The Other Side of Introverts


Nine Ways to be an Introvert by E Wagele

I saw something today on my web site’s INFP page that sent a chill up my spine:

The inferior function
Introverted feelers’ least developed and most unconscious function is extraverted thinking, which may be triggered by being criticized or self-criticism. It often takes the form of nit-picking or being hostile, critical, or sarcastic.”

 This is a quote from my book, The Happy Introvert, A Wild and Crazy Guide to Your True Self  from the chapter Introverts, the Workplace, and Myers-Briggs.

INFP stands for four of the eight Myers-Briggs (MBTI) personality preferences: introversion, intuition, feeling and perceiving. (The others are extraversion, sensation, thinking, and judging.) I am an INFP, though the typical Enneagram 5-Observer (me) is an INTP. In other words, I’m an introverted feeler with intuition. I’m comfortable with my inner life but when I should communicate I don’t always do the right thing. This is where my inferior function, extraverted thinking, comes in.

I was having some problems concerning a friend and felt self-critical for continuing the relationship. Eventually I started making verbal slips. The things that came out of my mouth (my extraverted feeling) were shameful; things I never would have said consciously. I nit-picked, I was hostile, I was critical. Since I didn’t quit the relationship consciously, my unconscious stepped in and did it for “me.” As Jung said, the conscious and unconscious act to balance one another.

I saw why I should have paid more attention to the following advice I gave INFPs and ISFPs in The Happy Introvert:

“If you are an introverted feeler, you value ideals, art, and life, and are motivated to improve the human condition. When something upsets you…, instead of retreating, make a point of staying and working things out. Make sure your environment is safe for expressing what you think and feel, or you might notice you are holding back your opinions.” When we hold things back, they sneak out when we don’t want them to. Oops!

MORE ABOUT INTROVERTED FEELERS:

Feeling types make judgments according to such values as compassion, beauty, empathic connections, and harmony. Introverted feeling types (INFPs and ISFPs) value personal experience and subjective meanings so highly, they look down upon collective opinions and the extraverts who hold them. They become inflexible when their deepest beliefs are threatened.

Introverted feelers with sensing, ISFP’s, are compassionate, use and take pleasure in their five senses, and tend to be good listeners. If you are an idealist and a soul-searcher, you may be an introverted feeler with intuition, an INFP.

Typical occupations for INFPs, include psychologists, artists, writers, philosophers, teachers, editors, inventors, and musicians. Your intuition is extraverted. If you are an introverted feeler with intuition you are creative, recognize potential in others, and understand abstract, intangible aspects of life. Avoid jobs that place you in highly competitive situations. Honor your need for quiet, consciously use your thinking ability to determine whether you have overlooked any important facts or details, and look for opportunities to engage your imagination.

The rich inner life is definitely worth all we “introverted feelers with intuition” go through. When I see a flower, a blade of grass, a Coke can, or anything else, I have a richer experience than someone whose inner life is neglected. That’s just one of many things that I love about being this type.Nigel Thompson, an INFP.

NOW The Career Within You is in Korean and Japanese. See the Japanese cover: https://bitly.com/CareerJapan

For Famous People’s Enneagram and MBTI types see my Psychology Today blog and my web site.

Famous HAPPY INTROVERT: Napoleon Dynamite


Napoleon Dynamite

Napoleon Dynamite by Elizabeth Wagele

It’s been 7 ½ years since the movie Napoleon Dynamite came out in 2004 and six years since I devoted the appendix of THE HAPPY INTROVERT to the Enneagram types of the movie’s characters. Now the writer and director of the movie, with help, have turned it into a Sunday night animated TV series. The original actors take the parts of the characters’ voices. Napoleon and his brother Kip still live in Idaho—with their grandmother. I haven’t seen the TV show, but from what I’ve read about it, it doesn’t capture the subtle qualities the movie does. It goes for definite jokes instead of the slow, nerdy humor more typical of introverts. The movie’s charm depends on being understated. It doesn’t sound like this series replicates that.

When I first watched the movie on DVD, I almost turned it off after twenty minutes because I was bored. But I came back and watched it again. And again. I started to love Napoleon and his veiled sweetness. He advises his friend in a quiet way, “Just listen to your heart – that’s what I do.” I believe he’s a Peace Seeker type in the Enneagram.

I love Napoleon because he isn’t swayed by what his high school crowd values. He knows who he is and he’s comfortable with himself. His life isn’t about being popular, but about doing his own thing. He’s strong, loyal, virtuous, and doesn’t beat himself up about being grumpy. In fact, for a Peace Seeker to allow himself to be grumpy is an achievement. Most Peace Seekers try to be pleasant most of the time, even when they don’t feel that way.

Napoleon plays a video over and over for many weeks in order to learn how to dance–only because he wants to. He has no reason to tell anyone about it. When he falls in love, he catches his girlfriend a delicious fish—it’s not the usual way to express love, but it’s his way. It comes from his heart.

Napoleon’s style of being in the world is understated. He’s true to himself and his friends. I like hearing him ask kids at school in a monotone voice, “You having a killer time?”

