7 Hard Life Lessons for an INFJ

“Superman” vs. A Rainbow

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Superman is an inflated ego and a disappearing self. He lacks the spark. What would the rainbow be if it had no dark cloud behind it? ~Carl Jung, Conversations with C.G. Jung, Page 63.

Hello, my name is Michelle Lynn, and I am an INFJ.  This isn’t an Alcoholic’s Anonymous meeting, but I do have certain addictions associated with my personality type I would like to talk about here.  Like a lot of INFJs, I have an intense inner drive to help people, love people, be all things to all people, be perfect, be an example, and be serving a greater purpose in the world.  I just celebrated a major milestone birthday, and I would say I have spent a good portion of my life trying to be an image of something, as opposed to being a representation of what I really am.  I envision myself as a modern day Superwoman of sorts.  I have always known my INFJ powers to love, help, and heal, and while I have assisted a great many people throughout my life, the inflated ego of being a “Superman,” as Carl Jung points out, is really only a disappearing self.  It’s not something that can last in reality, and when we believe ourselves to be an ideal, we push down our own dark clouds.  We push them down so far that they fail to produce rainbows, and they manifest themselves in much more stormy and sinister ways- ways that do more harm than good.

Up until recently, I would have seen nothing wrong with trying to be Superwoman.  In previous articles, and on my podcasts, I have talked about being an INFJ and how certain characteristics can lead to some negative consequences, but it is possible I have always done it more from the perspective of how other people need to understand me instead of how I need to understand them, or myself.  This is a hard realization for me, painful in fact.  I am always challenging others to do ego work by looking at themselves, but in true INFJ fashion, I have a much harder time recognizing, and an even harder time admitting, my own needs and ego.  That is my darkness.

Jung reminds us that an unacknowledged darkness can be dangerous.  It cannot be taken lightly or ignored. Shadow theory suggests that the harder we fight our true self, and fail to recognize our own flaws and weaknesses, the stronger these negative aspects become.  As well-read as I am on Jungian psychology, and as well-versed as I am on the topic of shadow personality, nothing really has prepared me for for my own eruption, followed by the sudden epiphany, that I can’t live the rest of my life making the same mistakes.  I’ve always been a bit befuddled by how a person with my intentions, and genuine love for people, could constantly be mucking things up, and I reluctantly admit that I have allowed myself to play the victim, and projected my weaknesses onto others at times in the past.  That upsets me greatly in the present.  I have painfully watched patterns from the past repeat themselves in various aspects of my life, without the full realization, that I have had some level of control over these moments.  I blamed it on bad luck, being gullible, or loving too much, and while in some cases those are also true, I have failed to recognize the role I played in most of these situations.

I am not writing this piece to excuse any past behaviors or to ease my conscience. I am writing this piece for myself and to other INFJs as a reminder that careful monitoring of our ego is needed throughout our lives.  INFJs are truly wonderful individuals with amazing gifts that can inspire people and change the world, but to be a bit cliche sounding, with great power comes great responsibility.  We have the power to transform, but we also have the power to destroy.  The universe is funny like that, always looking to balance everything out.  I wish I would have learned this, and some of these hard life lessons, earlier in my life.   I could have saved myself, and a lot of people I really love, a lot of pain.  I know I cannot dwell in the past, but I can stop trying to be Superwoman and focus on making more rainbows for myself and others.

Without further ado, the 7 hard life lessons I’ve learned as an INFJ:

 1. Tough Love Isn’t Always the Answer As an INFJ, we are all about getting people from point A to point B.  We want people to evolve and become the best versions of themselves, because we want them to be happy.  There is no denying that we love people hard, but there are times when we could be a little softer for other personality types.  I will get weepy over an article about perfect strangers or a story about fictional characters. Put me in front of a loved one showing emotional suffering, though, and it’s all strategy and logic.  There have been so many times in my life when I missed someone else’s need for my heart instead of my intellect.  The advice and logic comes from a good place, but it isn’t always what people need in the moment.  Sometimes they just need a hug or reassurance.  I can think of a lot of personal examples for this one, but perhaps the hardest hitting reminder of this came from one of my twelve year old students.  She was one of my best writers, someone who grew tremendously over the course of the year, and I had a very sincere admiration for her.  At the end of the school year, I always ask students for feedback.  She gave me great feedback, loved the class, but in the additional comments section wrote this, “Instead of always just telling us how to improve and making us do better, sometimes tell us that we are doing good.  Kids need that sometimes.”  At the time, it knocked the wind out of me.  I remember driving home sobbing thinking I was a horrible teacher.  How could someone I admired so much not realize that she was doing a great job in my class?  How could she not understand how highly I thought of her as a writer and person?  The simple answer was that I kept all the appreciation for her private, and I only outwardly expressed her areas of improvement.  This is something I have come to realize I do a lot, not just with students.  I do this with relatives, friends, and in relationships.  The people I admire most, often hear about my admiration the least.  This ultimately leaves people feeling unappreciated, regardless of my appreciation.

2. People Aren’t Projects As good as our intentions may be, it is not our job to shove everyone we meet kicking and screaming to their greatest potential.  Don’t get me wrong.  It is truly a beautiful quality to see the good in people, to be able to recognize hidden talents, and to even be able to identify why a person may be struggling in his or her life.  It is not okay, however, to forcefully help little old ladies cross the street that aren’t even looking to go in that direction.  It feels good to help people, and helping people as an INFJ can become like an addiction if not monitored.  Always requiring the people in your life to reach that next step is exhausting.  It’s especially hard for loved ones, if like in my previous example, you aren’t fulling recognizing the progress they have made, and you aren’t telling them “good job” every now and again.  Life isn’t a marathon, and you are not everyone’s life coach.  There are times, when you need to remind the people in your life that there is nothing wrong with them.  That you actually do like them as they are.  INFJs don’t dislike people for their flaws.  We do accept people as they are.  The issue arises when someone close to us starts casually mentioning something they are unhappy about with themselves, and we think we can just fix it.  I don’t like seeing people suffer, and I always see there is a way to solve anything.  I know I am hopeful, but also very clueless.  I will focus in on a problem, and disregard everything else going on around me, and I get tunnel vision for that one aspect that person needs help with.  Recently, someone wrote into The Captain’s Pod telling my co-host that he’s doing such a good job taking the “mental roastings” I give him every episode.  I had never looked at what I was doing in that way before, even though comments have been made during, and after, recordings that the content was being specifically created to “help” The Captain with whatever he was struggling with in his life that week.  It wasn’t until that moment, however, that I fully realized that maybe there are times when I could really lighten up on him.  In my attempt to help him, and other HSPs, I became very hyper-focused externally on problems.  INFJs are problem-solvers, but I think we sometimes lack a little of the finesse that goes along with encouraging others to willingly embark on the self-improvement journey.  There often needs to be a little more give and take.  In retrospect, I know that some of the shows might have been enhanced by allowing my co-host more room to “mentally roast” me, or to at least for me to share from my perspective the ways that I have been helped by him instead of just discussing problems.  Always helping people, never pausing for more than a millisecond to celebrate success, and refusing to give others the power to help, are all definite ways to make other people feel of very little use in your life.  This is certainly the last thing any INFJ wants, and it is something we need to carefully watch out for.

3. Timing is Everything You may think the world should operate on your schedule, but the reality is that not everything needs to happen the minute you want it to happen.  This one may be my Achilles’ heal.  I have a very warped sense of time.  When I see something that I think can help a situation, I want it to happen yesterday.  If there is even a minor issue that needs discussing, it needs to be discussed this second.  It doesn’t matter if the person I want to talk to is an air traffic controller, and he needs to get that plane with hundreds of people in it safely landed.  In my mind, this conversation needs to happen right now!  I am sure other INFJs can relate.  Most of us hate waiting to make things better.  We don’t want people to feel uncomfortable around us, but what we don’t realize is that our intense desire to handle everything our way, in our time frame, creates more tension than potential solutions.  Even when I want a simple project done, I might ask someone to help me, but if it takes them more than an hour to start working on it, I’m already trying to find someone else to do it, or online trying to figure out how to do it myself.  What I have missed is that by doing this, I am robbing people of an opportunity to do something nice for me.  I  inadvertently make them feel useless when I can’t wait for their assistance on a task, and I make them feel like their lifestyle pace is inferior to mine when I try and have a conversation at an obviously bad time.  I know as hard as it may be for me, there are times when things can wait.

4. You Aren’t The Only One With Intuition INFJs have excellent intuition.  Our loved ones will ask us for our first impressions and general “feelings” about people and situations regularly, because they know 9 times out of 10 we are going to be spot on.  That kind of trust and accuracy can go to your head after a while, and while it may be rare, there are times when someone else might have a better handle on a person or situation than you.  Yes, it is true!  Other people can also have good intuition and sense things that you might not be able to pick up on.  I know.  That’s a major ego blow.  I hate it when my instincts are off, but INFJs have to remember that we are only accurately in tune with the world around us when we are ourselves in balance.  I have recently been under more stress than usual.  I have been dealing with some slow selling real estate, financial struggles, anxiety related to transitioning to a much more structured work schedule, and a variety of other everyday issues we all have to deal with.  Having anxiety, I do not deal well with a lot of external pressures coming in at me unexpectedly all at once.  I know this is my issue, but I too often don’t recognize just how much my mood and behavior changes when I am feeling stressed.  I sleep less.  I eat less.  I am more emotional, and I can project my negative feelings onto the people around me.  Just last week I was having a conversation with a very dear friend of mine that happens to be an INTP, and I kept giving him a hard time for how he was responding to me.  I was accusing him of being impatient and sarcastic, and I was mad at him for having plans already when I wanted to have a conversation with him.  Now, this is a friend that is almost always willing to hang out, or talk, when I need him.  I consider him one of my best friends, and I was mad at him for having plans the “one time I actually needed him.”  I may have a flair for the dramatic when out of balance.  He has been there for me more times than not, and my response to him was completely unfair.  In the moment, all I could see was that I wanted to talk that minute, to potentially solve the problem right then, but he was already doing something with his brother-in-law.  I was completely unaware of how I was projecting.  Luckily my friend is very blunt, and he is also skilled at reading between the lines, and reading people.  He very matter of factly told me that I seemed a bit off, and perhaps a little introspection might do me a little good before continuing the conversation.  Well, the conversation ended, but not because I was taking his advice.  The conversation ended, because my ego was hurt.  I foolishly didn’t trust his perception of what was going on with me, and I relied on my own faulty perception that he must be really stressed to talk to me like that.  This was not a wise decision, because I just continued to have tension, and conflict, with everyone else I encountered until I actually did take the time to recognize my own feelings and short comings in those interactions.  INFJs have amazing intuition, but we are not always great when it comes to reading ourselves.  It would behoove us to occasionally rely on the insight and wisdom of the people we trust, otherwise we end up pushing away the people we need the most.

