“Why don’t you put your books away, go outside, and play with your friends?” my mom would prod during summer vacation. Why don’t I? I wondered. Was there something wrong with me? Why did I enjoy sitting alone reading more than hanging out with friends?
The answer came years later, and it’s pretty simple. I’m an innie, not an outie.
“Know thyself and you will know the universe and God,” said the Greek philosopher Pythagoras. Self-knowledge is key to Truth and Inner Wisdom. As we seek a deeper understanding and relationship with God, we also learn more about who we are and how we’re wired.
Just like some people have belly buttons that protrude outward and others have ones that project inward, people are made with two types of personalities. God creates some individuals as extroverts—they’re outies. He creates others as introverts—they’re innies.
One way of knowing ourselves better is to determine if we’re an innie or an outie.
What’s an Innie?
In her book, Insight—Reflections on the Gifts of Being an Introvert, Beth Beulow explains
an introvert gains energy by being alone. Their energy drains when around too many people. Their insight about life comes from within. They recharge by taking time for solitude.
Innies need time alone. At a loud party, they may need to step into the bathroom for a few minutes to reconnect with themselves and to quiet the chatter of the world.
Their challenge is to avoid isolating themselves from others—and to stop thinking there’s something wrong with them because they’re different from the extrovert majority.
According to Beulow, “Introverts are internal processors. Their primary source of information and point of reference comes from within themselves. This doesn’t mean they are self-absorbed or oblivious to others; they simply rely first and foremost on their inner thoughts to guide them. When an introvert receives information, she takes it in and flips it this way and that in her mind until it’s right-side-up enough to be shared with the world.”
What’s an Outie?
Extroverts gain energy from other people. They’re outgoing. They’re revitalized by being with others because they process life by discussion. Their energy comes from outside themselves. Outies are enriched by dining with friends, dancing at parties, and discovering new people.
Beulow writes, “Extroverts rely more heavily on external stimulus to inform their views and choices. They tend to be verbal processors; rather than spending lots of time in quiet contemplation, they want to talk it out. When confronted with a challenge or decision, the extrovert will pull in people for brainstorming or discussion.”
Outies’ invitation is to balance the outward excitement they thrive on by meditating, spending time in nature, or taking long walks. This reconnects them with the deeper spiritual perspective we all need to gain wisdom.
How Do I Know If I’m an Innie or an Outie?
God planted both types of people in the garden of humanity. Neither of these personality traits is better than the other. God balances Creation through the ying and yang of innies and outies.
Years ago, a Myers-Briggs test suggested I had traits of both an introvert and an extrovert. Confused by the results, I asked the professor how to determine my personality type.
She solved my dilemma with a question. “When you’re exhausted, when life has drained your energy, what recharges you?” she asked. “Sitting alone in the quiet or calling friends to go out for dinner?”
My answer was clear. I recharge in solitude. My mantra—which I hope my wife will engrave on my headstone—is “Quiet Time solves everything.”
By asking ourselves how we recharge, we can discover whether we’re an introvert or an extrovert. As we do so, we can better understand ourselves so we can continue to grow into our truest self.
Below are two charts that help depict the unique needs of innies and outies.
This week, ask yourself how you recharge. Determine which personality type best describes you. Then honor and nurture your uniqueness.
Also, consider the personality styles of your loved ones. Are they hard-wired differently from you? If so, enjoy and respect the ying and yang of these two delicious ways the Creator has balanced the Universe.
Celebrate the gifts of innies and outies.
—brian j plachta