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Introvert Power and “The Right to Pursue Peace and Quiet”

West Virginia author Laurie Helgoe wants people to appreciate the power in being an introvert. (L. Helgoe)
West Virginia author Laurie Helgoe wants people to appreciate the power in being an introvert. (L. Helgoe)
May 10, 2016

CHARLESTON, W. Va. - A West Virginia author says more people need to see the power in being an introvert.

Davis and Elkins College psychology professor Laurie Helgoe says we live in a culture that rewards people for being outgoing – but the minds of introverts and extroverts just work differently, and one is not inherently better than the other.

Helgoe says people who prefer to be quiet, thoughtful and reflective are often unintentionally undervalued.

"Even introverts learn to adopt an idea of introversion that's stripped of its richness," says Helgoe. "And it's a subtle but a powerful difference, when you just start stating who you are, rather than apologizing for who you are."

Helgoe is the author of "Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life Is Your Hidden Strength."

In the book she says, according to decades of data from the well-regarded Myers-Briggs personality test, there are about as many introverts in the population as extroverts.

But their numbers may be underestimated because introverts simply draw less attention to themselves. She says they also can suffer from thinking of themselves as odd.

"About half the population is prone to having self-image issues," she says. "Or being mislabeled because we might not match the cultural ideal."

Helgoe says in fact, introverts seek quieter situations because they are just more sensitive to that kind of stimulus. She jokes that if she could rewrite the Declaration of Independence, she'd include an inalienable right to pursue peace and quiet.

"Introverts refuel by pulling away from stimulation," she says. "Their brains get filled up pretty quickly. Extroverts tend to put things out into the world. That's the difference. There isn't a bad or good associated with either one."

Helgoe spoke about the topic during the National Association of Social Workers' West Virginia chapter spring conference - the largest event of its kind in the country.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - WV