INFP in an E**J world

Being an INFP in a world where being extroverted (E) and judging (J) is difficult. Not that extroverted and judging individuals are worse. But they are more valued in this society, and so being basically the opposite doesn’t make life easy.

It’s difficult because:

    1. Just because I don’t have a detailed reason for my choices doesn’t make them not rational.
    2. Just because I feel things with more intensity and more often, doesn’t make me over emotional, and therefore easily written off.
    3. It’s frustrating to see how people treat each other. Like the other is less important than their concerns. Can’t they feel the awesomeness of humanity in each of us??
    4. I will need a lot of alone time. It doesn’t make me antisocial, and it doesn’t make me lazy. I just really need to curl up in a ball and ignore everyone and everything. It’s like detoxing.
    5. I’m not nice all the time. I’ve got a mean streak and temper like everyone else.

But it’s also kind of awesome, because:

      1. The world is super magical and I can find so much more joy in the little things than most people I meet.
      2. I don’t need much to be content, I’m easily pleased.
      3. I understand others easily, I’ve felt their emotions and I value their existence.
      4. My mind is a massive, dynamic place. It is the biggest adventure to exist in it.

*This post is using terminology from the Meyer Briggs (MBTI) personality inventory

Don’t Try to Fix Things

As a social worker, the first lesson I had to learn was the power of sitting in silence.

When a person is emotional, freaked out, or in pain, it is a very human reaction to search for a solution. To try to make them feel better. It’s uncomfortable to witness negative emotions, it’s uncomfortable to watch someone hurting. So we try to fix it.

For example, if a person is crying because their partner broke up with them and they’re afraid they’ll be alone forever, most people’s immediate reaction is to placate. “What an idiot for breaking up with you!” “Why would they do that??” “They will never be able to find someone better than you” “Of course you won’t be alone forever, you’re good looking and wonderful, you’ll find someone in no time!” These are not bad reactions, and sometimes we all need to hear these things from our friends and family.

However, in general, the placating doesn’t help much. In our rush to fix the negativity, to make everyone feel better, we’re doing the opposite. We’re making it about us, and our relationship with the person, and what we think and feel about the situation. We’re also expressly trying to change their emotions (from negative to positive, from distraught to accepting, etc.), which is actually telling the person that their emotions are wrong and in need of changing. It’s not validating.

When we don’t validate a person’s feelings they’re likely to suppress what they’re feeling and pretend to feel something else. To make us, the observer, feel better. They might even become angry at themselves for not being able to feel better, to feel the positive emotions we want them to feel.

So how to help? By sitting and listening with patience. Just showing up and staying while the person purges themselves of the negative emotions does more for the individual than all the placating and fixing. It tells the person their emotions are real and they are worth being listened to. It also proves to them that they have the support and acceptance in their lives to get through the negativity and find their way back to a more positive (or at least neutral) state of being.

But total silence is kinda creepy. It’s alright to give a hug and some kind, encouraging words. But maybe only after some quiet, active listening.

Georgie

story book character

It was her birthday! Excitedly, she put on her favorite dress and the prettiest crown in her collection (her Mama had given it to her a few years ago), and ran out into the woods.

The light of a new day pushed through the branches of the familiar trees. Fresh and green, and smelling of earth.

She was excited to see her fairy friends again. Every year on her birthday she had gone out into the woods and they had been there. Rustling through leaves, floating with the dust in shafts of light. They called to her to play with them. They were magic and imagination and she loved them.

It was her birthday and she could not wait to see them again! Though the dress pinched a little as it grew too small. Though she no longer looked at her crown collection, unless it was her birthday. She was certain that in the woods the magic remained.

But as she stepped through the shadows and dappled sunlight, all she heard was the breeze and the whisper of cars off the nearby highway. Where the fairies used to laugh at her as they danced, there remained only leaves, twigs, and dust. She strained her eyes looking for them, but found only a brown bird and caterpillar.

She stood there then, in her too tight dress and the crown slipping down the side of her head, and had to admit that she’d lost them.

 

I’m Back!: Lessons Learned From Grad School

So this site tells me I haven’t posted in 8 months. Here’s why, I’m working on getting my Master’s in Social Work (!!). Which, I have discovered sounds easier than it actually is. I though I would be more tired, and have a little less free time. Turns out, it’s a bit more than that.

So I’m back. With a few lessons learned from grad school. In no particular order …

  1. Social work students all need social workers / therapists themselves.
  2. I am the level-headed, calm personality at university. Let me repeat: I am level-headed and calming  you guys … I have found my people.
  3. Popcorn and wine is, in fact, a legit dinner choice.
  4. Suddenly everyone, including the roommate, feels comfortable talking at me for an hour about their problems. Don’t get me wrong, I actually appreciate it, but at 11pm I really just need to get things done so I can collapse.
  5. Dashing out the front door, late, with fifteen bags in tow does, in fact, count as exercise. As does running back in five minutes later because you forgot something.

It’s been an adventure so far. 1.5 years to go! (wait … what?? … noooooooooooooo)