An introvert is an introvert is an introvert? Not really! It turns out that there are actually four distinct types of introverts tucked under the umbrella of the introvert personality trait. While all introverts are marked by a tendency to gravitate toward smaller-scale social interactions and require plenty of alone time to recharge their batteries, the four different types have different temperaments, preferences, personality traits, and even underlying causes for their introversion. All four types have their own spin on issues navigating the extrovert society, so require different self-care strategies to keep themselves happy and healthy.
In this article, we will delve into anxious introversion in particular. We will go over the basics of how this four-type model was developed, a brief overview of all the different types, further details on the anxious introvert type, self-care tips for the anxious introvert, as well as the important distinction between the personality trait of being an anxious-type introvert versus suffering from a full-fledged anxiety disorder that requires professional treatment.
Let’s begin with a little background.
Research into the Four Types of Introverts
The four-type model of introversion was developed by Jennifer Odessa Grimes, who was then a graduate student, under Wellesley psychologist and researcher Jonathan Cheek. With the help of other graduate assistants, Odessa and Cheek undertook survey research of hundreds of introverts from ages 18 to 70 to delineate different types or aspects. Four discrete types were found: social, thinking, anxious, and reserved. While most people had a dominant type that could be determined, many hold aspects of each type to varying degrees.
Overview of the Four Types of Introverts
The four types of introverts identified by current research are social introverts, thinking introverts, anxious introverts, and reserved introverts. An individual introvert may be a hybrid of said types, though one type is often highlighted for each person. Let’s break down the basics of the three type of introvert aside from anxious introverts, which we will dig into later. If you would like more information, check out the Types of Introverts overview article, as well as the dedicated article for the other three types.
If you’re a social introvert, you need extra downtime to recuperate from socializing. Too much people time is overwhelming and draining, even when you have enjoyed yourself. You don’t feel especially anxious about socializing; rather, you simply recharge your batteries in solitude. Social introverts feel overextended when their calendar is too full, yet require a reasonable amount of social time on their own terms to be happy and healthy. LINK
Thinking introverts are the introspective, analytical types. When a thinking introvert falls silent, which may be often, you can bet they are dissecting an idea or a scenario in their minds. There is an inward direction of mental energy; thinking introverts tend to be highly imaginative and creative, have rich inner lives, and may be prone to daydreaming or getting their heads lost in the clouds. LINK
A restrained introvert is a slow starter. By society’s standards, restrained introverts move and act slowly. This introvert is the tortoises to the hare embodied by the extrovert society. Requiring extra time to wake up, warm up, and take action, the reserved introvert is not to be rushed. When they accomplish tasks, it will be at their own deliberate pace, though they will often have high level of quality in all they do. Restrained introverts tend to be low in their need for novelty and may be creatures of habit who value their creature comforts. LINK
What is an Anxious Introvert?
What defines the anxious introvert is the feelings that drive their preference for solitude. While a social introvert merely feels drained by social interactions and needs extra time to recover, an anxious introvert feels quite awkward and self-conscious around others. This is especially acute when faced with new people, but may also occur around people you know and even people you like.
For an anxious introvert, the anxiety may not be alleviated by time alone. Oftentimes, people high in anxious introversion feel anxious even when they are off by themselves due to their tendency to focus on past scenarios or even imaginary scenarios in which things have gone wrong, or could possibly go wrong. Anxious introverts are usually quite imaginative and creative people overall, however, the painful part is that when anxiety is unchecked, creativity is often spent imagining and ruminating over stressful situations.
How to Find Out if You’re an Anxious Introvert
Let’s go over some key questions to help determine your degree of anxious introversion. If some or all the following statements sound a lot like you, chances are you are an anxious introvert.
A great self-test you can use to rank yourself for each of the four types of introversion can be found at http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/beautiful-minds/what-kind-of-introvert-are-you/
Self-Care for the Anxious Introvert
If you have discovered that you are an anxious introvert, the first thing to know is that It’s possible to manage the symptoms of anxiety. You may (or may not) always be a person who is more prone to symptoms of anxiety, but it does not need to run your life. Here are several self-care tips to prevent and treat undue stress and anxiety in your day to day life, as well as help uncover and heal the underlying causes.
Is it Everyday Anxiety or An Anxiety Disorder?
This can be a tough question as well as a fine line for someone high in anxious introversion. Everyone experiences anxiety from time to time, and for the anxious introvert, mild to severe anxiety can be a daily battle. While everyday anxiety can be treated through various self-care strategies/home remedies, a full-fledged anxiety disorder is best addressed through seeking professional help from a mental health counselor or therapist, psychiatrist, or medical doctor.
Here are some essential differences between everyday anxiety that may be experienced by an anxious introvert and an anxiety disorder that should be treated. If you have troubling symptoms from the right-hand column, please consider reaching out for help. Please know that your don’t need to live with constant anxiety, as many treatment modalities are available!
|Everyday Anxiety||Possible Anxiety Disorder|
|Feeling concerned from time to time about real problems of daily life, such as paying bills, landing a new job, specific workplace or school stressors||Ongoing worry and rumination about situations that are not necessarily based in reality, or feeling unduly stressed about issues beyond your control|
|Feeling nervous and keyed up before a specific event, such as a performance, public speaking engagement, first date, or other unaccustomed scenario||Panic attacks or episodes of acute anxiety that are not tied to specific stressful situations; these may hit out of the blue and you may develop a fear of having more of them, which compounds the issue|
|Feeling self-conscious or awkward in a new or uncomfortable social situation||Avoiding socializing as a rule due to persistent feeling that most if not all social situations are awkward and uncomfortable|
|Feeling fear around an object, person, or place who actually poses a real threat of danger and is in the immediate vicinity||Fearing and avoiding specific stressors that pose no actual immediate threat; even the very thought of such stressors may cause anxiety|
This information in the above table is adapted from The Anxiety and Depression Association of America. See http://www.adaa.org/ for further details.
Anxious Introvert: The Bottom Line
Anxiety should not be allowed keep you in a box. Though your personality may be inherently prone to experiencing a higher level of anxiety on a day to day basis, don’t assume that you need to bow down to it and let it keep you from doing the things you would like to do. We all experience feelings of anxiety from time to time; it’s our body and mind’s way of notifying us that action is required. With zero anxiety, we would never be motivated to get anything done! However, with excessive anxiety, we also find it hard to get things done, and often suffer unnecessarily a great deal in the process. If you are in doubt as to whether you’re simply an introvert prone to anxiety or you are suffering from an anxiety disorder, please reach out for help.
Craig is the founder of LifeGuider, he is dedicated to improving not only himself but also others in being more physically fit and mentally capable of handling life’s challenges. He is not your regular life coach, no fancy clothes or fast cars, just a regular “Ole Joe” who has experienced the ups and downs of life like everyone else.
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