Some people feel energized when they’re in the company of other people, others feel energized in solitude. Our guest today, Brenda Knowles, is the latter, and she shares her experiences of being an introvert. She is a Myers Briggs practitioner and trained in family mediation, has published her own book ‘The Quiet Rise of Introverts: 8 Practices for Living and Loving in a Noisy World’, and has her own blog Space2Live. We learn on this show how Brenda came to realize that her skills as an introvert meant that she can be a valued, deep listener.
Introvert and Extrovert – What’s the Difference?
Extroverts often feel stimulated through engaging with the outside world – they’re very good at small talk and can talk to (almost) anyone. Introverts, however, feel more stimulated when they retreat into their inside world, or engage deeply with just a few people. Introverts tend to store long-term memory better, whilst extroverts don’t process information so deeply but speak more freely. Brenda highlights how these traits are biological and heavily tied to our nervous system; so it’s important to acknowledge these attributes:
“Once we all feel understood, that’s when everybody relaxes. We need to feel seen and heard”
Being an introvert in a relationship
By not fully understanding introversion, people tend to think someone is just shy or has low self-esteem. In a relationship this can create tension. Brenda has worked with lots of couples, addressing how working on calming the nervous system, and making sure the other person feels safe and calm through being present. It can be little things such as being glued to your phone and not giving your introverted partner your full attention.
Having Introverted Children
Brenda shares how when she was little, it seemed her extroverted sister was given a lot of attention and praise for being chatty and outgoing, and her parents often overlooked Brenda and her introverted behavior. Through her work as a coach, she’s learnt that parents often force their introverted children to make more friends, play more sports, perform more, etc. If you’re telling them to do all these things they don’t feel comfortable doing, then it tells them that they’re wrong and not living up to your expectations. Just make sure they feel safe being themselves.
It’s a fine balance between pushing a child too far, but a good push teaches them how to have relationships, how to connect with people, and that it’s okay to be outside of your comfort zone. The key is to listen to your child, and admire the different traits if you have an extrovert and introvert child.
Introversion and extroversion are deeply rooted characteristics that affect family and relationship dynamics. By making sure everyone is feeling safe, appreciated and heard then people can fully thrive with their traits.
‘The Quiet Rise of Introverts: 8 Practices for Living and Loving in a Noisy World’
‘If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit’ by Brenda Ueland
Dan Siegel – Mindful Therapist