Introversion=sin? Spirituality for the socially challenged

forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=184480
In this thread, someone asked if it was a sin to be introverted.

Did that strike a chord with anybody else here? „You‘re just not trying – forget yourself for once and reach out“ – „you‘re a coward, scared to leave your comfort zone“ – „you‘re selfish, you don‘t really care enough about others“ – to some extent all of us introverts have heard and internalized accusations like these.

Innate sensory hypersensitivity is widely believed to be a leading cause of introversion. According to Elaine Aron, who built on work by Jerome Bruner, up to 20% of the population may be affected in this way (Bruner found the same to be the case with other mammals too, e.g. 1 in 7 cats). Autism is an extreme form of this: In autism (including milder and high-functioning forms such as Asperger Syndrome), problems with sensory sensitivity and sensory integration are invariably an issue. Recent research suggests that this is caused by too rapid, and as a result uneven, development of the brain before birth and during the first 12 months after birth. Something about too many „minicolumns“ which are responsible for taking in sensory information, and too few „Purkinje cells“ which transmit and process this information, and therefore permanent traffic jams and overload. Social contact is a major source of sensory stress and overload and there is a neurobiological limit to how much some people can meaningfully process.

Any thoughts about the moral and spiritual implications of being socially challenged?

Interesting thread. Of course, introversion is not a sin.

But, I’d say that sometimes being reserved can be caused by a fear of making a fool out of yourself. In this case, it would be a problem with pride and vanity.

If pride and vanity prevent you from reaching out to others, then it would be a real area to work on.

But, generally thinking, social anxiety is not so much a spiritually problem as it is a psychological one.

For some people, I think it is a cross that God gives to teach compassion, humility, and meekness. It can also be an obstacle that we can overcome with God’s help to work for the kingdom.

I’ve noticed that shy people are generally very empathetic for other people’s difficulties. Shy people seem to be very sensitive and considerate of other’s personal failings. In this way, this temperament is a great blessing.

Our culture values those who are extroverted, leaders, the take charge type. But, often those types have difficulty in accepting and loving those who aren’t as outspoken and decisive.

all the temperaments have their weak and strong points. The key is to overcome your temperament’s weak points while availing yourself of your strengths.

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As long as your introversion doesn’t cause you to stop praying for your fellow men how could it be sinful? You don’t have to lead anything, teach CCD, or even evangalize with words to be spiritual. Prayer is the mightest weapon we have and it can be wielded from the safety of your living room. I wonder how many contemplatives were partly driven by a introverted personality? They certainly did wonderful work for the world!

If introversion is the result of a person being so hung up on themself, that they lack charity toward others, it can be sinful.

Jim

Somehow I don‘t think that‘s the problem. I tend to believe, until proven otherwise, that people mean well – that people don‘t choose introversion as an excuse for being self-absorbed, any more than someone would choose extroversion in order to be loud and abrasive.
If you‘ve ever known a true narcissist, they‘re not the kind of people you would describe as shy. They are typically quite adept at charming and asserting their way through life – any selfish person would choose that over being a wallflower. Even so, it‘s far from certain that narcissists are (or remain) that way by choice.

“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”

Abraham Lincoln

(This is one of my many reasons for keeping my mouth shut more often than not in social situations – I try to keep humble. This, and I am basically, more or less shy. I often just say the wrong things for one reason or another and often regret things I have said almost the instant they leave my mouth for one reason or another.)

This is a bit of a hotbutton for me, as I am a very definite introvert (I mean, on the MBTI, I’m an INTP (recently seem to have shifted from INFP), but the I has always been 100%.

Introversion is not the same thing as being shy, socially-challenged, self-absorbed, and the like. An introvert is simply someone who requires a great deal of reflection, ‘alone time’ and a certain degree of silence. (Sr Sally, I do think you’re on the mark w/ respect to contemplatives–that an introvert is likely to be drawn to that life as it fits the introvert nature very well.)

