7 Things Introverts Teach Us on World Introvert Day (Jan. 2)

An introvert smiles

One thing introverts teach us is that not every silence needs to be filled with words.

World Introvert Day is just about here. Yes, a day to celebrate, appreciate, and understand the beloved introverts in your life (or yourself!). Did you know this is a real day? I cannot believe I was not aware of this until recently, but as a fellow introvert, I absolutely love this and will definitely “celebrate” it (as quietly as possible, of course).

For a bit of background, World Introvert Day is celebrated each year on Jan. 2 and was established in 2011 after psychologist and author Felicitas Heyne wrote a blog post about it — why we should have a World Introvert Day

Introverts are often misunderstood, especially in a world where the extroverted personality is celebrated. If we want alone time, for instance, it’s hard for others to grasp. Or if we’d rather stay in on a Friday night and skip the party “everyone” is going to, it’s also hard for non-introverts to understand. But I “get” the ins and outs of introversion quite well as an introvert myself — and as a psychotherapist with several introverted clients. 

Introverts are such special souls and have so many amazing qualities about them, from their deep focus to their active listening skills. Here are seven important lessons introverts can teach us on World Introvert Day (and every other day, too, in my humble opinion).

Things Introverts Teach Us on World Introvert Day 

1. Alone time is a good (and healthy) thing.

In a world where overworking and socializing are celebrated, introverts teach us just how valuable taking time for yourself is. Yes, I’m talking about recharge time — aka “me” time.” Introverts know that recharge time is essential and a very good thing. And just about every introvert will tell you that they don’t just want recharge time (though they do crave it), but truly need it. This is something that deserves recognition, as it’s not always understood. While extroverts get energy from being around people, introverts get it from being alone.

Whether you are an introvert or not, taking time for yourself is important when it comes to self-care and reducing burnout. Introverts are great at intuitively sensing when it’s time for them to do so. However, this recharge time isn’t just important for their own self-care, but so they can also show up as their best selves in relationships with others. That is pretty darn special.

What if everyone took some time to think about what they could do for self-care to show up as their best self for their relationships? This is an important lesson to learn from introverts.

2. We can’t forget our childhood passions.

Just like introverts love having deep conversations and relationships with others (“deep” is the key word here), the same goes for the relationship with themselves. Spending time alone does not feel lonely for them (as extroverts may assume). Instead, it feels amazing to introverts to have this time to connect with their inner selves, especially during their recharge time.

For many introverts, the process of connecting with themselves may include things like reading, watching a documentary, taking an online course or learning about something that has to do with a passion of theirs, painting, playing music, singing, spending quality time with their pets, going for a walk, being in nature, meditating, writing, or journaling. And these are just some general examples. 

Introverts enjoy time alone to connect with themselves in this way — it truly rejuvenates them! And this is also a good lesson on finding balance, going back to the importance of recharge time. Have you ever felt “I wish I had time to do xyz?” This is what I’m talking about here! 

You never know what interest or spark within yourself you will discover (or rediscover) from spending some of that good ol’ quality time with yourself. What did you love to do as a child that you no longer prioritize? What is something you feel passionate about rather than something you feel you “should” or “need” to do? This is something introverts are experts at and they teach us just how valuable this can be. 

3. Stepping back from a problem can actually help you solve it.

It’s a pretty well-known fact that introverts spend a lot of time in their heads, thinking, analyzing, understanding, and reflecting.  

This can be a great quality when it comes to relationships (their own or yours) — they can problem-solve and genuinely enjoy helping others out. If you mention an issue to them, they will want to help you resolve it. After your conversation ends, it doesn’t end for the introvert — they’ll continue to think about what was discussed. You may find them coming back to you later to share additional thoughts and ideas they had. 

Have you ever noticed that when you take some space from being caught up in a problem or situation that this is when the ideas and solutions flow in? This is yet another valuable skill introverts teach us.

4. Self-discovery is a key to meaningful relationships with others.

I once heard that how emotionally intimate you are able to be with others is based on how you cultivate this relationship with yourself. I have found a lot of truth to this — the more you understand yourself on a deeper level and have curiosity for your own self-discovery process, the more you will feel drawn to do the same for others. Because introverts really value connecting with themselves — and having a deep relationship with themselves — this helps them have a deeper relationship with their friends or partner.

Isn’t it an amazing feeling to have someone in your life who really wants to get to know you? To learn more about you? To see the real, authentic you? You just may find yourself embarking on your own self-discovery process during (or after) being in a relationship with an introvert. This is a beautiful gift from that special introvert in your life.

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5. Listen to truly understand, not just to respond.

Introverts have a special superpower of not only wanting to listen, but really wanting to listen to understand. In a world where so many people are focused on “the next thing” or are eager to respond in a conversation rather than listening to understand, it can truly be a breath of fresh air to have a conversation with an introvert. As a therapist, I can say that everyone has a longing to feel heard and be seen. You will definitely experience being seen and heard with an introvert.

Additionally, since many introverts are excellent listeners, they are able to empathize with what you are sharing and will also ask questions to understand you even more. Some of these questions will be deeper questions, as meaning in their relationships is something they value. Having an introvert in your life, especially in a close relationship, truly is a special thing. You will feel that the introvert “gets you” (or is trying to “get you”).

6. Not every silence needs to be filled with words.

Many introverts experience a lot of judgment regarding their communication style, which is unfair. They are often called “too quiet,” “shy,” and the list goes on. So aggravating! There are two important points I would like to address here.

First, introverts share when they have something valuable to contribute. They are certainly not going to talk just to hear themselves talk or to fill space when there’s silence. (That’s like a small talk nightmare.) So when introverts do share, it’s important to take time to listen to what they have to say. And they will certainly appreciate you doing so.

Secondly, if there’s a deep topic — or a topic the introvert is passionate about — they may not stop talking… perhaps for hours! There are some assumptions that two introverts sit in silence together, but wow, is this ever not the case. Often, it just takes a special person or circumstance in order to see introverts light up in their element.

Although they can be quiet at times, introverts have many important and interesting things to share. It’s important to allow them to collect their thoughts, give them space to speak, offer them the same curiosity they give to you, and take the time to listen to what they have to say. Although it may not be apparent, they crave to be seen and heard, too.  

7.  There’s value in taking a moment to pause.

Have you ever noticed a shift in energy when you’re around an introvert? Perhaps you feel a bit calmer, relaxed, or more at ease? 

Introverts often have a calming energy. Additionally, many introverts are generally nonreactive when things get amped up, as they are taking in all the information, trying to get an internal sense of how they are feeling (and how others are feeling), and are definitely thinking before they respond. This helps to slow down any frenzied interactions.

This can also be an important lesson that they teach others — the process of taking a moment to pause, as reactivity in interactions just adds fuel to the fire.

Being an introvert myself, I have noticed that when I’m around really high energy people, I feel on edge or uncomfortable. But when I’m around the calm energy of another introvert, it feels so good and peaceful. I love hanging around my fellow introverts!

These are just a few points to keep in mind on this upcoming World Introvert Day. How will you take time to honor the introverts in your life? Or yourself? Feel free to share in the comments below.

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Carolyn Cole is a licensed psychotherapist in Chicago. Her practice focuses on helping her clients with self-discovery, self-exploration, self-love, and healing the relationship with themselves to create the life they desire.