Introvert, Extrovert, Ambivert or…?



Personalities can be endlessly fascinating.  I know–I spent half a lifetime dissecting one, trying to improve her, understand her, make her behave, tame her into something controlled and acceptable.

Personality tests can assist us in understanding these fascinating characters.  What makes them operate the way they do?  We might discover we’re an extrovert or introvert, and that information eases and relaxes us deeply.  Ahhh, that’s the way we are.  We might honor this creature we call “me” a little more.

Yesterday, I discovered there is a category which explains this personality more accurately.  I am an “ambivert“.  An ambivert has both introverted and extroverted characteristics.  One takes a little test with questions like “I start questions with people I do not know” and “I enjoy spending time with my own thoughts”.  You rate your response between “strongly agree” and “strongly disagree” and discover your type.  You can find an assessment here.

I have always thought myself an introvert/extrovert.  The assessment confirmed it.  I strongly agreed with both introvert and extrovert characteristics.  I love being with people a lot.  I love being alone a lot.   I am energized by others.  I am energized by silence.  Go figure.

The test made the “me” sigh in relief and relaxation.  Ahhhh, they’ve validated me.  I see a bit better what’s operating in the world.  This is fun!

On the other hand, what truly feels interesting these days is not the personality, except in momentary quizzes.  What feels so interesting–what makes me glow–is the realization that we are not really our personalities.  For so much of my life, I was 99.6% convinced that I was this personality.

Although the personality is definitely part of it, what we are is so much larger, so much simpler, than a personality with its likes and dislikes, its inclinations and reactions and tendencies.

When we glimpse, even momentarily, the entire spectrum of possibility–the whole scene–then the fascination may turn toward the entire spectrum.  The “I” that we are is not limited to the personality.  Ahhh, we realize, I am that building, that drone of the motor, this check, that timecard, this bowl of cucumbers, that Facebook status, this stapler.  We encompass paradox.  We are all of these/we are none of these. Eventually we may realize that it’s quite arbitrary whether to focus on personality or oneness.

How utterly fascinating and how impossible for the mind to fathom–the immensity of it.  The excitement and utter peace of it.  The mystery of not knowing anything–and how calming that not knowing can be.  (Even though the mind can be convinced that not knowing is the worst possible predicament.)

What is even more interesting is that we’re all–every one of us–experiencing this entire spectrum every moment.  Yet we’re so fascinated with this small aspect, the personality.  We’re mesmerized by it.  So focused on its movements and tendencies and beliefs.  We focus on one small aspect of the whole and often is how we exist in everything we see, hear, smell and taste.  Sometimes we miss it for a whole lifetime.

People who die and return to us often speak of looking down on their bodies.  They often tell of unfathomable feelings of unconditional love.  What perhaps happens is that perspective has shifted from within-the-body to within-spirit. Freedom from personality reveals itself as spaceless, timeless, eternal. That knowing is also available right here, right now, in this very moment.

One moment I’m delighted discovering that I am an “ambivert”.  The next minute the perspective shifts and it’s possible to see that I am in no way limited to an ambivert.  I am the entire dream, the entire unfolding  And perhaps not even that…


10 thoughts on “Introvert, Extrovert, Ambivert or…?

  1. It seems to me that exciting cutting-edge research might address this: what are the strengths and weaknesses that extroverts, introverts and ambiverts exhibit in maintaining the larger awareness? Now that would be fascinating!

  2. I had never heard of an ambivert and I am one too. However, I am the “salesperson” in our business and had been tapped for sales in my younger days as well. I had thought myself a failure but I truly was given the dredges of territory at that time. I have been a “great salesperson” for our Zaadz/Gaian community because I am truly a believer it the value of a close and almost tribal online family. It is been hugely influential in allowing me to blossom as a person – or so I believe.

    I DO agree with you about this – “. . . what we are is so much larger, so much simpler, than a personality with its likes and dislikes, its inclinations and reactions and tendencies.”

    For a long time now, I’ve seen the larger patterns of my life as what is fascinating – how it all meshes together and delivers the most fascinating insights into how interconnected it all is.

    “Freedom from personality” is a blessing. I eventually, in my own lifetime’s spiritual travels, arrived at a place where I saw what most people think of as their personality as nothing more than convenient roles that make it easier for the people in my life to relate to and communicate with me but not the least who or all I am.

