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Introverts vs. Extroverts vs. Empaths

Photo courtesy of Wix Media.

One of the reasons that introverts and Empaths are often tired is that they may not be honoring their need for alone time to rest and recharge. There are many reasons why anyone would want to rest.

Empaths and introverts need time away from others because of energy stimulation. Introverts (generally) take in more information from their environment. Loud noises, bright colors and strong smells are all sensory energy information that can overload an introvert more quickly than an extrovert. And, for empaths, the issue can be compounded because we can go a step further and actually absorb some of the energy.

If you are an Empath, you definitely need alone time! You may also need quiet time, dark time and any other time that caters to your unique body system.

My family members are not clairaudient like me and don't need as much quiet. I need real quiet (like everyone left the planet quiet!). They leave the TV on and leave the room or let their devices play just for background noise, which is fine.

However, background noise is a whole conversation to me. I like silence.

Thankfully, everyone goes their own way during the day and I am left in a quiet house - a few days a week. If not, I’ll go into our bedroom or my office and just shut the door. That works. Find a way to honor your needs.

Thankfully, I grew up with family members who were sensitive to sound and would go off into their own quiet spot. I learned that that was OK. If you grew up in a household where being by yourself was taboo, here’s your permission to get up and go to another room and close the door.

If you are afraid someone will think you're angry for leaving the room, don't worry. It's how you leave the room. If you leave in a huff, (perhaps you waited too long to leave and now you're overstimulated and frustrated) people will think you are angry. But if you calmly get up and shut the door gently, there shouldn't be any concern. If you use this as a tactic in arguments or to make a point when you're mad, then that's another story. You might have some explaining to do. *Shrugs*

Back to introverts, extroverts and Empaths. Extroverts feed off of group interaction. Their entire style is focused on doing things together and a teamwork approach. There is nothing wrong with this, but it doesn’t consider the needs of an introvert or Empath. These same activities can be effective, fun and rewarding for introverts and Empaths too, but for shorter periods of time.

If you know me personally, I happen to be an extrovert. However, I am also an Empath. So, I have to consider that the two don’t always jive together. In order for me to carry out my mission on this planet, our Creator knew I couldn’t be introverted! However, to learn about Empaths and help us heal, I had to be an Empath, too.

I mentioned my own case to point out that being an Empath doesn’t mean that you are automatically an introvert. There are some common themes that do overlap.

American culture tends to use words like shy and introverted and the words extroverted and outgoing, synonymously. They aren’t exactly the same thing. I thought I was an introvert for years because I like alone time to recharge.

I’m an Empath, but I’m certainly not shy! I definitely know some people reading this met me in some type of store or while I was out. I am very outgoing, but I am also an Empath.

The main difference between introverts and extroverts is that introverts need more time alone to recharge, whereas extroverts feel invigorated by being with others. Both can be outgoing and enjoy others' company.

Now, you may be nodding your head- yes, I need time alone to recharge. That’s because Empaths take in larger amounts of stimuli from their environment than people who are less sensitive. Lights, sounds, and talking are all a strain on the Empath’s nervous system and the body and mind just need breaks. We’re more sensitive. Now, I told you that I am an extrovert. So how do I manage this?

When I go to a get together, I have a great time talking to everyone and leave early with the introverts! No matter how outgoing I may be, I need time to rest alone afterwards because I am still an Empath. My nervous system still gets overstimulated if I do too much listening or there are too many people or it’s too loud. And, I am clairaudient, so my ears get tired!

For example, if you are an extrovert, you love working the room, like me, connecting with everyone and telling jokes and catching up. If you are an introvert, you may find one or two people you resonate with and enjoy talking with them the entire time. No way is better or right, of course. Just different.

As an Empath, it’s really important to understand your personality style. You can be an HSP without being an Empath. You can be an Empath and be either an introvert (much more common) or an extrovert at the same time.

If you’re an extrovert and an Empath, it’s important to remember not to overdo it. You may be enjoying yourself so much that you forget to take care of your needs as an Empath. I did this constantly before I understood being an Empath. I didn’t know how to excuse myself before I was overstimulated because I was having so much fun! And, I didn’t always know that I was exhausted the next day due to overstimulation.

