Tag Archives: Self

Don’t Wallow

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I just read a great article by my favourite author, Donald Miller at his Storyline Blog.

It was about not giving into self-pity, and he gave the example of an Olympic ice skater who knew how to not wallow in his mistakes. You can’t wallow when you’re performing in a competition and make a mistake. You have to pick yourself up quick smart and keep going even when it feels so demoralizing to fall.

This lesson can be applied to life. We’re gonna make mistakes, we’re gonna fail and fall regularly. We’re gonna have cause to to feel self-pity and wallow. But don’t be consumed by it, because it stops you from getting on with what you’re supposed to be doing.

I know when I do something stupid, I can cut myself up about it for ages. This doesn’t help anything at all. So there’s no use wallowing in it and thinking I’m the worst of the worst.

No, I learn my lesson. I made a mistake, I learn from it, and then I move on.

When I don’t move on and I wallow, it cripples me. I beat myself up and I become ineffective because I feel like I’m no good and have nothing to offer. I get consumed by my wallowing thoughts.

There’s no point.

I know.

I’ve done both. I’ve wallowed over a mistake and felt terrible for ages; and I’ve controlled my mind to stop dwelling on it and move on with the lesson I learnt.

I can tell you it took a lot of effort to control my mind because it naturally wanted to wallow, but I was so much better for it when I didn’t give into it. I wasn’t crippled, I wasn’t wasting time worrying when there was nothing I could do, and I could continue on with life and focusing on things that did matter.

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The Ebenezer Scrooge Effect

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“Classic studies in positive psychology show that expressing and experiencing gratitude bring peace of mind, satisfying personal relationships, and well-being. 

So what stops us from being more grateful? Research suggests that certain attitudes are incompatible with gratitude, such as an overemphasis on materialistic values. Rather than appreciating what we have in life we are focused on what we don’t have.

Imagining our own mortality can help us appreciate what we have and compel us to set new and less materialistic goals.”  See link: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/what-doesnt-kill-us/201311/the-ebenezer-scrooge-effect

To read the delightful story, see this marvelously illustrated link: 

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/24022/24022-h/24022-h.htm  

Being good enough….

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“If you can’t tolerate making the slightest mistake, if you constantly focus on negatives and strive to eliminate each and every one of them—or if you set your goals so high that you almost never feel capable of reaching them—then you’re afflicted with the self-defeating malady of perfectionism. And an additional problem caused by such a dysfunctional mode of functioning involves a strong tendency to procrastinate. For you’ll hesitate tackling anything you fear you won’t be able to do perfectly. Endlessly obsessing about doing things just right, your neurotically distorted perspective leads you to lose sight of critical matters regarding such things as timing, appropriateness, and efficiency.”  

See link: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/evolution-the-self/201310/how-do-you-know-whats-good-enough

You may also look at Winnicott’s ideas about ‘good enough mothering’.  Though Winnicott is discussing quite different issues here, it nonetheless has some interesting associations for the development of children…and the fostering of relationships. 

The Significance of Needs

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I was introduced early to the concept of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and have been fascinated by it ever since. This fits my ISTJ love of
English: Diagram showing the hierarchy of need...

English: Diagram showing the hierarchy of needs based on Abraham Maslow’s theories in the 1950s. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

categories, definitions and boundaries. It’s akin to my appreciation for personality tests as the categories are helpful to explain and understand observable features of people and life.

The hierarchy is based on the fact that humans have needs, and the most fundamental of these needs is represented by the first level of the hierarchy often displayed as a pyramid. There are various models of the hierarchy.

The four basic needs represented by the pyramid are:

  • Physiological needs
  • Safety
  • Love and belonging
  • (Some models add esteem needs here)
  • Self-actualization

Only when the lower levels are met can you concern yourself with the higher levels. For example, no matter how much you may want to contemplate your identity or the meaning of life, you may not be able to pursue this (let alone ask this) if you spend most of your time hungry and  all your energy is devoted to finding food. Only when you’ve met one type of need will you be able to move on to meet the higher level need.

Thus it has been theorized that people in the West are able to dedicate resources for building universities and libraries and live a life of learning because we tend to be well fed and clothed. Our worries won’t be about not having enough to eat so we are free to worry about things like what we look like and what job we should get.

On the other hand, people living in poverty don’t have this chance to ‘find out who they are’ or search for meaning in life because they’re too busy just trying to survive.

