that I need to break, truth be told, I have a rather large amount of habits that I need to break but this one particularly needs to go. I often assume that my veiw of the world matches that of others around me… scandalous, I know. My grandpa Radford used to always say, “Neva assume anythin’, it’ll make a’ ass outta you and me.” I am not certain that I ever felt like an ass for making an assumption about…well…anything. It has landed me in some sticky situations and more often than not it has lead to me feeling isolated because it finally dawned on me that possibly 6% of the population saw what I was seeing.
So, here is the rub; as an INTJ I am hardwired to see what is wrong in the world and then come up with solutions which has a tendency to make me come across as hypercritical and a bit of a kill joy. I pace, I rant (mostly to myself), I spend a great deal of time forming solutions that to an outsider might seem obsessive. To me this is the status quo and to those around me….well…it’s an annoyance at best. It was recently brought to my attention that others, when faced with this show, think that I am complaining and asking them to fix the problem at hand. I was gobsmacked! Complaint and needing to be rescued were never the intention behind this process. I now rant, pace and obsessively seek solutions in the company of my cat, she gets to nap in the window and I get to process pertinent information without misconception.
So, getting back on track…as an INTJ I started to notice that the world was broken at a very young age and in true INTJ form I set out to tell people how broken the system was with all the sarcasm and abrasive bluntness at my disposal. I was kicked out of church, off the school bus and expelled from school for 3 days ( there were also a handful of detentions served) and technically I am still serving a lifetime sentence of being grounded (imposed by my mortified parents) and though I am certain it is hard for them to enforce, now that I am adult and not living under their roof, it does explain why they seldom inform me of family functions. Life, I have found, has a funny way of kicking the meaness out of you and luckily my grandma Martha explained that you could “catch more flies with honey than vinegar.” In truth, I wasn’t trying to be mean, I was trying to inform for reform but she had a valid point.
Here I am 36 years later and the rest of the human race has apparently figured out the world system is broken and I am fighting that INTJ urge to say, “I told you so.” I would allow myself to revel in smug satisfaction except that the solutions people are coming up with are going to play out as one of those ‘out of the frying pan into the fire’ scenarios. An example from my home country: People want President Trump impeached. Here is the problem…there are a lot of unknowns at play with this scenario and one of the most frightening is VP Pence could “officially” take over. Does anyone outside the State of Indiana know anything about Pence’s policies? Look them up! POTUS is a pawn and I am certain that this is why he comes off as simultaneously daft and diabolical. The political swamp has not been drained, it is still full and festering. I hate politics, it is what it is, so I am stepping down from my soapbox.
So what’s a peep to do if they want change in the world? Well…
If you want change in the world, you have to be that change. Cliche but still true. Here is the problem…most of us are afraid to take a good scrutinizing look at our “self.” It is much easier to blame the system or blame others. This makes you a victim, even if you appear to be wearing the cloak of martyrdom, you are still playing the victim. You have given away your power. You are waiting for someone to swoop in and rescue you, in fact you are expecting it and then disillusioned when the people or organizations you thought were there to uplift, support or save you cease to do so. If you happen to be a martyr this still applies, the difference is you are also harboring resentment because you feel after helping so many other’s the least someone could do is help you in your time of need. Oh Expectation, thou art a heartless bitch!
For those of you that are actively trying to change the system, your activism is still a form of relinquishment. What ever it is that you are fighting against has the control because your activism comes from a place of fear which makes you reactive…you, essentially, just defeated yourself as well as your cause. Some of you are probably thinking “what a bitch.” I am not saying these things to be mean and I am not callous or as detached (emotionally) as people suspect. This comes from my personal experience. I gave my personal power away for years. I have been a victim, a martyr and an activist. I have been many things that I am not proud of but I eventually realized they have all been self imposed. I chose to be those things and if I chose them than I can choose not to be them. The power is and always has been yours.
Steps to reclaiming your personal power:
A). Get to know “You.”