5. People Need Space We recharge when we are alone.  We value personal space, and we can become very protective, sometimes controlling, in our own environments.  We are champions for quiet, alone time, so it is a bit perplexing that we don’t always recognize that other people have this need as well.  INFJs are the most extroverted of the introverts, so while we revel in being alone, we also have a tremendous desire to connect with people.  Like mentioned before, we sometimes forget that the world isn’t operating on our time schedule, so when we want to hang out with people, we want it to happen exactly when it works out for us.  It’s not that we are trying to be impatient, unreasonable, or demanding.  Most of us do have some awareness of the fact that we tend to push people away when we need alone time, and we do fear that we will push so many people away that we are ultimately going to be left all alone.  We have this strange delayed processing thing going on where we see how we might have come off as rude in past interactions, so when we want to make things right with people, and spend time together.  It’s almost like a strange sort of panic attack.  If a friend is busy, or wanting to be alone instead of with us, we might totally assume it is because we have offended them in some way, or that they don’t really like us.  Again, we will feel this more when we are out of balance, but when it happens it can result in some very confusing behavior for our friends and loved ones.  I had a day last week where I really wanted to be around people, mainly because I know I have been keeping to myself a little bit too much again.  I had ignored some messages, didn’t return some emails, and cancelled a couple of engagements, because I just really needed to recharge.  I got up that morning, and I sent messages to just about everyone I knew.  An hour went by, and I hadn’t heard from anyone.  Then another hour went by, and I just got a short response from a friend telling me he was at work.  An hour later, I got a smiley face emoji from my brother.  At 5pm, my mother still hadn’t emailed me back.  My conclusion was that everyone hated me and didn’t want to hang out with me.  I let my thoughts go negative, and I assumed because other people weren’t getting back to me right away, that it was about me.  The reality, however, was that some people were busy, some people weren’t feeling well, and some people just needed some time to themselves.  I have been told in the past that I have different rules for other people than I do for myself, and it sounds so bad that I hate to admit it.  If I really take a step back, however, and look at the situation from other people’s perspectives, that is exactly how it appears.  If I want people to respect my space, I can’t bombard them with multiple messages and jump to the worst case scenario every time someone just needs a little down time or they are busy.

6. Your Love Needs Boundaries Love is important, and you are definitely capable of loving without limits.  It is wise for an INFJ, however, to realize that our kind of love does need boundaries.  As difficult as it may be to accept, there are some things we do in the name of love that can actually hurt people in the long run.  We have to constantly make sure that our unconditional love doesn’t come off as conditional.  When we fall into some of the negative patterns of behavior mentioned above, our love can feel like it is based off of an ideal person in our heads instead of the person standing right in front of us.  We also need to recognize when we are loving others more than ourselves.  When we put the self-improvement and happiness of everyone else ahead of our own, we are creating a potentially explosive situation.  As INFJs, we can be chameleons, but we should never lose ourselves in love.  INFJs are really intense.  It can be love letters at 2am.  It can be driving 200 miles just to put a heart shaped note on a lover’s car.  Maybe it’s spending weeks finding that perfect gift, or searching hundreds of music videos for the perfect expression of your love in a song.  It doesn’t matter.  If we love someone, we tend to really go all out- not just at the beginning, but all of the time.  What most INFJs don’t get, however, is how overwhelming and intimidating this can be for their partners.  It can make some people think it’s all an act, but our partners usually realize after a couple months of dating the we really are this intense.  Other people might try and match our level of loving, but just feel like they can’t keep up or measure up.  There is always this feeling that we are expecting more.  We say we aren’t, but we do have to be very careful with how we respond to our loved ones when they show us their love.  We can make our loved ones feel inferior at times with our lack-luster responses.  As INFJs, we aren’t always as skilled at receiving as we are at giving.  On my birthday, my thoughtful companion wanted me to have a very special day.  He had selected a beautiful spot to walk around, but he wanted to ask me first if I wanted to go there.  I was worried that the day was going to be too hot, and I had been having issues with my asthma.  I didn’t want to go, and then have an asthma attack and ruin the day, so I asked him if maybe we could do something else.  My intentions were good, but looking back on it, I know I did not communicate my response in the best way.  I honestly just wanted to spend the day with him.  That’s really all I wanted, but I didn’t recognize that he had a need to make a special day for me like I would for him.  Long story short, I asked him to take me to the mall.  Yes, this guy was trying to plan me a romantic day, and I had him take me to a mall.  I did have a very nice time, but it wasn’t until he said to me, kind of defeated, later in the day that I had no idea how much pressure it is to plan something for someone like me, that I realized it was a big deal.  In his words, “Not everyone is like you.  Not everyone can just think of the perfect thing to do always.”  Never wanting to be a burden, I immediately felt bad and failed to recognize the truth behind that statement.  We don’t mean for our gestures of love to seem so over the top, and there are times when maybe we should eat or sleep instead of driving those 200 miles to deliver that love letter.  We don’t need to be a superhero of love all the time, and we could definitely allow our partners more opportunities to express their love in their own magical ways to us.

7. People Understand You More Than You Give Them Credit For “No one will ever understand me!” is the INFJ battlecry.  A lot of people do misunderstand us, but there are many people who do get certain things about us. INFJs don’t let people in easily, and when we do let people in, we reveal ourselves in stages.  INFJs can always surprise people, because there are just so many ever evolving layers.  This is part of what makes us unique, but it is also part of what makes us so hard to get sometimes.  It’s not everyone else’s fault that we are so complex.  Complexity is neither strength nor fault, but when you have a bit of a mysterious nature, there are going to be times when people just can’t figure you out.  We hold a lot in, and we spend a lot of time focusing on other people.  It is truly what makes us happy.  We don’t see it as sacrificing our own needs, until we haven’t been good to ourselves, and we are out of balance, and we are hanging from the rooftops lamenting, “no one will ever get me!”  I know that I have used that statement repeatedly in my life, and I have recognized over time that that this is a really hurtful thing to say to other people that have taken the time to get to know me.  It’s a statement that can instantly make another person feel like all that hard work they’ve put into sorting through your many layers was for nothing.  The truth is that your loved ones probably try really hard every single day to determine what makes you happy.  They may not always get it right, but then again, neither do you.  Understanding is an ongoing process, and no one person is ever fully understood by another.  I’ve found it helpful to think about what people do get about me when I’m feeling really misunderstood.  If I am in the right state of mind, I am truly grateful for all the hard work and effort they’ve put into trying to get to know a “crazy” INFJ like me.

In closing, I just want to say that I am not sharing my recent reflections here to make any INFJs feel bad about themselves.  Of all the personality types, I think INFJs do get to hear their praises a bit more than other types perhaps.  We have many great qualities that draw people to us initially, and we definitely know how to excel in our jobs and special interests.  People do admire us, and we tend to have a pretty good level of confidence in the self we present to the world.  My goal here, is only to paint an honest portrait of my own downfalls, and to give other INFJs permission to not always present an inflated sense of self to the rest of the world.  If we are always trying to be a “super” version of ourselves, we aren’t spending enough time on the ground admiring our life and the people in it.  We are also probably hurting and pushing away the people in our lives that we truly love.  It’s about recognizing some of the potential reasons that INFJs feel misunderstood, or why we are sometimes bad at relationships with people.  It’s about what we need to watch out for.  It’s about not always pretending to be perfect and allowing ourselves to be human.  After all, I’d much rather rest my feet to look at rainbows with people I care about, than spend the remainder of my life flying around, pissing people off, and hiding my flaws.

Author, Michelle Lynn, is a podcaster on The Captain’s Pod, and she creates content specifically for HSP’s, empaths, introverts, INFJ’s, and Myers-Briggs enthusiasts.  Her weekly podcast, HSP S.O.S. (Highly Sensitive Persons Supporting Our Sensitivity), can be found on The Captain’s Pod website, The HSP SOS website, and Facebook. Also connect with her on Twitter @hsp_sos.

“Those Kind of Women”

Michelle Lynn (HSP SOS)

Sensitively Feminist

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One day when I was nine, I was playing Barbies with my brother.  My brother was playing with me quite reluctantly, but I was still excited to have a playtime companion.  He only agreed to play if I let him be Ken, and he got to drive the Barbie convertible.  On this particular day, he decided that Ken was going to go out drinking with his friends, and on his way home, he got too drunk to drive, abandoned the car by the toy box, walked home, and stormed into the mansion asking Barbie what she was making him for dinner.  Irritated with my brother’s reckless and commanding storyline, I shoved Malibu Barbie right in front of Ken’s face and said, “Do not come in here like that and start telling me what to do.  I am a woman of the 80’s, and I don’t take any orders like that from a man.  Make your own food, and you better find my car!”