Perhaps part of social justice is allowing all people to not only have access to clean water and nutritious food but to be able to contemplate life and the more philosophical questions.

Or perhaps, this is just a horribly ethnocentric view. Perhaps people fighting for survival also think about the big questions of life and perhaps they have better answers than those in the West. Perhaps being able to read books and ask questions all day isn’t an ideal all people should be striving for.

Either way, I know I value thinking about the big questions and being able to do so without fear of where my next meal will come from. I enjoy it and part of me feels I need to pursue it too.

The hierarchy also suggests that if these four needs aren’t met in a person, they will (if not physically suffer) mentally suffer in terms of experiencing anxiety and frustration. I know I feel this mental tension and it’s part of the drive for The Cognitive Life and all my writing, and reading and learning.

While there are criticisms of the hierarchy, I see some validity in the theory and can take what is helpful and useful while being aware of its limitations.

There are other versions of the hierarchy of needs and this is one I found relevant.

While all stages are part of me, I think I must currently predominantly be at the ‘need to know and understand’ stage while aiming for those higher levels at the pinnacle of the pyramid and continuing to assess the lower levels.

Where are you?

I May be a Freak, but I’m Not the Only One

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When I discovered the Personality Café, I discovered I wasn’t alone.

I’m not one for joining online communities, but I joined Personality Café because I was so surprised and excited to find other ISTJ’s on there; people like me. I don’t know many people like me in my own network; I might share some characteristics with others, and it’s a bit of a thrill, but here online, I found people who were like the same person as me. I couldn’t believe I’d found people who actually liked and didn’t like the same things as me. I found people who reasoned and behaved the same way I did. It was amazing.

When I found out my personality type, I didn’t feel so weird, but when I found these ISTJ’s online, I felt even less weird.

I knew I’d found my kin when I read the first reply to a post about things you would rant about: “Loud people. Loud music. Loud cars with unnecessary modifications to the exhaust system.” I couldn’t help but laugh. I know exactly what you mean. When I added to the conversation by posting that I didn’t like microphones, vacuum cleaners or power tools, my fellow ISTJ’s were very enthusiastic in their agreement. Wow. I felt understood.

There were people who turned their mobiles off like me because we don’t like phones. There were people who made lists, turned up early, thought too much, planned everything, loved tradition and facts – like me. We are no fuss types, just get on with it people who forget to eat, sleep and socialize when we have something to do. We love rules, details and painstaking, meticulous work. We love working hard. We are the duty fulfillers!

Before, if I told you my personality type, I would have said it half apologetically, but with these fellow ISTJ’s,  I was proud to be one of them, and they were glad to have me. I’d write posts, and they’d reply saying that when they read them, they thought they were reading about themselves.

I spent a lot of my time in the ISTJ forum because I felt at home there, and even now when I feel like I’m the only ISTJ in the world, I can go back to that forum and remember there are others like me and we’re all okay; we don’t have to change into a different personality type to fit in.

Not only do I appreciate the ISTJ community, I appreciate the shared interest in wanting to know how people work. We want to understand the way people think and behave and like to think about the differences and similarities between people. They don’t just focus on MBTI but other personality tests, and they are interested in other topics such as philosophy, science and religion. It’s always great to find people who have the same interests as you, and it’s a good resource to learn more about personality.

Check out www.personalitycafe.com

Perfection vs Love

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I love it when something can completely change my perspective. And I love it when that change in perspective has a good impact on my life.

This happened to me when I watched another marvellous TED talk—this one was on vulnerability.

Sometimes we have a certain idea of what we should be like and when we don’t live up to this idea, we can feel disappointed, guilty, depressed or angry. I used to feel so guilty that I wasn’t what I thought I should be. I was hard on myself; I mentally berated myself all the time. Telling myself I didn’t need to be perfect didn’t work because deep down I still wanted to be perfect.

But after watching this video, something clicked. Now I believed that I didn’t need to aim for this perfect idea of myself. Instead, I’ve come to accept the me with all my flaws because I’ve learnt that having flaws isn’t a bad thing.

I’m okay with being imperfect; I’m okay with me. It was such a relief when I learnt this lesson and my perspective changed. It was like the guilt just lifted off me. There’s still things I don’t like about myself but that doesn’t mean I don’t like the whole person. Having things I don’t like about myself isn’t a reason to think the worst about me. Instead, I can accept I have things that aren’t great in my life and still say that I’m okay.

