In discovering her roots, Birgit is beginning to stretch and grow herself!
What did I learn from my mother?
I have followed “Beyond Introversion” for some time now. What sparked my interest, was the description of “home base,” “adventure” and “frontier” circles.
Feeling Different in My Own Home
For me, growing up in my home was not “home base.” My mother is an extreme extrovert. She loved to invite people to our home, and she took us around to meet family and friends quite often.
Discovering that I was an introvert has taken me a long time. For those who know the Myers-Briggs system, I identify as an INFJ (with some INFP tendencies). Being a social introvert growing up in an extrovert home, I had to use Fe (Extroverted Feeling) A LOT. My third cognitive function is Introverted Thinking. When I am around my mother, I use Extroverted Feeling and Introverted Thinking a lot. Therefore, my parents look at me as intelligent and social.
My mother is probably an ESTJ. This means we share “the shadow” functions. This also means that her way of decision-making is the opposite of my natural way to behave in the world. What I realize now is that I have placed myself in “the Frontier Zone” when I have taken my mother's advice and followed them. When I was young, she set up playing- arrangements for me, and if I was alone in my room, she would engage me in playing cards or board games with my siblings. In this way, I almost got no time to self-reflect or to download. Which I now feel is very important to me and my well-being.
Our first personal guest blogger, Birgit Spikkeland, exhibits so much bravery. Being raised in an extroverted home, she has been learning about herself and what she needs to gain care and confidence. Perhaps you will see yourself in her brave story as we strive to accelerate through the 'Unaware' and 'Uninformed' phases that plague many introverts. Thanks, Birgit for kicking off 2023 with such vulnerability and courage.
Chasing Their Dream
I think my feeling of being “different” and not fitting in, whether in my family home or in the society I grew up in, made me want to understand myself. This was the main reason I chose Sociology as my field of study.
I went to university (as expected by my parents and family) and managed to fulfill my studies in Sociology. My parents' advice about my choice of study was the necessity to “use my abilities.” However, what I sensed was that what I wanted to do was not so important, they just wanted me to start studying something.
After finishing my bachelor’s degree, I was uncertain whether I should pursue my master’s degree or study something else. The advice I picked up, was that I should fulfill what I had started. Since I had no connection to what should have been my dominant function, Introverted Intuition, other people’s advice, and opinions were the only thing I had to navigate. I had no touch with my internal feelings or an internal sense of purpose.
I married my ex-husband in my early 20s. I was a student and he had recently started working as an accountant. During my marriage, I lost every connection I had with my inner self. He was an extrovert and totally ignored my need for downtime. For me, this relationship was the familiar “frontier line” which I was used to. Eventually, I realized that for the sake of my 2 children and my own mental health, I had no other choice but to break up.
Free to Discover Me
After my divorce, I got more into the self-development realm. I read Elaine Aaron's book The Highly Sensitive Person, which was really a breakthrough for me. I felt I got some insights that helped me understand myself in a profound way. Later, I discovered more about Introversion, leading me to Steve Friedman.
My work life has suffered a lot from my disconnection from myself. By chance, I started to work with disabled people in a daycare center. I have tried some different jobs, but so far, I work as a backup in health care. Since this is not my field of education, I have not been able to get a steady job yet. In my work, I must lean on my second function, Extroverted Feeling, a lot.
It has been a challenge for me to soothe my introverted self in the workplace. Some of my more dominant co-workers are extroverts. These days, I try to relax into my introversion and be quiet and calm. Being in touch with my Introversion and my own feelings makes me more secure and relaxed in the social situations that occur. Most days I work one-to-one and that is what I like most about my work.
Learning Through My Introversion
As I was writing this article, Personality Hacker (by Antonia Dodge and Joel Mark Whitt) came up with a podcast around Personality types and Self- Esteem. They claim that different personality types judge their self-esteem from different angles. The diversion here is not mainly along the Extrovert- Introvert dimension, but I think introverts may have a harder time judging themselves by external dimensions. Like in my workplace, I might do everything that is expected of me, but I still have this nagging introvert thinking voice telling me that I should have done more, that I am not as good as I pretend to be, and so forth. This may be a particular challenge for the INFJ- type as Personality Hacker claims, but I think maybe all introverts will struggle with this feeling of “not doing good enough” in the external world. After all, for Introverts the most exciting thing may not be what happens in the external world, but my own unique inner experience of dealing with the world.
I think my main challenge with my introversion is to be calm enough to get in touch with my dominant function, Introverted Intuition. To develop intuition, you need quiet time and less distraction. As I grew up in a home with dominant extrovert energy and being a feeler in a thinking-based family, I have second-guessed myself a lot and accused myself of being weird and difficult. This may also have increased the strength of my Introvert Thinking- voice which always looks at me from the outer world perspective. How will others value my contribution? What do they expect of me that I have not fulfilled?
Recently, I've been emphasizing my need for solitude. This means I set aside time for myself to lay on the couch doing nothing. Meditating is also a tool I use to connect with my inner self. I am also conscious of who I spend time with. I think taking time for reflection is very important for introverts. After all, the experiences we meet in the external world might be less than pleasant. Most people strive for power and influence, even to the detriment of others. Taking some downtime, reflecting on what has happened, and striving to look for the positive things might be a route out of the negative cycle an introvert might get caught up in.
So, what I have learned from my mother is that I need to do everything the opposite way of what she has told me. When I talk to her, I need to regularly check in with myself and try to get a sense of my internal feelings.
In this way, I have managed to create a “Home base” for myself in my own world. I don’t think my mother will understand or agree with me about my thoughts and feelings from my upbringing. I have realized, however, that as I manage to explain myself in a calm way and not expect her to agree with me, we can get along quite fine.
Name: Birgit Spikkeland
Family: divorced; re-married
Work: part-time in healthcare
Education: Master in sociology from
the University of Oslo
Hobbies: I am interested in
personality types, self-
development & spirituality
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The Questions Introverts Ponder
The Answers Extroverts Need to Hear
Introversion often feels so alone; many assume no one else could feel this way. This book contains many of the questions that have been asked, often by introverts trying to understand this personality trait that can at times govern our lives.
I also hear from many introverts struggling to share their introversion with family, friends, and co-workers, either out of fear or just not having the words. This booklet can serve to educate others to understand better the many strengths and talents we have to share.
I hope you will find this booklet an informative read and reference book with a splash of light-heartedness and inspiration as well. I invite you to start with the questions you are most curious about and share them from there.
In 2023, I will wrap up each month with a writing blog. I love to write, whether it's journaling, blogs, or books. I find it helps control the swirling thoughts and worries in my head, getting them on paper for my own edification and, perhaps, to help others.
I find I'm not alone. I suspect the majority of writers in the world are introverts. So I'd like to share some hard-fought lessons about writing, publishing, and marketing for those of you who are authors, writers, or just dreaming about putting pen to paper.
I hope you will enjoy the stories and learnings and perhaps gain some inspiration to dive into writing as part of your personal development journey in 2023.