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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I came across a site talking about 'How to Get Along with Introverts' and one of the points is something I've been thinking about after reading a lot of the threads here.

"Question the adjectives and definitions you use for introverts: instead of "passive," perhaps they're “shy and gentle.” Instead of "anti-social," perhaps “their main interests do not always involve other people.” Instead of "self-centered or narcissistic," perhaps they have “satisfying inner lives.” "

I hope this isn't misunderstood, but I really have not been able to come to any sure conclusions so I wanted to just write about it. There are many threads, blog posts, and comments here that do have a mood of 'self-centered-ness', in my opinion as in "concerned solely or chiefly with one's own interests, welfare, etc.;". I think there is a fine line between someone who truly has been neglected, forgotten, ignored, misunderstood, and one who is consistently so withdrawn that they build walls that keep people from being able to know, understand, and connect with them. Do we know the difference between being ignored and our own barriers?

The rest of the definition, "engrossed in self; selfish; egotistical" is rarely what I've read here. So perhaps 'self-centered' is the wrong word to describe what I'm noticing? I don't think confessions of pain from being misunderstood or passed-over are selfish or egotistical at all! I think there is a REALITY of introverts being misunderstood and really 'seen.' But I worry that the explanation: "Instead of "self-centered or narcissistic," perhaps they have “satisfying inner lives;" isn't really the true description of many of the inner lives being lived, and that is what brings people to PerC. Am I wrong? Are most members here dissatisfied with their lives to the point of being 'chiefly concerned' with what is missing in their life? Are the majority of the members here struggling with codependency? Are the sad, 'wound-licking' posts that we all write just momentary feelings that we want to express in the moment but the majority of our experience ARE satisfying? If so - where are THOSE posts? Where are the celebrations of satisfaction in our interests, goals, dreams, relationships, and inner-lives?

But if we really do see our lives as being victims of being surrounded by self-centered extroverts who can't 'see us', isn't the accusation that introverts are self-centered/concerned chiefly with one's own concerns and welfare true? Are we not spending a majority of our time giving time and attention to others with the hope they will return it? Or do we really enjoy our time thinking and dreaming and planning or imagining? If so, can we share more of our thoughts, dreams, plans, or imagination here than what makes us different, misunderstood, or hurt? If we aren't crying out for more attention, then why is their so much mention of not getting love, service, listening, etc. in return? And if we want more from them, why do we hide in private places rather than come out of the shell and truly share experiences that bond us to others?

Are we more happy and even 'satisfied' seeing ourselves as these mysterious, misunderstood, sadly-beautiful creatures who will 'never' be truly understood? Would we be angry if that was taken away from us if someone were to truly get to know us? What IS there underneath that protective shell? Is it lovely and giving and whole? Or is it broken, self-centered, bitter, and angry? I am sure the answer is different for each of us. But I'm trying to figure it out about myself.

One thing I believe MIGHT be part of this cycle, is the realization that even though I can see that when I listen to another person's problems it lifts their burden and helps them feel better (usually these people are extroverted), I see the discrepancy of time they spend listening to me in return, but in reality, the few times I've tried to share and they did listen, I realized I had what I was looking for inside myself, they couldn't give it to me, because I am introverted and need to find my source of truth and understanding from within! So if we are/I am not feeling understood, validated, or 'loved' the way I am hoping, perhaps it isn't because those around me aren't offering what they have to offer, perhaps it is just that on this problem, I won't find confidence from the reassurance outside myself, and maybe I need to spend the time to 'hear myself,' to "see myself,' to 'love myself,' and then eventually 'forget myself' when I am listening and serving those I choose to connect to. (Others HAVE been there for me, and truly helped me feel loved and understood. I am blessed with beautiful friends and family, but I also feel like only me, my journal and God know the whole story and I'm beginning to stop feeling bad/sad about that...)

Food for thought....
 

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Not to rain down on your parade but you said this: "I am sure the answer is different for each of us. But I'm trying to figure it out about myself." If you do it that way then you'll never find the answer if that is what you're looking for is some "universally accepted" definition of an "introvert" or just trying to figure yourself out?
 

