It’s no secret that Introverts like their privacy but, for many introverted folks, opening up doesn’t come naturally – not even to those we trust and love. As a chatty INFJ who’s often mistaken for an Extravert, I, too, have wondered why it is so hard for me to share how I feel with those closest to me.
Truth is, being vulnerable is rarely easy as you’re risking being judged, misunderstood, or even rejected. But as an Introvert, it can be particularly tricky to draw the line between vulnerability and oversharing. Let’s take a look at the differences between these two concepts and explore how Introverts can mix them, as well as some tips for opening up emotionally.
Vulnerability Versus Oversharing: What’s the Difference?
Being vulnerable ultimately means being able to deal with complex emotions by setting healthy boundaries, and knowing when and how you want to break them.
It can be as simple as choosing to open up to a friend or loved one about something that upsets you or makes you feel uneasy. Generally, shared vulnerability makes you feel more connected and in tune with another person.
Oversharing, on the other hand, is never an equal experience of connection, and it can be frustrating for both parties involved. The person doing the oversharing is venting about their emotions, which can expose them. Whereas the recipient is probably clueless about why they’re sharing this information, and doesn’t know how to help.
How Introverts Can Mix the Two
So, if shared vulnerability can strengthen our relationships and actually make for meaningful conversations, why do we hide behind our walls so much? Here are some of the possible explanations for this behavior.
1. You don’t trust easily
There are many reasons why someone could develop trust issues. Intuitive Thinkers usually take their time trusting someone. This is only normal, considering these types don’t base their first impressions on emotions. Instead, they’ll look for evidence that they found someone in whom they can confide.
Feelers are typically more open to the idea that they can trust those around them, as they prioritize peace and harmony in their relationships. Still, when you break the trust of these types, they can shut themselves off, not allowing anyone to know what’s going on in their heads.
2. You think your emotions aren’t valid
Altruistic Introverts (such as ISFJs or INFPs) are usually in tune with other people’s emotions, and can often tell when others are suffering or hiding behind a smile. The good part of this altruistic inclination is that these types make great listeners, and genuinely love helping others.
The not-so-good consequence of having this personality trait is that it can trick us into believing other people’s emotions are more important than our own. As an INFJ, I can confirm that it might take some time to learn how to tune down your Counselor attitude, and acknowledge your own emotional needs.
3. You feel like a burden to others
You might also be reluctant to open up emotionally because you feel that, by doing so, you’d be a burden to other people. For many Introverts, the feeling of disrupting someone else’s peace makes them uneasy.
Introverts who put others first do this All. The. Time. It has to do with our funny strategy of trying to maintain a peaceful environment, while stressing ourselves out in the process. A healthy dose of self-compassion can be the first step to learn how to navigate changes in your environment when negative emotions arise.
3 Ways Introverts Can Get Better at Sharing Their Emotions
1. Consider your audience
To get better at sharing your emotions, start by looking for the people who can offer you comfort and support. This task seems easy, but if you’re still trapped in the ‘feeling like a burden loop’ it can take a while and it may require a mindset shift.
Instead of seeing vulnerability as a sign of weakness, think about the times you’ve been there for those closest to you, whether that’s a friend, a partner, or a family member, listening to their problems and giving them advice. These people are rooting for you, so don’t hesitate to open up to them. Chances are, they’ll be able to listen and offer you support.
2. Take it step by step
Many Introverts have an all-or-nothing approach to communication. On top of that, when you’ve closed yourself off for a long period of time, it can be tricky to find the right balance between saying nothing and sharing a little too much.
The solution? Take a gradual approach. No one’s asking you to share your private secrets with someone you just met. Instead, find the right balance that works for you. Allow yourself to be vulnerable when you need to, and with whom you trust, but also acknowledge that sometimes the right thing to do might be taking care of it alone.
3. Know sometimes it’s okay not to share
Having the courage to be vulnerable, and opening up about something that’s troubling you, can be a liberating experience, but there might also be times when you don’t feel like sharing, and that’s okay.
There’s no right or wrong way to deal with vulnerability, so don’t feel pressured. All of us have things we need to deal with on our own. Understanding your boundaries and drawing the line between what is healthy for you to talk about and what isn’t can actually be just as empowering as overcoming your fear of vulnerability.
For many Introverts being vulnerable can be a daunting task, and you might avoid it at all costs for fear of oversharing or being a burden to others. Yet, opening up emotionally can actually be a liberating and necessary experiencing that enriches your life, and strengthens your relationships. So next time something pops up and you feel like you can’t handle it on your own, don’t hesitate to call a trusted friend. It might be time to embrace vulnerability.