As a child, I so desperately wanted to be respected and accepted that I would go out of my way to make friends.
In my late 20s, I ran into my fourth-grade teacher Mrs. Simpson at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia.
It was great to see my all-time favorite teacher.
She recounted stories of new students joining our class, and me being the first to say to them, “I’ll be your friend.”
As she told these stories, I really couldn’t recollect the experiences.
As I thought about her revelations, I reflected on my sensitivity throughout life for the plight of others, particularly when they were in new environments, and felt out of place.
At the time, Mrs. Simpson did not know that for every one student I befriended, the next one began to bully me.
My kindness had been taken for weakness.
And that’s when my feelings began to change about the vagaries of human nature.
True Feelings are Hidden in All Strategic Thinking Introverts’ Hearts
After that fortuitous day with Mrs. Simpson, my enthusiasm for such reminders began to diminish.
As I advanced to a mature age, I have grown colder.
My sensitivity has gone from lamb to lion.
Additionally, I have even been referred to as “Robotic,” at times reminiscent of the fictional Mr. Spock of Star Trek.
Interesting enough, I found such comments flattering. But what happened to me as I grew older? And what happens to many strategic thinking introverts as they age?
Many strategic thinking introverts become cold-hearted with age because their hypersensitivity needs protection from societal pains administered to them directly or indirectly.
Their sensibilities are rocked to the core when they witness illogical and barbaric behavior.
As a result, they have to find effective coping mechanisms to survive emotionally in a cold and callous world.
Author Melissa Dahl referenced eminent psychologist Williams James in his book, The Principles of Psychology, by suggesting that the personality settles down, or stabilizes, in adulthood. According to James, by the age of 30, we are hardened into who we will be for the rest of our lives.
If this holds true, could it be said that many sensitive introverts that experienced some emotional trauma or disempowerment as a child became cold as an adult? And only grew comfortable with these developments after 30-years-old?
Of course, we are not relegated to the sidelines to merely watch our emotional lives pass us by without any participation in the process.
Each of life’s experiences leaves an indelible mark on our psyche just as an artist’s paintbrush leaves an indelible image on a once blank canvas.
As strategic thinking introverts, the annoyances, slights, and irrational behavior of average individuals are felt at a visceral level.
The idea of ignorance being bliss supports the notion that selfish and unenlightened individuals don’t feel the same emotional pain as these introverts.
Over the years, strategic thinking introverts develop highly evolved emotional defenses against these attacks.
Do Strategic Thinking Introverts Feel Less Emotional?
In an article written by Kimberly Holland and medically reviewed by Dr. Timothy J. Legg, Holland stated that:
Emotional detachment is an inability or unwillingness to connect with other people on an emotional level. For some people, being emotionally detached helps protect them from unwanted drama, anxiety, or stress. (para.1).
Additionally, Holland noted that emotional detachment is a way of setting boundaries with people and groups, as well as limit the emotional energy expended.
To add another layer to this context, strategic thinking introverts are philosophical.
The literary works of Niccolò Machiavelli (The Prince), Sun Tzu (The Art of War), and Richard Dawkins (The Selfish Gene) solidify the hardwiring of human nature that supports the intellectual reasoning of these introverts and their justification for emotional detachment.
Philosophical, psychological, and biological treatises have consistently satisfied the need for strategic thinking introverts to reconcile their distrust of human nature.
Rollin Chambliss in his book, “The Nature of Man” lamented about American writer Mark Twain’s disenchantment with human nature after years of investigation and introspection.
Chambliss said of Mark Twain, “…As fully as any man of his age he knew the gulf between democratic pretentions and oligarchic actuality. No faith in the impulse of good will, no faith in schools, in a benevolent God, in evolution, in the social assumptions of a democracy, softened the despair of his later years…” (p. 15, para. 2).
And Twain was reportedly an extrovert!
Alfred Adler, a pioneer in the field of psychology said, “…Two great tendencies dominate all psychological activities. These two tendencies, social feelings and the individual striving for power and domination, influence every human activity and color the attitude of all individuals both in their striving for security and in their fulfillment of the three great challenges of life: love, work, and social relationships” (p. 99, para. 1).
Biologist Edward O. Wilson asked in his seminal book, On Human Nature, “Are human beings innately aggressive?”
Wilson’s reply was a resounding “Yes.”
Specifically, he noted that, “…Throughout history, warfare, representing only the most organized technique of aggression, has been endemic to every form of society, from hunter-gatherer bands to industrial states…” (p. 101, para. 1).
No wonder the most sensitive and intellectual of personality types become hardened throughout the years.
Are Strategic Thinking Introverts Pessimistic?
A Psychology Today article on pessimism noted that pessimists make better leaders and are in tune with the people and environments around them. While many people go through life in a “Green Light” fashion, pessimists travel in “Yellow Light” mode always vigilant of what other individuals are inclined to do.
Adaptive pessimism serves as an alert or red flag for potential threats that most people never see.
Skepticism makes strategic thinking introverts less vulnerable to persuasion and false narratives.
In this vein, these introverts are freer than most in their ability to observe and dissect social phenomena dispassionately.
In the end, strategic thinking introverts are not emotionally crippled by hypersensitivity that turns into cold-heartedness.
Intellectualism saves them from emotional bondage.
Weak emotionality has turned into strong reason and cold rationality.
So, the next time you witness a cataclysmic event where the emotionality of the world has lost its footing, there will be a strategic thinking introvert viewing the same event from a position of psychological strength.
And if justice is being served, these introverts will find peace in knowing that the laws of the universe are in full effect, and the ills in society are being relieved.
Mrs. Simpson may not know about the man I have become, but I am confident that she would be delighted to know that the child’s heart that she once knew still beats inside me, although protected.
—Edward S. Brown, M.S.
Adler, A. (1998). Understanding human nature. Center City, Minnesota: One world Publications.
Chambliss, R. (1961). The nature of man, volume 1. Athens, Georgia: The University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education.
Dahl, M. (2014, Nov. 26). Comment: How much can you really change after you turn 30? SBS News. Retrieved from: https://www.sbs.com.au/news/comment-how-much-can-you-really-change-after-you-turn-30.
Holland, K. (2019, Sept. 3). Emotional detachment: What it is and how to overcome it. Healthline. Retrieved from: https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/emotional-detachment.
Pessimism (n.d.) Psychology Today. Retrieved from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/pessimism.
Wilson, E. (1978). On human nature. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.