Are you an introvert or extrovert? Sometimes people consider themselves introverted, but for short periods can ‘be’ extroverted as needed, especially for work. I’m definitely an introvert, but can manage for periods of time in large groups if orchestrated in the right way, and I do enjoy presenting to groups.
It’s often an assumption that all Highly Sensitive (or Highly Sensing, which I prefer) People are introverts. This can make sense, considering how HSPs tend to want to escape the world at times, and often enjoy their own company quite a lot.
The research shows, however, that about 30% of Sensitives are actually extroverts.
If you’re HSP and an introvert, you may be considered shy, when you’re not, or you might be both. They aren’t one and the same. And often Highly Sensing folks are assumed to be antisocial if they’re introverted and avoid certain types of activities, like large groups and loud concerts (with lots of people), or tend to cancel at the last minute.
The key here, though, is the level of overwhelm. If we’ve scheduled a dinner with friends and the day becomes more full than expected or really uses up a lot of our bandwidth, we can realize we’re just not up for more input…noise, others’ energy, other environmental stimulation. So we might cancel. Or, we’re invited to a gathering with people we love, but discover that it will include many others, or will be in a noisy environment, so we’ll bow out.
HSP introverts can feel guilty or weird or ridiculous for not ‘being able’ to do what others are doing, for canceling, for seeming to be antisocial.
If we share the ‘why’ of our decision to opt out…that it’s just too much stimulation, for this day or in general, it helps to avoid that ‘antisocial’ assumption. We don’t have to go into a deep conversation about High Sensitivity (though we could), just explain that we’re not up for it, even though it sounds great.
And it helps with the guilt and feeling weird or ridiculous to remind ourselves that we’re wired this way. We take in far more than average and process it deeply, so our reserves are depleted much more quickly.
If you’re an HSP and an extrovert, you may find yourself surprised by your level of overwhelm. You might thrive on the social interaction, having a lot going on, meeting new people, etc., and not understand why you’re exhausted afterward or want to disappear the next day.
You’ll have to be able to manage your energy level. If your day has been really full, or you’ve been focused on something that’s used up a lot of your energy, it’s likely that you’ll not have the bandwidth for these activities, even though you really want to attend.
This can lead to frustration, guilt, confusion and doubt. It’s all about your energy level; even though you’re an extrovert, you still soak up much more energy than the average non-HSP extrovert. If you honor your need to calm your nervous system and monitor your overall daily energy intake, you can manage your energy and be able to enjoy your activities.
If you’re an introvert, it’s not because of your sensitivity. If you’re an extrovert, it doesn’t mean you’re not highly sensitive. Both can become overwhelmed, and for both, the key is keeping your nervous system as calm as possible, with things such as…
~daily meditation or mindful practices (this is huge)
~time in nature
~self check-ins with follow up on what you’re needing
~frequent down time away from chores and work
~scheduling breaks throughout the day to recharge
~avoiding/minimizing triggering, overloading things (news, social media, chaotic environments)
And it’s important to have a positive mindset regarding your sensitivity, to honor your trait and how it helps you and allow for what you need specifically in order to stay centered and have the energy you need and want.
Whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, if you’re struggling with overwhelm or just not feeling comfortable in your own skin, I’m available for a free chat to see if I can help.
Peace on your journey!