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The Introvert's Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World

Monday, October 14, 2013


I've been very much enjoying Sophia Dembling's 2012 book "The Introvert's Way".

Before reading it, would I have identified myself as an introvert? Probably not.

But: a lot of the time, I do love quite, solitude and deep (rather than what may seem to me to be superficial or chatty or torrential) conversation.

I can be very sociable. Am not a recluse. Have no trouble with public speaking. Interact quite companionably with people all day long, pretty much every day.

And then need time to recharge my batteries. Before my head explodes. So am happy to go home. Don't always welcome phone calls (and often don't answer the phone) at home). Don't always welcome "after hours" social invites, especially to large or loud or raucous parties. Prefer one on one time with just a few people at a time. Or no one at all. Going solo is good too. Enjoy people watching. Seldom want "background noise. If I'm listening to music, I want to listen.

About 50% of people are more introvert than extrovert. But there's a pervasive presumption that extroverts are better leaders, have more fun and are in general more mentally healthy than quieter types. Dembling challenges those presumptions.

Dembling carefully distinguishes loneliness from the deliberate choice to spend time alone. Dembling explains that introverts are often excellent leaders because generally good listeners. An introvert may be well-liked, even popular. Dembling makes it clear that an introvert is not necessarily shy or borderline autistic/Aspergers or cold. Dembling identifies ways in which introverts do experience fun: not necessarily the hyper commercialization of fun that sells best to extroverts. Reading through her book was a process of self-recognition for me!!

In summary: introverts and extroverts have plenty to offer each other and may even be best friends. No question, my DH is significantly more extroverted than I am . . . and over the years, we've learned to negotiate our different needs for different levels of sociability. Extroverts aren't just show-off social butterflies. Introverts aren't just sullen and reclusive. We have different strengths and different shortfalls too: most of us can position ourselves somewhere on the spectrum, and that varies from time to time with other stuff is going on in our lives. Mutual respect, mutual accommodation can create comfortable spaces for all of us.

OK, not earth shattering. But useful information all the same in coming to self-acceptance. And (although in The Introvert's Way Dembling doesn't make the connection, except with respect to alcohol) here at Spark, many of us know that in the absence of self-acceptance we're likely to self-medicate in ways that don't contribute to optimal physical health. Including the health we're seeking through weight maintenance.

(P.S.: Sophia Dembling has in fact written about weight loss at this link: looking at the research which suggests that we need to accept our body shape before it's possible to change it . . .
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I loved this book too!
    I have known I'm an introvert for 20 years or so, since I took a Meyers-Briggs test online, but this was the first book I read about introverts. And I really wish I read it when I was an adolescent, it would have helped me a lot...
    At the age of 45 I have figured many things out for myself, but the book confirmed a lot of things for me and found a lot of new things too.
    Since reading it, I consciously avoid situations that stress me out, eg. I leave parties early when I get tired without feeling guilty : )
    1707 days ago
    I found your blog to be very very interesting. I haven't checked out the links but I will.

    I like being with people but I'm okay in being alone. When I was working I did look forward to coming home and shutting down. That did cause some issues with my wife who is much more social than I am.

    Someday I'll get this figured out! Thanks for a great blog.


    1710 days ago
    Interesting - now I understand your status.
    Curious about your alcohol comment - does Dembling suggest introverts (as opposed to extroverts) use alcohol to self-medicate?
    Seems to contradict the 'life of the party' image in my mind.

    Here's to taking time to be - or not to be - I guess that is the question.
    1711 days ago
  • NANCY-
    You hit the nail on the head with "self-acceptance" all too often we forget or fail to see the positive traits we do have and just focus on the negative.
    Our mindset is so important if we are to meet our needs. Sometimes just admitting that we have needs is a challenge in itself. Everyone is different, thankfully, or this world would truly be a boring place.
    1711 days ago
  • KANOE10
    That book sounds interesting. I also am social all day at my job and really look forward to coming home. I also skip many of the social funtions after work and prefer being at home with my husband. I also may not pick up the phone at times if I do not want to talk. I would lean more towards the introvert side. Thanks for sharing another interesting book.
    1711 days ago
  • DALID414
    I've known I'm an introvert since taking an assessment test in college that said so! (Feels like a life time ago.) We aren't so bad, just give us some breathing room and no flash photography, please emoticon
    1711 days ago
    Well said. I am an introvert & need plenty of me time. Most people would say I'm a extrovert but it's mostly an act to help me get by.
    1711 days ago
    Another book I've seen and thought, "hmm...that looks most read-worthy...!" Sigh...someday. Had a very pleasant day alone at home today after a wonderful weekend of cycling with my buddies. I put on a playlist titled "Peaceful" and set about taking care of a myriad of things about the house, laundry, cooking, cleaning, treadmill & weights. Definitely comfortable with my own company at times. Although lately MUCH prefer riding with others...even though THAT often results in riding alone as I can be too fast for some, too slow for others...lol.'

