Nope, it is not a figment of your imagination! Your friend, son, daughter, parent, colleague and you on occasions, display different behaviours and preferences, and do you know what, it's ok and phenomenally brilliant.
A major difference between the reactions within the brains of introverts and extroverts is the way the individual responds to the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical released in the brain. It provides the motivation to seek external rewards like earning money, improving social status, attracting a sexual partner, or being chosen for a high-profile project at work. When dopamine floods the brain, both introverts and extroverts become more talkative, alert to their surroundings, and motivated to take risks and explore their environment.
It’s not that extroverts have more dopamine present in their brains than introverts do. In fact, they have the same amount of dopamine available. The difference is in the response to the dopamine reward network.
As an extrovert, the noise and the crowd at a busy concert is all part of the fun. In fact, this intensity of stimulation acts as a cue that they are achieving a goal, experiencing pleasure (the reward of socialising and a great night out). For an introvert in the same crowd on the same night out, the chaos and rawkus behaviour can become annoying and tiring, even unbearable, as they become overstimulated.
Introverts prefer to use a different neurotransmitter called acetylcholine. Like dopamine, acetylcholine can provide pleasure; the difference is, acetylcholine makes us feel great when we turn inward. It influences our abilities to think deeply, reflect, and focus intensely on just one thing for a long period of time. It also helps explain why introverts like calm environments, it’s easier to turn inward when we’re not attending to external stimulation. When an introvert is lounging at home in quiet solitude, lost in a book or watching Netflix, they are basking in the pleasant effects of acetylcholine.
So what are Ambiverts and Omniverts?
Am I an Ambivert or Omnivert? An Ambivert is someone whose overall behaviour is between introversion or extroversion. An Omnivert is someone who can be the extremes of either at different times.
What this means...
It means that you were probably born with a particular tendancy. We all grow and change over time, we will have a preference for solitude and calm or social and loud. It doesn’t mean people will never enjoy a party or seek new and exciting experiences if they are naturally introvert. It doesn't mean that extroverts will never enjoy the peace that comes with solitude. We still get to choose, sometimes it might be a reference to the situation. And, interestingly, there’s some evidence that our personalities change over time, including the fact that we become more introverted as we get older.
Be mindful that introversion and extroversion do not define us. No one is completely one way or another, some show extremes of both and others are a constant blend of the two. So show compassion towards the person who displays the behaviour that doesn't quite match yours, it's not them, it’s their brain!
One last point!
We look for people who turn very insular and quiet when we look towards depression, etc. Be aware that if this is a change to their usual behaviour and/or personality trait, it is definitely worth asking, "How are you?" If it is their natural introversion, let them be.
To find out more, book a Mental Health First Aid course with SO Coach.