This is why introverts struggle putting their thoughts into words

Life as an introvert can be difficult.

For an introvert, putting thoughts into words is almost always a struggle. When trying to communicate and express their feelings and ideas, introverts are often overcome by anxiety and stress. While many believe that introverts are simply unsociable, research has shown that there is actual science behind why they find it difficult to articulate their thoughts.

Introverts process information differently.

The truth is that introverts are simply wired differently. They process information more deeply than most people do and, as a result, they tend to struggle more when trying to find the words to use. According to Jenn Granneman, processing information deeply means taking longer to think of the exact word that one wants to use. In other words, it impacts one’s “word retrieval”. Not being able to quickly think of the right words to use means that introverts often fall behind those who are loud, fast-talking, and extroverted. 

Introverts favor long-term memory.

In her book The Introvert Advantage, Dr. Marti Olsen explains that introverts may prefer long-term memory over working memory. The difference between the two is that while working memory stores information for mere seconds, long-term memory stores information indefinitely. Working memory is thus more easy to access than long-term memory and this could be why introverts take longer to put their thoughts into words. Taking this further Dr. Olsen writes that extroverts do the opposite as they prefer working memory and essentially have the information they need “on the tip of their tongue.”

Anxiety can make an already difficult process worse.

Feelings of anxiety can make an introvert’s struggle to articulate their thoughts even more difficult. Granneman comments on this as she notes that while ‘not all introverts experience social anxiety’ it is still common for introverts to experience ‘some level of anxiety in social situations’. The reason why anxiety makes an introvert’s struggle even worse is because anxiety can actually interfere with memory. That is, when one feels anxious, they release cortisol (the stress hormone) and this hormone affects the brain. Cortisol’s effect can cause memory loss and make it even more difficult to find the words or access the information one needs.

What can you do if you struggle putting your thoughts into words?

Write, journal, text, or email

It has been found that introverts can express themselves more easily by writing instead of talking. This means that while extroverts prefer to pick up the phone to make a call and arrange a meeting, introverts would much rather send an email or a text message. This way, they get to eliminate stress and anxiety while successfully putting their ideas across.

Be patient with yourself

Whenever you are caught unprepared and asked to speak, be kind and patient with yourself. Allow yourself to have a moment before beginning to talk. Granneman recommends actually voicing your need for time by saying, “Give me a moment to think about that” or “Let me see”. If the pressure and anxiety is overwhelming, simply remove yourself from the situation by saying that you will think things over and get back to them at a later time.

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