Intuitive and Introverted Withdrawal Pattern

Are you intuitive and introverted?  According to Jungian-based personality types, only four percent of the population is both intuitive and introverted.  Intuitive introverts tend to be highly creative, both in the sciences and the arts.  They are the most creative of all the personality types and are capable of adding great works to the collective wisdom of humanity.  Most of my clients (and I as well) are intuitive and introverted.  An intuitive introvert feels life intensely and keenly.  When our intuition is highly developed we can sometimes literally feel the emotions and the physical symptoms of people around us.  We can become easily overwhelmed by stimuli that most of the population thinks of as normal or even mild.  At the same time, if we’ve achieved emotional literacy, we are able to go deeply with others into unknown and even dark emotional territory, becoming healers with our presence.

So, while it’s a great blessing and gift to be an intuitive introvert, it also has its challenges.  We must honor our needs for solitude and quiet time, and we must accept our need for more self-care than other people.  At the same time, we have a great capacity to become conscious of our unconscious patterns and shift out of them.  One of the typical patterns that we share is withdrawal from the world and from people who upset us.  This pattern can cause us extreme suffering, including isolation, depression, and feelings of worthlessness and being misunderstood.  I’m not saying that we should tolerate behavior which is upsetting to us.  However, withdrawal is not usually a helpful solution.

The tendency to withdraw feels almost instinctual in us, and therefore a challenge to even notice.  But, when we can notice this pattern, the next step is to choose not to withdraw or to act on those withdrawal feelings.  Instead, Speak up!!   Usually our tendency to withdraw occurs without telling the other person what is going on with us.   We may have a hard time formulating what to say because of overwhelm at our own reaction to whatever happened, and we think we need time to sort through all our emotions and thoughts.  But, even simply telling the other person that we are overwhelmed can prevent a full withdrawal and allow the other to help us communicate.

If we speak up before we can withdraw,  we empower ourselves by standing up for our own needs and emotions.  On top of that, we give the other a chance to respond in a way that may honor us and surprise us.  (As intuitives we think we already know how they are going to respond, so why bother to speak up?)  We give the other a chance to know us even better than they did before.  If our needs aren’t met, of course we are free to respond however we need to, and that can include leaving the relationship behind.  But, we now operate from conscious choice instead of from an unconscious pattern.

In my own life I was struck by the number of relationships that I have had to leave behind since I began my spiritual path.  Most of these relationships had ended because I was changing and growing so quickly the relationship no longer had a common ground, but some ended because of my own tendency to not speak up on time.  After I’ve failed to speak up on time, it’s usually too late to salvage the relationship—even if my mind thinks I should continue the relationship, my feelings won’t allow it—any relationship with the other now feels like a huge invasion.  I’m sure the other person never understood what they did to cause me to leave the relationship, but how could they know?  If this sounds like a familiar pattern, you are probably an expert at withdrawal. 

As a very happy intuitive introvert in her relationships, I encourage you to be honest about everything you are feeling with your most loved ones.  When the tendency to withdraw arises, tell your loved one how disappointed, angry, sad, whatever-you-are-feeling in that moment instead.  Let them know who you are.  (Please make sure to speak in inarguables, that is, about your feelings and your experience.)  You’ll probably discover more about yourself and your relationship than you expected.   I know first hand how vulnerable and dangerous this can feel—it’s certainly easier to withdraw.  But, the rewards of staying put and speaking out are worth it.   With practice you’ll leave the withdrawal pattern behind for good and dive into the deepest and risky-loveliest intimacy with your loved ones.

Would you like to know more?  See Personality Types, Using the Enneagram for Self-Discovery by Don Richard Riso.  Look at type 4 and type 5.

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