“Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” -Carl Jung
As an introvert, I relate to Carl Jung on an intense level. He was a fellow introvert and the psychiatrist who came up with the concept of introversion and extroversion. For me, his words and works all have hidden messages in them: the importance of soul-searching, introspection, and knowing oneself.
Most introverts delight in the experience of their unique personality and their sense of individuality. We tend to be more in touch with our emotions, thoughts, and feelings, compared to other “outward” personalities. I think this gives us an inherent advantage, a predisposition to become more conscious of our character, our values, and our entire makeup as human beings.
Self-awareness — the experience of one’s personality or individuality — is a concept very intimate to introverts. Although every introvert is different, for many of us, being self-aware comes naturally; it is not even a practice we have to remind ourselves to do. It is something imbibed in our personality, since the very beginning, when we started to make sense of the world.
Here are six reasons introverts may be more self-aware than extroverts.
6 Reasons Introverts May Be More Self-Aware Than Extroverts
1. Turning inward is as natural and easy as breathing.
Introverts like diving deep within themselves, and in fact, we find our inner world quite fascinating. Careful observation of our thoughts and emotions is one of our favorite things to do. Introspection is like breathing; it comes effortlessly.
When reflected upon, my experiences always somehow seem to bring me new insights and realizations. For introverts, every interaction with the world can be an enlightening process. Many introverts naturally see the depth that exists in each individual, and we’re eager to find out what is hiding in the corners of our own being. We are usually aware of our habits, triggers, and beliefs, making it our goal to know ourselves a little better every day.
2. Solitude is our drug.
One thing all introverts are “addicted to” is solitude. We treasure our alone time, fighting the world (and sometimes even the people we love), for quiet and healthy isolation. In particular, time spent alone in nature, with our thoughts away from everyone, creates space in our mind to reflect and observe our internal chatter.
Introverts tend to get overstimulated easily, especially in chaotic social environments, due to the way our brains are wired — so we need time and space to make sense of what is happening. In my alone time, I try to shift my attention away from everything going on around me to myself, becoming more consciously aware of what’s going on at home, work, or in my relationships on a deeper level. This space of solitude allows for a better understanding of my cognition, and allows me to find meaning in my life.
3. We talk less to listen more.
Generally speaking, introverts are listeners rather than talkers. Even with people I am comfortable with, I tend to take long pauses to provide space for the other person to lay it all out. Many introverts are active listeners, genuinely hearing others to create better understanding and empathy. We learn these skills only to use them later when we talk to ourselves, as this is precisely how we listen to our own internal dialogue, which then brings us closer to our true selves. Hearing profoundly and effectively brings deeper insights, something introverts value a lot.
4. To solve our problems and find comfort, we first look within.
Compared to extroverts, who tend to value the outer world, introverts enjoy their inner space more. When given the choice, I often pick a day to myself, secluded in my room, over a social activity that will overwhelm me. That’s because introverts look within for most of the things we need. We find peace and happiness inside ourselves or in the things we create — our art, music, writing, or even our gardens and happy homes — and we like to monitor our internal “weather” at all times. For example, if something makes me uncomfortable, I usually don’t call a friend immediately to vent about it; first I like to contemplate and try to fix it on my own.
Essentially, introverts don’t rely on the external environment for their needs. We are the comfort zone that we need. This internal focus makes us more aware of our needs, capabilities, and talents.
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5. We discover ourselves in what we create.
Introverts are profoundly passionate, whether it’s some hobby, subject, or art that we are obsessed with, something that gives life meaning. Books, movies, walks in nature, anything and everything is a means of self-exploration. I love writing, and the process always brings me a new understanding of my thoughts, which are usually captured in the pages of my journal. Introverts tend to find so much meaning in whatever it is we create, because we express ourselves freely and candidly in our creations. Our creations are not only for others but also for ourselves, helping us to know ourselves more deeply.
6. Self-examination is our ritual.
Although there are always exceptions, we “quiet ones” tend to be our own worst critics; we analyze ourselves more thoroughly than others ever could. We tend to observe ourselves intimately and obsessively, valuing growth and believing strongly in self-improvement. For this reason, we like to know why we do the things we do, or why we behave in a particular manner. So we analyze our thoughts, emotions, and behavior sometimes so much that introverts are known for overthinking. We even overthink about our overthinking! The benefit is we’re usually more aware of our mental state, with anything new popping up undergoing a careful examination and process of meaning-making.
Introverts are organically wired to pause and contemplate. Sometimes this art of reflection leads to painful overthinking, but it can also lead to clarity in all areas of life. Having this strong sense of self-awareness — if used well — ultimately makes it easier to navigate life and its myriad decisions. It is truly a strength and a gift.