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I'm not making a broad generalization along the lines of "All women are introverts, All men are extroverts" in the following example, I am merely bringing to light a parallel situation in order to enlist a secondary point (after which I shall pursue my main point -- all well thought-out you see). The topic of equality regarding the treatment of either sex in social, economical, and political situations is considered to be a "dealt with" topic. There is indeed some truth to this sentiment, like the 1944 motion here in canada which allowed for women to be able voters. There is also an adumbration of inequality therein contained in the sense that if you tried to go to a bar, or any social situation right now, and to bright to light the fact that there actually isn't this equality that we all pretend there is, nobody will side with you. Women are still paid less on the dollar than men. The only country in the world that has above 50% female political representatives is Rwanda, and this after a genocide that greatly affected and diminished the male population. In France, on the national level, parties have the choice between either having a roughly 50/50 male-to-female ratio, or having all of their sponsored budget (what is donated to the parties) cut and fined as a penalty -- most parties decide to be fined rather than have an equal spread. Obviously things have improved since the 30s, GREATLY, but do not be fooled into thinking that we are anywhere near equality. The same is true for men in certain contexts, hence movements like the "pro-men's movement" in Quebec, which fought for having "parental leaves" when a baby in born, rather than simply a "maternal leave".

The point is that we're talking about an entire constituency of our species which has been muted, stripped of power, and continuously enthralled by the private sphere. They function in the same way as do introverts in the sense that they cannot ask for power for many reasons. They don't have the tools, first of all, but more importantly, this demand for power or equal power would do nothing in the way of resolving the issue. And when I say ask for power here, I mean to liberate themselves from the bondage of oppression. This inability to ask is what leads feminism, at its core, to the incapacity to define what being a women even means, a fact which unfolds into a mighty tempest of dissent among all participants. In a more explicit manner, women are unable to ask for equality in pornographic scenarios because they're continuously being suffocated with the male requisite for power. A historically salient manifestation of men's extroversion in the sense that you are talking about above is present in the psychoanalyst who fathered modern psychology. Freud often talked about his concept of penis envy as an innate deficiency of women; because they ENVY men. And through the power of discourse, of externalizing their concerns and power, men have always created what they purported as being an "objective realm" -- one in which anybody could contribute, so long as the followed the rational procedure involved in "proper" contribution. This "objective realm" has always been a male-biased domain.

To bring all of this back to your discussion, introverts, like women, face their inability to simplyask for assistance, for alleviation, for anything really without the proper tools. These tools involve a common interest in sharing, and proper communication. The reason why these tools are so difficult to apprehend is because they are inherently biased to favor extroverts, just like the power of discourse favored primarily men in the past.

If Introverts are self-centered, it is only because of their fundamental belief that the self is sufficient enough to sustain itself. This has little to do with an obsessive narcissism, rather favoring a belief - because it cannot be, and never will be, verifiable that the self is self-sufficient - which is essentially a dissenting faith judgment regarding the veracity of Aristotle's assessment of human beings as being essentially political/social creatures. This would not undermine the pertinence of Aristotle's observation, merely the priority of socialization as "inessential" rather than "essential". Again, this wouldn't take away from the utility value or practical proficiency of socialization.

