Introversion

I’m realizing more and more just how much of an introvert I actually am. I struggle between being happy that I know this about myself, and being absolutely frustrated at the implications of it.

I can only handle so much socialization before I feel so drained I can hardly function. Sometimes it’s almost a dream state, where I detach from reality while being pelted by all the outside stimulation that keeps my mind occupied and distracted from useful thought.

Of course, this could be because of my inferior Se… I’ve noticed I’m not so observant lately. Not as much as I’d like to be. Sure, I catch things after awhile… Sometimes, but not always.

Then of course there are the moments that I miss something entirely without realizing it until much later, later when it’s too late to fix it and make amends.

Ah, well. Such is life.

I can’t say I mind, really. During a recent visit home, it was interesting to see the difference between me and my extroverted mother. I love my mom, she’s great, but we are very different.

At one point, I was sitting down using my laptop, and she asked me how I was doing being alone, saying that she felt bad and would feel ignored and a little bothered to not be spending time with everyone. She did however ask if I liked the time alone, or if I felt the same way she would.

It was such an interesting thing. I was enjoying the down time. I love my family, but people are people, no matter how much you love them. Sometimes I enjoy just being alone in my shell.

Upon Self-Discovery

I think I knew it all along. My reaction to finding out I was an introvert was pretty much non-existent. I grew up in a large family that accepted each of us as we were. I never felt that I belonged, but I never felt completely… I was going to say odd, but I certainly did feel that one. But I suppose, I felt accepted even though I didn’t feel the same.

I don’t know if I had ever heard the term introvert before or not, it was so long ago. I first took an MBTI test because my husband (then boyfriend) sent it to me. (I guess he was more in the interviewing mindset than I was. haha)

Looking back on it, I’m kind of surprised by my reaction. I didn’t think much of it, though it was really powerful. I took the test and read the description, and it was like someone was reading my soul.

I had those four little letters, and didn’t think much of it beyond that. I suppose I didn’t really know that there was more to it than just a little test that people take.

So I went on a few years without anything really happening. And then I was working on a story, and I was stuck with the characters. Those four letters came up in my mind and I decided to look into it again.

I retook the test several hundred times, and also did it for characters. Suddenly things became more clear. I got so wrapped up in typing my characters that I forgot about writing them! And I learned SO much.

Everything in my life started to make sense and I wondered why I hadn’t looked further when I first took the test.

Learning I’m an INFJ has been so influential for my personal development. I had no idea that four little letters could provide as much explanation and insight as they have.

I’m curious, do you know your MBTI type? (If not, you can take a test here, though they don’t always give accurate results.) How has knowing your type influenced you?

Goals

I’ve put a lot of pressure on myself to be perfect; more often than not, based on others opinions and values rather than my own. I’ve realized that it is the most anti-productive thing to do, even if it were by my own standards.

I’ve done my fair share of reflecting, and goal-making, but I’ve never really been into typical New Year’s resolutions.

What’s the difference? Well, I had always thought a resolution is something one makes up their mind to change about themselves or their lifestyle with blunt force starting on a particular day, while a goal is something that one wishes to attain, check off a list, or move toward. Maybe they’re the same thing, maybe not. I’m not really sure anymore.

I’m not saying that I don’t have aspirations to change or to be a better person, but those are things that are a lifelong journey, it’s a process of transformation, not something to force or change all at once. Far too often, resolutions are only to be abandoned when all the energy is gone and we’re left feeling weak and weary from putting too much pressure on ourselves to be perfect. We then give in and give up, leaving those items on the list until the following year when we pick it up again.

Try and fail.

Changes in life happen one step at a time, not all at once, and I, personally, believe this is the downfall of resolutions. It’s too much pressure all at once, we bog ourselves down with too much to handle until we give up, and berate ourselves that we couldn’t follow through.

This is where patience and understanding for ourselves come in. We have to be willing to relax and give ourselves a break, taking one step at a time, not trying to take them all at once. It’s no wonder we get so discouraged and burnt out by the end of the year!

So I suppose I do like resolutions in the sense of having a direction to move in.

I do have goals and a to-do list for the year. I used to make monthly goals. They worked quite well for me and I loved seeing one item being checked off the list at a time, ending each month with a burst of encouragement that all things were possible.

One step at a time, an ebb and flow that allowed me to take a deep breath, knowing fully well that all my tasks were completed, or would be on time, and if not, could be easily transferred without much harm dome. Each month, I would start off fresh with a clean slate.

Somehow, in the chaos of moving, I dropped this habit. And I’ve felt somewhat directionless ever since. There are some things I’ve been meaning to do that require uninterrupted time, time without travels and visits, time alone and to myself, where my mind is clear and free to wonder wherever it may wish.

My intention was to begin my goals again after the holidays. That is still my intent. I’ve made a master list, then I will go and once again create specifics for each month, one at a time.

I noticed something different though.

When I first sat down to write out my goals, I had a list of mundane, boring things, that honestly, were rather self-absorbed and shallow. They didn’t quite hit on what I wanted, but they came close enough, and from the outside, I would appear successful if I were to check off each one.

Something was wrong with this picture.

I realized that I needed to get to the core and the heart of the issue. If I am to actually complete my goals this year, I have to be accurate in my motivation. In order to do that, I would have to break down the things that I wanted, and why.