I didn’t know it at the time, but my mother was getting ready for work in the bathroom two doors down from my bedroom, and she overheard us playing.  She loudly yelled down the hall to knock it off, and she called me to come talk to her.  Slowly walking to meet her, I was sure we were busted for pretending  to go to bars or for the drunk driving incident, but to my surprise, she was upset about something else.  She was offended that I had used the term “woman of the 80’s,” and she didn’t like the way I was having my Barbie talk to Ken.  She then said something to me that I will never forget.  She said to me, “you don’t want people thinking you are one of those kind of women.”  Even at 9, I already knew I was probably “one of those kind of women.”  I was pretty sure I was the kind of woman that wouldn’t tolerate a guy staying out drinking all night, abandoning my car, and then coming home demanding food.  The lesson I learned that day was that it was more offensive for me to stand up for myself and call myself a “modern” woman than it was for me to be talked rudely to and disrespected by a man.  It’s a lesson that’s hard to unlearn, even when you don’t believe it is right.

In my mom’s defense, she grew up in a different era.  She was raised in a family where male and female roles were clearly defined, and stereotypical.  My mom is someone that tries to blend in and avoid ruffling any feathers, so I understood, even at 9, that her main concern was  how other people would view me if I was claiming to be a modern woman so boldly.  She was probably given a similar message about speaking up like that as a woman when she was a kid herself.

Fast forward a few decades, and let’s examine how that childhood lesson has survived the ages.  To start with, I do call myself a feminist, but I do so always with explanation.  I have to say things like, “I am a feminist, but not the kind that hates men.”  Feminist was definitely a dirty word in my household growing up, and it was taught to me that “women activists” were man hating and bitchy.  I know this isn’t true, but I still do encounter a similar response to my mother’s whenever I start talking about being a woman and my thoughts on living in a patriarchal society.  It wasn’t until I was in college, and encountered other “kinds of women,” that my thinking about strong women evolved.  There are still traces of apprehension related to old ways of thinking, however, and because of this, I go into every conversation assuming that the person I am talking to will find the idea of a woman standing up for herself a little off-putting.  

Fortunately, I have grown as a woman over the years, and I have made it a point to educate myself on various minority and women’s issues.  I may even worry at times that I have become a bit feisty, possibly a tad over-sensitive to anything that remotely looks like sexism.   Most of my friends are males, so I try to look at life from their perspective as well.  I know I am quick to point out injustices, and I admit I can be a little intense sometimes.  I am not saying that the men in my life are misogynists, or that they need constant redirection.  I tend to hang out with free-thinkers, and they are delighted when I tell them the Barbie story from my childhood.  They can probably imagine a fuming 9 year-old version of me politely listening to my mother’s message, and I am sure they wonder what would happen if someone tried saying that same exact thing to me today.  My friends tend to share similar feminist ideals, so we don’t have too many tense moments.

When I talk to some people, however, about minority issues related to gender or race, I often get the response that it’s not really a big deal anymore.  Things are so much better in the eyes of many, and I do not argue that progress has been made.  For the first time in history in this country, for example, we have a female nominee of the Democratic Party on the ballot for President of the United States.  We aren’t where we were, but that doesn’t mean we are exactly where we should be when it comes to equal rights for women in this country though either.  I had one of those “Are you kidding me?” moments when the day after Hillary Clinton historically made it onto the ballot, most of the headlines were being run with a picture of her husband instead of her.  Regardless of your political views, it is common sense that if an article is about a specific person, then a picture of that person should be the one accompanying the article.  For women, the feeling of being a second-class citizen sometimes is very subtle.  Most of the time it is something that can only be seen or felt by actually walking through life as a woman.  Someone might say, “It’s no big deal.  At least they wrote about you,” but if you really stop and think about it, it does kind of matter.

I am not saying that men do not have their own share of gender stereotypes to deal with.  I am just saying that there are words, looks, and small moments that disrupt feelings of equality that women live with on a daily basis.  As a highly sensitive woman, it is sometimes the subtle moments that catch me the most off guard.  These are the moments that someone not looking at life from my perspective as woman might not understand or fully get.  Like how in the past month I’ve been out with a male friend, and on two separate occasions another male has said to him “don’t let that one out of your sight” referring to me without talking directly to me…  Then there is this past weekend when I went to a show with my friend, and the man taking our tickets complimented me on my whole 1950’s look.  I thanked him, genuinely appreciative, because I do think it is nice to pay people compliments if you see something that looks nice.  I did not feel like it was creepy or rude, until he turned to my friend while I was standing right there in front of him and said, “I see what you got going on here.  You’ve got yourself a minx, don’t you?”  Unsure of how to respond to that, we both just smiled and took our seats.  

In situations like that, I feel hyper-critical, or over-analytical, if I feel offended.  Many people, men and women, tell me that I should just learn to take a compliment, but to me it feels like something different.  In each of these mentioned instances, I felt like I existed for someone else other than myself.  Any time my appearance is talked about in front of me like I am not there to someone else, even if the words are nice, it feels kind of not nice to me.  I guess that’s what is meant by the term objectification.  My friend got this fortunately, and he quickly joked with me claiming to be more of a minx than I’d ever be.  I laughed, because it’s absolutely true.  I know some people that would have made me feel like a prude for being a little offended by the minx comment.  I mean, how could I be upset about the objectification of women when I was going to go see a burlesque show, right?  I think the answer is simple.  It’s about women having control over their own identities, bodies, and being acknowledged for more than their relationship to a man.  It’s about the freedom to be who we want to be without assumption or expectation.  

I have been, and always will be, a separate entity from the men in my life.  I am not defined by my relationships with other people. I am definitely a woman that does what she wants, which isn’t always popular with the masses. It is not like I want to walk around and never have another person notice if I’ve done something new with my hair, or I’ve put together some amazingly fabulous retro ensemble.  If I cook a really good meal, I want it to be recognized that I did it because I care.  Anyone that knows me understands that I don’t like preparing meals or doing domestic chores.  If I cook for you, it’s because I wanted to do something nice.  I certainly would not be cooking dinner at 2am for some guy that just came home drunk demanding food without returning my car.  That’s just me.  I think that seeing beyond what men and women are supposed to be like according to gender stereotypes is crucial.  I do not like to be patronized, ignored, controlled, or pigeon-holed.  I am pretty sure that’s how most humans feel, and to be a woman is to also be a human.

In the end, I guess I am still a bit sensitive to being thought of as a feminist, even though I am one.  I suppose you could say all of this here is me basically over-explaining myself like so many highly sensitive people (HSPs) do.  I always over-explain, because my goal is never conflict.  My goal is always understanding.   As I sit here writing this, I am watching my own 9 year old daughter build a robot.  She tells me she is building it so she can program it to make her sandwiches. Brilliant!  Her world is already very different from mine when I was her age, but there are still some subtleties that are too much the same- subtleties that I am hopeful with conversation, and time, will some day change.  For now, I am glad my daughter is the kind of woman that spends her spare time building a sandwich making robot- a positive response to the fact that someone’s got to make dinner sometime or we’ll all starve.  Ingenuity at its finest!

 

Listen to Michelle Lynn’s HSP SOS podcast on Highly Sensitive Gender Roles to learn more about how gender stereotypes impact highly sensitive men and women.

Author, Michelle Lynn, is a podcaster on The Captain’s Pod, and she creates content specifically for HSP’s, empaths, introverts, INFJ’s, and Myers-Briggs enthusiasts.  Her weekly podcast, HSP S.O.S. (Highly Sensitive Persons Supporting Our Sensitivity), can be found on The Captain’s Pod website, The HSP SOS website, and Facebook. Also connect with her on Twitter @hsp_sos.

The Intricacies of Introvert Time

Michelle Lynn (HSP SOS)

What Counts As “Quality Time” With An Introvert?

cuckoo

I thought you were an introvert.  Why do you want to spend so much time together?

-A sincere question from an extrovert to his introverted companion-

There is probably no creature on this planet more misunderstood, stereotyped, and constantly questioned than the mystical introvert.  No, I don’t really believe that we are some rare, magical breed of human that exists as a sort of ticking time-bomb, but I do believe there are many people out there in the world that have this view of introverts. Introverts often feel most misunderstood by the people closest to them, which is both unfortunate and beautiful at the same time.  

Why is being blatantly misunderstood by someone close to you beautiful?  Well, when it’s obvious to you someone is misunderstanding you, there is at least some attempt being made on their part to understand you.  They are actively questioning you, trying to define you, figure you out, and in most cases, ultimately searching for a way that they can make you happy- or at least not tick you off so much of the time.  I’m sure all introverts have an extroverted family member, friend, or partner in their lives with good intentions.  Someone that tries to do things that he or she thinks an introvert would like, but often ends up missing the mark.  Introverts and extroverts are often portrayed in an oversimplified fashion.  As an introvert, I despise the assumption that I am shy, fragile, and anti-social.  Extroverts have to deal with their fair share of negative stereotypes as well.  They are not these loud insensitive beings put here on earth to torment us introverts, but problems can arise if introverts and extroverts don’t attempt to understand their unique differences.

