Thursday, January 12, 2012

Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life Is Your Hidden Strength By Laurie Helgoe Ph.D.

Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life Is Your Hidden Strength

Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life Is Your Hidden Strength By Laurie Helgoe Ph.D.

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Product Description

"If you have introvert inclinations and are doubting yourself, this is a must read. Or if you know someone who exhibits introvert symptoms, read this book before calling the shrink."
- Bhante Yogavacara Rahula, author of One Night's Shelter: An Autobiography of an American Buddhist Monk

Are you an introvert? Psychologist and introvert Laurie Helgoe reveals that more than half of all Americans are. Introverts gain energy and power through reflection and solitude. Our culture, however, is geared toward the extrovert. The pressure to enjoy parties, chatter, and interactions can lead people to think that an inward orientation is a problem instead of an opportunity.

Helgoe shows that the exact opposite is true: Introverts can capitalize on this inner source of power. INTROVERT POWER is a groundbreaking call for an introvert renaissance, a blueprint for how introverts can take full advantage of this hidden strength in daily life. Supplemented by the voices of several introverts, Helgoe presents a startling look at introvert numbers, influence, and economic might.

Revolutionary and invaluable, INTROVERT POWER includes ideas for how introverts can learn to:

  • Claim private space
  • Carve out time to think
  • Bring a slower tempo into daily life
  • Create breaks in conversation and relationships
  • Deal effectively with parties, interruptions, and crowds


Product Details
  • Amazon Sales Rank: #18177 in Books
  • Published on: 2008-07-01
  • Original language: English
  • Number of items: 1
  • Dimensions: .70" h x 5.90" w x 8.90" l, .85 pounds
  • Binding: Paperback
  • 288 pages
Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. "Most Americans, whether introverted or extroverted, have learned to look like extroverts," writes psychologist (and introvert) Helgoe in this well-written and well-reasoned analysis that challenges the perception of introverts as a silent, problematic minority. The author reveals that 57% of the U.S. population identify as introverts and are so commonly misunderstood because many of them have become adept at mimicking extroversion (becoming a "Socially Accessible Introvert") to get by. Helgoe encourages introverts to see themselves as perfectly functional and to fulfill their need for solitude with regular retreats and creating a private space in their homes. Helgoe's book is wide-ranging and cross-cultural, invoking how other societies (particularly in Japan and Scandinavia) are more compatible with and accepting of introversion. Helpful sections details why introverts need extroverts in their lives and how extroverts depend on introverts for their artistic contributions and inner "richness." The author's voice is vivid and engaging, and she skillfully draws real-life examples of awkward scenarios introverts find themselves in when forced to play a role in society or the workplace. Readers will find much insight, as well as a comforting sense of being understood and validated.

About the Author
Laurie Helgoe, PhD, is a writer, psychologist, part-time actor, and model-and introvert. This is her fifth book.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Excerpt from Chapter One: The Mistaken Identity

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

"He's thin and white...if he's tall he's got bad posture."
"Not particularly attractive, ungainly, with skin problems-would be first underweight and then (later in life) overweight."
"Conservative style, neutral colors."
These are some descriptions of what an introvert looks like.

What is alarming is that these descriptions all come from introverts! When the same people describe themselves, the picture changes:
"My physical appearance is...exotic. Light green-blue slanted eyes and high cheekbones."
"Natural blonde."
"I'm overweight, tanned skin, big, round, and dark brown eyes."
"Somewhat tall, reasonably attractive considering age."
"Brown curly hair-I look like I'm from another country."

What stood out to me as I polled these people was the sterile and colorless quality of the archetypal introvert, contrasted by the colorized descriptions of the self-identified introverts. The stereotyped introvert is often seen as introvert by default when, in fact, introversion is defined as a preference. Introverts generally prefer a rich inner life to an expansive social life; we would rather talk intimately with a close friend than share stories with a group; and we prefer to develop our ideas internally rather than interactively.

So how have we jumped from these preferences to images of a cowering, reclusive weirdo? Iris Chang commented, "Whatever is not commonly seen is condemned as alien." We have lost our eyes for introversion. As we discussed in the introduction, introverts make up more than half of the population, yet we assume that introverts are an occasional deviation-the geeks in the shadows. Introversion, by definition, is not readily seen. Introverts keep their best stuff inside-that is, until it is ready. And this drives extroverts crazy! The explanation for the introvert's behavior-and there must be an explanation for this behavior, say the extroverts-is that he or she is antisocial, out of touch, or simply a snob.

Because introverts are trickier to read, it is easy to project our fears and negative biases onto this preference. And it's not just extroverts who do this. As my informal poll revealed, we often make similar assumptions about other introverts, and-most troubling of all-about ourselves! One of the introverts I polled is a striking beauty. She described her physical appearance as "OK." Another very attractive introvert described herself as "the status quo." These downplayed descriptions may reflect a tendency to focus less on externals, but we also tend to downplay our very personalities-the style we prefer. For example, do you ever jokingly or apologetically admit to being antisocial, or view yourself as boring in relation to your chatty associates? Do you beat yourself up for not joining in? Do you worry that something is wrong with you; that you're missing out; that who you are naturally is a problem needing correction?