An introvert is perfectly capable of enjoying large gatherings (though they tend to be exhausting and ‘down time’ is definitely needed to recuperate), and I even was on the speech team in my high school (extemporaneous speaking)–not something that would appeal to the shy and retiring type. Introverts can certainly do the obvious public stuff, though we’re more comfortable, generally speaking, with things like quietly supplying the baked goods for the post-Mass coffee hour or other gatherings (but not so much the pouring coffee/juice/greeting), filling the Adoration roster, tending to altar cloths and keeping vestments clean and ready for use, and so on–many things which are fully within the nature of the introvert’s nature and serving others. We do not need to imitate the extraverts.

Introversion is not a defect in nature, it is not sinful, selfish, or rude. Extraverts have many gifts that are useful, to be sure; however, introverts have just as many gifts–but we’ll be more likely to use them when we’re not being browbeaten about a need to imitate the extraverts (who tend toward more action than reflection).

I can see this from a few angles…

If introversion means I’m naturally inward-focused, do I focus inwardly to contemplate important matters, or to think about myself?

If I don’t reach out because I’m afraid of saying the wrong thing, is it out of concern for the people I might offend or out of fear of making myself look bad?

Could saying the wrong thing and making myself look bad affect how others view Christians in general? So many times I’ve said something which came across the wrong way, then while trying to explain what I really meant, I come across as argumentative and defensive or dishonest. I feel that I have to take this into consideration when I’m deciding how to respond when a moral issue or religious question comes up.

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Hi Melissa,
I should clarify, my previous comments were about introversion that goes beyond normal introversion into the realm of shyness and even a phobia or disorder. I didn’t mean to include regular normal introverts.

I agree and thats why I used the qualifier, “If”.:slight_smile:

Jim

No, I don’t think introversion is a sin at all. I’m an extrovert, and I like to tease introverts into talking more. What would I do without introverts?

No problem–the point I’m making is that shyness/social anxiety is something entirely different than introversion. While it’s possible for some introverts to be shy/suffer from social anxieties, that is an issue entirely separate from their introversion. It is also possible for an extravert to be rather shy/suffer from social anxieties. Yes, I know that totally flies in the face of ‘conventional wisdom’ but consider the people who have trouble ‘getting started’ at an event, but once they’re ‘over the step’ of having started, they are charging up by the activity with which they are involved–that is an extravert w/ social anxiety.

Shyness/social anxiety is certainly, to the degree that it disrupts from an ability to enjoy a normal life, a disorder that needs fixing; introversion is not. However, shyness and social anxiety can afflict extraverts as well as introverts. So, it is valid to try to distinguish between the disorder (shy/socially anxious) and the nature (introvert); equating the disorder with the nature is not.

[quote=catechumen08]No, I don’t think introversion is a sin at all. I’m an extrovert, and I like to tease introverts into talking more. What would I do without introverts?
[/quote]

I hope you’re joking here. If not, let me just say ‘please, don’t’. Introverts do not need teasing to ‘talk more’. We do just fine without all the external noise, and do not have a problem talking when there’s something worthwhile to be said.

yeah such a cruel and mindless question strikes a cord with me, just like all the other cruel mindless questions like “is obesity a sin?” or “is [insert any personality or physical quirk] a sin?”

But, but, but, I enjoy it so much! Okay, I was joking. I respect people’s decisions whether or not to engage in conversation.

Sometimes it can be hard to tell whether a person is an introvert or extrovert, though.

Yes, introversion is a sin.

And extroversion is the Devil himself.

Nah introversion is just a personality trait like being an extrovert or out-going. Some people (like one of my brothers) is lonely and bored when not constantly in the company of others. He always has to be social to be content.I, on the other hand, rather enjoy my own company. I’m geared toward valuing my own privacy. I don’t hate social encounters but they aren’t the focus of my life either. If I do social things, those activities have to be stongly counter-balanced with private time. I don’t usually get lonely or depressed as long as my life isn’t a catastrophe so I consider myself to be rather self-sufficient social-wise. I’ve been called eccentric by my father because he says quote: “You don’t seem to need people”. He’s right to a certain degree. :wink:

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