If you want to find out more about introversion or the Enneagram personalities of Napoleon Dynamite, his friend Pedro, his brother Kip, his girlfriend Deb, his uncle Rico, and the kids in his high school you can find out in:

The Happy Introvert, a Wild and Crazy Guide to Your True Self. By Elizabeth Wagele, published by Ulysses Press, Berkeley CA

More famous types can be found on this blog, on my Psychology Today blog, and on my web site.

Where True Self Meets Personality


Cover of The Happy Introvert

I changed the name of my blog on WordPress from The Career Within You to Enneagram… Exploring Your True Self a few months ago. I wanted it to represent all of my work instead of one book since the initial year’s promotion of the career book had passed. (The Happy Introvert is my one non-Enneagram book, though includes the Enneagram.)

The reason Enneagram… Exploring Your True Self is an interesting, perhaps controversial blog title is that some Enneagram enthusiasts believe the nine Enneagram types do not represent our true self, but stand for ways we cover up our true self with dreaded personalities or false selves. Our task is to find our authentic self, so the theory goes. And do we ever find it? What is it and where? And what am I now? Am I worth nothing until I have become enlightened by shedding my personality? How am I to reconcile having so much improving to do in the age of NOW?

I used to be a member of The Conversation, a forum magazine editor Jack Labanauskas got together on The Enneagram Monthly. Theologists, professors, writers like me, and others participated and tried to hash out questions like this. We never got closer to resolving this problem than people ever seem to get with the question of free will.

When I wrote The Enneagram of Parenting, I realized we have inborn styles of behavior. We express our true selves in a certain style and we act out habits we use as defenses in the same style. The styles of behavior we’re born with are in our DNA so they are true and natural. A person who has been consistently happy or grouchy or neat or messy or introverted from day one didn’t get that way by training.

One reason I was attracted to calling this blog Enneagram… Exploring Your True Self is that it shares part of the title of my introvert book: The Happy Introvert, a Wild and Crazy Guide for Celebrating Your True Self.

Do you know what your self is? Do you know what your personality is? When I feel anxious, I know that I am the least mySelf. I will act too smiley, too pleased, or too much the way others want me to act out of fear. When I am the most secure, especially when I’m alone or with one or two others I trust, I am the most myself. My behavior and my inner thoughts and feelings all match. I most know who I am at those times. Normally, even if I feel anxious, I don’t put on a big act that I’m someone I’m not. I can’t be out of my quiet space for very long no matter what. Pretense doesn’t sit well with me. When I’m uncomfortable, I’m likely to just be quiet.

Let me know what you think of your self and your personality. Is your self on an authentic/phony continuum? Is there a self/personality continuum or are they the same thing riding along parallel? Are your defenses the real you? What and/or where is the authentic you?

Are Introverts Allergic to Phones?


Ah-CHOO

Drawing by EWagele

They say phone calls are becoming rare.

I think they’re right. My phone rings less often than it used to.

That’s fine with me… I prefer to write e-mails.

Being an introvert, it takes me some time to compose myself before composing a verbal thought. On the telephone, there is no time. Responses have to be instantaneous. With e-mail, you have all the time in the world to ponder. And to edit the perfect comment or response.

So I love to write e-mails.

The control! The relaxation!

No talking back.

No need to think fast.

You can even take a vacation in the middle of it.

My husband’s an introvert, too. The only drawback to our courtship was our phone calls. He’d call me up and say, “Hi Liz.” Period. That was it. I’d be happy to hear from him, but I’d make sure I’d thought of what to say when he would call that night and say, “Hi, Liz.”

I’m not a big talker. For some reason, it’s hard for me to initiate conversations. My head goes blank. If I’m feeling very relaxed I can jabber away, but initiate a conversation with a stranger? Forget it. Start talking to a stranger at a cocktail party? No way. I don’t want to intrude, plus I couldn’t think of a thing to say even if I were obnoxious enough to bother all those people who are always having those intimate conversations and don’t want anyone to annoy them. At least so I think.

Back to phones.

We used to have a party line, where two or more households share the same phone connection. We knew that the people on our line lived about three doors down the street. They could listen to our conversations and we to theirs. Can you imagine that? That was a long time ago. A long time before the Internet and cell phones. It was awful, especially when you had to wait for them to finish the most boring conversation the world has ever known to make your own important call.

Until I was ten, my phone number was 31832. That’s it. Easy. Then it was Landscape 6-0252. Other kids had prefixes like Thornwall. Then they did away with the words and substituted more numbers, so my phone number became 526-0252 and everybody in my neighborhood’s number started with 526. Now you see all kinds of prefixes on the same block and lots of people just use cell phones. What’s coming next? When I was a kid I wished we could communicate by smoke signals. It didn’t occur to me how public they’d be or that I’d care.

My aunt used to phone my mother too often and talk too long. Once my mother became exasperated and told her, after hearing every detail of my aunt’s dinner preparations that day, “I smell your ham burning.” My aunt said, “Oh really?” and quickly slammed down the phone to attend to the emergency.

Sometimes old ways are the best ways.

