Monday, April 28, 2008

Inside and Out

I have been reading an amazing book , Raising Your Spirited Child, to better understand and parent my daughter. She is incredible, brilliant, funny, sweet, and more sensitive, more dramatic, more aggressive and sometimes more overwhelming than most people know. Life with her is a constant roller coaster of highs and serious lows. She is not autistic or ADHD, but very spirited. This will serve her well as an adult, but I need to know how to get her there with our relationship still intact. For more info about spirited children, read the inside excerpts on Amazon and you will get a good picture of what I mean.

This post isn't about her though, it is about me. The act of discovering my daughter's personality traits and needs has let me see my own more clearly. Needless to say, I am spirited. Not to the extremes my girl is, but in some ways we are so similar. I couldn't see through my frustration to recognize that. This is an ongoing process and I am just now scratching the surface. I need to share one trait that she and I both share, one that now makes sense of much of my life.

I am an introvert. I am classified as an INFJ on the Myers-Briggs. This lands me in a small percentage (1-3%) of the population. So, yeah, I feel a little misunderstood most of the time. One of the most taxing encounters with others has always been when extroverted people ask me a question, which I take a moment to think of a succinct answer to, and they misinterpret my pause as ignorance, hearing problems, or confusion. These people then immediately ask again or jump to the conclusion that I have nothing to say. This usually happens in the span of 2.5 seconds by the way. The author, Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, notes that introverts like to reflect before they answer and extroverts need an immediate response. This leads to frustration for both.

This also opens my eyes to many of my familial relationships. Certain people in my life always ask me a question, only to ask another as I am opening my mouth to respond to the first, which causes me to back track mentally, revise verbally, and stutter a response to which this person then tries to finish the thought for me to fill in the gaps... but they are never right about what they think I was going to say. I am left exhausted, cranky, and never did get to give my brilliant minimal response. I often wish I could say to these people, "I will tell you the secret to the darned universe if you would just shut up and listen." Extroverts like this are terrified of a pause in conversation like I am of heights. Didn't know that either did ya?

Thanks for reading my self analysis if you have gotten this far. The book is a wonderful resource for understanding all of your relationships, not just for those with children. I suspect many people will benefit from the information and be able to apply the dynamics to their lives. This is only one tiny example of a huge frustration I have had since childhood. Now I am better equipped to catch myself before I fall prey to frustration and evasion. Just remember the next time you ask a question to actually listen (mouth closed- ears open) and you may be pleasantly surprised by the response.


Tammy said...

Sounds like a book I need! I'm e-mailing you with some questions.

Mom said...

I just ordered the book! I can't wait to delve into it so Nana will know how to respond to our spirited girl as well. We may just find that it all started with your Mother's high spiritedness and compounds with each generation. (I'm so sorry!)

Lolly said...

beautiful post about family. great pics too!

Sandra said...


Kim said...

my hubby is an INFJ too! it is very unusual to meet people who fall into that category.

and the book sounds incredible, i must check it out. my son has down syndrome, but is very active and involved, and i have been trying hard to balance the free spirit i want him to have to he does not become a boring adult that has a flat personality!

thank you for the comment btw, and yes, i do love massage, it is a dream job for me when i can do it, and it's something to look forward to getting back to full time as my son gets better and better.

it is the first job where generally, i walk away feeling fantastic, physically (it's a workout) and mentally (it's quiet) and those two things i need the most to keep me a balanced person. and the other perk is that hopefully the receiver walks aways feeling good too.

:) kim