One area that I have had a great deal of trouble with as an introvert in my interactions with extroverts has been explaining my need for “quality time” in relationships.  Not all time is equal in my introverted mind, and if I don’t get the required amount of “quality time” with people I want to connect with, then I get cranky and can come off as demanding and needy.  Just recently, for example, I have been spending an increased amount of time with my favorite extroverted companion.  We went to Las Vegas to meet up with friends.  I have gone to several of his performances.  There was a birthday party I planned and attended in his honor.  Time was spent with the children.  We recorded some podcasts, and we sat side-by-side on the couch together posting and writing.  At the end of this stretch of time, I found myself completely exhausted, yet I still told him that I really needed some “quality time” with him soon.  

If I had a camera ready, I would have snapped a portrait of his expression.  What do you mean?  We’ve spent every day together practically?  How could you possibly see me more?  I thought you were an introvert.  Why do you want to spend so much time together? I instantly felt defeated and sad when that was his reaction, because I swore he’d be craving the exact same thing.  He wasn’t, and I was just as confused with him as he was with me.  It took me a little bit to get over the fact that I had an extrovert telling me that we have had an adequate amount of social time together.  I mean, aren’t extroverts supposed to always want to be around people?  Am I that annoying that the extroverts now want nothing to do with me?

The truth, however, is that neither introverts, nor extroverts exist as stereotypical versions of themselves.  The reality is that introverts need time with people they care about.  They don’t just need time, but they need a special kind of introvert “quality time” to feel connected.  Extroverts are energized by people, but they also enjoy time to themselves.  Extroverts use alone time to regroup and reflect, and it is an important part of the balance they need to maintain in their lives as well. When introverts and extroverts don’t communicate about how time is spent, surely there is going to be a disconnect.  After thinking about my own personal experiences as an introvert, and my definition of quality time, I put together some truths for me that might apply to other introverts out there too  It’s by no means an all inclusive list, but perhaps it can help serve as talking points in your introvert/ extrovert relationships.

The Intricacies of Introvert “Quality Time”

  1. Group time does not get to replace Introvert “Quality Time”- I don’t care if I spend two weeks traveling Europe with you and five of your closest friends, this does not equate, in my mind, to spending quality time with you.  That may sound petty and ridiculous to an extrovert, but introverts often don’t feel comfortable, or able to fully connect, when there are a lot of people around.  I am miserable with conversation and maintaining focus once a group gets larger than three people.  I start feeling like I’m neglecting someone, and I end up feeling terrible about it.  I also don’t always get to talk as long with the people I’d like to in these settings.  I prefer to get into three hour, intimate conversations with people one-on-one when I care about them, and group events are not conducive to this type of connection.  I tried to make these connections last week at a birthday party I planned, but I ended up pulling people away one at a time off into a corner to talk privately.  I’m sure I appeared scattered, and I later realized I hadn’t even spoken to one woman at the party.  I had to message her apologizing a couple days later, because I was just so overwhelmed.  This is why we still need more time with people individually after such events.
  2. Daily tasks needed for survival do not count as Introvert “Quality Time”- Being in my space is not the same thing as spending time with me.  Now, I have to clarify, because introverts do like doing separate things with someone in the same space.  It’s just that I wouldn’t necessarily count this as deep, meaningful connection time.  This is more my time to be alone while sharing space at the same time.  If I am letting you share my space like this, you are definitely a trusted person in my life.  I’m letting you in on my recharging time, but understand I will not feel like I have spent any time with you after this.  I will want to connect with you probably even more after this.  If you are sleeping, eating, doing laundry, checking your email, or other routine day to day tasks in my presence, I am not necessarily going to be excited by this.  It’s not going to feel like we were present with one another.  I am going to want more connection than that.
  3. Watching movies together may or may not count as Introvert “Quality Time”- If you come to my place, turn on what you want, and don’t talk to me, then this does not count as introvert quality time.  If we pick out a movie together, and then one of us starts getting on our computer, phone, or leaves the room multiple times, then this does not count as introvert quality time.  If we select a movie together, or you suggest a movie you want me to see, and we sit there, watch it, and share our thoughts about it afterwards, then this is definitely introvert quality time.  It’s really about making meaningful connections for introverts, and not just merely about being together in the same room.  As a side note, bringing popcorn and candy to share over conversation, will definitely earn you some introvert bonus points.
  4. Working on projects together may or may not count as Introvert “Quality Time”- Introverts, and especially highly sensitive ones, bond over mutually shared goals and outcomes.  If the time working together is enjoyable and balanced, without one person being a control-freak or overly critical, then this is precious time spent together.  Conflict and negativity, however, can zap the fun and energy out of an introvert in these situations. Artistic projects, building things, and even home improvements can be rewarding time together if both parties are fully vested and share a mutual vision.  
  5. Car rides to social gatherings count as crucial Introvert “Quality Time”- It is a myth that introverts never want to socialize.  We love people just as much as any outgoing extrovert, but in general, being social requires more energy from us than it does from extroverts.  Introverts that put themselves in social environments, and allow beloved extroverts to take them out of their comfort zone, require buffer time.  Buffer time shared with one other person on a long car ride to a social event is very important to an introvert.  This is an opportunity to have some meaningful, intimate conversations before all “hell breaks loose” so to speak.  I have found that this is a simple area in a relationship many introverts and extroverts fail to discuss, which can lead to unnecessary conflict.  Extroverts want people entertained, and if they are focusing on driving, or thinking about being entertaining to a larger group of people, they may want to bring extra people along for the ride to take some of the pressure off.  The introvert, however, may have been looking forward to the car ride even more than the event itself, because he or she was counting on some quality time together. This time is viewed very differently often, and it’s definitely a point worth discussing.
  6. Pre-planned alone time together is sacred Introvert “Quality Time”- If you even mention doing something with an introvert in passing, and they don’t immediately make a bunch of excuses and run the other direction, then it is a done deal.   DO NOT alter the plan or think it will be no big deal to just do something else.  Because of how socializing impacts us, we carefully plan out the who, what, where, when, why, and how of all our social experiences.  We know we annoy our more spontaneous counterparts at times, but we are doing this out of love for the people we care about.  If we have three social engagements, a work project, and one special night with you, then we are carefully structuring our entire week to be the best version of ourselves in each of those moments.  We don’t always have the extrovert’s gift of easy energy with people.  We know we have to work harder in our interactions with people, and we definitely want our energy reserves piled high for a special night with someone we love.  It’s probably not the best idea to plan a dinner and movie with your introvert, and then at the last minute ask if you can invite a few of your friends.  Your introvert will gladly meet your friends, but at an agreed upon time.

This is all just my perspective on how I operate as an introvert.  I don’t think that I am 100% right, and I definitely don’t think my way is any better, or worse, than that of an extrovert.  I just know that I have a lot of extroverts in my life that are constantly trying to figure me out and make me happy.  I put this together as more of a way for introverts and extroverts to start conversations about preferences and needs in relationships.  I know that there are going to be times when my extroverted companion will want to pool together a group of friends for a car ride, or maybe he will forget that he promised to spend a quiet evening at home with me and end up doing something else instead.  I have to understand that extroverts operate and think differently than introverts, and we don’t have to be adversaries.  We are people, not labels.  Personality typing is really only useful if you are using it to be a better version of yourself and as a means to better understand and interact with others.  I think the saddest thing in the world is seeing a well-meaning extrovert suddenly realize that something has gone terribly wrong.  Whether we identify with being an introvert, extrovert, or even an ambivert, common ground can be found through open and honest conversation.  Bottom line is that introverts really do like people.  We want to spend time with people, but how that looks to us might not always look the same or make sense to everyone else.  

Author, Michelle Lynn, is a podcaster on The Captain’s Pod, and she creates content specifically for HSP’s, empaths, introverts, INFJ’s, and Myers-Briggs enthusiasts.  Her weekly podcast, HSP S.O.S. (Highly Sensitive Persons Supporting Our Sensitivity), can be found on The Captain’s Pod website, The HSP SOS website, and Facebook. Also connect with her on Twitter @hsp_sos.

The INFJ as a Mirror

Michelle Lynn (HSP SOS)

How And Why We Mirror In Relationships

mirrir

When an inner situation is not made conscious, it appears outside of you as fate. -Carl Jung

As a follow up to my article Mirroring in Relationships: Making the Invisible Visible, I want to more specifically define what it means to be a mirror in a relationship for an INFJ.  Many intuitive and highly sensitive types can undoubtedly relate to the mirror analogy, but the tendencies of an INFJ make it so understanding the reasons, reactions, repercussions, and remedies for mirroring just might make the difference between a harmonious or miserable romantic experience.

What is Mirroring in a Relationship

The term mirroring has a couple different meanings.  It can simply mean mimicking someone’s actions back to them, in a sense copying their behaviors and actions.  It can also be a more complex act like trying to align yourself with a person’s interests, communication style, or personality preferences.  People often mirror one another early in a relationship to establish commonalities and build connections with a potential partner.  Mirroring can be positive.  It can let romantic partners know that the other person is paying attention and interested, and it can create a sense of familiarity and comfort that in turn fosters a willingness to open up.  The problem, however, occurs when the person mirroring loses his or her sense of identity in the process, or the person being mirrored can no longer see who is behind the mirror.  INFJs make excellent mirrors, but they need to consciously work at remaining reflective- otherwise they run the risk of feeling like fragmented shards of glass.

