Going Inward, Introverts, Extroverts
“ The world isn’t meant to work; but it does provide the arena for the advancement of individual consciousness.” Robert Johnson private conversation in John Sanford, Mystical Christianity, A Psychological Commentary on the Gospel of John, p. 301.
Those who have taken the inner journey can be changed, more aware of who we really are and who our neighbors are. I remember how especially helpful it was for me to learn about extroversion and introversion in my workplace. Extroverts process their thoughts outside their head, talking out loud as they process. Introverts process inside and do not speak until they think they have something to say. I had a partner who I learned was an extrovert. When we were working on a difficult medical problem, he was talking and going over all possibilities while I said nothing. I always thought he was just so much smarter than myself because I never gave an opinion until I thought I knew the answer. I started to believe that I needed to study and work harder to come up to his standard. I began not to believe in my ability. A bright light bulb was turned on when I learned that the two of us just processed information trying to solve a problem very differently, one talking outside and the other talking inside to find an answer.
In spiritual direction, extroverts will usually talk more freely about their soul because they are processing outward. The difficulty is keeping them on tract about the spiritual journey rather than their emotional journey. Introverts have more difficulty sharing their spiritual journey as they are processing it inward. Directors may need to ask more specific questions about their journey. “ Where has God been in your life since we last met” is always a good starting place with both type of spiritual friends.