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Sensitive bipolar extrovert transition to defensive introvert

white knight
Community Champion
Community Champion

Are you sensitive? If so, often that comes from a side effect of a mental disorder, in my case bipolar. The problem for myself is that sensitivity has always been a problem because, I'm an extrovert.

An extrovert receives comments/responses far more often than a quiet person. Therefore the odds are I receive more criticism. With criticism comes self rejection then withdrawal and regret that I was just being my typical self- a talker. That cycle must have occurred a thousand times in my lifetime and every time it has, I've vowed to not talk as often, trouble is- it's in my nature. Any attempt to suppress my character results in returning to my true self, then hurt recurs. This constant cycle is difficult to foresee.

Eg I was recruited to cook xmas lunch as both my mother in law and her partner was unwell. When I presented the meat fully cooked I was told by my MIL is was "burnt" she showed anger. I wanted to crawl into a hole. But the meat was cooked in a smoker oven and being burnt on the outside was unavoidable- turned out the meat inside was perfect. Of course I took the criticism badly especially as both her and her partner have two younger and fitter adult sons present that- you guessed it, never lifted a finger to help.

So, since then I've been in defensive introvert mode noticeable by my good wife. This withdrawal is not dissimilar to the thread topic "fortress of survival" whereby my defenses are very secure. In this case it results in not visiting that couple even though they are unwell, I ring friends less often and shy away from visitors without being unfriendly.

Each and every time this occurs I revert to the extrovert I've always been but being outspoken doesnt mean I'm full of confidence nor arrogant, if I was I wouldn't get hurt.

What I have witnessed over many years is some people, particularly ex married now single people that have suffered maybe abuse or suppression in their marriage, have said "I am myself, accept me as I am". This is a sort of reaction to say "I haven't been allowed to be myself in the past so from now on I will not tolerate criticism from anyone that doesnt like my responses." And fair enough too. Perhaps that is an example of what I should take on, as a form of defence, to promote my own well being by remaining the extrovert. Or maybe bipolar is responsible for all these cycles and better to accept that fully and let it keep happening?

Do any of you readers relate to this swing of behaviour? How do you cope?


4 Replies 4

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi Tony

I admire you deeply for being an extrovert (something I'm yet to master).

Came out of my depression around 14 years ago or so and it's only now I'm discovering that life is full of super natural (sn) aspects.

  • It's sn to be sensitive. Unfortunately, life is full of toughened up insensitive people. Being sensitive gives us the ability to acknowledge the finer details in life, ones that require our attention not our disconnection
  • It's sn to allow others to bring us down if we're not fully conscious of how they're challenging us
  • It's sn to not want to upset people unless there's valid reason for doing so

and the list goes on.

What if the role of a sensitive person is to raise the consciousness of others. The question is 'Do we accept such an appointment or do we choose to dis-appoint our self?' Such a role can be so far outside our comfort zone if we haven't been taught the positive skills that come with mastering it. If anything, we're taught 'Don't question. Don't create conflict'. Life is packed with disempowering belief systems.

Imagine you'd said 'Seeing you don't like 'burnt', you don't get any'. Maybe something a little more mature would be 'I want you to reflect on what it took for me to prepare this for everyone'. If you were super naturally bold, you could follow with 'Have I managed to raise your consciousness?' Some folk definitely need managing in how they treat us. They don't manage so well without our input. By the way, did anyone rise to the challenge of questioning her comment or did they all simply look uncomfortable?

Could it be that you are super natural and most of the folk around you aren't? You're a nice, deeply thoughtful, sensitive caring person. What's unnatural about that? Absolutely nothing. It's beautiful. Personally, I love being this way. You are brilliance in the darkness others can present. Don't let their poop dim your light!

At 49, I've given myself a massive challenge - Don't worry about upsetting the poopy people. Gee it's liberating yet confronting for them. I'm really starting to get the hang of this. I free certain thoughts to flow out of my mouth. Eg: 'You're messing with my Chi, stop bringing me down!' or 'Why do you believe you can say whatever suits you? Answer me'. I try not to insult.

Ready to not let others swing your mood? Challenge them and don't forget to have some fun doing it: Look for when their call to higher consciousness manifests on their face. You'll get some amazing expressions.


Hi therising

That is precisely a response I was hoping for. "Dont let their poop dim your light". And yes, my wife noticed her mother's "its burnt" comment but like everyone didnt comment. She was too busy cooking other stuff.

Overall though I get your point and I should be on guard more often and prepared for these people when the occasion arises. Problem is, I'm never prepared.In one thread "wit, the only answer for torment" I mention how using wit can short circuit other peoples comments. My ex girlfriend was a master at it. It workd really well with hypocrits. eg

Male friend visits and inspects the home you built with you own hands. Makes a comment "gee, there is one roof sheet that is crooked, that's no good". My ex might say "and the house that you built, did it have any flaws"? of cause she knew he'd never built one!!

So, I'll have to prepare myself better, sad as it is, "Unfortunately, life is full of toughened up insensitive people" yes- even as a ex prison officer and investigations operator I'm still softer than I'd like to be. But you are right, that should be something I can pin my honour on, not be criticised for.



Hi Tony

Just want to mention again - MASSIVE CHALLENGE (not worrying about upsetting people)! It is so tough teaching myself skills and unlearning self destructive beliefs at 49. To give you an idea what I mean when I talk about challenge: Was in the supermarket the other week and twice people didn't show any thought to fairly sharing the supermarket aisles. Normally, I would have moved right over for them so I wouldn't be 'getting in their way' or stopping so they wouldn't be inconvenienced by my presence. On this occasion, both customers bumped into me because they weren't sharing the aisle thoughtfully. You have no idea the effort it took for me not to say sorry. I was so incredibly proud of myself. This was a big step for me, breaking this self-defeating habit. I admit, it's a shocker of a habit. Afterwards, I thought 'I am significant enough to share the aisle with and now they know it'. I definitely raised their consciousness in those moments, as well as my own.

I think you hit the nail on the head: Whilst there are some challenges we're prepared to rise to (the incredibly tough ones at times) others definitely need a little more preparation, typically the ones that relate to the habit of a lifetime. At the end of the day, it's sometimes the small steps that can make the biggest difference.

Yes, being obliging is done by me also. My wife wonders why, while driving, I wave and thank drivers that give way to us when it is their obligation to give way anyways.

The fact is imo most mentally ill people that have insight are also more empathetic than others. Furthermore, the traits some people have that are adverse like alcoholism, gambling,abuse, bullying, manipulation and so forth can be far worse than what a person with a mental disorder can inflict with their odd behaviour.

In one of my threads -the frog and the scorpion, it highlights how our nature doesn’t and can’t change. A scorpion will still bite the frog no matter how often the scorpion promises not to.

So you are right slight adjustments, small steps of fine tuning is all we can expect of ourselves. If a family member insists on too much change it’s like compressing a spring and it will let go as the victim tries valiantly to meet their expectations.

Hence if we are sensitive, our feelings easily hurt, that won’t change dramatically no matter how hard we try. A one time friend once told me to “toughen up and chill out”. I told him that if years being a prison warden and investigator didn’t change my sensitivity then nothing would. I asked him if he could tune a car (he had zero mechanical aptitude). He admitted he couldn’t. Rested my case. It wasn’t in him