The why is one of the most important things, and, often, one of the most challenging things to deduce. One thing leads to another, and deeper and deeper it goes.

But what was my underlying motivation? What was at the heart and soul of these things that I thought I needed?

That is what I was determined to find out. And so, I tried again.

I made a list of all my basic goals, and realized that they weren’t as bad as it had originally seemed. Sure, there were still some mundane things, but they weren’t all like that. Once I had that list (a very long one, I might add), I needed to break it down. Common themes, the motivation behind wanting each particular thing that I wanted.

What did I find? At the root of it all, it comes down to purpose. I want purpose, I want inspiration, I want to be a light and inspiration to others, and I want to be inspired. I want to be a support and encouragement to others, and I want that field of positivity to surround me.

I want to be a light. Not only to cast out the darkness in my own life, but to shine bright in others’ lives as well.

I don’t want to be perfect by the world’s standards. I want to be perfect by God’s standards. And He’s in the process of making me complete. I have a very long way to go, but I’m taking it one step at a time. And with this, comes accepting a transformation rather than a sudden change, being patient through the growing process, and having some directions to head in, rather than a strict list of things I must do.

This journey is such a blessing, such a gift. I want to use it wisely.

How do you feel about New Year’s resolutions? Are they something you keep, or do you have another method? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Safe Place

“Hold it all together, everybody needs you strong…” I don’t know why it is, but I attract broken people like a moth to a flame. I think this is a common INFJ thing. (If you’re an INFJ, does this happen to you?)

I’ve had even total strangers confide in me about their struggles or look for advice. I don’t say this to gloat, I say this because it’s happened, and I’m not really sure why.

My husband tells me that one of the things he liked about me was that I was a safe person and am easy to talk to.

It seems that when crisis hits, people come to me to talk. I feel the pressure to save everyone, to be that rock, that solid anchor. But I can’t be. I want to be there for others so badly, but I can’t save them. I don’t have that power or control.

“Then life hits you out of nowhere and barely leaves you holding on…” I know what it’s like to fall apart and feel alone, and I don’t want anyone else to have to experience that. And it crushes me that I can’t just reach in and save them and take the pain away.

But God can.

Sometimes we need to step out of His way and allow Him to be the Savior, instead of playing God.

But God is our hiding place. He is our refuge from the storm. He is our safe place that we can run to, even in our weakest of moments. I’d like to think that I can show even a little glimmer of His love when people come to me for shelter. But my life is messy, and I feel like I fail at that more often than not.

I’m not strong enough to take on the world. And it’s such a relief to know that I’m not responsible to save everyone (very difficult to accept too!), and to know that all I need to do is share God’s love and the hope I have in Him.

I won’t pretend to have it all together, I don’t. But one thing I do know — God uses broken people.

Just Be Held

The other day I saw a post about songs as testimonies and it got me thinking what song sums up where I am in life right now. The song that came to mind is Just Be Held by Casting Crowns.

The first time I really listened to this song a few weeks ago, each new line spoke to me, where I’ve been and how I’ve felt.

It’s so full of truth and encouragement. This life can feel so heavy sometimes, and it’s always good to have a reminder that God is faithful through it all.

I’m a fixer, and this song reminds me that I don’t have to carry the weight and fix everything on my own. Though I do need to learn to surrender and turn everything over to God.

Every line, every word. I could go through it one line at a time and say what it means to me, but I think I’ll just let you listen to the song and let it do the speaking.

What song speaks to where you are in life right now? I’d love to hear from you and listen to your song. 🙂

Red

I found out the other day that Red has a new album coming out soon. I listened to the 2 songs they have up from the album, and they’re good and still sound like them, but it revealed to me just how much I’ve changed, and that was encouraging.

Red used to be my go to music when I was depressed, it was often the only thing that would help me feel any better, but also allow me to just sit with my feelings if that’s what I needed to do. And I realized while listening to the new songs (it’s been a while since I’ve listened to their music in general), that I don’t need them the same way I used to.

Maybe this is a breakthrough. I’m not the person I was, but I’m still unsure of the person I will be.

Extroverting Thoughts And Feelings

I took a bike ride earlier. It was so beautiful and peaceful, seeing all the fall leaves scattered on the ground, slightly cooler weather, though summer’s still holding on. Being out in nature always makes me think, it’s a time where I reflect, analyze, and often talk to God. And It’s when I find myself to be the most thankful and grateful for all the wonderful things I have.

Our thoughts and minds aren’t always sufficient, though we’d like to think they are. So sometimes we need to process those thoughts and feelings with another. I suppose that’s why therapy can be so helpful, it forces us to extrovert our thoughts and feelings, to bring the things that have been lingering in darkness to light.

Speaking forces us to articulate the jumbled string of whatever it is that floats around in our head. Sometimes speaking it, and talking with someone else, can help untangle the mess of thoughts and feelings, and help us to understand not only ourselves, but also others.

I have an INFJ friend who is the same. I think it’s probably the extroverted feeling. Without it, tertiary loops are too easy to get into and we’re left spinning on our own with no clear way out.

In the case where another person is unavailable, I’ve also found journaling to be helpful, though there’s still something grounding about having another person to reflect things back and share their own thoughts and feelings too.

Do you find (even as an introvert) that talking with others can help bring clarity to your thoughts and feelings? I’d love to hear your experience with this.