One last detour before my conclusion. Foucault is also a famous french psychoanalyst who developed the anti-psychoanalyst discourse repudiating power discourse. He undermined, in a sense, the "objective realm" of authoritative powers by re-examining our outlook on history and concluding that it was by far and long much more complex than the linear story we'd been feeding ourselves. The pungent note of his remark was that there was a destabilizing which ensued of central power figures like men's oppression of women, for example, or more specifically the christian church's control over the everyman's sexuality. He explored this "different" outlook on history in his Histoire de la sexualité among other books. With this repudiation of power discourses Foucault was left with the ever present problem of filling the newly modeled void which loomed over the individual's identity (over the "self" particularly in a psychological sense). He renunciation included the medical and indoctrinated want to categorize everything inherent in psychology, and medical domains in general. An example of this was how people defined homosexuality up until recently as a malady - another example would be ADD or ADHD. Without the Power discourse there was literally nothing left for the individual to define himself by - and many people criticized Foucault for his "subjective horizon" or "empty valuation of self-choice". Much like Diderot, Foucault explored the notion of relation as the source of a person's identity. Your own relation to your self as it is defined by all of these power discourses is what should define you, because this relation is sourced in the existence of your self, and is outside of these prescribed definitions. Resolving this issue of power discourse would inherently absolve all parties of their need to outwardly involved themselves through activities such as asking for help, etc. In this vein of thought, Foucault wanted to develop an ethics of the self. His logic was very simple: If every person took the time to properly care for their self, to properly pay attention to the development of their self, there would be no need to oppress others; there would be no power discourse which by its existence enthralls all those who are not relevant to it. He reached as far back as ancient Greece, where such activities were popular, to develop what he called the "technologies of the self" -- the methods by which a person could effectively and pro-actively take care of their self.

A key point most people overlook in these evaluations of their personalities is that nobody is ever (and nobody can ever be) 100% introverted, or extroverted. The same goes for the other 6 options. And whatever % of you is determined to be introverted still requires the appropriate self-centered attention to keep it in check. A lack of balance, a complete abandon of one's introverted side in favor of the extroverted side is what causes people to be selfish. Ignored needs grow, and a great need to take care of your self inevitably makes you overlook others in your pursuit to alleviated your needs. The same is conversely true for introverts who ignore their extroverted side. Although receiving attention, and care is not something that is generally asked for it is always wanted, because we will always in part be extroverted. I find that people who favor one side, generally oppress the other side (like how men oppressed women for so long) and this in turn causes a destabilizing of the self in the sense of what the self receives to satiate its needs. Hence you have introverts who aren't gloriously happy on their own, and you have extroverts who abuse introverts' attention and care without returning the favor.

I hope this helped. I will also re-post this as a blog, if you'd like to leave a comment.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Thank you INTP's! This is why I am happily married to an INTP! Your preference for Ti (Analyzing; categorizing; evaluating according to principles and whether something fits the framework or model; figuring out the principles on which something works; checking for inconsistencies; clarying definitions to get more precision) is such a welcome balance to my Ni and Fe!!

@ L-Lawliet Yes, I combined two very separate issues in the same post because it was mostly stream-of-consciousness writing. The first issue being: Why is the introvert's need to be seen un-met? And the second being: Am I balancing the giving and receiving in my life, or am I tipped on the scale towards self-centered-ness? (This was also, perhaps, an invitation for other introverts to self-assess and maybe share.)

If every person took the time to properly care for their self, to properly pay attention to the development of their self, there would be no need to oppress others; there would be no power discourse which by its existence enthralls all those who are not relevant to it.

I find that people who favor one side, generally oppress the other side (like how men oppressed women for so long) and this in turn causes a destabilizing of the self in the sense of what the self receives to satiate its needs. Hence you have introverts who aren't gloriously happy on their own, and you have extroverts who abuse introverts' attention and care without returning the favor.
@Ooidal This was exquisitely posited! It was also very enlightening and brought the feelings and questions I was expressing into a more logical and functioning topic, so thank you. It also does answer many of the questions I posed! Yes - introverts generally are the oppressed in the social sphere, and lack of self-sufficiency does promote this inequality. A new question in me arises from this, where does this idea that we 'should ask' come from? You are right, we are in part extroverted and do want attention and care and it seems that a message I get from 'out there' is that I have to learn to ask for what I need...I think it is a paradox. We are both responsible to care for ourselves, care for others, as well as accept support from the network of others around us as appropriate. But how many of us really pay attention to keeping this balance, really?
 

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Great entry, this resonates a lot with me. I noticed that I start with an idea searching for an answer but when writing it by the time I finish the answer is reached. As if the internal struggle to find the answer when expressed in words becomes clearer.

"Do we know the difference between being ignored and our own barriers?"

This is a profound question that requires reflection. We are not "victims" all the time and each of us has to be honest with ourselves to understand this.
 
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