Your Mind Matters: Episode 9 – Introversion, Extraversion, and Anxiety in Life and Relationships

Your Mind Matters: Episode 9 – Introversion, Extraversion, and Anxiety in Life and Relationships

This week’s episode is a themed episode on the topic of introversion and extraversion. We welcome a special guest co-host, Duff the Psych! In this episode we answer questions about whether social anxiety, shyness, and introversion are the same thing, how to decline social invitations, how two introverts in a relationship can better communicate, and strategies for balancing social activities with down time.

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Chris and Christine are excited to be having their second themed episode, discussing introversion and extraversion with a special guest host, psychologist Dr. Robert Duff, of the Hardcore Self-Help Podcast.

Introversion has lately become discussed more and seems to be more relevant in the modern day. With the advent of the Internet and social media, people who may have previously been less open or present, are more visible and tend to discuss their introversion and experiences.

Question 1a:

Hi, my name is Camille from Little Rock, Arkansas. And I first off just want to say thank you so much for your gift from God called Pacifica. It has changed my life and it’s really inspired me to take charge of my mental health since 2 years ago. I have two questions.  My first question is I wanted to know what the difference is between shyness, introversion, and social anxiety. Are they all the same thing? Are they similar or they completely different animals and also what our ways to cope with all of those things?

  • The hosts agree that shyness and social anxiety are more alike, and introversion is different. Social anxiety and shyness relate to having fears of or anxiety in social situations. Introversion on the other hand has more to do with what people find energizing versus what they find draining. Introverts may not have fear or discomfort in social situations but could still get home later and feel exhausted or drained from all of the socializing they did.
  • People who are socially anxious are more likely to be introverts. However, it is possible to be a shy extrovert. You might be an extrovert who had a very negative social experience and then develop a fear in social situations.
  • Hosts agree that Introversion – Extraversion is a spectrum and that most people aren’t clearly on one end or the other and may have times where they have traits of both. Many people are in the middle, “ambiverts”, meaning that they aren’t extremely introverted or extremely extraverted. People can also be extroverted and still feel drained after an intense day of socializing.

Question 1b:

My second question is how can we respectfully decline certain social situations without offense? I find that I’m constantly being invited to things and I will be traveling abroad very soon to South Korea and I am definitely going to be finding myself in situations where I might not feel comfortable. For instance I don’t drink alcohol. So I just wanted to know how can you respectfully decline or just politely say that’s not for me without being harsh or without just going with the flow and ending up doing things that go against your values. Thank you so much.

  • Chris likes to push himself to experience social situations that might be challenging to help him grow and work through his anxiety, but described that participating in something which goes against your personal values would be where he’d draw the line.
  • In the case where something is a violation of values, Dr. Christine suggests kindly but directly declining the invitation.
  • Duff wonders whether the caller is happy with the pace of her life and her routines. If she feels unsatisfied and wants to expand her life, then she could challenge herself to work through anxiety. If she isn’t feeling distress about the way she is or her life is, then it could be OK to decline these events and embrace her preferences.
  • People with social anxiety sometimes worry that when they say no or decline invitations that they will offend the person or be judged. Duff suggests being as clear as possible: “this isn’t about you” or “this isn’t my type of event” and then maybe suggest an alternative type of activity that you’d prefer.

Question 2:

Hi, my name is Julie and I’m phoning from Toronto, Canada. I have a question about introverts being married to other introverts. My husband and I are both classic introverts in the sense that we process our feelings internally. We don’t really like to talk and hash them out and as much as this is an individual coping strategy it’s kind of spilled over in how we handle marital issues or conflicts with big points of decision as well. We don’t really like to harp on unpleasant details or talk them out with each other and as a result of that, things tend to fester a little bit longer than they probably need to and it’s just difficult for us to sit down and talk about our feelings in a frank, candid, open, and judgment free way. We tend to get more emotional and get upset when we have to talk about our feelings because we don’t like having feelings that we don’t like talking.. because we’re introverts. So I’m kind of wondering if this is something that you guys have come across in your field of work and if you have any advice on the best way to have open lines of communication about, you know, troubles are strifes or challenges in the marriage when neither of you really likes talking about feelings as a means of resolving issues. Thanks very much.

