Introversion and high sensitivity are different, but they can also overlap and interact, and many of us experience both personality traits to some degree, perhaps along with shyness.
This page includes articles plus some books, sites, videos and other material about these qualities, their impact on our creative lives, and how we can thrive using the positive aspects.
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“From about the age of eighteen or nineteen, when I went to college, I realized that it was just not my idea of fun to party. In fact, I couldn’t see why anyone would want to—I get so monumentally bored at parties.
“So I realized that I had this fundamental difference with a lot of other people.” Jonathan Rauch, a correspondent for The Atlantic, author, and guest scholar at the Brookings Institution.
“I’m not the girl at the club on the table. I’m going to be the one in the corner, quiet and so I don’t call attention to myself.” …
“I was the girl who cut school to go to the park, and the other kids would be smoking and drinking and I’d be reading Shakespeare.”
Actor Jessica Chastain – from Jessica Chastain and High Sensitivity.
“I’m just a real loner kind of person, and yeah, kinda dark. But I’m happy. Not sad. I’m just shy and nervous.”
Actor Clea DuVall
– From post: Shyness and sensitivity – working it out on stage or off.
Marti Olsen Laney, Psy.D., M.F.T., is an author, researcher, psychotherapist and authority on introversion. In this clip from an interview (for the Mensa Education and Research Foundation) she talks about introversion versus shyness.
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Shyness, Introversion, Sensitivity – What’s the Difference?
Shyness, a form of anxiety, and the personality traits of introversion and high sensitivity are different, but they can also overlap and interact, and many of us experience all three to varying degrees.
Introverted, Shy or Highly Sensitive in the Arts – Many creative people are considered shy, sensitive or introverted, or identify themselves as one or all of these. One example: J.K. Rowling – who notes on her website that she first had the idea for Harry Potter in 1990 when she was traveling alone on a train:
“I had been writing almost continuously since the age of six but I had never been so excited about an idea before. To my immense frustration, I didn’t have a pen that worked, and I was too shy to ask anybody if I could borrow one…But I do think that this was probably a good thing. I simply sat and thought, for four (delayed train) hours, while all the details bubbled up in my brain…”
Creative Thinking and Being Introverted or Highly Sensitive – includes a video of “Quiet” author Susan Cain.
16 Outrageously Successful Introverts by Huffington Post editor Laura Schocker.
[includes slideshow: “6 Things You Thought Wrong About Introverts”]
Caring for Your Introvert by Jonathan Rauch, The Atlantic.
Marti Olsen Laney on Introverted Advantages. – Dr. Laney has on her site a long list of “famous introverts” including:
Joan Allen, actress; Candice Bergen, actress, writer, photographer; Ingrid Bergman, actress
Ellen Burstyn, actress; Glenn Close, actress; Audrey Hepburn, actress
Helen Hunt, actress; Clint Eastwood, actor/director; Harrison Ford, actor — and more
Three Steps to a Rich Inner Life — at Work by Susan Cain.
Jessica Chastain and High Sensitivity: “I was the girl who cut school to go to the park, and the other kids would be smoking and drinking and I’d be reading Shakespeare.”
Shy and sensitive and drinking at parties – Psychologist Elaine Aron notes: “Not all sensitive people are shy; not all shy people are sensitive. But especially if you are both, you need to know and respect your drinking comfort zone. If you are a highly sensitive person, you are probably more sensitive to alcohol.”
Elaine Aron on holiday stress relief for sensitive people. – Elaine Aron, PhD writes: “Here come the holidays and the New Year. Give yourself a gift by remembering to do this time of year your way: If you are already doing all you can, don’t expect anything extra of yourself without dropping something else, especially if the holidays are busy for you at work.”
All I Want for Christmas Is… A Little Space by Sophia Dembling, The Wall Street Journal. – “We introverts often find ourselves succumbing to this pressure to join the fun, so we push past our point of psychic exhaustion.
“Then we get cranky, which is how ugly stereotypes get started. It isn’t that we don’t love our families or enjoy the festivities. We do. Honest. We even like parties. (Some of them, sometimes, for a while.)
“But we have to pace ourselves, manage our energy, and in this most wonderful time of the year, we sometimes have to rely on subterfuge to do so… Job one for introverts is protecting their energy so that they can present a happy face to the world during the holidays. Sometimes that means explaining introversion to friends and loved ones and hoping they get it. Sometimes it means getting quiet time through stealth tactics. In the season of Peace on Earth, here’s to some peace and quiet.”
The Creative Personality: Ten paradoxical traits of the creative personality – by creativity researcher Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, PhD (pronounced me-high chick-sent-me-high). He writes in his article that “Creative people trend to be both extroverted and introverted. We’re usually one or the other, either preferring to be in the thick of crowds or sitting on the sidelines and observing the passing show.
“In fact, in current psychological research, extroversion and introversion are considered the most stable personality traits that differentiate people from each other and that can be reliably measured. Creative individuals, on the other hand, seem to exhibit both traits simultaneously.”
(Article is from his book Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention.) — More quotes are in my book “Developing Multiple Talents: The personal side of creative expression” (link goes to book site with reviews, excerpts).
The Gifted Introvert by Lesley Sword (Gifted and Creative Services Australia)
The Rise of the New Groupthink, By Susan Cain, New York Times.