How Do INFJs Become Mirrors

For anyone not familiar with the term INFJ, it is an initialism used in the publications of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator to refer to one of the sixteen personality types.  The MBTI assessment was developed by Isabel Briggs Myers and her mother, Katherine Myers, from the work of prominent psychiatrist Carl Jung.  The individual letters stand for various functions of personality.  INFJ, for example, indicates the following personality functions:  Introversion (I), Intuition (N), Feeling (F), Judgment (J).  INFJs make up Only about 1-3% of the population, so they are quite rare.  These individuals are intuitive, and they seem to have a way of seeing through people.  They are skilled at recognizing what others are trying to keep beneath the surface, and due to their wise, gentle nature, INFJs live to help others reach their full potential and better themselves.  As I explain in I Will Rain On Your Parade, the INFJ is often misunderstood and seen as being too intense in the continual pursuit of improvement at all costs.  Overall, however, this personality type is accepting and understanding, and they have a unique talent for making people feel at ease.  This in turn results in situations where people are willing to tell an INFJ their deepest and darkest secrets, and these conversations often start the mirroring process for the INFJ.  Here are some of the reasons that INFJs so often become mirrors in relationships:

  • INFJs observe first and talk later.  Since this personality type loves to listen, people find themselves talking more to an INFJ than perhaps to other people they know.  As a person talks to the INFJ, it is almost like talking to a therapist.  I’m sure many INFJs are familiar with the phrase, “I didn’t realize this about myself until I said it to you just now.”  People typically like conversing with INFJs, because they may feel like it’s the first time anyone has every really taken the time to listen to them.  Being in a relationship with an INFJ is a process of self-discovery through deep conversation.  The INFJ, however, doesn’t remain silent forever.  Early listening is like research.  The INFJ is gathering information about this person, and when the information gets processed, the INFJ often has practical and useful advice to offer.  Some people, however, don’t necessarily want advice.  There are many people that would prefer the INFJ to remain the silent listener, so when the INFJ remembers and uses information in past conversations to help guide the future, this is not always well received.  
  • INFJs often feel other people’s pain more profoundly than their own. If INFJs aren’t careful, they can easily focus more on their partner than themselves.  A lot of INFJs are comfortable listening to other people’s problems, because it is in their nature to genuinely want to help.  They don’t, however, open up very easily themselves, and you will rarely hear an INFJ going on and on about personal issues.  It isn’t that this personality type doesn’t like talking through things with another person.  It is just that they are so intuitive that they know when something is bothering someone.  Most INFJs will feel like their own issues aren’t that big of a deal.  This can backfire on the INFJ, because it forces most of the relationship talk to be about the other person.  Over time, it can make the INFJ feel invisible
    and their partner might feel like he or she knows nothing about the person that’s been quietly listening for so long.  It’s not unusual for an INFJ to come out of a relationship wondering where he or she has been for the past several months or years.  Standing too long behind the mirror will make one’s sense of identity vanish over time.
  • INFJs have a deep need for harmony.  INFJs value peace and balance, and they will tell you that this is achieved only through continual growth and self-reflection.  They are not afraid of enduring pain in the process of growing, as a matter of fact, they kind of expect it.  This personality type has a wonderful ability to see the big picture, and they view a lot of the everyday problems people get worked up about as no big deal. That being said, they still compassionately help their loved ones through even the littlest of issues.  INFJs want their partner to be happy, and they know that their partner needs to find harmony in the day to day in order to do so.  To make this happen, the INFJ might take on roles like personal assistant, trainer, therapist, doctor, or life-coach.  It becomes an intense relationship where the partner is ever immersed in self-work and reflection.  The INFJ sees this as a good thing, which will bring his or her partner harmony in the end, but sometimes this all becomes too intense for the person involved in the self-work.  Other personality types cannot necessarily endure the same level of intensity as an INFJ 24 hours a day, so there may be times when the partner feels like the INFJ is too serious, too harsh, too demanding, or just plain not satisfied in the relationship.  The reality, however, is that the INFJ is just trying to ensure ultimate happiness and harmony for both partners.
  • INFJs process out loud sometimes. Processing time is important for this personality type.  While listening to someone, an INFJ might be inclined to say out loud what is being observed or repeat back what a partner says as clarification.  It is like the INFJ is talking to him or herself in order to fully grasp what is being observed or heard.  This may, at times, feel odd to a partner like they are always being watched, or that the INFJ is describing the behavior out loud as a form of judgement.  The INFJ is rarely apply a judgement or trying to criticize the partner in these moments of processing.  It is just how the INFJ is trying to make sense of the input, but it can make the partner definitely feel like everything said and done in the relationship is subject to the reflection of the mirror.
  • INFJs do not accept anything other than absolute truth.  There is no such thing as fooling an INFJ with smoke and mirrors.  This personality trait is not easily deceived.  Even if a partner wants to ignore something troubling, the INFJ will see beneath the surface and want to expose the truth.  Actually, the more a partner doesn’t want to address something the more the INFJ feels the matter needs to be tended to, the more the INFJ will want to force a partner to take a long, hard look into the mirror.  This isn’t the INFJ trying to be pushy.  This is more likely the INFJ worrying that his or her partner is losing ground in the battle of ultimate self discovery.  INFJs aren’t big on distractions or putting problems aside.  They would much rather deal with the issue, so they can experience harmony as soon as possible.  It is challenging for INFJs to recognize when it might be a good idea to put down the mirror in order to let their partner take a break or recharge.

Signs That People Are Viewing You As A Mirror

Reasons for mirroring in a relationship might stem from a good place, but if the INFJ isn’t working overtime to remain self aware, trouble can arise fairly quickly.  Many INFJs feel like people always like them in the beginning of relationships, but they lose their enthusiasm for them in the end.  Perhaps their partners feel like the INFJ  is too intense to be around all the time.  It takes a while for this personality type to open up if they’ve been hurt in the past, and sometimes by the time the INFJ realizes that there has been a loss of identity as a result of extensive mirroring, both partners are frustrated, confused, and believing the relationship is too far gone to ever recover.  Relationships are not easy for INFJs, and the tragedy is that this personality type is more loyal, lovable, passionate, determined, and strong than anyone could ever desire.  Having an INFJ as a partner can be pretty magical, but too often this personality type doesn’t practice enough self love to maintain the appropriate balance of give and take in a relationship to make the partner feel like an equal.  The partner may feel loved, but they also can get overwhelmed with the whole process of mirroring.  Many INFJs report partners suddenly needing out of the relationship at a point when they thought things were going quite well.  This is why it is essential for INFJs to recognize when they are mirroring too much for their partner.  Here are some common signs that mirroring is beginning to take its toll on the relationship:

  • Partner doesn’t want to be looked at. If you used to stare lovingly for hours into each others eyes, and now every time you even glance at your partner you are asked, “Why are you looking at me?” this might be a sign you are mirroring.  More likely than not, partners feel guilty or overwhelmed from constantly viewing themselves so clearly through the INFJ’s observations and reflections.  Even if an INFJ is not openly criticizing or judging them, they feel uncomfortable confronting something they have kept beneath the surface so long. 
  • Partner communicates inability to think clearly in INFJs presence. Because partners of INFJs are still trying to have a relationship with an INFJ while the INFJ is mirroring, they rightfully get confused when they feel like every conversation somehow goes back to what is going on with them.  They may be trying to connect with the person behind the mirror, but all they can see are constant reminders of themselves.
  • Partner repeatedly reacts to INFJ in a way that does not match how the INFJ is feeling.  People react strongly to what they do not like about themselves, or when they feel like they are being criticized.  It may seem like partners are having a lot of emotional ups and downs when the INFJ is mirroring.  Maybe they are fine one minute, and then the next minute something seemingly small sends them spiraling.  A simple question like asking “what do you want to do tonight?” could turn into an argument about the INFJ never being satisfied and bored.
  • Partner tells the INFJ that it is impossible to make the INFJ happy. Serious self reflection is not easy.  When partners are able to see all of themselves through the INFJ, they don’t always like the reality of what they see.  They might initially feel like the INFJ is just picking apart all their flaws, but over time partners cannot help but see the truth. While the INFJ may be perfectly content in the relationship, the partner may not be able to believe it during the mirroring process.  If they are only seeing their flaws, then they can’t understand how they can ever make someone happy.
  • Partner appears frustrated and pressures the INFJ to speak his or her mind.  This happens when INFJs become overly focused on their partner’s needs and neglect their own.  When INFJs hear this, it is time to make sure they have not lost touch with themselves in the mirroring process.  This is said when partners feel like they have no idea what the INFJ is looking for in the relationship or needs.  This should be interpreted as a sign of love from a partner, as it is an expression of wanting to know and honor the INFJ’s needs as well as their own. 
  • Partner tells INFJ that he or she may be happier with someone else.  When INFJs continue to mirror, without taking the proper steps to ground themselves and establish clear boundaries with their partners, people often feel a great need to escape.  It could be that they need to just break free from the constant reflection of the INFJ, but it could also be that they need to just break free from themselves.  They may feel not good enough for the INFJ, or they could just feel like the INFJ can never be pleased. 
  • INFJ begins to feel confused, unappreciated, desperate, and lonely.  In the final stages of mirroring, partners try and break free from the constant mirroring.  They may become angry, frustrated, or confused with the INFJ, and they may even lash out at the INFJ.  All of this typically blindsides INFJs, and it is difficult for them to understand how their partner could be so upset with them.  This is the point where a lot of relationships end for INFJs.  There is a sudden moment where both the partner and the INFJ wake up so to speak and wonder how they even got to this point.  The partner definitely feels like something needs to change.   It could be that they need to just break free from the constant reflection of the INFJ, but it could also be that they need to just break free from themselves.  They may feel not good enough for the INFJ, or they could just feel like the INFJ can never be pleased.  Regardless of the reason, the INFJ gets that all too familiar feeling of being alone and misunderstood.

