How Do I Know If I’m an Introvert or Extrovert?

Do you acknowledge your opportunities, or do you hurry past them?

Photo Credit: Rosmarie Wirz/Getty Images
Photo Credit: Rosmarie Wirz/Getty Images

By jay Khandelwal

The boring truth is that real change and self-discovery is hard work, putting one foot in front of another. But a test gives a tantalizing insight into the psyche, after just a few minutes. The following test is loosely based on the Jung-inspired Myers-Briggs test.

It takes about 5-10 minutes and it gives a snapshot of various dominant dimensions of your personality. It’s really about how you approach the world, how you see things. There is no wrong or right. It’s about which lenses you use to focus on the world around you. For instance, are you an introvert (who gathers their energy from the inner life), or an extrovert (who gets pepped up from parties). Or are you somewhere in the middle? Of course, as you get older, you can switch from one to the other, depending on context. Still, a true introvert will be exhausted after a big social gathering and will need time to recuperate and collect their thoughts. A typical extrovert will be bouncing off the walls, with little time to stop and reflect.

It’s very likely that you already knew whether you were introverted or extroverted. However, what is more interesting is perhaps how you change over time. A very extroverted person, who seeks material success and recognition, may find themselves thrown into turmoil by a failure, or an illness. Their old way of doing things will no longer work. Even though they wouldn’t normally stop to reflect, circumstances may force them into the unfamiliar territory of their inner life. Similarly, an introvert, working in the self-promoting open-plan modern workplace, may need to find a way of interacting with people, without depleting themselves. 

We may also unconsciously seek out our opposite. You will notice couples where one partner talks, and another listens. Extroverts maybe attracted introverts; the introvert hold the missing dimension, and the union can make the couple “whole”, and give them multiple perspectives. 

This difference can be attractive in the beginning, but can become a bone of contention later, as each partner realizes how different they are. The interplay of sameness and difference can be jarring or enriching, depending on how much interplay and dialogue genuinely occurs. True dialogue allows each perspective to gain from the other. When one part of the personality attempts a power grab — through dismissing or crushing the other — that results in serious conflict and limited scope for real development. This is of course what happens when couples argue. But arguments are not always dead-ends. Conflict can result in some difficult alternative realities combining to offer up a more satisfying take on the world.

This work is never ending; we are constantly bumping into the opposite in ourselves and in others. Next time you bump into the opposite the question is: Do you use this as an opportunity, or do you hurry past?  

Jay Khandelwal is a psychotherapist with over 25 years experience in the mental health field. 

Originally published on WellDoing.org.

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