Nurturing creativity in solitude. [Photo of musician Ani DiFranco is from this post.]
23 Signs You’re Secretly An Introvert By Carolyn Gregoire, The Huffington Post.
> Read critiques of this article by cognitive psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman in my article Introverted, Shy or Highly Sensitive in the Arts.
23 Signs You’re Secretly a Narcissist Masquerading as a Sensitive Introvert By Scott Barry Kaufman, Scientific American.
What Kind of Introvert Are You? By Scott Barry Kaufman – “Under the dominant personality framework in modern psychology, if you score low in enthusiasm and assertiveness, you’re an introvert. Here’s the problem: the Big Five framework forces a definition of introversion onto people, many of whom do not conceptualize introversion in the same way.”
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Sites / programs:
This image is from the page Programs for Introverts and Highly Sensitive People
– videos and other information about programs such as
Create Beyond Limits
Sheep Dressed Like Wolves Members Haven
DIY Self-Esteem course
The Power of Intuition Online Course by Judith Orloff
Highly Sensitive site (where you are reading this) – visit the Front Page.
Introverted and Creative (one of my Pinterest boards)
The Introvert’s Corner – “How to live a quiet life in a noisy world” – Psychology Today blog by Sophia Dembling.
MartiLaney.com – site of Marti Olsen Laney, Psy.D., M.F.T.
Quiet: The Power of Introverts – site of Susan Cain.
QUIET: The Powers of Introverts Pinterest Board by Susan Cain.
Working Quietly – “This site was created to be a safe haven for all of us to share ideas on how introverts can fit into the daily grind at work, a place where a lot of us feel like we are swimming against a current of extroverted personalities and rules.” Phillip Richard
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My Pinterest boards include:
Archive pages [not updated – but lots of information for you]
Introversion resources – articles sites books.
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Elaine Aron, PhD comments that Cain’s very popular book “is actually more about HSPs (highly sensitive people) than social introverts” and “her discussion of ‘introversion’ throughout is almost identical to what has become the standard definition of high sensitivity.” – From my article Creative Thinking and Being Introverted or Highly Sensitive, which includes a video of Cain.
Elaine Aron, PhD is author of the book The Highly Sensitive Person.
Quiet: The Power of Introverts | By Susan Cain
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Susan Cain on Introversion
“The world is full of noise and those that are the loudest are the ones we tend to follow but what about the quiet ones?
“Author Susan Cain shines a spotlight on introverts and reveals how over time our society has come to look to extroverts as leaders. Not suggesting that one is better than the other, Susan argues that the world needs an equal space between introverts and extroverts; that an innovative, creative world wouldn’t be the same without the two coming together.”
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Susan Cain: Networking For Introverts – with Marie Forleo
Self-Promotion for Introverts: The Quiet Guide to Getting Ahead by Nancy Ancowitz.
Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life Is Your Hidden Strength by Laurie Helgoe Ph.D.
The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World by Marti Olsen Laney Psy.D.
The Introvert’s Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World by Sophia Dembling.
The Art of Extreme Self-Care: Transform Your Life One Month at a Time by Cheryl Richardson. – “Whether you’ve always been told you’re too nice, sensitive or emotional, or simply want to learn how to say no – and stick to it – this book’s guaranteed to leave you feeling empowered, and ready to change your life and relationships in the most positive ways.” Soul & Spirit
Author and coach Cheryl Richardson points out that we all have different levels of sensitivity.
“It’s the fundamental part of us that allows us to be touched by beauty, signs of grace, or intimate moments with others.
“It is also the mechanism that provides us with an internal warning signal that lets us know when we’re in situations that may be hazardous to our emotional, physical, or spiritual health.
“As we grow in our understanding and practice of extreme self care, our sensitivity level rises and we pay closer attention to what we need to feel good.”
Chapter 8 of her book The Art of Extreme Self-Care: Transform Your Life One Month at a Time is titled “You’re So Sensitive.”
“Funny, but after years of practicing Extreme Self-Care, I’ve realized something ironic: if you want to live an authentic, meaningful life, you need to master the art of disappointing and upsetting others, hurting feelings, and living with the reality that some people just won’t like you.
“It may not be easy, but it’s essential if you want your life to reflect your deepest desires, values, and needs.
“Extreme Self-Care also involved surrounding myself with people who were smart, self-aware, and only interested in two-way relationships.”
See much more – including video, plus audio conversation with Alanis Morissette in post: Cheryl Richardson on Protecting Our High Sensitivity.
Alanis Morissette comments on being highly sensitive – if you have the personality trait like many of us, you will probably relate:
“I get maxed-out more quickly than some, so it’s my responsibility that I schedule little mini-breaks throughout the day, and have enough sleep.
“It’s almost incumbent on me to make sure that I take care, in a very fierce way, in order to be able to continue to write and to be the person I want to be.”
> See many more quotes on the page Introverted, Shy or Highly Sensitive in the Arts.
Book: Why Smart People Hurt: A Guide for the Bright, the Sensitive, and the Creative by Eric Maisel
Quotes by one of Dr. Maisel’s clients, Jeanette:
“I have always associated my intelligence with a propensity for boredom, for hypervigilance, for hypersensitivity, and a frustrated quest for meaning.”
See more quotes in article: Challenged By Being So Smart.
Also read more about Why Smart People Hurt – online course with Eric Maisel.
Also see lists: