If you’ve ever wondered why it is you seem to have less energy than other people, it’s because you’re an introvert. Energy supply is one of the biggest challenges introverts face – it is, after all, the main thing that differentiates us from extroverts. As introverts, our energy supplier is ourselves – the internal world of what’s going on in our heads – whereas extroverts draw their supply from other people – the external world around them.
Unfortunately, our energy supplier often doesn’t rate very highly in the customer satisfaction stakes. It provides, at best, an uneven energy supply, with few opportunities to top up exactly when we need it. It also often runs out on us completely, sometimes at the most inopportune moments – the social equivalent of the water cutting out when we’re in the shower lathered in soap.
The result is that we often don’t have enough energy to do all the things we think we want to do, and if we do try to do it all, we deplete our reserves very quickly, becoming tired and irritable, maybe unable to think or make decisions. If we continue to run on empty for too long we can burn ourselves out and even make ourselves ill.
All of this can be incredibly frustrating and difficult to accept. If introverts don’t know the reason why we’re often less energetic and productive than our extrovert peers (see What is an introvert?), the comparison can lead to feelings of inadequacy and resentment. My own secret jealousy is extrovert mothers who seem to be able to juggle work, kids, hectic social life and still have a tidy house!
Unfortunately though, as introverts, we don’t get to change our energy supplier, so we have to make the most of what we’ve got. This is important because, until we accept this, we are constantly going to be swimming against the tide. Personally, just understanding that there’s a reason for it and that it’s not a personal failing, has made a real difference to how I deal with it. I am now much more accepting of my energy limitations and more disciplined about doing what I need to do to conserve, balance and boost my energy as best I can.
I do still harbour a certain amount of ‘extrovert envy’ sometimes – there are so many things I want to do more of… But now I understand how crucial it is for my well-being to look after my energy needs properly. Finally I am working with my energy supplier and not against it and as such we have a much smoother relationship.