Take a personality test (Myers-Briggs, Enneagram). I found this to be very interesting not to mention validating and I wish I had taken one sooner (as an adult…took one in childhood but missed the significance. I was an INTJ then and an INTJ now…if only I had paid attention). Why is this important? It is going to help you peel back the layers of parental expectation, societal principles and religious dogma that we have girded ourself with during our lifetime so that you find your core and accept and embrace “you.” It will also help you to understand how you process the world and your place in it. In short it is going to reveal your strengths and weaknesses and how to navigate them so you function from a balanced state. I started with Myers-Briggs and recently took the Enneagram ( I am a 1w5) which is helping to flesh out all the personality data from the MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator). It is informative but not threatening and I feel understood and now have a better idea of how the rest of the population perceives me.
B). Re-train your brain!
We have spent our lifetime being conditioned or trained by our parents, peers, societal and cultural cues and let’s not forget Media ( television, movies, music, magazines, internet, etc…you get the picture) all training us to be similar. I know I didn’t take a close look at who I was for years. It was a frightful thought. I knew I was different and I was conditioned to believe that being different was bad, I was bad, I therefore, must conform. Conformity was stressful, awkward and made me miserable and did nothing to stave off that genetic predisposition towards Bi-polar. So, here is what you need to know…you aren’t a horrible person! Yes, you might be wounded, broken, flawed, you might even feel like you have hit rock bottom (btw…you in the abyss, this will be an easier process for you because all that conditioned crap you clothed yourself with has been painfully ripped off, gone are the delusions and the volley of identity illusions. Its do or die time so start clawing your way out. You can do it!).
Stop comparing yourself to siblings, friends, co-workers and celebrities. Be aware of your weaknesses but don’t limit yourself because of them. Everyone has a weakness but it doesn’t have to define who you are or what you are capable of.
Be aware…of your thoughts, your self talk, even what you say to other people. Words have power so choose them wisely. It goes without saying that we should never use words to wound other’s but we seldom apply that to our selves. Most of us have an inner monologue that keeps us from achieving goals. You know the one that berates us for having a cookie and destroying our diet and then convinces us to eat the whole bag since we already failed then beats us up some more by saying we always fail….at everything…eating the entire bag of cookies just proved it. That inner voice needs to be changed. That monologue is on a habitual loop and you can change it…you can either form a new and positive one or embrace everything about you until that monologue ceases to have power.
Stop reacting from an emotionally unconscious level. I have noticed that everyone seems to be overly emotional these days and with good reason…the world appears to be a chaotic place but you do not have to add to it. When you realize that something/someone has induced a state of fear, panic, anxiety or anger, don’t blindly react. Step back for a moment, take a deep breath and assess the situation then act. I am obviously referring to media coverage of current world events such as natural disasters, political craziness and terrorist attacks, just to be clear. We are so emotionally charged that people are fighting over stupid things constantly and everywhere. There are no safe spaces. I recently was fed up with the bickering over the state of the world and who is to blame on FB and so I checked into one of the pages I follow on knitting. I figured there wouldn’t be any fights there…I was wrong. Seriously!
If you aren’t sure how the media circus affects you then unplug for a week…trust me you will still know what’s going on with the world.
C). Don’t take things personally! Most people don’t intentionally set out to hurt other people so if someone says or does something to upset you don’t get angry. Let it slide. If you can’t get past it then there is a good chance you have an emotional wound that needs some attention. If the person who offended you continues there is a very good chance they have an emotional wound, if you are inclined then help, if not, let be, do not engage and they will take their fight somewhere else. You do have a choice and you do not have to participate in another person’s drama.
D). Forgive yourself. In the process of becoming authentically you, you will face some emotions revolving around guilt. I felt like an idiot for trying to please my parents for so long, I felt like a horrible human being when I realized how I had hurt other people by trying to be someone I wasn’t. You can’t get stuck in that guilt. You can only acknowledge that you were doing the best you could at that time and if it helps, apologise to the people you think you hurt but make sure you are on that list too.
E). Educate! Thoroughly research both sides to any argument not just the side you favour. This will have you prepared for anything that might be thrown at you, and it is always wise to understand where the opposition is coming from; plus, you might just find some commonality that will create unity rather than division.
You can Google Myers-Briggs or Enneagram for free personality tests.
Photo: taken with Nikon DSLR 5300, Rajasthan, India