    Oh and a Munro afterthought popped into my inbox which I thought I'd pass along:


    1711 days ago
    Thanks for the book review. Very interesting. Glad you are deepening your understanding and acceptance of yourself. I would love the opportunity to get to really know you in real life!!
    1711 days ago
    I was a shy child who grew into a friendly but introverted adult. I've ALWAYS needed quiet alone time, when I can just be with myself. Or with DH, who also needs that quiet alone time. Companionably reading books on a park bench or on the beach. Both internetting in our hotel room. Walks in a park or the woods. (However, he loves background noise and I like quiet, or at least nature sounds.)

    It took me a while to figure out that some friends, who always surround themselves with large groups of people, do that because they're extroverts, and that's how they energize. For myself, I find that exhausting! But that's what makes life interesting, right? The differences between all of us.

    I'm glad to hear that there's finally information out there embracing us introverts!!!!
    1711 days ago
    Thanks for the recommendation! I think this sounds like a good read, and I've reserved it at my library!
    1711 days ago
    Very interesting!
    1711 days ago
    I think of myself as an extrovert (not the life of the party, by any means) but by that description, I could be an introvert.
    I seek out solitude,
    am never lonely,
    prefer intimate or small group conversations...

    1711 days ago
    Very interesting. I really identify with this. I tend to think of myself as more introverted. My Meyers- Briggs tends to place me more on the introverted side, but there are times when I find myself somewhat extroverted as well. As I age, I tend to be more introverted. I too, am perfectly comfortable in a "leadership" role as in presenting in front of a crowd. But I am perfectly happy to let someone else's light shine. I have been described as an A typer personality but I am as happy as a hermit to be by myself and have no interaction with anyone at all. I do my best work in an autonomous environment and I have gone to the movies all alone. Never bothered me before. Thanks for doing all of these great book reviews. Without them, I don't think I would even know they existed. Keeps me engaged. Have a lovely day!
    1711 days ago
  • _LINDA
    The yin and yang of life! There is always a little good in an evil person and a little bad in a good person. I lean all the way over to introvert as much as my sister does to being an extrovert. It took me ten years to muster up the courage to go into a strange place with strangers totally alone (the bridge club) but it sure was a rewarding experience, getting me out of my shyness and learning to speak in public (something I would refuse to do even at the cost of a failing grade). But I do like my solitude and quiet and simply could not live with another person (Mom and I have a great relationship as long as I don't have to live with her LOL) A person has to do what is in their comfort zone. You can always test the waters, and if it doesn't work for you, take a step back.
    Life is not black and white, for sure.
    Happy Thanksgiving!
    1711 days ago
  • PHOENIX1949
    Enjoyed this Blog and really like Dembling's Home Page. Have a few deadlines calling me right now, so have bookmarked her site to spend some time there later. I identify strongly with several of your comments. I used to get annoyed when folks would tell me I needed to learn to make small talk. Humans are funny critters.
    1711 days ago
    I really liked your blog, and this coming from a fellow introvert.
    1711 days ago
    Thank you. Thank you thank you.
    1711 days ago
    I am going to have to look up this author. TWO topics near and dear to my heart. Very few people are "extreme" introvert or extrovert... and I know I skirt the line, but tip the scale to the side of introvert... just as my older sister skirts the line, but tips in the other direction.

    I like to quip that "even introverts need other people sometimes" and "even extroverts need to be alone at times". Human beings are such complex and wonderful creatures. Something to be thankful for!

    1711 days ago
    Wonderful blog! An enlightening summary of this book. I'm an introvert too, much the same type that you are, and I fool a lot of people until they really get to know me. I'll have to read this. Thanks for sharing. emoticon emoticon
    (there aren't many introvert emoticons either...)
    1711 days ago
    that was totally enlightening - i know myself in a whole new way. thank you so much for some academics
    1711 days ago
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