Your nature is not the problem. The problem is that you have become alienated from your nature-from your power source. As Isabel Briggs Myers discussed in her book, Gifts Differing, "The best-adjusted people are the 'psychologically patriotic,' who are glad to be what they are."

For introverts this means, "Their loyalty goes to their own inner principle and derives from it a secure and unshakable orientation to life." But we have been shaken. To reclaim the power of introversion, we must first deconstruct the assumptions we make about who we are.

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews

101 of 101 people found the following review helpful.
5Introverts are not alone
By annesailorgirl
Oh my, where has this book been all of my life?!! As a marked introvert who has to pretend to be an extrovert in my health-care career at a busy county hospital, this book was like water poured over my soul. It is okay to need alone times to recharge. Introverts are up to 57% of the American population, according to some sources, and if you an introvert, there is nothing wrong with you. I burst out laughing at the quote on p. 16, "If you've been spending a lot of time with people, she might suggest that you are avoiding time alone and suggest that you might be depressed." I could relate so well! In our society, everyone thinks there is something wrong with you, if you like quiet time, not if you're avoiding quiet time. I adore books, and if I get a day off work, I'm happiest at our nearby bookstore curled up with a stack of good books to peruse and a cup of hot chocolate from their cafe -- this is also a recommended introvert pursuit, according to the book, but one that few people understand (I assume that many readers of Amazon reviews also enjoy books, however, so I'm assuming readers of this blog will understand a love of books). I'm also half Swedish/Norwegian, and the author describes Sweden as being one of the openly introverted cultures in the world, along with Japan, where introversion is also prized and understood. I enjoyed how the author is familiar with the Myers-Briggs test; as an INFP myself, I also recommend the book "Please Understand Me II." It is not likely that I can restructure my people-centered career at the hospital, but I've learned to escape on lunch break to my car and sit quietly for a while with a book or my thoughts. It is worth it even in winter when it is so cold, just to not have people constantly demanding my attention, and just let my spirit breathe. I go back in to work and I'm revitalized and smiling and have so much more to give. (See Ch. 13, "Why Did I Want to Work with People?") After reading this book, I actually understand why I repeatedly fantasize about escaping up north to a little cabin filled with books for a whole winter, or a remote island with no one else around, this is not strange for an introvert. People drain introverts, even if we enjoy them -- in small doses, with space in between, to quote the book.

The book also discusses how introverts can claim private space, carve out time to think, bring a slower tempo to daily life, create breaks in conversation and relationships, and deal effectively with parties and crowds. Most of all, it gives you permission to enjoy quiet time and if you are introverted, to learn how to thrive instead of just co-exist with all of the noise of modern life.

Part I: Antisocial, Weird, or Displaced?
Ch. 1 The Mistaken Identity
Ch. 2 Alone is Not a Four-letter Word
Ch. 3 Becoming an Alien
Ch. 4 "Anyone Else IN?"
Ch. 5 Meditating with the Majority: The Introverted Society
Part II: The Introvert's Wish List
Ch. 6 A Room of your own
Ch. 7 The Time to Think
Ch. 8 The Right to Retreat
Ch. 9 The Freedom of a Flaneur
Ch. 10 Inroads to Intimacy
Part III: Standing Still in a Loud World
Ch. 11: The Conversation Conundrum
Ch. 12 The Anti-Party Guide
Ch. 13 Why Did I Want to Work with People?
Ch. 14 The Downside to Self-Containment
Ch. 15 Showing Up for Relationships
Part IV: Outing the Introvert
Ch. 16 From Apology to Acceptance -- and Beyond
Ch. 17 Celebrating Introversion
Ch. 18 Expressing What's In There
Ch. 19 Moshing on Your Own Terms
Ch. 20 Introvert Power

I highly recommend this book for all introverts, and people who know introverts.

49 of 52 people found the following review helpful.
5Fascinating book
By John Thornbrook
Wow! What a fascinating book. The title caught my attention, and once I got into it, I was pleased with all of the insights the author provides. I always figured I was an introvert, but I didn't realize what that meant until I read this book. Now I understand that introverts simply gain strength from within and that many social interactions cause them to expend energy, while extroverts gain strength from interactions and have to expend more energy through internal reflection. That explains a lot of mysteries about people I have known, including me. The author does a great job of disproving the falsehood that introverts are in the minority and that extroversion is the preferred state of being. Neither is better than the other, but knowing the difference can help all of us understand ourselves and others better. I also like the way the author combines academic research, real-life examples and her own experiences to make a very compelling case for the power of introverts. I plan to keep this book in a handy spot so I can refer to it whenever I need a refresher on its concepts. This book is a good investment.

45 of 48 people found the following review helpful.
5Provoking, in every sense possible-
By Laura Homar
I feel that had I known, or my parents and the adults around me, all this information, these helpful insights, I would have saved myself a lot of trouble. Trouble, in every sense of the word. It's bittersweet. I feel justified, vindicated, explained, comprehended, normal. But at the same time, it's almost haunting.
"If they had know this or that...things wouldnt have happened that way." This book has thusfar explained every struggle I've ever had, and the truth is I'm not exaggerating.

Aside from being wonderfully written, in an accessible and personal tone, the book leaves nothing unanswered, and no room for doubiousness. It's a great investment for people who are introverted, or people who know introverts, or extroverts who can understand introverts....the list goes on.


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