Ways to Reflect & Retain A Sense of Self 

Learning to recognize and manage the mirroring aspect of the INFJ personality, as well as understanding how it impacts loved ones, is an important relationship skill for INFJs to master. INFJs don’t need to deny who they are, but it is important for them to look at themselves from a different perspective.  INFJs are really good with figuring out what is going on with other people a lot more than they are about figuring out what is going on with themselves.  These mirroring skills can be quite useful, and there are times when it can help others.  It is just a matter of staying grounded and remembering not to lose sight of one’s self.  Here are a few items for an INFJ to keep in mind when it comes to their relationships:

  • Make sure your partner wants help before you help, and if he or she does, then set clear boundaries. Just because you can see what’s beneath the surface, that doesn’t necessarily mean your partner wants you to grab a shovel and start digging it all out.  With loved ones in particular, it makes a lot of sense to set boundaries.  Have a limit to the “therapy” sessions.  Talk about subtle ways your partner can let you know when they need some time or space.
  • Hold partner accountable for his or her own feelings, and make sure you clearly know how you feel separate from your partner.  If you notice a partner projecting his or her feelings onto you, or you don’t feel like your partner has an accurate understanding of how you feel, speak up.  Have this conversation when you both feel more at ease, and approach it in a loving manner.  Also regularly check yourself for a clear understanding of your own feelings.  It isn’t uncommon for an INFJ to absorb the feelings and emotions of loved ones.  It is just as easy for the INFJ to get confused about individual needs when mirroring becomes excessive in the relationship.
  • Take breaks.  Remember to take time off from the deep analysis every once in a while for a little fun.  Do things together that are lighthearted, and don’t forget to participate in activities independent of one another.  It is also necessary to take breaks from each other.  Stepping away from a misunderstanding to regain focus is often helpful.  It doesn’t mean anything is wrong with the relationship to pause every now and again.  It is just something that you may need to do in order to remain happy.
  • Respect your partner’s processing style.  We all have communication style preferences.  Even if you are ready to talk about something, that doesn’t mean your partner feels the same.  Make sure to discuss communication preferences before you are in the heat of a heavy conversation.  If processing styles are extremely different, discuss healthy compromises you both would be willing to make in order to ensure the lines of communication stay open.
  • Remember it is not your responsibility to heal the world.  Someone else’s self work is not your self work.  INFJs will take it too far, neglecting their own interests, in the name of “helping” someone else.  A loving partner, does not like seeing you exhausted or frustrated.  They don’t want you getting so worked up about their issues.  If they are struggling, this can sometimes make it worse.  They also don’t want you taking away their control over their own situation.  Offer a helping hand when asked, but respect when your partner firmly tells you that they don’t want you to get involved.
  • Step out from behind the mirror so that others can really see you. This is probably the most important action an INFJ can take.  More likely than not, your partner fell in love with you not your mirroring abilities.  A suitable partner will appreciate your intuitive capabilities, but they will also recognize the need for you to allow yourself to shine and be nurtured as well.   A loving partner wants you to be as happy as you want them to be, and if you are always hiding behind a mirror, they will never be able to see you and understand you in the way you deserve.

Author, Michelle Lynn, is a podcaster on The Captain’s Pod, and she creates content specifically for HSP’s, empaths, introverts, INFJ’s, and Myers-Briggs enthusiasts.  Her weekly podcast, HSP S.O.S. (Highly Sensitive Persons Supporting Our Sensitivity), can be found on The Captain’s Pod website, The HSP SOS website, and Facebook. Also connect with her on Twitter @hsp_sos.

 

 

Digitally Mourning Prince

Michelle Lynn (HSP SOS)

Cyber World Vs. Real World Social Norms

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Like many people, I was shocked to learn of the passing of Prince.  Unfortunately, the world has lost a lot of talented people this year, and the sheer fact that he was only 57 saddens me.  I wouldn’t say I took the news as hard as some of the people I know.   I don’t have any meaningful stories to tell in connection with this artist, and I wouldn’t call myself a hardcore Prince fan.   As a matter of fact, I don’t even think I have any records, cassettes, CDs, or digital copies of his music.  I have never even seen the movie Purple Rain, and I could probably only tell you a handful of his song titles if put to the test.  It wasn’t that I didn’t like him.  He just didn’t really make it into my musical rotation growing up, but I definitely wouldn’t complain if someone else was playing his music.  I recognize his songs, appreciate his musicianship, and I can comprehend why other people have been so greatly impacted by his death.

I do have many friends that adore Prince, and my first thoughts, after the initial shock wore off, were with the people in my life that I know really enjoyed his work.  I was comforted by the outpouring of support and tributes I saw on Facebook and Twitter immediately following the news.  People seemed to be coping by expressing their disbelief and sharing personal memories.  Some posts were sad, others were hopeful, but what they all had in common was that they fulfilled a human need to connect with others possibly feeling the same way.   I knew that for the rest of the day everything would be purple, maybe a little more emotional than usual, and I was okay with that.  This ability to connect and share is one of the reasons I love social media, so why should this event be any different?

This time, however, my love for social media too quickly turned to a strong dislike, and that is the reason I am writing an article about a person that wasn’t really a major part of my life. I am writing this, because I want to talk about how some of us that aren’t as personally connected to Prince chose to respond to those that are.

It seriously only took about an hour before I saw my first, what are they thinking post.  It was basically someone complaining that people were idolizing a celebrity, and we should all care just as much for the many more tragic deaths this year that have received little to no attention. 

Deep breath… 

Then I started seeing people complaining abut how many Prince posts were in their feeds, and how happy they would be tomorrow when the Internet was a lot less purple. 

Deep breath… 

The tipping point may have been when a friend of mine shared how Prince’s music got her through a really rough time in her life, and his death was hitting her pretty hard.  A lot of supporters chimed in and shared similar stories, but there was one comment that just rubbed me the wrong way.  It said  “Never liked him.  He was an idiot.  Don’t care that he’s dead.” 

Deep Br… Excuse me!  What?

I’m starting to notice a trend online that I really do not like.  People seem to have this sense of entitlement that translates into sharing whatever random thought crosses their mind whenever they want.  Sure we all technically have the right to say and do what we want online, but I am sure we are all aware of the notion that just because you CAN say something that doesn’t necessarily mean you SHOULD say something.  Perhaps it is because many of us are online friends with people we don’t interact with on a regular basis in the “real” world.   Maybe it’s the fact that we aren’t face to face with the people we are talking to.  It could even be that some people are given a powerful tool of expression before they are really ready for it.  Whatever the reason, I see people responding in ways online that go against the basics of what we were taught about social interaction as children.  Be nice.

I would like to illustrate with some social examples from the “real” world.  This past September my grandmother passed away, and earlier this month a friend’s grandmother similarly passed away.  I didn’t go up to her and say, “I don’t know why you are so upset.  My grandmother contributed more to society than yours ever did, so shouldn’t we be remembering her right now?”  Another example would be that when a coworker is talking incessantly about a loved one that died years ago, we don’t all gang up on her in the office and tell her to shut up, because she’s bringing the rest of us down.  In addition, if our neighbor is complaining about the flat tire he got on his way to work, we don’t scream at him over the fence, “You are so self-centered.  Don’t you know a boat of 500 refugees capsized on its way to Italy this week?  You should be ashamed of yourself!”  Aside from a few just plain obnoxious people out there, most of us don’t interact in our community with such vagrant disregard for other people’s emotions.  Even when we think a person is a little out in left field, we don’t openly ridicule them to such extremes in public.  Most of us have the decency to keep quiet if we have nothing nice to say, or we have enough tact to challenge an acquaintance’s conflicting view points one-on-one in private.  While people aren’t always nice in the real world, for the most part, we don’t walk around attacking our friends and neighbors any opportunity we can get.

Maybe some people still view the cyber world as this magical place where anything goes.  Maybe they think of the Internet as a digital empire of anarchy where absolute freedom of expression reigns.  Newsflash!  The cyber world IS the real world!  It is a part of our lives, and I don’t think it is going away anytime soon.  There are plenty of places where it is appropriate to share beliefs and debate, but social norms tell most of us that it would be rude to start an argument with our aunt at our uncle’s funeral.  It would be improper social etiquette to tell a woman to her face that her newborn son is ugly, or to openly ridicule another person’s religious beliefs.  It would also be absolutely ridiculous to tell a stranger at the grocery store she’s a moron for mourning the death of a celebrity like Prince. Imagine if before checking out, we just turned to that stranger and said, “Never liked him.  He was an idiot.  Don’t care that he’s dead.”  I am pretty sure we would get some horrified looks, and when it happens online, people should be equally as horrified.

As an eternal optimist, and someone that really does believe most people don’t intentionally go around trying to hurt everyone’s feelings, I am hopeful that people just need more time  time to recognize how their words impact others in this relatively new environment.  For the past few years in the classroom, I know we’ve been teaching lessons on something called digital citizenship.  This is the notion that individuals are responsible for the things they say and do online just as much as they are in the “real” world.  We encourage the younger generations to refer to the acronym T.H.I,N.K. before putting anything in an email, sending a text message, or posting anything on social media.  T Is it true?  H Is it helpful? I Is it inspiring? N Is it necessary? K Is it kind?  I try and remind myself of these points as well when interacting online.  I would like my digital neighbors to feel like I care about them, and I don’t want them thinking  I am just some big insensitive jerk.

I know this isn’t much about Prince, as an artist.  I know it’s really about something else, but I do want to end with my own Prince story now.  Yesterday my 9 year old daughter came home from school, and she told me that she heard a prince died.  I told her that it wasn’t that kind of a prince, but  it was a musician that a lot of people really liked.  She asked me if I knew him and if I was sad.  I told her that I knew of him, and I was mostly just thinking about the people he was really important to.  Her response was, “It’s sad when anyone dies, even if you don’t know them.  I hope his friends feel better soon.”  I think that’s all I have to say.  Perhaps the younger generations will lead the way.