The goal isn’t to have the perfect personality, appearance, job, skills, etc. The goal is to love and be loved. Think about it this way: we can be perfect and not loved or we can be imperfect but loved. All my life I’ve wanted perfection over love. Now I want love over perfection.  That’s the key difference in my thinking. I believe people can be loved even when we’re imperfect. So there’s no need to strive for perfection anymore, unless you want perfection for perfection’s sake.

I wanted perfection because I thought it would make people, including myself, like me better. Now I just want to be myself. How amazing that when we are ourselves, people can love us more. And when we like ourselves, we’re free to love others better because we’re not worried what they’re thinking of us. We can just see them and love them, instead of see ourselves through their eyes.

I hope this helps all the people who think they need to be perfect, simply be me sharing what changed for me. I couldn’t force the change; it just happened. I hope it happens to you too.

Let go of who you think you should be, and just be. Take that burden off your shoulders of who you think you should be. Just be. You don’t have to be anyone else than who you are.

A Mask: Freedom or a Prison?

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In the movie Never Been Kissed, Drew Barrymore plays Josie, a journalist who goes undercover as a high school student. In her disguise as a student she is able to deal with her identity issues while falling in love with a teacher. This idea of being in disguise is paralleled by the story her class reads, Shakespeare’s ‘As You Like It,’ where Rosalind was able, through her disguise, to express her love for Orlando. The teacher makes the point that there’s a freedom that comes from being in disguise.

What the teacher said resonated with me because I can relate to it. For example, when all my friends are tipsy or drunk, and I’m the only sober one, I am so much freer because I’m not worried about what anyone thinks of me; no-one’s thinking clearly, and they’ll probably forget anyway. The disguise in this case is alcohol, and I can say what I really think and be more open. I’m the definition of cool, calm and collected but in disguise I’m free to be anything I want to be.

The same kind of thing happens when I meet a stranger or am in an environment different to my normal day-to-day life. I feel I can be whoever I want to be because the stranger or the people in the new environment don’t know anything about me. That’s why sometimes I share things with a stranger that I wouldn’t normally share with anyone else, because I feel free to be me around them. They have no expectations of me, and I probably won’t ever see them again so I’m not worried about what they’ll think of me.

So while I understand this concept of freedom coming from being in disguise and wearing a mask, there’s another part of me that wonders if a disguise is really just a disguise and a mask is just a mask. What happens when you become the disguise and you start to live a lie? There’s no freedom, just a prison.

Sometimes I feel like I’m in a prison. Have I done such a good job at being the person everyone sees, that I’ve come to believe this is who I really am? How do you know who you are when the masks you wear never come off? The mask becomes real and you become the mask. Sometimes I don’t know the difference between the mask and me. It seems like the mask and I have been moulded together over the years, and they are so deeply entwined with each other that they’ve turned into something that has become who I am, leading me to question if there is even a mask at all.

Sometimes a mask gives me freedom to let my real self come out; other times it’s a prison and all I do is hide.

Psychotic Episode (I Have No Ego)

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Psychotic Episode (I Have No Ego)

I have no ego. . . my psychotic episode.

The schizophrenic experiences a stunning barrage of continuous, horrifying symptoms: auditory hallucinations, delusions, ideas of reference, paranoia, etc. The “indescribable severe torture” is unrelenting and can go on except during sometimes restless sleep, at whichtime the symptoms are even active when one becomes conscious at all. This experience is so overwhelming it is beyond the imagination. It cannot be conceived of intellectually. By its very nature it in fact necessitates the concept of religion in order to relate to it at all. This continuous experience of psychotic symptoms can be viewed as “spiritual exercises in perfection”. The effect on the schizophrenic is similar to that of monks when practicing their rituals in monasteries. When these spirited exercises become a lifestyle for the schizophrenic (lasting 8-10 years) with no real evidence given to the schizophrenic that he will ever recover, a fascinating thing happens to the psyche of that schizophrenic—he loses the perspective of “ego”. Ego consists of all his identifying factors in the world: his age, sex, race, religious affiliation or lack thereof, education level, social class, political affiliations, nationality, etc. He begins to see his environment with the eyes of a newborn, without the bias or prejudices, preconditions of his particular circumstances. It can be seen as a sort of continuous baptism by fire, a kind of purification, enabling him to see reality for what it is in actuality, rather than being viewed through the preconceptions of his individual mental, emotional, and behavioural repertoire instilled in him from birth. The schizophrenic in this condition is able in his interior to walk around in someone else’s moccasins with perfection. This can be seen as loving your neighbour as you love yourself, perfectly. I do not believe it is a condition that can be acquired by a “normal” individual by any method, because the horror of the symptoms of schizophrenia are unduplicable by man. (Religious persons would call this condition repentance for all one’s sins, e.g. “perfect repentance”.) ~Source