    Like you, though a new “identifier” of personality aspects titled “ambivert” is fun as a new and novel discovery, I know I’m not limited by that definition either, though I like how inclusive and encompassing having that “third” possibility added is.

    And I’ve known you and I share many of the perspectives that you’ve written about here for some time now . . .

    • Hi, Deb, thanks for stopping by and commenting, as always. I am not surprised you identify as an ambivert. The study actually suggested that more people fall in this category than strict introvert or extrovert. You have been a great salesperson for Gaia/Zaadz. It’s a gift that you’ve been given that vision and have the skills and dedication and energy to put so much of yourself into it.

      You know what I heard recently? Something about the more we’re in touch with our “larger self” or Oneness or whatever-the-heck-word-you-want-to-use, the more we’re comfortable with paradox. Because viewing Life in this connected context does seem to defy duality. It always seems to embrace both/and. Anywho, that’s what I’m thinking about this afternoon while preparing to join a bunch of women on a remote beach. Have a good day.

  3. Not surprised to see that I’m an introvert according to the assessment. Sometimes I still try to figure out why and try to fix it. Moments when I don’t feel limited to this personality are wonderful, but more often now I notice, like you say, that it’s rather unpredictable whether I’m focusing on personality or oneness.

    • It’s so interesting that some folks are more solidly one way or another on the spectrum of assessment. I perhaps often make the mistake of thinking that everyone should or could be an ambivert (even though didn’t know the word until a couple days ago.) Isn’t that funny? The value of these days might be that a person would realize–ahh, that’s how the personality is, it doesn’t need to be fixed. Are you still enjoying Joan Tolifson’s insights or is someone else intriguing you these days?

      • Still enjoying Joan. Every time I notice something about me or someone else I think of her noticing her nail-biting appearing and then say to myself, oh, anxiety appearing. There it is. It’s not me but there it is. Not sure if that makes sense. …

        How about you? Still enjoying Joan’s insights?

        • I think of her nail-biting sometimes, too. And how awareness can change/shift some habits, and others not as much. Also how we can sometimes relax and see it’s just what is arising. I do still enjoy Joan’s insights from time-to-time. However, lately–in the last couple of weeks–have not been reading or listening to anyone particularly. It’s funny. First it feels like one teacher speaks directly to this heart, and then it’s someone else, and then it’s someone else. And sometimes it’s just Life itself which speaks… Thinking of you and Tim and really hoping he fully recovers.

        • Thank you for your well wishes, Kathy. Tim seems to be on the mend from this latest bout but surgery seems to be looming ominously on the horizon. There is so much wisdom to tap into and it’s good to know we can use any or all of it when needed, including our own inner knowing, without having to cling to any one way of making sense of this journey. Sometimes when “I” am anxious the calming lyrics of that old Beatles song “Let It Be” float through “my” consciousness…

  4. Is “ambivert” a word you created? If so, do you mind if I steal it? I read the blog of an introvert who often writes about it. The introvert traits she described, I have, but had always considered myself an extrovert. So, I took the test. Turns out, I landed right smack dab in the middle of the introvert/extrovert scale. I don’t know why it surprised me, because I am the description of a Libra through and through (balance – even if one doesn’t believe in astrology, this Lori-personality still fits the description). From now on, I can say I’m an ambivert. Thanks for the term, Kathy.

    As usual, you write on topics that are of great interest to me, and I have something to say about personality, too. I not only have dissected my own, but also those of other people. Some might think it’s judgmental, but I don’t do it for that reason at all. Dissecting the people in my life has helped me immensely, and in many ways. I understand where they are coming from better. It helps me learn how to accept them for who they are and have better relationships. Another way it has helped me is in my writing. I even dissect personalities of fictional characters so they can appear real, relateable, well-rounded and alluring.

    Once again, thanks for the great topic. There is so much more I could say, but this is long enough.

    • No, I did not make up the word “ambivert”. I found it on CNN headlines the other day, and then followed it to a couple other articles (links provided in blog). Sounds like we’re similar in that we have both capacities. One of the articles says that maybe 50% of people have ambivert tendencies. A new way of looking at things.

      How interesting that you dissect even your fictional characters! Would have never thought of doing that. Enjoy how you say that this has helped you to accept others and have better relationships. Fascinating…

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