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Shame, Part II

29 Apr

Shame, Part II

I used to love this song by Sonny Bono when I was a teen.

I think all of us occasionally face people in life whose way of gaining control involves mocking others.

It may not even be a personal thing.  It so often is not.  That person feels so diminished, so voiceless that she mocks someone else for the attention it brings!

Or . . . someone can honestly hate something about us that is not evil.  She just hates our laugh, or the way we stand, or the way we bounce up and down when we get excited . . .

Whatever that characteristic is that gains us mockery, if we are not sinning, we need to just let the mockery go.  It doesn’t diminish us.  It diminishes the person who sees the need to be a mocker.  People get that.  Oh, yes they do.

I was stunned not long ago when someone who has been a close friend for years made an age joke at my expense in front of a crowd of people.  In fact, I was so stunned, I asked for clarification.  And, yes, it really was about 55-year-olds acting in an “age appropriate way.”

Just what is that?, one might ask.  Her take was that we should be slow and sedate.  At least slower and more sedate than I am, apparently.

Well.

I don’t think, with my tendency toward ADHD, that is gonna happen.  And I don’t think I am gonna try to conjure it up to please my friend and her definition of age appropriate behavior.

Sometimes ya just gotta let it go.

I trust that anyone in that crowd who laughed at me will reconsider when they see me living in integrity toward them, despite the jokes at my expense.

If not, mockery can function as an awfully good filter, to show you who your true friends are!!!

 

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What Have You Done for Me Lately?

16 Jan

Okay, I am really venturing onto dangerous territory this week.  More than once.  Ha!

I have many young friends but I am going to say this–I think the generation currently in its 20’s and 30’s (is that just one generation?  I can’t keep track) is the most entitled generation ever.  

Some of my friends will know straightaway that this doesn’t apply to them.  Even if we joke about it.

Some will know that it sometimes does apply.  And we may joke about that, too.  

I kind of understand how it must feel.  We have kind of put you guys in a position where you are on the hook for our social security, and now our health care, without any guarantees that both of those systems will not bankrupt before you need them.  We are like a giant generational Ponzi scheme.  Not at all cool!

We were probably the last generation ever that wound up richer than its parents’ generation.  Then there were too many of us Baby Boomers and too few of you and . . . that just doesn’t sustain (do the math!).  

However, there is way to tiptoe around these realities with good will prevailing between us all and there is a way to crash like a bull through the generational china shop.

In general, when we can help you financially, we jump at the chance.  Even when we are not your actual parents, but just a couple of surrogates enlarging your world and your financial situation.  However, no one likes to be taken for granted.  We all like to feel that we belong in this world–that we are appreciated as people and not just as wallets with legs.  

So . . . you can play the game, or not.  

What is a good way that we can tell when you have chosen to not play the game?

Well, when we get laid off and you suddenly change your relationship with us might be one way!

That said, though, my main concern this week is not finances, but rather the fact that we may be inadvertently teaching you that envy and jealousy are okay.  

You see, we all get envious/jealous at some point in our lives.  But when I was young and found that happening, I would examine my heart and work on myself, with God’s help.

I am afraid nowadays we may have passed along the message to you that it is justifiable to feel envy toward others and that we totally understand if you let your envy harden into bitterness.  

Think not?

What happens when your children don’t receive as much attention as other children at church, Bible study, or playgroup?  What do you do?  What do we counsel you to do?

In general, no one is going to have all the same friends as another person.  You and each of your friends have a different network because you are different people.  If you have an older couple in your life who adore your kids, you are blessed.  Please don’t compare yourselves to others and get upset if you find another family that has two older couples loving on their kids!!!  Don’t plot to have your kids compete with the kids of another family for attention.  That is a lot to put on your kids.  Enjoy the friends you have, especially if they dote on your kids!

And don’t mope about uneven amounts of attention given by adults to other adults either.  The same thing goes.  We are all in different networks.  We also all have different personalities and so no two people will ever get the same amount of attention in the same situation.  It is statistically impossible.  

For example, I got a huge amount of attention the year I lost 100 pounds.  It was like everyone in my life became my cheering section. As outgoing as I am, I was constantly reporting to close friends, casual friends, and even perfect strangers the number of pounds I was down!

I think I got more attention that year than all other weight loss folks I have ever known put together!

But . . . I have a summer birthday and, ever since high school when I realized that birthdays are often celebrated by going out with friends, I have had spells of regretting that I was born while school is out and most people are concentrating on their vacations.  I have had one self-catered birthday party with friends (when I turned 40), one party at my best friend’s house when I happened to be visiting on my birthday, and one surprise slumber party when I turned 18 that still makes me giggle because there is no greater way to create shock than to plan a surprise party for a person with a summer birthday who doesn’t even have the concept of celebrating with friends!!!

So . . . see how that works?  I got dollops of attention for my weight loss but have bypassed the birthday parties that many others take for granted.  And every one of us has things like that–areas where we have received abundance to an overflow and other areas where we can feel somewhat left out at times.  

When we feel left out, let’s not institutionalize that.  Let’s find the parts where we can count blessings and feel grateful.  

Otherwise, we risk having an attitude of “what have you done for me lately?” coming across in our relationships and poisoning them.  

For truly, we are responsible, working with God, to find our own happiness and to live in our own state of contentment.  

If we don’t do that, it is not something anyone else can do for us, even loving surrogate (or actual) parents.  

Of Extroversion and Introversion . . .

19 Dec

I am riffing on extroversion and introversion a bit this week . . . and maybe always will, every once in a while.  I will build a new category for it, for those who are interested in the topic.  And in this post, I will make the definitive phrases bold.    

