No two individuals are exactly alike, and no schema can fully capture our particular essence or personality. Yet it is sometimes helpful to speak about different temperaments or “personality types.” One of the largest personality type groupings distinguishes between “extroverts” and “introverts,” with certain studies recognizing between 30 and 50 percent of people as introverts. Society at large, and Mormonism in particular, seems to have a bias toward extroversion–fitting more easily those persons with larger, perhaps more recognizably adventurous personalities, often seeming more at home in large group social situations. For this reason, we often find more extroverts than introverts in leadership positions, and most cultural forms seem to forget that many people are not extroverts!
We are missing a lot! Each personality type has wonderful strengths, and lead individuals to different approaches to life situations and problem solving, and involve preferences and abilities that are distinct and unique–and quite complementary of each other.
In this episode, panelists Laura Stewart, John Hatch, John Shaw, and Greg Nelson–who all self-identify as introverts–join Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon in a wonderful tour of the various ways the world presents itself to introverts. The discussion describes aspects of the introverted personality type and preferences, debunks misconceptions and stereotypes, and highlights introverts’ strengths and the areas and types of interaction in which they excel. Each panelist also shares their own stories of how wonderful it has been for them to come to see themselves as introverts and to embrace it rather than constantly trying to bend themselves toward society’s (wrongheaded) “extroversion ideal.” After defining introversion in general terms, the panelists share experiences in Mormonism that they experience differently than do extroverts, and how their introversion strongly shapes their interests and spirituality in terrific, wonderful ways that Mormonism would be all the richer for if it were to recognize them, as well as come to better utilize the introvert’s gifts.
This is a fantastic episode for introverts, parents and spouses and friends of introverts, and church and community leaders! Please listen and then share your questions, reactions, and own experiences in the comments section below!
Sophia Dembling, The Introvert’s Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World
Adam McHugh, “The Ancient Art of Listening: Spiritual Direction for Evangelicals and Introverts,” Patheos blog post, 4 March 2011
Listeners, please suggest additional sites and resources about introversion and the religious life that you have found helpful and we can link to!
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