In 2012 I completed my Honors thesis research on mindfulness, authenticity, well-being, and introversion. The study worked within self-determination theory, which sees authenticity and mindfulness as intrinsic to well-being. My research supported this for both introverts and extraverts, but there was also one facet that was particularly vital for introverts and authenticity. A very brief summary is presented here. But firstly, I must say a big thank you to all the participants who gave their time to complete the questionnaires for the study. The research would have been nothing without you!
I asked: “Does being mindful help introverts to act and feel more true to themselves?” Does this then lead to increased well-being? This query stemmed from a premise that introverts may feel more pressured than extroverts to act inauthentically. Many of us know that extraverted behavior is often more valued in our society. In other words, introverts may consciously or unconsciously feel pressure to “act like an extravert” in order to achieve well-being.
The results showed that authenticity was a mediating influence on the “mindfulness and well-being” pathway for both introverts and extraverts. In addition, it was found that the self-alienation facet (reversed) was the only unique mediator of the Authenticity facets for introverts. None of the three Authenticity facets was unique for extraverts. This facet included such questions as: I feel out of touch with the ‘real me’, and I feel as if I don’t know myself very well. This result suggests that, compared with extraverts, feeling in touch with one’s true self is particularly important for introverts.
These results provide alternative avenues of exploration to other studies (e.g., Fleeson, Malanos & Achille., 2002) that have focused on “acting like extraverts” to increase well-being for introverts. Hopefully future research will continue to elucidate the experiences and motivations of introverted individuals!
So how can mindfulness help introverts? My research suggests the importance of experiencing and acknowledging our total internal experience – physiological states, emotions, and thoughts. This acceptance of our internal experience, especially of negative internal experiences, is vital to honoring our authentic selves.
For more information, research, discussion, and resources, I would love for you to visit my blog. You can find me at mindfulness. authenticity. introversion.
Photo courtesy of Icrontic.com on flickr
Fleeson, W., Malanos, A. B., & Achille, N. M. (2002). An intraindividual process approach to the relationship between extraversion and positive affect: Is acting extraverted as “good” as being extraverted? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83, 1409-1422.