Compare and Contrast

I have a theory that the majority of single women in the world today know someone who they consider to be un-marry-able (yes, I made that up). Whether it is their looks, personality, or a combination of both, we know in our heart of hearts that it will take a lot for them to get married. I know of women who have vowed that if their never getting married person actually DOES get married they will just give up on life. They’ll wear sweatpants everywhere, won’t bother with makeup, and will die brittle and bitter about it. What’s interesting to me is how we are so quick to talk about how people are unique and have specific characteristics and gifts that aren’t replicated in others, yet we are just as quick to compare our lives others. If each person is unique with different sets of strengths and weaknesses, why do we compare our lives with theirs. On another note, why is it that the way a lot of people feel good about themselves is by comparing themselves to others who may not be at the same point in their life? It’s apples to oranges. If you are so worried about where you are in your life do something about it. Don’t compare yourself to someone who isn’t doing as well as you are and then use it as an excuse to once again be lulled into the gentle waves of mediocrity. There will always be people who have accomplishments. Our mistake is when we let their accomplishments inform our every move and our personal goals. Comparison is the enemy of progress.

True Colors

I think that as humans, many of us are naturally drawn to positions of prominence. Many of us know someone who has literally schemed their way to the top. They have manipulated and lied in order to advance their own agenda and get ahead in life without regard for the feelings or emotions of others. They show false attention and fake their way through relationships because they have ulterior motives. They don’t allow anyone to get close but keep up a facade of being easily accessible. As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been on this whole INFJ tip the past few days where I’ve been reading more about my personality type. One of the characteristics of this personality type is that we are naturally intuitive about the motives of others and many times find it easy to separate the real from the fake when it comes to human interactions and communication. A while ago I was presented with the opportunity for a position of prominence. It was something that was a goal of mine and had been for the past several years. However, after I quickly accepted I almost immediately had a change of heart and rejected it. I just got a gut feeling that it wasn’t “right” and that there were hidden motives on the part of the person who offered it. It wasn’t like I was being paranoid, but I had such a strong sense that I would have to pay in some way for accepting it. I strongly believe that the right thing at the wrong time is the wrong thing. While I believe in being at least cordial to everyone, I also take great pains to distance myself from people who use others to advance their own personal agenda. Those are the type of people who will turn on you as quickly as they became your “friend.” I say all that to say that it pays to recognize and identify these types of people before they suck you into their webs of deceit and manipulation.

INFJ

For the past 24 hours I’ve been preoccupied with learning more about my personality type (INFJ). Unfortunately, this has caused me to procrastinate on homework and reports that need to be done by Monday morning. I must admit, after reading about all the characteristics of INFJ’s I realized that I wasn’t as crazy as I originally thought (wonderful surprise). The truth is that INFJ’s make up less than two percent of the world’s population and is the rarest type in the Myers-Briggs test. This prezi presentation was so amazingly good and was a wonderful overview of the INFJ personality. As I clicked through it I could relate to every part of the presentation. Then I ran across this article that was also incredibly interesting as it summarized some of the characteristics of INFJ’s. Several things that stand out to me (and that I’ve noticed in myself) about this particular personality type is that we can’t get out of our own heads. Our brains are always going several hundred miles per hour and we are future oriented. This means that being in the present and enjoying the moment takes very deliberate effort. Also, we are perfectionists and hold ourselves to a very high standards. In addition, we trust our gut and can read people well. This characteristic is something that I realized that I use a lot more often than I originally thought because it’s more like second nature to me. The thing is that this intuition or gut feeling doesn’t always make sense. I don’t know how many times I didn’t do something because it just didn’t “feel” right. I couldn’t explain exactly why I felt that way but I just did. INFJ’s are social but still like time by themselves to recharge and they are easily annoyed by small talk, meaningless conversation and also meaningless affection (go figure). They like structure but they hate monotony and appreciate spontaneity. I guess that’s why I’m such a fan of traveling and taking a break from routine. Who would’ve guessed?

Dexter

As I’ve mentioned before in some previous posts, I don’t watch a huge amount of television. As a result, I’ve grown to have an appreciation for the commercial free atmosphere of Netflix. In addition, it’s nice to watch seasons of shows instead of waiting for a week before the next episode. One show that has really grabbed my interest is Dexter. I just finished season 4. I only watch the show in short bursts because it can be fairly intense, but I’m drawn to the complexity of Dexter’s childhood and how it has affected his behaviors as an adult. By no means do I think that the show is child friendly but it is SO intriguing from a human behavior/psychology perspective. The show is about a blood splatter analyst (Dexter) who has a secret of his own. He wrestles with being a traditional family man and keeping his big secret from others. Dexter has had a traumatic experience in his early childhood that has set him apart from other people.  He had a father who taught him how to function in a way that would prevent him from spending the rest of his life in prison. The unique thing about the show is that the storyline is in first person. Dexter struggles in every episode with what he is expected to be and who he really perceives himself to be. While Dexter’s challenges with his secret are more marked than many other people, in every season he becomes more of a person. Watching Dexter navigate his personal and work relationships is a reminder to me of how often we can stereotype or assume things about others. On the surface, no one would ever guess that Dexter has this huge secret because he struggles with being genuine and honest with himself and others. As a result, Dexter has few close relationships.

