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The Introvert's Guide to Alone Time

The common understanding of introvert and extravert is that they both involve a degree of interaction with people and while that's partially true, what fills the energy bar of an introvert or extravert is far more complex than that. This is the Introvert's Guide to Alone Time. Now, there's a popular notion of "ambiversion" or that someone can be both an introvert and extravert. This is somewhat true but also not quite. According to Carl Jung and eventually the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, introversion and extraversion are cognitive preferences. Think of it more like a scale that can't quite evenly balance. Meaning, you're not an introvert and extravert at the same time. But while we can't be an ambivert, we can call upon the opposite of our preference when needed. We're quite malleable. Often our preference does resist the other side, however, and that's when things tend to get a little awkward. When we try to be an introvert at a party, for example, we're quiet in a corner being awkward and being looked at as if we should be talking more. I can't count the amount of times I've heard the question "Why are you so quiet?" and they were right to ask that. I was refusing to engage my extraverted side. The same is true for an extravert. If you're spending quiet time alone or with one friend, someone may wonder why you're "yelling." I had a downstairs neighbor who was always on her phone with someone. I wouldn't call that adequate alone time. Now, these are reductive examples but you get the idea. We each have a side of us that is a preference, and another that needs some attention in the right situation. But let's focus on introverts here as introversion, as I've said, isn't just about not liking people. Plenty of extraverts also don't like people. But usually when we reference "people" we're talking about interruptive strangers, not necessarily humanity as a whole. It's possible to have hope and love for humanity while also setting the necessary boundaries. So, yes, while, to a degree it's about people, what we're mostly dealing with is what our mind needs from us. That's why Myers-Briggs and cognitive functions are helpful, so we can get a sense of what our minds need from us to get the energy recharge it needs in order to get back out there. There are 8 introverts in the Myers-Briggs system: INTP INFP ISTP ISFP INTJ INFJ ISTJ ISFJ If you're not sure of your personality type you can take our test that pops up on our main page. Each of these personality types use cognitive functions as either their preferred learning style (iNtuition or Sensing) or decision making style (Thinking or Feeling). What we're going to focus on is the dominant function of each introverted type to talk about how to get the best recharge. Introverted Feeling for ISFPs and INFPs For the I*FPs their dominant function is called Introverted Feeling or Fi, which is their main decision making style. This means that your brand of alone time consists of emotional self-assessment of your experience. This usually means being aware of how emotions show up in your body and knowing what they mean your well-being to make better decisions. You make better decisions with this function because it's your main dominant preference that you were born with. Quite simply, it's what is most satisfying and useful to use for you. One way an Fi user nurtures their Introverted Feeling is through narrative and storytelling. In a sense, you can think of Fi as an understanding of the narratives we tend to tell ourselves in order to know how to feel a certain way about a situation as a method of assessing personal values over time. And this assessment involves absorbing as many as emotions as possible to sift through them all. Poetry, stories, music, dance and other forms of art are often emotional expressions from the creator of said art. This means that an Fi user reading about someone's expression helps with this practice of identifying where an emotion lives in their body when they feel something in their own life. It's a form of preparation to know as many emotions as possible so they can adapt on the fly when out in the world. Someone on the outside may see this as emotional indulgence but it's more about understanding every human emotion that is possible to have. An incredibly intelligent process. So the work of an I*FP to get the best out of their alone time is to take in new forms of expression but also to take time to feel out and sift through which emotions are most important to you. These choices eventually lead to determining what you'll do with those emotions and how you'll choose to express yourself. Introverted Thinking for ISTPs and INTPs Introverted Thinking or Ti is similar to Fi in its overall desire to take in as much as possible. Instead of emotions, Ti is organizing data. An introverted thinker is fascinated with all of the little pieces that make something work, whether that's an object or an idea. An introverted thinker wants to know everything it can about a subject, object or idea in order to understand all of the capabilities and possibilities this subject, object, or idea has. The search for truth is one of the most valuable ideals of an introverted thinker and therefore gets the most energy from that search. Books, documentaries, problems to solve, and tweaks to make are all part of that introverted energy hit for an I*TP. It's not as simple or as boring as reading instruction manuals and text books, however, it's often about what can be figured out on their own from a collection of experiences and reference material. It also means trusting