10 Ideas for Introvert Friendly Socialization

Introverts need people. This isn’t something you’ll hear about very often, though. Most of the time, you’ll either hear people who are critical of introverts complaining about how unsociable we are or you’ll hear introverts talking about how much we dislike being around other people.

Humans are social creatures, however. We have different preferences for how much and in what ways we socialize, but we all need other people. Being an introvert doesn’t mean you hate people. It just means that you’re born with a trait that makes you prefer the internal world. It means you re-charge better in quiet, low-stimulation environments, not that you do well in social isolation.

It’s no exaggeration to say that isolation can be deadly. Living in loneliness has a serious impact on our health. In fact, “The increased mortality risk is comparable to that from smoking. And loneliness is about twice as dangerous as obesity. Social isolation impairs immune function and boosts inflammation, which can lead to arthritis, type II diabetes, and heart disease” (“Loneliness Is Deadly” by Jessica Olien). And that’s just the physical health risks. Loneliness also damages our mental and emotional health, often leading to issues like increased stress, depression, and alcoholism (“The Dangers of Loneliness by Hara Estroff Marano).

So what’s an introvert to do? If you don’t like typical social events or groups, how do you avoid the mental and physical health risks of loneliness while also honoring your introverted nature?

This list includes tips for introvert-friendly ways to socialize with other people. Some of these assume you’re trying to meet new people, while others are great for doing with people you already know.

10 Ideas for Introvert Friendly Socialization | LikeAnAnchor.com
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1) Attend An Interesting Event

It’s not all that difficult to find out about events going on in your local area. Check city websites, Google “local events,” or browse through events on Facebook. There’s bound to be something in the area that interests you and there are often options for small gatherings (like a morning yoga meet-up) as well as larger ones. If you’re at an event that interests you, you have a good chance of meeting people with similar interests and perhaps even finding a local group to join. Read more

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Finding Community In Variety

There’s something magical about meeting a person who “gets” you. It’s like your minds work on the same wavelength and you’re instantly talking as if you’re old friends. The two of you think so much alike that there’s no struggle to explain yourself.

This sort of connection often has to do with personality type. Our Myers-Briggs types describe the way our minds work (click here for tips on finding your true Myers-Briggs type). When we meet someone else whose brain processes the word in a similar way, we’re likely to experience a connection with them, especially if we have overlapping interests.

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In contrast, when we seem to clash with someone for no reason it often has to do with differences in how we process the world. To use a fictional example from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Steve Rogers and Tony Stark don’t just conflict ideologically. Their ISFJ and ENTP types are exact opposites, which means the mental process Steve is most comfortable using is the one Tony finds most stressful (and vice versa).

Many of us seek to surround ourselves with people who think like us. They’re the people we’re most comfortable with, the ones who identify with us, the ones with similar priorities and goals. Often this type of community is based around interests, such as spending time with people in your church, joining a bird watching club, or hanging out with friends at a ballgame. Personality similarities in these groups are typically accidental.

For those with rare personality types, though, it’s hard to find communities of like-minded people. Only about 30% of the population is made up of Intuitive types, and among those INTJ and INFJ are the rarest. How do you find community when only 1-4% of the world’s population thinks like you? Read more

INFJ User Guide

Congratulations on the procurement your new INFJ!* INFJs are highly sought after in the personality type collecting world given their extremely rare nature. INFJ spotting is a very difficult hobby, requiring forays into the deepest recesses of bookstores, yoga studios, and the internet. Keeping an INFJ in your life once you’ve found one can be even more of a challenge.

INFJs are widely considered one of the most amiable and empathetic personalities. Their minds offer a good balance of emotion and logic that helps them relate to most types of people, and they highly value commitment and relationships. As introverts, though, they have limited social energy and they don’t maintain relationships with most of the people they meet. Once you’ve found an INFJ, taking your acquaintance to the level or friendship, or relationship, isn’t simple. That is, unless you have this user guide.

INFJ User Guide | marissabaker.wordpress.com

Overview of the INFJ

The INFJ is a strange sort of creature, often compared to unicorns. Their uniqueness is a result of two things: the way their brains/personalities are hardwired and the rarity of their personality type. What’s perfectly normal for an INFJ seems unusual among humanity as a whole because so few people function this way. Understanding your INFJ’s basic functions is the first step towards successful interaction with the INFJ. Read more

The Single INFJ

It’s strange that a personality type for which “homemaker” is one of the top recommended career options has such a difficult time finding love. While not true of all INFJs, many of us are romantics in every sense of the word. We’re idealists who still believe in soul-mates. We’re eager to dive deep into relationships and prioritize the people closest to us. We’re among the MBTI types least likely to cheat in a romantic relationship.

