Breakdowns

I don’t know where they come from.  I haven’t figured out what triggers them.  Maybe it’s hormones.  Maybe it’s the weather.  Maybe it’s the food I am eating, the amount of time I’m spending with other people, the skipping of a yoga session, the waking up to a phone full of things that need tending to.  Maybe it’s the weird dreams or the social media comparison game. All I know is that I hate them.

They are why, for a long time, I stopped admitting to having good days. Or saying that “I’m enjoying this season” or “feeling so healthy.”  Because then when the hard days or moments inevitably hit again, I feel naïve, I feel like I lied. Or jinxed it.  Of course, nobody thinks that just because I am doing well in the moment, that I will not struggle any more.  Only I expect that of myself.  And then only I am shocked when another wave of anxiety-sadness-existential crisis washes over me.  Nobody thinks that my words are carved in stone, that everything I say is unchangeable, accurate, timeless. Only I expect that of myself.

“Yesterday you said how much you had grown, how much you were enjoying this season, how grateful you are for the ability to pursue your own artistic endeavors.  And now today you are crying because you feel directionless and unable to cope with your emotions. How fickle. How unstable.  What a liar.”

And the spiral begins.

I know I have grown.  I know I have coping mechanisms that I didn’t have four, three, or even two years ago.  I know these emotions are temporary (even when they don’t feel that way… when it feels like I will forever be in a cycle of normalcy-depression-breakdown-normalcy-hope-depression-breakdown…) But mind knowledge and heart knowledge are two completely different things.  And in the hard moments, my heart is so much more persuasive than my mind.

Sometimes I just need a good cry. To let the toddler in me throw a tantrum and wear herself out so that when she takes a nap, my adult self can actually get shit done.  But then if my teenage self is still awake and feeling angsty, there is still another hurdle to climb.

The conversation of the day is going something like this:

Adult self: What are we going to do today? What needs to get done? What goals are we trying to accomplish?

Teenage self: Does it matter? None of the things we did yesterday made any difference.

Adult self: Of course it matters! We have bills to pay, a household to run.  We need to be functioning members of society.  Adding value to the world.

Teenager: And you think we’re doing that by making dumb illustrations and shopping guides? Self published children’s books purchased by a handful of people?  Planting basil and rosemary on the windowsill?

Adult: Our impact doesn’t have to equal that of bestselling writers, celebrities, and activists.  Why can’t you be content with more modest goals? Plus, none of those people making big impacts got to that point in a day!  They had to build up to it.  Work for it.

Teenager: Okay sure, but what are we even working towards?  You’ve just been running around like a chicken with your head cut off trying to ‘produce content’ but what is that really doing?  Are you even having a small impact?  Are you bringing in enough to pay the bills? Are you happy?

Adult:

Teenager: See! You don’t know what you’re doing either! You just pretend to, so that we think everything is under control! So we don’t freak out and just keep mindlessly chugging along.

Adult:  Well, maybe we need an entrepreneurship class or to reevaluate our business plan.

Teenager: We reevaluate our business plan every other day!  We’re losing the little credibility we have every time we say, ‘we’re revamping/rebranding/moving in a new direction.’

A: Well, maybe we need to find worth an purpose outside of our ‘day job.’ Let’s start volunteering or…

T: Volunteering doesn’t pay the bills!

A: Why does every conversation come back to money??

T: Because you’re always harping on making a living and paying the bills and being a functional member of society and retirement and saving for a house and future children and—

A: Okay, yes, money matters. But it isn’t everything!  There’s friendship and caring for the environment and creating beautiful things—

T: “Beautiful” things for people to consume, adding to the consumer culture that we so desperately despise, and destroying the environment that we claim to care about.

A: Well maybe we need to go work for an environmental agency then!

T: We have no skills pertaining to that.  We have a degree in architecture and design, remember. And not the type of design that lends well to infographics and marketing.

A: Well, maybe if you spent some time learning those things and actually committed to something for once…

T: This conversation is getting out of hand.

A: I wish I could write for a living.

T: See!! Neither of us know what we want or what we are doing…

A: Let’s go for a walk.

T: It’s like 18 degrees outside.

A: Indoor yoga then.

T: Fine.  …But that’s not going to make us any money.

A: But we’ll have toned thighs.

T: Ah, yes. Finally the meaning of life.

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Breakdowns

. . . t i m e . . .

Time is minutes, seconds, hours, days.

Time is duration.

Time is movement, time is change.

Time is the beating of my heart, the pulsing of blood through my veins.

Time is scars, wounds, scabs.

Time is mechanical, time is fluid.

Time is bodily.

Time is a subjective experience.  Time is an objective reality.

Time is measurable, quantifiable.

Time is incomprehensible.

Time is the rotation of the earth, the movement of the planets.

Time is the changing of the leaves, the wrinkles in skin.

Time is the holes worn in clothing, the decay of buildings.

Time is the space between moments.

Time is the fourth dimension.

Time is long and short.