dexter_8

Balance

That moment when you want to write something profound and prolific and the brightness of your screen and the text box of blankness waiting to be filled just seems to mock your efforts of gathering your thoughts together in a coherent way. That’s how I feel. This past week has been particularly busy as I’ve started school again (oh joy) and started the transitional process on the career front. One thing that has grown during this school experience has been the respect that I have for people with spouses and/or families who are being persistent and completing their degree. Something that is talked about in the social services world is the importance of balance and self care. I’ve gotten the opportunity to talk and dialogue with people who have been therapists and social workers for years and in answer to the question of how they find balance and take care of themselves, they have said that they’re still figuring it out. I think that this is because there’s no one formula. I went to a training this week about working with individuals who have experienced trauma. The main thoughts behind this specific modality was that stress is stored in the body and it need to be expressed in some form in order to reduce symptoms of depression and/or anxiety. The interesting thing about it was that the presenter asserted that one of the reasons why stress is not expressed and stays in our bodies is because we decide to ignore it. We distract ourselves with food, exercise, books, activities, etc that mask our true need of confronting the traumas and experiences that are the sources of our stress. In the therapy world these things are known as coping skills. That being said, I think that a lot of people (including myself at times) have gotten use to artfully dodging their own issues and have instead channeled all that energy to another activity instead of confronting their own past hurts. It’s a hard place to be in and nobody wants to get uncomfortable even if it’s just to heal from past hurts. Uncomfortableness is hard.

Overruling emotion

I’ve heard a saying that said you should never make a major decision when you’re very sad or very happy. While this sometimes can’t be avoided, I can’t help but think that there is some truth to the words of this picture. How many times have rash decisions been made in the heat of a moment that changed someone’s life. In lieu of the events and protests that have happened in the last few months, maybe it would be a good start to plan before pursuing and to work toward systemic change by engaging and creating dialogue between affected parties.

IMG_3441.PNG

Fight for You (the song)

This song has been going through my head nonstop for the past few days. I first heard it about a week ago while I was traveling and the melody is so catchy. Unlike the vast majority of the songs that I like, i can’t really say exactly why I really like this particular song. It might be the fact that it depicts a conversation that Mali is having with himself and I rarely listen to songs that involve an internal dialogue with a self-empowerment twist. Or maybe even the fact that the beat is perfect to ball up your fists and do a little boxing move of duck and cover when he gets to the “fight for you” line. It might even be that this song is PERFECT to do a slow groove version of the dance “The Wobble.” I think Mali does a pretty decent job of explaining his own song so you can watch that as well.

Ignoring the Obvious

A few weeks ago. the brake light came on in my car. It happened while I was driving but quickly turned off when I took my foot off the gas. I ignored it. As the weeks passed my brake light came on more and more often. I knew the brake wasn’t on and there wasn’t any weird noise happening so I continued to ignore it. In fact, I started to appreciate the extra light on my dashboard that came from the light being on. This continued to the point where the brake light was almost on all the time. It became almost constantly on from the time that I started the car until the time that I turned it off. Almost comforting in a way. I could have called my dad and asked about it (my usual plan of action on anything concerning my car) but I didn’t. I could have googled  information about it and problem solved on my own but I didn’t do that either. Instead I just ignored it until it became comfortable. This past weekend my dad visited me in person and I finally told him about the brake light. Turns out it was a three minute solution. My car just needed more brake fluid. So now I drive around and my dashboard is strangely (or so it seems) dimmer because the bright red light isn’t on anymore. It makes me thing about all the times that we ignore things that are problems until we just become comfortable with it. People who are in abusive relationships to the point that it just becomes normal because they can’t clearly remember anything different. People who get caught up in negative cycles because they ignore red flags until the red flags are no longer important to them. Sometimes you have to learn to be uncomfortable with dysfunction because you’re so used to it that it has become normal. It’s a similar concept with people who are recovering from addictions of some sort. They have to re-learn how to live without the addictive behavior or substance because it has become such a way of life. However, the beginning step of this process is challenging the dysfunctional or “normal” reality that they have created and taking the necessary steps to create a new normal.