A cultural bias in favor of being outgoing

There are several things to explore here.


When Jung introduced the words introverted and extraverted, he referred to where we tend to place our attention. Do we tend to focus on what’s happening around us? (Extraverted.) Or do we tend to focus on what’s going on inside of us? (Introverted.)

This has very little to do with how most people today use the words, for instance as being outgoing (extraverted) or quiet (introverted) in social settings.


Also, this highlights an obvious bias in our western culture. We tend to see being outgoing as good and desirable, and being quiet in social settings as undesirable and even something to fix.

In reality, both are fine and have their strengths and weaknesses. We all have both sides in us. And the only problem may be if we get “stuck” in one or the other due to identities, wounds, reactivity to our own discomfort, and so on.

The more healthy we are, the more fluid we can be in how we access our outgoing sides or more quiet, receptive, and contemplative sides.


Why do we have this bias in our western culture? One guess is that it’s connected to patriarchy and a tendency to see traditionally “masculine” characteristics (outgoing) as more desirable than traditionally “feminine” characteristics (receptive, quiet).

In my experience, it seems that this tendency is stronger in empires like Britain and the US, with their glorification of strength, power, assertiveness, and so on.


The tendency of mainstream media to focus on how to be more outgoing is natural. It reflects the general bias in our culture, and it is fortunately changing. I see more and more articles in mainstream media about how to shift into receptivity, silence, and listening.

This is probably, in part, supported by the more general acceptance of mindfulness, meditation, and so on.


We may already be comfortable with being outgoing in some situations, and more receptive and quiet in other. We may already have some fluidity between the two.

If not, if we notice we seem a bit “stuck” in one or the other, independent of situations, how can we find more freedom around it?

The answer is, as usual, to identify what stops us – stressful beliefs, wounds, and so on, and investigate these, create the conditions for a shift in our relationship to them, and invite them to resolve and dissolve.

I won’t go into more details here since many or most other articles on this site are about aspects of this process.

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