Time is waiting, time is living, time is breathing.

Time is eternal. Time is temporary.

Time is t; time is a variable.

Tim e is the ticking of a clock.

Time is a human construct.

Time is a social agreement.

Time is cyclical. Time is linear.

Time is regret, hindsight, planning, anxiety, remembering, forgetting.

Time is felt.

Time is overlay, layering, building, destroying.

Time is a canvas.  Time is a stage.

Time is a song with many tempos.

Time is an abyss.

Time is energy. Time is chaos.

Time is god.

. . . t i m e . . .

How to Deepen Conversations about Personality Type (11 of 30)

Recently, I have found that the more I dive into and learn about personality typology systems (Myers-Briggs, Enneagram, etc.), the more I tend to get frustrated when I find myself in conversations that are using them simply as a means for surface-level identification and differentiation.

Conversations like these:

“I’m a ENTP, what are you?”
“I’m an INFJ.” 
“Oh, cool.”
“Yep…”
“What about your Enneagram type?”
“I’m a four.”
“Sweet. I’m a seven.”
“Nice. Good to know.”

[end of conversation]

I find myself wanting to scream, “We aren’t using these in the way they were intended to be used!” But then I remind myself that I am part of the conversation too.  I am not letting on that I have been digging into cognitive functions stacks and instinctual variants, listening to podcasts and reading books. I am not asking questions that further the conversation or bring depth or to it.  Plus, I have to remember that not everyone has the time or desire to dig into the depths of personality psychology like I do.  Some people are content identifying their type and moving on, and that’s okay.  And some people would love to deep dive, but don’t know there is more depth to it or even if they do, they may not know where to start.  Because it honestly can all be incredibly overwhelming and convoluted, especially at the beginning.

And so today I have been brainstorming ways that I can engage more deeply when a conversation about personality type comes up.  I have come up with five questions that could help further the conversation:

Questions to Deepen Personality Type Conversations

  1. What do you feel like your type says about who you are?
  2. How do you feel your type impacts the way you interact with the world and the people around you?
  3. Has knowing your type helped you to see things about yourself that you hadn’t been aware of before? Can you think of any examples (and would you be willing to share them)?
  4. Has knowing your type helped you to plan steps in your personal development or identify ways you wish to grow?
  5. Are there ways you feel like you don’t fit with the stereotypes of your specific type? Parts that may not resonate with you?  Is there another type that you have mis-typed as in the past or tend to identify with?

And ideally asking these questions (or similar ones) would help to deepen the conversation, opening more doors for getting to know one another, more avenues for sharing and conversation.

For example, I am an INFJ. As an INFJ, my highest leverage point of growth (according to Personality Hacker, a site I am semi-obsessed with) would be developing my Extroverted Feeling (or Harmony as they have nicknamed it). So if someone asked me question 4, I could respond with something like:

“Through understanding more about my type (and myself) I have realized that I am not very great at having healthy boundaries with people.  I tend to go for quick and easy fixes to avoid conflict, instead of pressing into real solutions in order to find true harmony. I have been getting to dig deeper into my psyche to find where that originates, and through self-awareness I am working to establish more sustainable boundaries and a more healthy relationship with conflict.  What about you? Do you find you’re able to engage in conflict? Are there any specific ways you hope to grow or traits you wish to develop?”

Ideally, this could either continue our conversation about type if they have a knowledge of the system beyond the pop psychology aspect, or, equally compelling, it could launch us into a more general (yet still deep) conversation about life, struggles, ambitions, and growth.


So, what about you? Do you have answers to any of the questions above? Do you think they would be helpful for deepening a conversation about personality type? Are there any more you would add to the list or any strategies you have found for deepening conversation?  Let me know in the comments below!

How to Deepen Conversations about Personality Type (11 of 30)

this > that > the other thing (3 of 30)

One of the things that most frustrates me about myself, and humanity at large, is our seemingly constant and often rash judgements (of situations, people, actions, ideas, beliefs). Sure, there are some things that most people will agree are bad… murder, rape, racism.  And I don’t disagree. But too many judgements are made based on ignorance, misunderstanding, a cultural norm, or excessive pride. So many people have been hurt in the name of “goodness”… But if it causes that much hurt, how good can it actually be?

Example:

When you think of the words ‘witchcraft’ or ‘wiccan’ what comes to mind?

Some people would say spells, potions, magic, evil, or Satan.  But where have you gotten these ideas from?  Do you know if they are accurate? Have you researched these things for yourself before making a judgment about them?

I use this example particularly because of my own experience.  Being raised in the Christian tradition, the primary information I had about witches, wiccans, and paganism was incredibly biased and vague. In general the sense that I got was that these practices were evil, dangerous, and from the devil. However, I recently was doing some of my own research (all the while feeling embarrassed for my curiosity, ashamed for my interest, and fearful of judgment if my husband, family, church members, or peers found out.)  But the things that I found were so incredibly different from what I expected.  Take this YouTube video for example (skip to 2:55 for the start of the list):

All this isn’t to say that I am now a practicing Wiccan or anything… it’s just showing a pretty stark example of my assumptions having been based on the views of other people/institutions.  How many of my other beliefs and assumptions have I just absorbed and integrated into my life without checking their validity?

