How to Cope as a Highly Sensitive Extrovert
Are you both sensitive and an extrovert?
Posted August 9, 2014
There are many misconceptions about highly sensitive people, one of which is the idea that all HSPs are shy, insecure and introverted. The truth is that high sensitivity is not the same thing as shyness, insecurity or introversion, although some of us may be both sensitive and shy, or sensitive and insecure, for example. Most highly sensitive people are introverts, but not all. According to Elaine Aron, 30 percent of HSPs are extroverts, which can present its own set of challenges.
Introversion and extraversion are often misunderstood as describing how outgoing or talkative you are. First developed by psychologist Carl Jung, these terms in fact define where we get our energy and how we like to use it.
Introverts feel energized when they spend time alone or with one or two people they know well. They like to take time to reflect and think about ideas. They tend to avoid social situations involving lots of people, not because they are shy or afraid, but because they find it more enjoyable to participate in quieter, more thoughtful activities.
Extroverts are energized by spending time with people. They like to be involved in lots of events and social activities and feel excited when they can energize others and make things happen. Typically, extroverts like to talk things out as a way of trying to understand and deal with issues.
Everyone’s personality is a mix of extraversion and introversion to varying degrees and they present their own rewards as well as challenges, especially for the HSP.
While highly sensitive introverts often run the risk of becoming too withdrawn and isolated, sensitive extroverts can easily become overwhelmed by their social activities. HSP extroverts enjoy group activities and meeting new people, just like all extroverts, but they need time alone to recover from the stimulation of being around other people and exciting events.
While they enjoy social activities, extroverted HSPs are like all highly sensitive people in that they feel things more deeply, including both sensory information and people’s emotions and consequently they can face the dilemma of becoming overwhelmed despite their desire to participate. Expressing your feelings can lead others to criticise you for taking things too personally or overreacting. Despite these challenges, HSP extroverts need the company of other people and will continue to try to find group activities that are both fun and accepting of their trait. Here’s how to be your sensitive self without giving up your social life:
1. Find a balance. Everyone needs some down time and this is particularly important for highly sensitive people, even extroverts. Make sure you schedule some quiet time in between your social activities for reflection and relaxation to avoid becoming saturated with stimulation. Try walking alone in nature, meditating, and be sure to get enough sleep.
2. Find an HSP introvert friend. Since introverts tend to be good listeners and enjoy one on one conversations, says Elaine Aron, HSP extroverts can find compassion and understanding in a highly sensitive introvert when they need to discuss a problem.
3. Find a cause. Use your high sensitivity and your extraversion together to express your passion for causes you believe in and make things happen in teh world. The combination of sensitivity, which allows you to be empathic and insightful, and extraversion, which makes you feel comfortable around groups of people and expressing yourself, can give you the tools to change the world.
4. Be yourself. Don’t fall into the trap of saying yes to every invitation or trying to fit in with the group. Most of the world’s population are extroverts, so it can be tempting to bury your sensitive side to feel like part of the group. As a highly sensitive person, you have special needs. Give yourself opportunities to express your true feelings and the unique way you see the world, whether that’s through talking with others or through a creative outlet.