You have to learn what you need. If you’re not getting enough time alone, it’s important to see how to work it in. If you’re not sure, consider these signs of overstimulation:

Do you have a short fuse? I was accused of this a lot! I was on edge because my nerves were rattled from all the talking, environmental noise, togetherness and other social stuff that non-Empath extroverts can handle more of!

Do people’s simple requests seem overwhelming? I felt like this! People were sucking up my energy (because I allowed them) just by being there. Of course, they didn’t understand that listening to them and being in their presence was energetically draining, and I didn’t know how to stop the energy drain. And then, they wanted me to actually DO something as well? Heaven forbid!

Do you feel overwhelmed anytime you have to interact with others (or are just thinking about it)? I would have a fit if one of our friends wanted to have a get together after a long week of overstimulation at work. I was depending on a quiet, peaceful weekend to get myself together for the next week of overstimulation!

If you feel this way, you may be burnt out. Meditation and grounding can help with this, but they don't fix the problem.

I know, I recommend grounding and meditation for everything. When it comes to managing your energy, they are solutions anyone can use with very little to no training, effort, or time. It might take a while to feel some relief, especially if you’ve been overwhelmed for some time.

Don’t feel bad about leaving a gathering early, spending a weekend at home (or leaving the house for quiet) or declining invitations. Peer pressure and cultural standards can be very difficult to overcome if you don’t know what boundaries you want for yourself. Many empaths don’t know what boundaries they need until it’s too late and they’re burnt out and apathetic.

If you needed some examples of ways of preventing overwhelm, here are a few:

Take two cars (or make other transportation arrangements) if you are going with someone who doesn’t need to leave as early as you

Avoid situations (most of the time) where your sleep schedule will be disrupted (or stick to one in the first place) - many Empaths are sensitive to lack of sleep, much more than non-Empaths.

Text rather than call, call rather than video call - the less sensory stimulation, the better, if those are your triggers.

These are more defensive strategies to honor your needs:

Decline invitations from people who mistreat you when you set boundaries

Decline invitations from energy vampires (incessant talking is a major clue to an energy stealer!)

And, for mothers, avoid situations where you won’t get enough quiet, sleep and alone time, as much as possible - like motherhood. Just kidding. But, seriously, all mothers need rest and alone time. Empathic mothers need even more rest than mothers who aren’t as sensitive. I could feel a palpable difference in the energy drain when my daughter was asleep as an infant!

Someone (an Empath) once told their child that it’s not tiring (whatever task they’re doing) if they are doing it for a loved one. I know they meant well, AND this can be a very damaging thing to say to someone.

While you love your family and would do anything for them, this negates that person’s right to rest because what they're doing is for family and it further guilts them into thinking that doing things for loved ones can’t be tiring. Lies! I almost lost it when I heard that!

Please be honest with yourself and your feelings. You may want to do something, but find that it is painful and hurtful emotionally or physically to do it. Now, the effort may just be too much for your particular system or you may need to set better boundaries in general.

This term is thrown around a lot, setting boundaries, but not many people are discussing what it really means. In short, this is creating situations where your needs are met, while respecting others as much as you can.

Remember, certain members of society (ahem, mothers) are expected to put everyone else’s needs first and are considered wrong or selfish when they don’t.

If you happen to be in a situation where you are expected to be selfless, please consider that you can still give a lot and honor your needs as well. It may not go over well at first, but considering your own wellbeing only makes you a better partner, parent and co-worker.

Some people may feel you are disrespecting them because they haven’t gotten what they wanted or aren’t willing to compromise, but the purpose of setting boundaries is for you, not them. People who truly care for you will come around.

There are many ways to set boundaries, but we are focusing on Empaths. It’s really just about what triggers you and what you need. Think about what wears you out and see how you can mitigate the effect. Try planning a break from it or having someone help you. We’ll talk more about boundaries later on.

Summary: the key to avoiding burnout as an Empath is mitigating or avoiding your triggers and taking good care of your body and mind. Maintaining your general health and wellbeing as a sensitive help when occasional situations arise that are out of your control. Meditation and grounding are good ways to help maintain your sanity!

If you’ve tried meditation or grounding and you are still suffering, then email me. There are always more solutions!


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