Another example along the same vein is the practice of tarot card readings.  Have you ever participated in a tarot card reading?  Do you simply view them as erroneous attempts at “fortune telling”? Consider these quotes:

“Tarot cards do not tell the future; rather, tarot is a tool for spiritual guidance and enables the person receiving the reading to connect to his or her inner wisdom,” she told INSIDER. “Tarot readings help a person understand what he or she needs to know about a particular situation. Decks are best used as a tool of inner wisdom and guidance, as readings give a person insight to past, current and future events based on the person’s current path at the time of the reading. The cards do not necessarily reveal what will happen, but instead, allow a person to gain an understanding of a situation and determine the best course of action based on what is known and what the cards show.”  (source, emphasis added)


Tarot is a divination method. It’s like a tool for your intuition; it doesn’t just say something on its own. It just helps you reframe a problem and see it from a new perspective.” (@1:56)


“Contrary to what the uninitiated might think, the meaning of divination cards changes over time, shaped by each era’s culture and the needs of individual users.” (source)
So based on these definitions, saying that tarot cards are dangerous is about the same as saying that listening to one’s own intuition and insight is dangerous.

So What?

So, let’s take another specific example: I hate when I see my own tendency to judge and yet I never feel better when I judge myself for how judgmental I am being.  In fact, even as I write this I am making a judgement. I am saying that one way of interacting with the world and people around me is better than another way. (An open-minded, intentional, grace-filled approach toward the world is, in my opinion, inherently better than a close-minded, rash, judgmental approach.)

And yet I am open to the idea that I may be wrong in this… and I would love to have a calm respectful conversation about it with anyone who is willing.

And I guess that’s my point.  At the end of the day, I think most of this comes down to a difference in values.  Something that is not going to be easily “fixed” or reconciled.  Something that takes time, honesty, and a willingness to journey into the uncomfortable.

Perhaps more empathy can be gained by thinking about the situation in terms of personal values:  If one person’s highest values are authenticity and personal freedom they are going to deem different things and ways of being as ‘good.’  (For example, freedom of speech, regardless of its potential impact on others.)  If someone else values interpersonal harmony above all else, they will be more likely to desire restrictions to personal freedom for the sake of getting along. Others may value commitment, patriotism, sacrifice, equality, efficiency, etc. And all of these impact their views of what is right, good, and desirable.  (Another post I wrote about a similar topic of ‘what is classified as a good reason?’ can be found here.)  Not to mention that all of these things are parts of a greater system running… You don’t just come out of the womb with these values.  There are so many things at play in every situation, that have brought us to where we are in this moment.  If you really understood all of those factors (from inborn temperament to family structure to childhood experiences to past relationships (see articles/books/podcasts on systems thinking for more info)) do you think there would still be room for judgment?  Or would we all be able to give each other (and ourselves) a little more grace?

And the thing is, I don’t see what harm could possibly come from this openness to conversation.  Especially given the fact that gentleness and acceptance and a desire to dig deeper don’t mean I am/you are necessarily condoning the behavior. What they do often point to is a preservation of humanity and a desire to understand. And it’s in these spaces of love, acceptance, grace, humility, and connection that we can move toward true goodness (whatever that may be).


Some Questions to Consider

🔸 What things are you judging because you don’t understand them? Or because they threaten your way of being? Or because someone else told you they are bad/wrong?

🔸Do you find yourself using the words ‘weird’ or ‘normal’?  What can that show you about the judgments you are making?

🔸What things in your life do you tend to feel judged about? Your way of parenting? Clothing choices? Career path? Aspects of your personality?

🔸Where are the spaces that you feel the least amount of judgment?  Are you cultivating those spaces in your own life and with the people around you?  

 

this > that > the other thing (3 of 30)

It was just an adjective.

Simple sounds
muffled amongst the layers of meaning
that wrap overlap and veil
Meant to convey
they confuse refusing to be as simple as they seem
Because we’ve imbued them all
Convoluted them all
And if they’re not in a dictionary yet, just you wait
And the words on the screen broken down
are just pixels perceived by your eyes
Any meaning perceived
all lies behind
where the lines are converted to sounds
wrapped around and around with meaning
A mean thing
created by the creatures determined to drown out the actual sounds and
Perhaps the magic of music is found
in the substance of sound without meaning,
sound just being

If I could only just be.

And feel

(The wind of the word
a i r
and the Teeth
(Are you feeling your Tongue Touch the Tip of your Teeth
and your breath breath breath)
the swish and the swash of the grass and
the buzz of the bugs
and the squish and the squash of the marsh
and the gal-lop gal-lop gal-lop)

When did sounds become words
and words become meaning
and meaning become so abstract
that I can’t even grasp what it is to mean.

It was just an adjective.