the difference between introvert, shy and anxiety

simply stephen / March 5, 2010

The words shy and introvert are used almost interchangeably in conversation, yet the two are truly quite different. No wonder we get confused. Not far behind is a parallel to anxiety and mental illness. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Shyness and anxiety are brought on by social and environmental conditions. Introversion is a personality trait. It is innate and can’t be changed.

It’s a part of a person’s temperament and doesn’t need to be changed, it needs to be harnessed.

popular society labels shy people as introverted.

And vice versa.

Only popular media has given introversion the stigma of shyness. In the scientific community they are conceptually and empirically different. There is a growing library of evidence that suggests and introvert is actually wired differently than an extrovert. The brain gathers information from long term memory and needs time to digest new information.

This has nothing to do with shy or a dysfunctional person.

brain functions is perfectly normal – for an introvert.

Introvert is someone that retrieves information from long term memory and needs to energize by being alone. Here’s a little more background on what it means to be introverted. Shyness is someone that is nervous when in a social situation. An introvert is often very capable of all types of social situations but just runs out of steam.

The comparison is drawn because they involve socializing, especially as a motivator. Socializing is not likely to motivate an introvert, though a shy extrovert may desire the stimulation. Studies have shown that shy people are just as likely to want to have company as someone who is not.

why is anxiety & mental instability thrown into the mix?

Anxiety is a state of apprehension or unease cause by uncertainty about the future. There are a variety of anxiety disorders and none of them mention introversion. An introvert needs to be alone or quiet to think, gather information and recharge.

Quite different from an anxious state. I’m not going to say anymore about anxiety or shyness.

Instead I’m going to make a request to all introverts that you start taking yourself more seriously as a human with specific needs and temperament.

Nothing is wrong with you.

And I’m going to make a plea to all extroverts to start respecting introverts for the skills, insights, intellect, empathy, healing and intuition they can offer.

2 thoughts on “the difference between introvert, shy and anxiety

  1. How true…extroverts can be shy. I should take the time to update the article in the future and add some traits of the extrovert.

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