an author or creator who has put in a similar kind of work and can present it clearly and thoroughly. This maps to a similar ambition to output in a similar way. Where Fi users are expressors and builders, Ti users long to be teachers and explainers. So the eventual product of learning and problem solving is in service of being a guide for when anyone needs an explanation for something in which the I*TP has an area of expertise. So getting the most out of alone time for an I*TP will come from research, problem solving, and their personal search for truth. Introverted Sensing for ISFJs and ISTJs Introverted Sensing or Si is one of the learning-styles which brings with it a more inherently relaxed approach to life. But relaxed in a be still, steady and safe kind of way. Introverted Sensing is a function with a past orientation. This means a preference towards tradition, repetition, and certainty. Introverted Sensors are consistently reviewing the past because they've likely surrounded themselves with it. Si tends to keep totems...physical items, people, music...some sort of relic of the past which transports them to particular moments in time at a regular interval. And because of this personal past they can tend to be quite quirky and unique since everyone's past is different. A sense of safety also comes with the territory because being able to visit the past so much means that the future needs to feel secure in order to do so. In a sense, there's a desire to control and know what they'll eventually be reviewing. This review is part of the learning style. The more that an experience can be repeatable, the more they can extract from that experience. New experiences are simply too overwhelming to gather new information from. However, that's part of the goals...to eventually, and slowly, introduce some novelty, fun, and adventure into the equation as things always change over time. Si users would just rather do that slowly and iteratively. What all of this means for someone getting the most out of their alone time is to take it slow, review what you have what you know...the good and the bad...to see where you would like to take life next. An ISFJ friend of mine said one of his favorite activities was stipling, which a repeated dot pattern. So do something comforting, repetitive, personal, and approach all of the detail and memory that is attached to this activity to help figure out how you can iterate to have new things to review in the future. Introverted Intuition for INFJs and INTJs I think of Introverted Intuition or Ni as the other side of the coin of Si. Si being more past oriented, Ni is more future oriented. "What is my personal interpretation of what's to come?" Similar to Si, Ni is triggered by totems that symbolize forward motion, emerging technologies, the future of creativity, or trends in human behavior. Ni is often activated by these totems to create sensory experiences in their mind about what the future could look like. This can also be done in a relaxed meditative state. Ni users can also play with this imagination to create fantastical in-depth worlds that are adjacent to reality, because sometimes the ideal reality isn't the current reality. The most common example Tolkien and The Hobbit books being an expanded world of language and lore that is fully fleshed out in intense depth. And that what Ni users, the ability to build on this imaginative depth. This leads to great works of science fiction about the distant future, expressions of bent physics and entire civilizations created from the mind. When connected to reality, Ni looks at deep future possibilities and can often have an astonishing ability to plan or predict outcomes of up to 5 years from now, if everything goes as expected. Similar to how Si can be thrown off by something new, Ni can be thrown off if there is a variable in the present or past in which they've missed or is introduced unexpectedly. This throws the trajectory off of their ideal future or prediction and can be quite stressful as they're now forced to be in the present. To stay on track involves an iterative check-in with the present just to see if everything is going as planned. It also helps to be present to collect new sensory information to bring into the amazing worlds being built. Now, Ni is also a learning-style which means their mind as it play when using this function. With Intuition generally being about pattern recognition, introverted intuition is about the patterns within our own mind's inner workings. This translates to knowing how the brain works in general, which leads to his ability to predict what's coming for humanity. When spending time alone, letting the mind wander is the ideal solution with few interruptions. I don't think this is a surprise as this is what Ni users long for, absolute quiet and peace but checking with the present also serves Ni as it adds new data to explore and adds new totems to the pile. It also doesn't hurt to explore other Ni creations to ask more interesting questions and create new unpredictable scenarios to eventually bring into reality to share in the form of fiction, discovery, plans, and solutions for yourself or others. --------- So that's it, what each introverted type can do to get the most out of their alone time. See how it's not as simple as just being quiet? There's a lot going on in every mind and each deserves the opportunity to do what they'd like to and need to do. How does this relate to your own experience? Anything you'd like to add? Let me know in the comments below! And if you don't know your personality type be sure to take our conversational personality test!

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