But we also shy away from any type of deep relationship if we don’t feel completely safe. Our idealism means we often have unrealistic expectations for our (potential) romantic partners. The soul-mate type of understanding we crave is hard to find. And so here I am, turning 27 this year having been on 4 dates since I was 19 (all with guys I chose not to go out with a second time) and yet still wanting to be in a relationships (almost) just as much as ever.

So what’s a single INFJ to do? It sounds cliche, but I agree with Amelia Brown on Introvert, Dear that it’s important  to focus  on “the relationship you have with yourself.” If you’re not comfortable with yourself, you’re never going to be happy, regardless of whether or not you’re in a relationship with someone else. Also, if you haven’t taken ownership of your life, your choices, and your struggles then you’re going to have a harder time cultivating the sort of strong, lasting relationship INFJs crave. Read more

Thoughts on A Book of Celtic Wisdom

I recently read a little book called Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom by John O’Donohue. A blog reader mentioned the idea of an anam cara, or “soul friend,” in a message, and I simply had to look it up. You can usually tell how interesting I found a non-fiction book by the number of sticky notes poking out by the time I’m done reading. Case in point:

Soul Friends | marissabaker.wordpress.com

It’s not that I agreed with everything in the book, but rather that I found its musings on the nature of life and connection between people fascinating. The first quote I placed a note next to was also one that I’d read in the article that initially pointed me toward this book.

Anam is the Gaelic word for soul and cara is the word for friend. So anam cara in the Celtic world was the “soul friend.” In the early Celtic church, a person who acted as a teacher, companion, or spiritual guide was called an anam cara. It originally referred to someone to whom you confessed, revealing the hidden intimacies of your life. With the anam cara you could share your inner-most self, your mind and your heart. (p.13)

I love this idea, which comes from Chapter 1: The Mystery of Friendship. I’ve been toying with the idea of incorporating it into a new title for this blog. Perhaps “Soul Teacher”? I’m not sure yet.

A couple pages after this quote, the writer takes this discussion in a direction dear to my heart. He describes Jesus as “the secret anam cara of every individual” (p. 15). Isn’t that a beautiful picture? Jesus is our “soul friend,” our most intimate companion, teacher and spiritual guide, the One to whom you can reveal your most hidden self.

Consequently, love is anything but sentimental. In fact, it is the most real and creative form of human presence. Love is the threshold where divine and human presence ebb and flow into each other. (p.15)

Can We Heal Ourselves?

I loved the first chapter of this book. It was in later chapters that I became frustrated with aspects of O’Donahue’s ideology. In Chapter 3: Solitude Is Luminous, he talks about healing wounds in a way that really resonates with me, but I feel his solutions don’t go deep enough.

It’s true we often seem “destructively addicted to the negative” because confronting it seems to difficult. “If we maintain our misery at this surface level,”O’Donohue writes, “we hold off the initially threatening but ultimately redemptive and healing transfiguration that come through engaging with our inner contradiction.” I’d agree with this — we have to get to know ourselves before we can learn, grow and change ourselves. But O’Donohue isn’t advocating change so much as self-acceptance though befriending “the negative” and recognizing “that it is not destructive. It often seems that morality is the enemy of growth” (p. 115).

There are simply some things in our lives that shouldn’t be accepted. It’s not healthy or safe to befriend the dark side, and we can’t always turn negatives into something benign just by being nice to them. I have to believe it’s possible to grow and remain moral at the same time.

And yet, O’Donohue has a point that we must beware going to the other extreme of spending too much time analyzing and dragging up our pasts. Searching for your problems over and over again won’t help you overcome them, and self-knowledge is only useful if you can act on it in some way to heal and grow. He compares people who go through endless cycles of self-analysis to gardeners who dig up their potatoes every day and replant them a different way.

People in our hungry modern world are always scraping at the clay of their hearts. They have a new thought, a new plan, a new syndrome, that now explains why they are the way they are. …. Negative introspection damages the soul. It holds many people trapped for years and years, and ironically, it never allows them to change (p. 122).

The very next line is where he lost me: “It is wise to allow the soul to carry on its secret work in the night side of your life” (p. 122). Much like he suggests befriending our negativity is the best way of dealing with it, he believes our wounds can heal themselves if we give our souls space and approach our ” hurt indirectly and kindly” (123). But our souls aren’t designed to heal themselves. They’re healed by God.

I feel this idea of self-healing is connected to the writer’s idea of the divine residing inside our souls. Though he references Christianity heavily, that’s not the only theology O’Donohue draws on — the theology of this book is a mishmash of Irish Catholicism, Celtic paganism, and mysticism. He’s not comfortable with the idea of a “faraway divinity,” and so adopts the idea that the divine is within us. He’s missing a third option, though.

