I was talking to a friend some time ago and she told me about a time she had anxiety. She was at a mosque and was about to do a brief presentation. All of a sudden she noticed feeling week, her heart started racing and she felt so chocked up, she had to leave the hall and go to the bathroom. She wasn’t able to do their presentation. She was so shocked. She told me, “I was so surprised, how could this happen to me? You know me, I’m such a big extrovert and I’m so comfortable around people!”

Many people, like my friend (let’s call her Maryam), think that anxiety can never happen to them because they are “extroverts”. People have associated that if someone is an “introvert” that must be the reason that someone is shy or even anxious.

Well folks, there is a big misunderstanding of what is introversion and extroversion and how anxiety plays into that.

You see, I am an introvert. I like to be around small circle of friends rather than large groups of people. In fact, I love one-on-one conversations. My favorite thing to do, is meet a friend over my favorite coffee (Decaf Mocha with Almond Milk please) and have long deep conversations about things they are doing and things I’m passionate about. It means when I go to the mosque, I like to find my few friends and hang out with them. When I see so many people, it’s not that I don’t like to be around them. It’s just that lots of people drain my energy.

How to know if you are an introvert or an extrovert?

One of the big indicators whether someone is an introvert or an extrovert is how energized they feel when they around around large groups of people.

So as an introvert, after being around large groups of people – I feel drained. I feel ready to go home and go to bed or just get away and re-energize myself alone.

My friend, who is an extrovert, feels energized by being around lots of people. after a dinner with 20 friends for example, she’s ready to go have a late night out at a dessert place with another group of friends. By the end of the night, she has been energized by being around people.

So where does anxiety fit in?

Great question! Anxiety or feeling anxious is a normal experience all humans can have.

You see anxiety is an emotional and physical experience, like my friend who noticed feeling week, noticed her heart rate started increasing and started feeling like she couldn’t breath and had to get away. She may have felt worried about something. Or it may have come out of nowhere.

Anxiety doesn’t make a distinction between being an introvert or extrovert.

Where does Anxiety come from?

There are lots of reasons a person can have anxiety. High amounts of stress is an example of why some people might get panic attacks. Some stress is good for our bodies, it motivates us to get things done. However, extreme amounts of stress can cause anxiety like symptoms.

Another reason is that, some people are just more anxious than others. Have you ever had a friend who has said to you, “I’m just a worrier!” Worrying can make people feel like they have some control.

Anxiety can also be related to trauma. When a person has had a negative experience, their body will be on high alert for certain triggers that remind them of that traumatic experience.

Finally another reason that anxiety is showing up more and more is due to the stresses of our environment. We are living in a world that is highly polluted and toxins are everywhere. Small amounts of toxins can accumulate and have different results in each one of us. For some of us, that will mean more anxiety related symptoms.

Where does the confusion come in?

Some people who have anxiety can also be shy or withdrawn due to their anxiety. Because introverts prefer one-on-one or small group interactions, some people confuse introversion with anxiety. However, as you have just learnt they are two different things and need to be addressed on their own.

Introverts are people with a certain personality and they can be completely satisfied with the way they are.

Anxiety is a physical and emotional manifestation of an internal state that can be distressing. It can also be a signal for the body that something is not right and needs some love and attention.

What to do?

My friend chose to go to therapy to figure out what happened and how to prevent a future panic attack.

Have you experienced anxiety? How did you cope with it? Do you consider yourself an introvert, extrovert or ambivert?

If you need help with anxiety in Austin Texas, give me a call (512.609.0699) or email me (info@mindbodysoultherapy.com).