Author, Michelle Lynn, is a podcaster on The Captain’s Pod, and she creates content specifically for HSP’s, empaths, introverts, INFJ’s, and Myers-Briggs enthusiasts.  Her weekly podcast, HSP S.O.S. (Highly Sensitive Persons Supporting Our Sensitivity), can be found on The Captain’s Pod website, The HSP SOS website, and Facebook. Also connect with her on Twitter @hsp_sos.

 

Mirroring in Relationships

Michelle Lynn (HSP SOS)

Making the Invisible Visible

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Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others. -Jonathan Swift

We had been together for almost six years that rainy November afternoon he pulled the car off to the side of the road and began weeping uncontrollably.  I had known for over a year that things had gone off course, and the man that once looked at me with love and admiration could no longer look me in the eyes, let alone have a meaningful conversation.  This sudden stop and outburst were completely out of his character, so I sat quietly waiting for him to speak.  He wanted to tell me that he had been lying about going to grad school for the past three months.  He had dropped out of class, but he couldn’t tell me.  He knew I would overreact and be disappointed.  It didn’t upset me that he had dropped out of school.  It didn’t matter to me what he ended up doing professionally.  I was more upset that he felt like I wouldn’t understand his decision, or that I would in some way think less of him for this decision.  The conversation continued, and it ended with him telling me that our relationship was the very reason he didn’t want to become a psychologist anymore.  He couldn’t imagine having conversations as emotionally intense as ours everyday for the rest of his life.  It was at this moment, he also stated a need for a separation.  I was just too much for him to deal with.  I was blindsided by the reason of the breakup, but not so much the breakup in itself.  I was surprised at how angry he was at me for a disappointment I had never expressed and that he never even gave me a chance to explain my actual thoughts.

Later that evening, I stood for three and a half hours staring at myself in the bathroom mirror.  This was my first major heartbreak, and I was having a difficult time making sense of what I had done wrong.  I felt completely misunderstood and voiceless in the final outcome, and I could not fully process the hurt.  Standing there on chipped linoleum, I wanted to look into myself.  I wanted to understand myself, see myself as others saw me, and hopefully identify what it was about me that made people always want to escape me.  I stared so long that I could no longer distinguish the individual features that formed my appearance.  I don’t know what I was waiting for, or what I wanted to happen, but after gazing at my reflection for over three hours, all I felt was invisible.  Continuing to look at myself in the mirror could not remedy my confusion one bit, so I stopped. 

That was over two decades ago, and I’d like to say that was the only time I found myself so lost in a relationship, but it was actually only the start.  I have noticed a pattern of people enjoying certain aspects of my personality initially, but growing tired of my intensity over time.  I have experienced more than one person telling me that he loves me more than he has ever loved anyone else in his entire life, but I am probably better off with someone else.  I have been told that I am angry, disappointed, jealous, bitter, resentful, judgmental, too demanding, too intense, unstable, and self-centered from the same people that tout me as the most understanding, loving person they have ever met.  Sometimes these mismatched descriptors come within minutes of one another, and I am always left at that point where I am standing alone staring at myself in the bathroom mirror wondering if I really am this difficult to love.

I am not writing this to air my dirty laundry as a forlorn lover.  I am writing this to reach out to other HSPs, INFJs, or empaths that might have ever felt this way in relationships themselves.  I inadvertently came across something not long ago that helped me understand what might be going on a little more clearly.  It helped me feel a little less unlovable, so I want to share that feeling among friends.

A shift in perspective occurred when I came across two images I found while talking in various groups online.  One said, intuitives are like mirrors that people can’t bear to look into too long, and the other said INFJ love story?  Everyone will hurt you. My response was less than enthusiastic at first, because let’s be honest, sometimes the truth hurts.  The everyone hurts you comment seemed like a harsh reality I wasn’t quite ready to accept, and the being a mirror concept was one I had to toss around in my mind a bit before fully grasping what it fully meant.

Over the next couple of months, the pieces of my past began to fall into place, and both phrases began to make sense.  The premise of the conversations where these images were originally posted was that people love highly intuitive and emotional people intensely, but because we are so good at unearthing what is holding people back, and exposing it, we become too much for people close to us to cope with at times.  We become a mirror, and people cannot look at us without seeing a reflection of themselves.  Our personality type does not necessarily focus on negative aspects and draw them out of people, which is why people are drawn to us initially.  We always start by illuminating the good, because we see the beauty in people when we first meet them.  If they are down on themselves, we reflect back what is good about them.  Over time, and repeated exposures to the mirror, however, we get a glimpse into the onlooker’s eyes and what is causing them to see themselves in a negative light.  With strengths, we see weaknesses.  A mirror is honest.  If you have a blemish, the mirror reflects it.  The mirror doesn’t tell you that the pimple is ugly, but you might make that connection and begin to feel self-conscious upon seeing it.  You might then choose to avoid looking at yourself in mirrors for the day or longer until the image of the imperfection has faded from your mind. 

That analogy for me explains everything I have ever misunderstood in every relationship I have ever had, including the one with my own mother.  There was a time, for example, when my mother had been drinking too much, and without me saying a word, she knew I was aware of what she had been doing behind everyone’s back.  She looked at me and said, “I will be so happy when you get out of my hair next week, so I don’t have to keep being judged by you.”  I wasn’t judging her.  I was actually keeping quiet, because I could sense the severity of the situation for everyone involved.  She, however, was judging herself in that moment.  My silent, reflective eyes produced so much shame that all she could do was lash out at me, but really it was the reflection of herself that upset her the most.  At the time, I hurt so much that I sobbed for days.  I was about to move out of my childhood home of 22 years, and those were her parting words.  I have always had this sense of people being relieved when away from me, which is a big part of why I keep my distant until I am sure people are ready for me. 

I have a history of mismatched experiences and emotions with the people I love.  When I get really close to people, they are forced to look at themselves more than they would like to I guess.  They in a sense, are being forced into a relationship with themselves by me, because I have a way of seeing the less visible aspects of most people’s personalities.  I consciously, and sometimes unconsciously, bring the invisible to the surface.  It is as if I am standing there holding up a mirror, forcing them to look at themselves, refusing to tell them what to do, trying to be supportive and understanding, and the reactions aren’t always what I expect.  I guess that’s because I am still thinking in terms of their reactions in relationship to me.  When someone I love tells me that they need time away from me, that can be a hard pill to swallow.  I dislike that I cause people I care about such distress, even if I know it is what needs to happen for them to grow. 

I have tried to be less intense or real, but telling that to someone like me is like telling water not to be wet.  You can throw a towel over everything to hide, or dry off the situation, but everything is going to get absorbed eventually.  Does this mean that I can never have a meaningful relationship with another person, or that I am better off from a distance?  No, but that does explain why I am cautious with my feelings and sometimes build walls.  It’s not just to protect myself, but many times it is to protect everyone else around me.  Will everyone hurt me?  Probably yes, but that’s because people respond unpredictably sometimes to being exposed to what they have worked hard to keep hidden.  I think the hardest thing for me is when someone leaves me, or thinks I am better off without them, because they believe they are hurting me.  I am just holding the mirror, but I see the hurt in others.  When they leave me, I feel like they are leaving at the most crucial moment of their healing, so I become desperate to bring them back to the mirror. 

I have to realize, however, that everyone needs to heal at their own pace.  I am used to holding hurt, and I recognize the interconnected relationship between hurting and healing.  It can be scary, and I have to remember that for the people I care about.  I have to work harder at helping myself, as well as my loved ones, to see where they end and I begin.  There is someone standing behind this mirror, and that’s the person I want people to ultimately see.  I think deep down that’s what every INFJ, HSP, or empath wants, someone to really see them.  People do see me sometimes, and I think when they do, they realize what’s been going on.  They do start to see their own parts, as well as the parts that have all along been mine.  Perhaps this is why, every time a relationship has ended for me I’ve been told that I’m better off without that other person in my life.  When I hear that, I hurt, because I don’t honestly feel that way myself.  While I hold other people’s pain sometimes, I rarely keep it as my own.  The hurt isn’t from what that person thinks he has inflicted upon me.  The hurt is that this person can’t recognize how much I have learned and enjoyed our experiences together.  How much I value the light, as well as the dark.

A person really close to me once explained why sad songs are the most beautiful, and that was one of the first times I ever felt like someone could reflect something of myself back to me.  Hurt is acknowledgment, concern, and care for how things should or should not be in this world.  Even when people are hurting, and they choose things you do not agree with out of love for you, or themselves, that is far better than apathy.  Every hurt has taught me a great deal about myself, as well as forced me to continue along my path of healing.   As an INFJ everyone I love hurts me, but everyone I have ever loved has also helped to heal me.

Author, Michelle Lynn, is a podcaster on The Captain’s Pod, and she creates content specifically for HSP’s, empaths, introverts, INFJ’s, and Myers-Briggs enthusiasts.  Her weekly podcast, HSP S.O.S. (Highly Sensitive Persons Supporting Our Sensitivity), can be found on The Captain’s Pod website, The HSP SOS website, and Facebook. Also connect with her on Twitter @hsp_sos.

To Love an Empath

Michelle Lynn (HSP SOS)

If You Love an Empath, Know This

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Author, Michelle Lynn, is a podcaster on The Captain’s Pod, and she creates content specifically for HSP’s, empaths, introverts, INFJ’s, and Myers-Briggs enthusiasts.  Her weekly podcast, HSP S.O.S. (Highly Sensitive Persons Supporting Our Sensitivity), can be found on The Captain’s Pod website, The HSP SOS website,  and  Facebook. Also connect with her on Twitter @hsp_sos .