Biblicaly, the divine is outside us, but He’s not far away. “The word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart,” and the living Word wants to dwell inside us (Deut. 30:14; Rom. 10:8). I suppose you could say the divine resides inside us after we submit ourselves to Christ, but we have to ask Him in — not start out looking inside our own souls for the answers.

You Have A Purpose

I want to share with you a passage in this book that I found hugely encouraging. It’s also from Chapter Three.

To be born is to be chosen. No one is here by accident. … Your identity was not offered for your choosing. In other words, a special destiny was prepared for you. But you were also given freedom and creativity to go beyond the given, to make a new set of relationships and to forge an ever new identity, inclusive of the old but not limited to it. … Destiny sets the outer frame of experience and life; freedom finds and fills its inner form. …

You were sent to a shape of destiny in which you would be able to express the special gift you bring to the world. Sometimes this gift may involve suffering and pain that can neither be accounted for nor explained. There is a unique destiny for each person. Each one of us has something to do here that can be done by no one else. If someone else could fulfill your destiny, then they would be in your place and you would not be here. … When you begin to decipher this, your gift and giftedness come alive. Your heart quickens and the urgency of living rekindles your creativity. (83-84)

This past Shabbat, the speaker at my Messianic congregation talked about Leah. She was not as pretty as her younger sister Rachel and she was unloved by her husband. She probably thought she didn’t make much of an impact on the world. And yet, her example of faith is recorded in the Bible for everyone to read, and her children founded the priestly lineage of Levi and the royal lineage of Judah, among other nations. She’s a direct ancestor of notable personages like Moses, David and Jesus Christ Himself. Her life matters more than she ever knew.

You also have a purpose in this world, even if you can’t see it. This isn’t to perpetuate an idea that you’re a “special unicorn” who is better than other people. Rather, it’s to say that of us has a unique gift that’s of real value, and you have a hand in shaping how it impacts the world.

ENFJ and INFJ Friendship: Why Does It Work So Well?

There’s potential for meaningful friendship between two people of any personality type. However, certain types just seem to “click” more often than others. Today, I want to talk about that sort of connection happening between ENFJs and INFJs.

I’m an INFJ, and I’m blessed to have several ENFJs in my life, including my brother who is also one of my best friends. ENFJs are almost as rare as INFJs (about 2-5 percent of the population, as opposed to 1-3 percent), so meetings between them don’t happen all that often. But when they do, it’s often the start of a lasting, valuable friendship.

Understanding Each Other

I love spending time with ENFJs. With all the ones I’ve met (at least those who I know are ENFJ), there’s a sense of instant connection that comes with feeling truly understood and accepted. Plus they’re often easier to meet than other INFJs simply because they’re more extroverted. On top of that, they’re great listeners. INFJs crave understanding and connection, and since we’re usually the listeners it’s nice to meet someone who actually wants to listen to and understand you.

In Myers-Briggs circles, we say this type of connection is a result of shared learning and decision-making processes. INFJs lead with Introverted Intuition with a co-pilot of Extroverted Feeling, and ENFJs lead with Extroverted Feeling with co-pilot Introverted Intuition. We “get” each other because we see the world in extremely similar ways.

One of my favorite things about spending time with ENFJs is I never feel like we’re stuck on shallow conversation topics — they’ll dive just as deep into a subject as you want. Also, I love the fact that ENFJs actually voice the kind of random questions that pop into my head and throw them out for discussion. I suspect the ENFJs are also happy to find a conversation partner who’s willing and eager to talk about things like the origin of the universe, whether you’d rather fight a horse-sized chicken or a dozen chicken-size horses, and your own potential relationship compatibility with Disney villains.

Extrovert/Introvert Dynamic

ENFJ and INFJ Friendships | LIkeAnAnchor.com
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Sometimes introverts, like INFJs, complain about feeling worn-out by their extroverted friends. We may love the fact that they help draw us out and will do the talking in situations where we don’t know anyone, but they don’t always understand our need for alone time or desire to leave the party early. This is not true of the ENFJs I know.

In general, ENFJs are friendly, gregarious and popular, but they also need down-time. They are one of the most “introverted extroverts” (along with ENTJs), and I usually find that by the time I’m ready to withdraw from a crowd, my ENFJ friends are as well. One-on-one conversations (or in small groups of 3 or 4 friends) are where I shine, and ENFJs are comfortable here as well.

ENFJs might wish their INFJ friends were a little more outgoing, but I never feel like they’re pressuring me to go past my people-limit. They want me to be the best version of myself that I can be, not to turn me into something else. Sometimes their drive toward perfection (of themselves even more than others) annoys and frustrates me, but I usually find myself admitting their advice is right.

Do you have experience with ENFJ and INFJ friendship pairings? What did you think?

 

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