  • Chris describes that he’s often thought that talking about difficult things in a relationship is hard for everyone and wonders whether not wanting to talk about feelings is what it means to be an introvert.
  • Duff comments that not wanting to process feelings out loud, while it is probably more common among introverts, it not necessarily a feature of introversion. Introverts may feel more drained of energy when they open up and share their emotions with another person, which could make them more likely to be reluctant to have those conversations.
  • With two people in a relationship both being introverts and feeling drained by opening up about their feelings, they are probably only having conversations when they are the “big ones” that cannot be avoided– which are inherently challenging and draining. Having those conversations is rarely easy, so that can sometimes be aversive and lead them to want to avoid discussions in the future, even the “easier” ones.
  • Hosts suggest working to avoid only having the “big talks” because it can lead you to really dread conversations. Opening up about smaller topics can be a good way to practice opening up. It could also be helpful to interact or communicate more frequently in smaller ways, to reduce some of the pressure. This might help desensitize them to the emotional labor involved in communication. It’ll help them learn that they CAN do it.
  • Caller might want to share her question for the podcast with her husband to start the process of changing the dynamic in the relationship around communication.
  • The couple needs to work together and think of the marriage as a unit to solve this issue. It helps for them to be cognizant of their and the other person’s state in order to decide the best time to have more difficult conversations.
  • Could be helpful to look for “exceptions to the rule” and identify times in the past when they were able to discuss things and resolve them, and note what they did well in that situation, to learn from that and apply to future discussions.

Question 3:

Hi there. My name is Madison. I’m from Vancouver BC and just want to say first of all that I love your app. It’s been really helpful for me. If we using it for about six months. My question is related to extraversion and codependency and how the two interplay. I find that I’m struggling to balance my extroverted personality with my need to sort of have down time and focus on what I’m actually feeling. But I find that it’s usually extremes where I’m socializing a lot or I’m pushing myself to reach my goals quite hard or I’m isolating myself and falling into a bit of a depression, which course makes the anxiety worse. So I guess I’m just wondering if you have any tips for how to balance the need to be around people and the need to be alone without going to the extreme and especially that codependency piece for when things go wrong or people don’t like what I’m doing with my life– how to sort of balance that without letting my anxiety and paranoia get to the extreme where I sort of have a constant feeling of impending doom. So if you have any any tips at all for that or if you are able to discuss that in any respect in future podcast, that would be Super helpful. Thanks so much and keep up the good work guys. Bye.

  • Balance is a great goal to work towards. Sometimes people feel guilty for taking breaks to recharge their batteries or rest, but it’s important to realize that it is one of the most important things you can do. Investing time in yourself and maybe quiet time can really help you to actually be able to meet those goals you set. Realizing that if you are pushing yourself to meet your goals, you’ll also need to rest and recharge at times.
  • Pacing yourself and your activities can be helpful to not get overwhelmed or really push yourself too hard.
  • Try to pay attention to what you’re feeling when you’re doing activities and notice what you find to be draining versus energizing, and what effects those are having on your mood and emotions.
  •  With regard to coping with codependency or “people pleasing”, Chris has noticed that when he does what’s best for him, it ends up being best for everyone. He finds that taking time to rest or be alone can actually help him to be better around people when the time comes.
  • Christine wonders how the caller knows whether something has gone wrong or someone’s been offended–is there evidence or is it an assumption? Could you be mind reading? If you have actual evidence, do you value that person’s opinion? Or do they tend to be a naysayer a lot of the time? Once you have an idea of this, you can decide whether you want to maintain that relationship or not.
  • Duff suggests using your initial, gut-reaction as a hypothesis. You can then look for evidence that supports or refutes your assumptions about the other person’s reactions. You can use the Evidence tool in Pacifica to do this. Looking for evidence that reveals that perhaps you are making incorrect assumptions can help you reframe your thoughts and change your feelings about the situation.
  • You can also think about what it is about your assumption that is making you feel bad. What does it mean? Are you assumptions fair and accurate?
    • One way to determine whether it’s fair is to think about what you’d say to a friend in the situation. Oftentimes we are harder on ourselves than our friends or loved ones. By externalizing and thinking about how’d you respond to someone else in the same situation, you can acknowledge that you are perhaps being unfair to yourself and open up a space to be kinder.

Question #4:

How do introverts survive in the real world nowadays?

  • It may actually be easier than in the past, thanks to the Internet, social media, etc. People who are introverts may actually be more able to make their voices heard. Interacting with people online can be easier for people who are introverted.
  • Performers/entertainers have come out and shared that they are fine with large audience or performances but are not comfortable in smaller social groups. They often use social media to interact with fans because it is more comfortable.
  • Dr. Christine noted that she is more comfortable in larger and smaller settings but is less willing to be in mid-sized social situations, where roles may be less defined or clear.
  • The Internet is changing things. It’s opened up a lot of new ways for people communicate and connect with others.
  • Duff did his dissertation research on Internet-based therapy and found that people who are introverted and socially anxious tend to prefer teletherapy due to the reduced social pressure. This can be a good solution for people who feel uncomfortable with traditional face-to-face therapy.
  • Introverts today can thrive! Seek balance, work on communication, and do self-care. Journaling can be helpful. Communicate with those close to you.


Special thanks to our guest Dr. Robert Duff for his time and insights on this week’s episode!