I Will Rain On Your Parade

Michelle Lynn (HSP SOS)

-A definite promise from your loving HSP, empath, and INFJ-

cloudy

Whether you are a highly sensitive person, empath, or INFJ, I am sure you have all been told to “lighten up” from time to time.  Well, I am all of those things, so I’m just going to go ahead and warn you up front to multiply that by three.  Intense is an understatement!  I haven’t decided yet if I am poisonous or contagious, but I do know I can definitely “rain on a parade” more often than I’d like to admit.

Now, I’m not a depressed person.  I would say that I am very much the opposite of that.  I am an idealist, and I believe in love and happiness.  I wake up each morning as sunshine, ready to take on the world.  I think about how I can make the world a better place.  I’ve even been accused of being all rainbows, unicorns, and pixie dust at times.  I’ve been likened to a magical character that couldn’t possibly exist in the “real” world.  Some of these comments have been made in awe, and at other times, they have been made in disgust.  I do not become bitter or change my ways. I keep on believing in beautiful outcomes in spite of the evidence before me.

That being said, however, I am also a realist.  I am on a path of constant evolution, and I admit to being a bit of a perfectionist.  I don’t cringe at the idea of perfectionism like so many people do, because my brain doesn’t comprehend settling for less before you even try for the best.  This is where I start to lose people I think.  I am always trying to perfect things- living spaces, situations, people, myself, and even moments.  I am not afraid of hard work.  I think INFJ’s are born wearing work gloves.  Activities and conversations that end in evolution and understanding energize me, but I understand how these types of conversations are often exhausting for others.  

Where other people are content, I am always looking for more.  

I’m going to leave that sentence right there.  I am just going to let it sit there all alone and reflect on itself for a while, because that’s the core of everything people don’t get  or dislike about me.  That right there is the reason many of my relationships and friendships have ended.  I know I make people feel bad or inadequate.  I know that I can take their happy moment and suck all the joy out of it by mentioning what I perceive as an obvious truth. The difference between me and other people, however, is that I am not being critical in my mind.  I am being analytical.  I am being analytical with the intent to propel everything around me to absolute greatness.  What I am learning the hard way, however, is that people don’t always want that.  Sometimes it just makes people feel like they aren’t good enough, or that I am not satisfied with what is right in front of me.  This also is the furthest thing from the truth, and it makes me very upset when my words or actions leave people feeling this way.  I HATE raining on anyone’s parade.  It is never my intent, and I often get surprised by people’s reactions to my well meaning intentions.

Maybe this misunderstanding happens, because I don’t see the world as good or bad.  I see the world as being in a state of constant change.  If something isn’t right, then let’s work on making it right.  I look at life through the lens of development.  I am the most analytical with the people closest to me, because they are the ones I want to propel to ultimate greatness above anything else.  It’s not that I don’t like them as they are right now.  I absolutely adore them right now.  I didn’t dislike my daughter when she couldn’t feed herself or go to the bathroom on her own.  I adored her, but I still helped her learn how to take the best care of herself.  I didn’t love her less back then or more now.  I just love like I always love, and I never think of it in any other way.

I take the whole work in progress concept very seriously.  I live by it.  I don’t get upset with people when they aren’t being their best.  I easily forgive, and I do not judge.  I will, however, probably state the very obvious fact you don’t need (or want) to hear right at the moment you least want (but maybe need) to hear it.  Again, I am a bit of a storm cloud.  Just like a storm cloud, as heat and energy gets released into the atmosphere, I swell.  In my attempts to force something to rise, something else falls, and through this instability, I often create quite a storm.

I have watched the storms build over the years, and I have grown much better at tempering myself in order to prevent their intensity.  A delayed storm, however, is still a storm, and the rainy season always returns.  I don’t mind the rainy season as much as those around me do, because I see the big picture.  I don’t mind enduring thunder and lightning to nourish the flowers.  I see it as the laws of nature, a natural process of the universe.  I know though that everyday can’t be thunderstorms.  I am not writing this to give highly sensitive people, empaths, or INFJs permission to jab a lightening bolt into the hearts of everyone they meet.  I am writing this in an attempt to let people understand the “science” behind our intensity.  I am writing this to remind people of all of the beauty that grows out of thunderstorms.  

Yes, I am a thundercloud.  

I can be frightening, but I am also nourishing.  I may storm, but it is never meant to ruin anyone’s parade.  That is my promise.

Author, Michelle Lynn, is a podcaster on The Captain’s Pod, and she creates content specifically for HSP’s, empaths, introverts, INFJ’s, and Myers-Briggs enthusiasts.  Her weekly podcast, HSP S.O.S. (Highly Sensitive Persons Supporting Our Sensitivity), can be found on The Captain’s Pod website, The HSP SOS website,  and  Facebook. Also connect with her on Twitter @hsp_sos .

To All the Lonely HSPs

Michelle Lynn (HSP SOS)

loneliness.jpg

Remember: the time you feel lonely is the time you most need to be by yourself. Life’s cruelest irony.
Douglas Coupland-
I am a highly sensitive person, and I am lonely a good portion of the time.  I recently talked about loneliness on my podcast HSP SOS #29 “I Feel Lonely”, and it has become abundantly clear that my loneliness stems not from a lack of people in my life, but from a lack of understanding.  I came to this epiphany through a mindfulness activity where I listed anything I could think of that made me feel lonely.  It was difficult at first, but once I was done, I felt as though I had rediscovered a piece of myself, and in talking about my loneliness with other highly sensitive people I also discovered that I am not alone in feeling this way.  Many HSPs enjoy solitude.  It is the judgement, criticism, and misunderstanding of their nature that makes them feel alone.  In an effort to remind other HSPs that they are not alone, I am sharing what makes me feel lonely here.
I feel lonely when…
  • I feel lonely when… people misinterpret my intentions, or tell me they do not believe me when I tell them that is not what I meant.
  • I feel lonely when… I want to talk about my troubles with a loved one, but I can’t.  I worry how my sad news will impact them, so I don’t say what is on my mind.
  • I feel lonely when… I  get really upset about corruption, injustice, violence, or prejudice- and everyone around me thinks I am being too intense.
  • I feel lonely when… my mood is different from everyone else around me.  If I am at a party, and everyone else is laughing and having a good time, then I feel like my presence is just going to bring everyone down.
  • I feel lonely when… people stop talking to me, because they are mad at someone I associate with.
  • I feel lonely when… I am passionate about an idea, project, or cause, and no one around me seems as interested or excited.
  • I feel lonely when… people keep information from me, because they worry I am going to get emotional or “overreact”.
  • I feel lonely when …I know I am being misunderstood and I try to explain myself, and the other person says they don’t want to talk about it.  They tell me I need to stop bringing up the past and just “get over it.”
  • I feel lonely when… I don’t find a sarcastic joke funny or enjoy teasing, and I am told to lighten up.
  • I feel lonely when… people call me needy or codependent thinking I constantly need to be in contact with people, when all I really want is to be acknowledged and accurately heard.

So yeah, my conclusion for me is that I do not feel lonely in the absence of people.  I enjoy alone time and solitude.  I feel lonely in the presence of people who misunderstand me.  To me that is the epitome of feeling alone.

Author, Michelle Lynn, is a podcaster on The Captain’s Pod, and she creates content specifically for HSP’s, empaths, introverts, INFJ’s, and Myers-Briggs enthusiasts.  Her weekly podcast, HSP S.O.S. (Highly Sensitive Persons Supporting Our Sensitivity), can be found on The Captain’s Pod website, The HSP SOS website,  and  Facebook. Also connect with her on Twitter @hsp_sos .

Unspoken Word Poetry

Michelle Lynn (HSP SOS)

swing

swing set chains

palms discolored
wipe orange rust

swing set chains
rattle through
shuttered panes
cigarette-butt doves fly
beer glass starfish sparkle
my legs kick
against a dirt sky

Swing Set Chains, a poem I wrote in my twenties when I was still angry about my life, unfair circumstances, mainly addiction- angst ridden lines vaguely lost on a page. I wrote to forget. I wrote to occupy empty time. I wrote to be alone in a house caught between unpredictable chaos and unbearable silence. I wrote for myself.  

Volume after volume of fragmented childhood memories shoved on a shelf. My silent solace, a semblance of order and control if nothing else. My words have always been calculated, cautious, carefully mine. Left to yellow and harden over the passing of time.  

Two decades later, tattered and torn, this is my archeological find. The words sit static as I rush to make space in my cluttered mind, and I attempt to get the words out of her with the absence of mine.

Her sterile hospital room is a far cry from the swing set of my youth, but it is still a make-shift sanctuary. A place to keep from confrontation. A place to run and hide. We both avoid erasable words written in plain sight.

Water under the bridge? Something we say when we have lost the energy to fight, or we realize that some actions are not always a matter of choice.  

I AM still standing on that bridge- a gasoline soaked rag in one hand and polished skipping stones in the next.   

Should I set the fire, turn to ashes, and tumble into the troubled waters below?

Should I lie down, look up, and fly into the dirt sky reflection shining above?

I know that destruction and distraction are most people’s MOs, but silence and suspension have always been mine.

I am paralyzed, stuck on a drawstring bridge, a rusty swing set, not sure if I am human, fish, or bird?

Maybe just a version of my own unspoken word.

Author, Michelle Lynn, is a podcaster on The Captain’s Pod, and she creates content specifically for HSP’s, empaths, introverts, INFJ’s, and Myers-Briggs enthusiasts.  Her weekly podcast, HSP S.O.S. (Highly Sensitive Persons Supporting Our Sensitivity), can be found on The Captain’s Pod website, The HSP SOS website,  and  Facebook. Also connect with her on Twitter @hsp_sos .

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