Do you know what your Myers-Briggs personality type is?
Recently I was on a forum where they asked people that very question. The vast majority of people were extroverts. Very few were introverts. And no-one had my profile.
So I asked on my Facebook page the same question. Can you guess the answers?
Most were introverts and several were INTJ’s.
Seems obvious now I think about it – that the people who would resonate with my message, personality, and writing style would be at least similar, if not very similar to me.
So, in view of the fact that it is likely most people visiting this site are introverts I thought I’d write a post specifically from that perspective. I’ve added a few ideas in for those who love and live with introverts so there is something for just about everyone.
I haven’t written about introversion here before, although I have elsewhere.
Learning I was an introvert was a surprise I discovered in my early thirties. I think my younger adulthood would have been less tortured if I’d realized that my “failings” – not liking parties, networking or small talk, or being told I was “too intense”, for instance – were simply personality traits borne of a differently wired brain.
And were hard-wired to boot so I couldn’t change, though for a short while I tried before I gave up, exhausted.
In a paleo world that is sometimes dominated by those who shout loudest and most insistently, it can be easy to believe that this isn’t for you and move on. But paleo isn’t type-specific.
Everyone can benefit from good health. Whatever our social proclivities.
2-second introvert test
There is much that characterizes the introvert (being “shy” isn’t one of them, by the way), but the one thing that clearly separates innies from outies is the answer to this question:
When you’re tired, do you like to be with people? Or alone?
The differentiating factor is that introverts become drained when they are around other people, while extroverts are energized by being with others.
For those of us who can go out and do the extrovert thing if they’ve prepared for hours by being on their own.
For those of us who like to wind down from a day with family by lying in a darkened room for twelve hours. Maybe longer.
And there’s some advice for those on the other end of the spectrum who love someone who is their opposite but are unsure about the isolation, the deep thinking, the caution and care that goes into decision-making – characteristics so typical of introverts.
If you are a paleo introvert
Stay private, quiet, on the down low. Do your research on the internet, work out at home, alone, or with a trusted riend. Keep your counsel about what you’re doing unless someone you like and trust genuinely is interested. Your highly-tuned senses will pick up on genuine interest. Stay away from anything or anyone combative or domineering.
Avoid surprises. Plan and prepare everything it is possible to plan and prepare – menus, shopping lists, batch cook your meals, social situations, responses to common paleo questions. The more planning you can do, the more you free up your brain cells to think about more important things.
Try new things out before you commit. Go gradually along your paleo path. You might find that incrementally deepening your commitment to paleo works better for you than a sudden overnight change. See my Older Woman’s Guide to CrossFit – it makes sense in light of the fact I’m an introvert.
Seek out sources of information and bloggers who are introverted like you. You’ll resonate more with their tone and approach. I’d suggest: Chris Kresser, Sarah Fragoso, Sarah Ballantyne, Katie at Wellness Mama. I don’t know for sure they are all introverts but they won’t assault your senses.
Find one best friend who is similarly interested in paleo – but know it isn’t a deal breaker for you. You can go it alone. You don’t need anyone’s approval. Or companionship.
Refuse party invitations. Seriously. If you don’t like them, accept it and spend your time doing something you do like. It took me a long time to make my peace with this one because our society values large social gatherings so highly. The trouble with doing things that are not interesting to us, or are awkward is that we risk eating to compensate for the lack of stimulation. So if you find yourself at an event mowing your way through the buffet table, ask yourself why, and if you should even be there.
Always take a book. Everywhere. Or some other solitary distraction that works for you. When you have those awkward bored situations that may drive you to the food table, take your activity out, find a quiet corner, and ignore any funny looks.
Don’t get imbroiled in any paleo dramas. It will suck your energy, your focus, and is completely unnecessary.
Use your big-picture thinking skills and look at your life. Consider how successful you are at living in your environment. Overeating, over-exercising, and under-sleeping to handle the stress caused by being an introvert in an extroverted situation is common.
Understand the your need for downtime. Our rush, rush, rush world that requires lots of human interaction is a bear for an introvert to handle. Remember that good rest is the foundation of good health and do what you have to to make sure you get as much of it as you need.
Strategize for next time. Use your creative, problem solving skills to deconstruct situations that have gone wrong from a paleo perspective – you ate six types of pie over Thanksgiving, or you’ve only slept six hours a night for a week – and create solutions to resolve the problem and avoid the situation recurring.
Extrovert with an introvert?
If your introvert is the paleo-ista, give them time formulate an answer to your paleo question – they want to answer thoughtfully and thoroughly. Don’t interrupt them, let them finish what they are saying. Don’t demand instant answers or indicate impatience.
Give them advance warnings. If you live with a non-paleo introvert, let them know in advance you are planning to make changes to your way of eating. Give them options about whether, and how far, to follow along with you. Give your introvert 15-minute warnings about dinner (or anything!) to allow him or her to finish whatever they are doing.
Protect their privacy. If you have a disagreement about paleo, discuss it in private.
Respect your introvert’s decisions. Don’t expect them to behave just like you, or make the types of decisions you make. You might love CrossFit but they quite likely will not.
Find the number of people they are most comfortable interacting with. Have paleo food gatherings with no more than that number.
Offer them books, shows, and online articles about paleo as forms of education.Don’t invite them to a paleo meetup. Gawd. You’d miss them. 😉
If parties are unavoidable, allow them to prepare by being alone so they are ready to do the extrovert “thing” when they need to. Sometimes they will need hours of alone time before and certainly after.
If you are hosting, ask them if they’d like a job to do to take the pressure off socializing. They can take photos, hand out food, put on music, clean up, etc.
If you are visiting others, pre-arrange a leaving time or work out a signal between the two of you to indicate that it’s time to leave. This is to avoid your introvert from reaching their point of exhaustion. Or be sensitive to the “shut-down” that many introverts go into when overwhelmed by stimulation and take action yourself.
An introvert may absolutely love people, but not in huge numbers or all the time. Introverts wear out quickly and easily around others and can appear brusque, uninterested and rude when that happens. Eating is protection against that, and as introverts are acutely sensitive to the feelings of those around us and don’t want to offend, we reach for the food to prop us up and keep us going even when we’re not hungry. I often wonder if thyroid and adrenal issues are more present in introverts.
Care for your introverted self
Above all, get enough rest and relaxation to recharge your batteries, you may need more than others. Accept that, and respect it because there is huge value to society in the strengths of the introvert; there are evolutionary reasons why we prevailed.
Anticipating, planning, problem solving, big picture thinking, adaptability, strong follow-through are all skills amply demonstrated by the introvert and which contributed directly to the continuation of the species – skills that allowed homo sapiens to create solutions to their problems.
Too often we overlook our strengths and use our ability to adapt to become people we are not. Then we get tired…and it all goes pear-shaped after that. Don’t let that happen. Use the skills you have to create a thoughtful, custom-designed introverted paleo life just for you.
If you want to learn more about introversion, I suggest these resources:
- The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World
- Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking
- Caring For Your Introvert, Atlantic Monthly
- Are You an Innie or an Outie?
- Shyness: Evolutionary Tactic?
- 16 Personalities