complete two necessary sides of an equation. We get along remarkably well together, I can't stress how much I adore them and how necessary we are to each other.
    A few things I've noticed:
    1) Do drag them out into exciting places: into a club, onto the dance floor, into the center of attention, with you there as their anchor and their shield. You have to watch for that special "no", the one with excitement dancing behind their eyes and at least one corner of their mouth turned up…waiting for that excited giggle. Hold them tight and make them forget that anyone else exists. (The funny part is that in real life, THEY are always YOUR anchor.)
    2) Do turn to them and block out the people interrupting during those times when they find the passion to speak. Make sure that others listen and pay attention to those precious times when they gift us with their opinions.
    3) When you do interrupt them, as you inevitably will, be sure to make it short and sweet and pertinent, then BEG them to continue the conversation. Be prepared to remind them of their point, the one that you were (trying) to help to illustrate.
    4) Never, ever DEMAND answers from them, as hard as that may be for some of us. Give them the time and space that they deserve and need, with the confidence that their true love and loyalty will keep them close.
    5) Pay close attention to the beauty they create oh so quietly. While the rest of the world is extolling the virtues of their rather plain accomplishments, they're often creating miracles quietly in the dark.
    6) They often "whisper." Always be ready to listen.
    7) Don't ever expect them to be anything that they are not. We love them for who they are and we should constantly remind ourselves that we wouldn't want them any other way.

    Lastly, I've always preferred men who love cats. There is a special sort of patience and respect and tolerance in a man who loves cats. He can love dogs too, but for me, he must love cats.

    • Andrea Balt Andréa Balt says:

      WOW! I don't know how I've missed this comment but let me tell you again how your rock. This is so beautiful and true to the bone, you should make it into an article! Much sweeter than the chart above.

      As for me, yes, I guess I'm a hybrid – an introvert at heart and – due to work & having to face life on my own for a long time, I guess, an extrovert as a "modus operandi". You did strike me as an extrovert (with introvert interruptions here & there).

      I also love what you said about men who love cats. Never thought of it that way, but it makes sense. Gonna' pay attention to cat-loving men from now on to see if they match the rest of the attributes. :)

  20. Tobye Hillier yogi tobye says:

    Actually, the true meaning of both is; An introvert creates their own energy and doesn't need others and an extrovert gets there energy from being around others. So you see, you could be a social introvert no problem. I'm an extrovert (dog for sure) but I love my own company, walking on the beach, meditating and telling arseholes to go piss up a rope, but I needs the recharge of decent company

  21. Maria says:

    Thank you! In Western culture, with its emphahsis on networking, beiing outgoung, etc. introverts are sometimes considered to be quite weird. Like "What's wrong with you?". There is also a strong tendency to try to remake them into extroverts. Thank you for the reminder that we introverts are what we are – and should be handled with care!

  22. shane says:

    It's funny, because I've always considered myself more dog than cat, as I have this natural-type aversion to felines but now I think that maybe it's because I'm more cat than dog, after all. Of course, I'm a little of both, but I seem to fit the cat bill more often . Great article! I feel the strongest need to see Amelie now, since I never have but I'm sure I will fall in love with it.

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  25. C Vas says:

    As a mother of an introvert, I can say all these points are true. Society and school don't always appreciate introverts but I think if understood they are some of the most genuine people you'll ever meet. I usually explain this concept to teachers or relatives who misunderstand the behavior of an introvert. I also discovered that i was more introverted as a child and conformed into extroversion to fit in more. It's great when an introvert grabs an introvert by the hand and takes them on adventures they might not do on their own too. Just as an introvert can show an extrovert the power of silence.

  26. Proud Fiancé says:

    Informative. I am dating an introvert (HSP-I, to be exact), and I am an extrovert (HSP-E, to be exact). While there are times where we each need our space (and it is duly respected and mutually given), I can't deny that it is with each other (meaning in each other's physical presence, in some way shape, or form) that her and I find the most joy, fulfillment, and feel the most healing love between one another. I once asked her about this–how she is being with me, and being apart from me, which in turn she asked me. The answers, though worded slightly differently, carried the same message:

    "With you, I am whole, and life is wonderful. Without you, I'm…just okay."

    True love knows no bounds, not even those of the differences between introverts and extroverts. We are all human, after all.

  27. Nichole says:

    What I am finding is that I have always been know to be and thought of myself as an extrovert, because I speak my mind and have been comfortable speaking in front of people or playing the guitar at an open mic. What I am discovering is that was more learned than anything. I prefer to be home; reading, writing, playing the guitar, time with my daughter, yoga &meditation. I enjoy small gatherings with friends but I get nervous and shy at parties. Unless I have a few drinks…but I rarely do that anymore. I prefer my solitude. I need it to take care of myself or I become drained.

  28. Alice says:

    I had to take a personality test once at work years ago (dental assistant) and it determined that I was an extreme introvert. That prompted them to change my job position to working more by myself just with kids since I was working with an introverted dentist. I was quite upset since us two introverts worked really well together! I actually get along better with other introverts than I do with extroverts. I love to be by myself reading, playing the guitar or walking or running by myself. I love the company of my husband and 3 small kids but I don't feel the need to make new friends at all.

  29. Jennifer Twardowski says:

    Ahh I LOVE Audrey Hepburn and Amelie! :-) I think I need to watch that move now. I'm definitely a cat too! I get some peak "dog" kind of moments but generally a cat. Great post. I very much so relate. Thanks for sharing!

  30. Jo says:

    How I feel is that my Cat vs Dog self = 50/50

    I’ve done personality tests and some categorize me as an extrovert, while others as an introvert.

    I think that these basic rules could and do apply to both introverts and extroverts, and that our cat vs dog selves can fluctuate – much in a similar manner to gender fluidity. The line doesn’t really exist.

    But I digress..

    I’ve been damaged by the label of extroversion as it alienated me as a lot more resilient than I could ever be.

    I am a secret introvert to protect myself. (Something I am in the process of understanding and accepting.

    Nice article, although maybe a little biased :)

  31. brooke says:

    I'm a cat… but I can be a social butterfly, too. I fall into that my alone time recharges me category, though. Definitely. And I live in a world that is predominantly just in my head. Lol I think us introverts can be very misunderstood. There is a difference between being introverted and having social anxiety or being asocial. A huge difference. We are deep thinkers, our brains are very active and we need little outside stimulus. I think we are sensitive to energies, as well.. I think this could be part of the reason why social interactions with a lot of people can drain us. We pick up on everything going on around us and it is exhausting at times! It is this way.for me anyways. The only things I don't like about my cat nature is I can make my friends feel neglected sometimes. My very social friends anyways. They have to understand it is nothing against them, I'm just not good at returning phone calls or the friendship doesn't last.

  32. Amy says:

    Very well said, Brooke! You have done an excellent job of describing me. Thank you!

  33. jellyjamland says:

    Thank you! This is certainly an awesome post!! I consider my self an introvert and I am definitely a cat person!! I hope you have a wonderful day :)

  34. thomas machi says:

    most of these things sound like condescending "isms". i don't need you to treat me in a particular manner because there's 'something' wrong with me. because i'm not "like" you. i just want the respect you show to every one else who is different. because, in the end, we are all different. i don't have to be like you. and really, i don't want to be like you.

  35. vero says:

    Definitely a Cat! (Yes capital letter. ..) I can be sociable but only with certain people. .. much as a cat would just ignore or walk away from 20 people trying to get close and some other people just make me feel as comfortable as a life long friend…

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