The third post in my series on being an INFJ.
Let me know if you strongly agree or disagree with the statements made here.

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My INFJ-ness

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To those of you who have done your Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBPTI), you will know immediately of what I am speaking. To those of you who have never heard of the Myers-Briggs, it is very simply a personality test. I did mine on 16personalites.com. It is free of charge for the assessment and you can pay a nominal fee for the in-depth ‘Personality Blueprint’.

I did my first personality test during my time with my marriage–and then divorce–therapist. (No he was not responsible for my marriage ending, haha). The Hartman Color Code is very insightful and sparked in me a desire to become more self-aware and therefore a better version of myself. The Color Code was a revelation and aspects of my personality started to make complete sense and explained a lot of the events of my past, especially of my teens and early twenties.

If the Color Code was a revelation, the MBTI blew my mind!

I am an INFJ and we number less than 2%  (some stats list it as less than 1%) of the world’s population and we are the rarest of all types.

I am an introverted intuitive who follows her heart, values harmony and who is decisive and prefers clear rules, basically. People often ask you to describe yourself in one word. The closest I can get to an answer for that question is: complex. I am a reasonably erudite person, some would even call me articulate. All this changes when I am under stress, emotional or otherwise, when I battle to describe accurately what I am feeling. I can tell you the why easily but battle to quantify what I’m feeling as I cannot always see the wood for the proverbial trees.

I have been working on this aspect of myself since I did my MBTI about a year ago, with reasonable success. Knowing more about yourself is one thing. Putting that knowledge to good use is quite another and takes practice as we all know, change does not happen overnight.

I am very fortunate to have a partner and indeed friends, who are equally as articulate as I am. My partner is also very similar in type to me. He is an INFP (perception vs judging). We have had our first couple of boundary establishing relationship scraps and I can tell you that I am far more adept at ‘fighting’ well–this is of course when the other person is fighting fair. I listen more and try not to let my own feelings get in the way of what needs to be said or prevent me from listening to other people. Mr M is very pragmatic and sees things from a completely different perspective, which is inordinately good for me.  The J in INFJ means that I like clear guidelines, that I favour equality and seek closure. If you step outside the confines of these ideals it sets off in me an emotional response.

A friend of mine and I have been having difficulties recently. She is making decisions based on my recent withdrawal from her, the reasons for which, she does not know. I chose not to share these reasons with her because this friend is having a tough time and I didn’t want to say anything to her that would cause discord because I felt she had enough on her plate. I wanted to support her without being a burden, however this became burdensome to me, in a way–I internalise matters a lot and eventually it needs to come out. My desire for harmony has kept me from being honest with my friend. I chose to internalise what I felt and this was not fair to her as she did not understand the reasons why I had withdrawn. The treatment I’ve had because she is acting in ignorance served only to make me feel punished for said withdrawal. I’ve had my share of life stress recently in what feels like bucket loads. I shan’t bore you with the details but suffice it to say, I am emotionally and psychologically exhausted. 2013 has been a wonderful, surprising and hellish year all at the same time. So I’ve chosen to put our friendship on a time out. I need to take some time for myself, replenish my reserves, which for any introvert is vital. Time will tell if we can navigate our way through this labyrinth. I am still unsure of whether or not I want to, or even should, tell my friend my reasons for withdrawal. I do know however, that everyone deserves honesty from their friends because if you cannot get it from the people who love you, who can you get it from? I also cannot really expect people to treat me fairly–according to my standards–unless they know all the facts. I will need my friend’s buy-in to sort this misunderstanding out. If I get it and she is willing, we have a real chance at deepening and continuing our friendship, if she is unwilling I will consider that closure.

Thank you for reading.

I See My True Colours

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I saw this picture on the interweb and it struck a cord with me. It’s glaringly obvious that through your trials and tribulations the best and, of course, the worst in people will become evident.

What struck me though, is that the same was to become evident in me.

I was warned right in the beginning, just as the divorce wheels were set in motion, that people would pick sides. Nothing could have prepared me for what was to come, both positive and negative. While the positive had me in awe, the negative stunned me to my core.

The greatest surprise was watching an eleven year friendship come to a sudden and abrupt end. All the laughter, tears, love and care that I had ploughed into this living, breathing entity, started to evaporate. Julia and Harry (not their real names) both of whom I had introduced to Gerald, decided to remain friends with him. I would never have expected them to suddenly cut him out of their lives, however this is exactly what they ended up doing but to me. I heard completely by accident of their attendance to parties and social gatherings at my ex’s house–which is categorically not what I was hurt by. I was hurt by the fact that Julia was not upfront with me. Because she did not volunteer this information, I immediately felt she was keeping it from me and all I felt at the time was betrayal. Something to note is that we stood up for each other at each other’s weddings. The chasm that opened up in me was massive and it quite simply, broke my heart.

On the converse, however, the two other friends I have, who I now consider my closest confidants and heroes, truly stepped up to the plate. I was afforded a safe place to unload, cry, make jokes about and mourn this loss. The strength, wisdom and candour of these women buoyed me to calmer waters where I was able to get perspective and differentiate the wood from the proverbial trees. Something I have battled with my whole life. This is one lesson that has stuck with me. Instead of getting embroiled in the details, there is much to be gained by taking some breathing space to assess the situation from a distance. Your perspective is much clearer and you are able to recognise your own role in what went wrong with any given situation. This may seem obvious to some but some things take others longer to learn.

It did help that I was distracted by a budding romance, pretty soon, in fact, after the divorce. Not to cheapen that relationship but for various reasons, it was not to be one that would last. We came from vastly different backgrounds, faith systems and race groups. Try as we did, the emotional weight of that relationship became too much for me to bear. At one point, I realised that relationships should not be 80% hard work and 20% smooth sailing. It lasted longer than it should have because I was determined to make a success of it. To prove–to whom I’m not sure–that I was not ‘the problem’. My expectations were probably unreasonably high. That’s a lie, they were too high.

I had just reached a plateau of my first real coming of age. I had learned so much about myself, pieced so many of my past experiences together, made peace with a vast amount of emotional baggage that I had been carrying around since childhood and was expecting him to be at the same level. He wasn’t. He also began to display some, shall we say, unpleasant character traits. In the end, he ended it, tried to reconcile but this time, I had the presence of mind to put myself first.

This is for me, the greatest lesson of them all. I am driven by intimacy, in relationships in particular. I will often self-sacrifice for a relationship, be it romantic or platonic, that is not symbiotic. I hold the relationship itself close to me and so wish for it to be meaningful, that I allow people too much liberty to take what they need. The end result is that eventually my reserves are so depleted that I end up depressed, wondering what is wrong with me and feeling altogether unfulfilled. The only person to blame for this is me. People take because of how much I give. It’s up to me to audit how much I allow people to take.

This learning curve and subsequent self awareness has allowed me to build new relationships that are far more nurturing and balanced, that allow me to lean back. I would like to say thank you to those people for showing me, truly, how colourful and beautiful life can be.

You don’t see it at the time, but what comes after the dark is the bright light of  a new dawn, a new chapter of promise and hope.

Thank you for reading.