Recommended readings on the absence of ego in the SchizoAffective (schizophrenic) mind:

*Image Credit (used with permission through CC license):
“walking on the razor’s edge in the underground train world : manhattan (2007)” by torbakhopper

 

 

 

 

 

The Best Personality Test

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The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a personality test based on Carl Jung’s theory of types. The test determines the preferences people have in terms of how they see the world and make decisions. These preferences are what shape a person’s interests, values, motivations, skills and needs.

There are four sets of dichotomies that are measured on a scale:

  • How you’re energized- extroversion (E) or introversion (I)
  • How you take in information- sensing (S) or intuition (N)
  • How you make decisions and evaluations- thinking (T) or feeling (F)
  • How do you structure the world- judging (J) or perceiving (P)

All eight are used but people differ in which ones they prefer to use. We might not know we prefer one trait over another but it’s the one we naturally do without even thinking about it. The trait that is preferred tends to be more dominant and highly developed than the other trait in the dichotomy.

Here’s a brief explanation of each trait:

Extroversion- Focus on the external world of action, people and things
Introversion- Focus on the internal world of reflection, thoughts and ideas

Sensing- Perceive the world through the five senses and what is present
Intuition- Perceive the world through insights and possibilities

Thinking- Objective decisions are made based on logic
Feeling- Subjective decisions are made based on values

Judging- Approach the world in a structured, planned, organized way
Perceiving- Approach the world in an open, flexible and spontaneous way

Once you know which four preferences you have, you know your personality type, which is expressed as a four letter code. There are sixteen types:

ISTJ ISFJ INFJ INTJ
ISTP ISFP INFP INTP
ESTP ESTP ENFP ENTP
ESTJ ESFJ ENFJ ENTJ

All types are equal and valid. There is no best type. They are simply different ways of seeing the world and making decisions.

Get to know and love your type but remember you are not just your personality. Personality makes up a part of you, and your MBTI type is only a part of your personality (other personality tests may show you different things about yourself). There is more to you than your type and there will be unique things about you that don’t match up with your type. No personality test will be able to describe or explain you completely, but I still see their worth for the small measure they do help you to know yourself better.

I have found the MBTI personality test to be the best because it has helped me understand myself better than any other test. You can read about that in this post: MBTI and Personality Enlightenment.

How well do you know yourself?

To find out your personality type, do this personality test.

Once you’ve found out your personality type, go to this personality profile page and click on your four letter code. I have found these particular profiles to be the most useful but you can also type your type into Google and check out what other profiles say about you.

Leave a comment with your type and the name for your type – I’d love to know how accurate you think it is for you and if it helped at all.

The Value of Personality Tests

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I’m an advocate of the personality test because understanding yourself and others are always a good thing. Knowing your personality can be helpful for many reasons including:

  • You can understand why you do things, what motivates you, how you think and what you value
  • You can identify your strengths and weakness so you can develop both and especially use what your good at
  • You can work to change the things you want to improve
  • You can adapt, manage, develop and use your personality to get the most out of it
  • You can accept it and love it

I’m not about personality being a box people are put in and being something that is restricting. Personality is dynamic and the personality test is simply a tool to know yourself better. It allows you to know what you’ve got so you can work with it.

Knowing about personality also helps you to understand, appreciate and get along with people of different personality types. The first step is being aware that differences exist and the second step is understanding those differences. Conflict can be avoided by understanding how other people see things since we all think differently and value different things.

Get to know and love your personality but remember you are more than your personality, and personality tests will only reveal a part of your personality. Different tests may show you different things about yourself but there will be unique things about you that don’t match the personality profiles. No personality test will be able to describe or explain you completely but their worth comes from the amount they do explain.

Here’s a selection for you to try:

I know not everyone is a fan of personality test but they’ve been very valuable in my life. What do you think of the personality test and which ones do think are most accurate?

Stay tuned for a post about MBTI – the best personality test I’ve found that has helped me so much.