The Happy Introvert: Napoleon Dynamite


“Just listen to your heart – that’s what I do.”

I used the title character of the movie, Napoleon Dynamite (2004), as an example of an introvert in the appendix of “The Happy Introvert.” He knows who he is and he’s comfortable with himself. Napoleon marches to his own drummer rather than following the collective. His life isn’t about being beautiful or popular, but about doing his own thing. He’s sweet, strong, loyal, virtuous, and grumpy (not all introverts are grumpy, however). And he becomes a hero.

Napoleon has the ability to focus on a video for weeks and weeks in order to learn how to dance. Wow, does he ever learn how to dance! And he does it for only one reason: he wants to. There’s no need to tell anyone else about it. Having learned this skill happens to lead to a heroic act later in the film. When he falls in love, he catches his girlfriend a delicious fish—it’s not the usual way to express love, but it’s his way and it’s touching because it comes from his heart.

Napoleon’s style of being in the world is understated. He’s true to himself and his friends and he’s inspiring. I like hearing him ask kids at school in a monotone voice, “You having a killer time?”

If you want to learn more about the personalities of Napoleon, his friend Pedro, his brother Kip, his girlfriend Deb, his uncle Rico, and the kids in his high school you can find out in:

The Happy Introvert, a Wild and Crazy Guide to Your True Self. By Elizabeth Wagele, published by Ulysses Press, Berkeley CA

http://www.wagele.com/introvert.html

Buy here: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

Cultivating Mindfulness


Mandala

Yesterday I had lunch with some friends. I was feeling guarded about one of them, who will often fly off the handle in the passion of presenting his positions on things. I have quite an even temperament and I don’t always do so well with people who are the opposite from me in that regard. I tend to feel overwhelmed by their emotions and lose track of myself. So before we met I felt uneasy considering what I might do about this. But as I observed him talking to another member of our group I noticed what an emotional person he is–and I let it in that this has nothing to do with me. I think I’ve been seeing him as intimidating me all too readily. As it turned out, he never did go into a rage that day. Now that I have greater insight into myself, I have time to work on my own attitude before we meet again in a few weeks. I will try to accept him as a person who is unlike me; he is emotionally based. Hopefully I have tender feelings, but I would never express them so dramatically. Either it’s not my in-born style or maybe I’m too timid. He probably represents my shadow.

As often happens, this breakthrough (I call it a breakthrough because I had been struggling with this person’s temper for a long time) didn’t come out of the blue. It comes on the heels of a much larger breakthrough concerning a family member. Being mindful was a help to me in both cases. After receiving a wrongfully accusing letter from a relative, I had plunged into a negative feeling state and started to obsess about how to react. Several times I considered pushing my feelings away and trying to forget the whole thing, but my energy was so intense I decided something productive might be percolating inside of me. I had felt similarly when in on the verge of creative breakthroughs in the past. Sure enough, in another couple of weeks I had solved a big puzzle. After trying to be open and waiting, things came together and the story of this tangled relationship started to make sense. I was glad I had stuck it out, including working hard on the dreams I had during this period, and able to make more progress on this situation than I ever expected. So taking the “positive” route doesn’t always achieve the best results. Sometimes hanging out in an uncertain or even negative place turns out to be the best in the long run.

“The Happy Introvert”


IntrovertLadyDo you know if you’re an introvert? Would you be proud to know you were? As I say in my book, “The Happy Introvert; A Wild and Crazy Guide to Your True Self,” when I proudly announced to my mother that I was an introvert, she shot back angrily, “You are not! You are a nice girl!” Now that many decades have gone by, I can say with certainty that being an introvert has brought me many pleasures. I’ve never been bored except when other people don’t know when to stop talking and I try not to let that happen. I generally love people and I spend much of my time studying them. I also like my own company and can find many ways to amuse myself. This is a big subject that I filled a whole book with, so there’s not room to cover it here, but here are some questions you can ask yourself if you think you might be an introvert:

1. Do you usually prefer limiting your time with people to an hour or two?

2. Do people usually realize you’re interesting only after they get to know you fairly well?

3. Are you critical of superficiality?

4. Do you tend to concentrate in depth when doing a project?

5. Is your style of speech relatively calm and quiet?

6. Are you more likely to engage in learning or improving your skills than looking for outside stimulation?

7. Is your ability to remember people’s names average to low?

8. In social situations, do you sometimes or often stand back and observe?

If you answered “yes” to most of these questions, it’s likely you are an introvert. We all use both introversion and extraversion every single day, but one of these feels more easy and natural more of the time. I kept hearing people talk about introverts in a negative way and I wanted to help clear up some of the misconceptions about this subject. I’m glad I did. “The Happy Introvert” helps those introverts who might think something is wrong with themselves, when really introversion is perfectly natural and necessary. It also tezches people how to relate better to the introverts in their lives.

See the cover and order the book at wagele.com and/or read my articles on “Parenting Introverts,” “A 5 on Music, The Enneagram, and Infinity,” “How to Get Along with Introverts,” and “Introverted Feeling Types;” and see some reviews and an interview here.

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