To rehearse the main difference between extroverts and introverts:  it is in the way they “recharge” their mental batteries.  Extroverts recharge from being around other people; introverts recharge in their solitude.  

A common misperception is that extroverts are able to talk to anyone while introverts cannot.  While almost everyone would say that I am wildly extroverted because I can and do reach out to all kinds of people, truth is that the Myers-Briggs personality inventory had me as only slightly more extroverted than introverted.  As much as I love to read and watch movies, I totally understand that!

As one friend joked with me, I am independent enough to do many things by myself (travel around in strange cities, for one) but I do love to “hook up” with fellow travelers for a few moments at a time to share the experience of, say, a beautiful art museum or the Reagan Presidential Library.  And, truth be told, I pretty instinctively understood the process of how to do that correctly, too.  A few words exchanged with other solitary travelers or even with families while standing in line at the cafeteria are good, while engaging someone in conversation while looking at a painting or standing at President Reagan’s grave is not.  I treasure my solitude at such times.  

Balance is always good!

An introvert will almost always have a small handful of very close-in friends, while an extrovert will be known for having a less deep relationship with a much wider circle of friends.  The person who can and does talk to everyone is an extrovert. Extroverts have a gift for making people feel special in the moment.  But once they are gone, they very easily move on to a new circle of people (because that is their gift).  Again, I can relate to both of these friendship styles.  And so can almost everyone else.  It is rare that there is a pure introvert who sticks to the same three people all life long; it is also rare to find an extrovert without a best friend or two.  

My best friend was my college roommate in my senior year (1980-81).  We can go for months without communicating and pick up our conversation where we last left off . . .  

On the other hand, I love the saying that everyone has a story and that history is built from weaving everyone’s story together.  I love historical fiction written by shifting views between, say, Lady Jane Grey and her stablehand (“Raven Queen,” see my review earlier this year).  

I love listening to people talk about their passions.  The only people who don’t interest me much are those who go through life bored, waiting for someone else to entertain them, or even, God forbid, to define them.    

Extroversion is not the same as ADD–having divergent interests going off in all directions.  Introverts can do that, too, just more quietly!  In fact, attention deficit may look like ADD (quiet distraction) in introverts and ADHD (restless, jumpy involuntary movements related to the feeling of a restless jumpy brain) in extroverts.  That possibility has been brought up by researchers in the past, too. 

If so, it would be another indication of introversion in me, for I spent my entire seventh grade year daydreaming and still pulling an “A” average . . .

These are some interesting points to consider but they most likely end with 98% of us determining that we are a combination of extrovert and introvert, with one style dominating.  

If you want to know for sure, take the Myers-Briggs test.  Try to take it with a group at work or somewhere, as it is rather expensive.  

Interesting stuff, this.

Consider the Extrovert . . .

18 Dec

I have said before that I think jealousy is vastly overrated.  As in, I think that 80% of the time when someone is accused of being jealous, some other interpersonal issue is in play.  It is just easier to claim that person is jealous of us, shut down dialogue, and walk away self-satisfied and unchanged, despite the fact God put us here to all learn from each other and grow.

As a person who is predominantly extroverted, I have been reading the discussions of introversion this year with my thinking cap on.  We extroverts are not superior to introverts, nor are they superior to us. God made us all.  Diversity is good.  The world would not function very well if it were all extroverts or all introverts.  We all have something different to offer.

I want to offer that extroversion and introversion appear to be inborn traits that don’t change.  Nor should we wish them to change.  We are who we are.

Some examples of what is not helpful in the dialogue about introversion vs. extroversion: 

1) when someone quotes verses about loud people (particularly loud women) out of context to imply that any spirited conversation is a mark of the beast

2) when someone quotes the verse about sin being associated with many words, assuming that the extrovert has never read that verse and that the extrovert just opens her mouth and lets words tumble out, with no thought behind them ever

3) when someone treats introversion as shame/poor self image and delivers lectures on why the introvert should try harder to discover who God created her to be (I actually got that one from a blog post on introversion, but I totally understand why it would be a pain!)

Obviously, I just used some hyperbole on that list, but it is not far off the mark of how we often overlay our personality onto others and then try to push them to be like us!!!  They are to follow us as we follow Christ, not just follow us blindly.  And following Christ means embracing diversity–the very diversity He created.

Actually, I am pretty sure that, when it comes to jealousy, the true introverts and the true extroverts are never jealous of each other.  We know who we are and where we want to be!

What happens is you have shy people who are, at heart, extroverts and . . . in their growth to become the person God created, they can feel jealousy toward those who are already free to be very extroverted.  Or maybe not jealousy, but just tension of some sort.

If you feel blocked from expressing your thoughts and feelings and are extroverted enough to wish to do so, I think it can be hard to see a sister in Christ who is just carrying on at church, doing that very thing. That can be where some of our issues arise.  And, unfortunately, sometimes it is easier to criticize that sister in Christ for her openness than to work on our own.

I have seen this in choir sometimes, over the thirty plus years I have been in adult choirs.  

You can have an extroverted singer like me who sings out, mistakes and all, in order to learn where the mistakes are while at practice, so they can be fixed for the performances.  And you can have shyer ladies who don’t sing out because they would be mortified if anyone ever called them out on a mistake (it doesn’t matter that choir directors rarely call individuals out on mistakes–they don’t sing out just in case . . .).

All of this would function fine except there seem to be times when those timider singers get utterly fed up with the ones who sing out and, as is their quieter way, they may try to undermine the more outgoing people from behind the scenes, complaining behind their backs that they are prima donnas.  

I have been the timider singer.  I spent two years in London in a choir with two professional (paid) singers per part and it was hard to get much sound out of me at all back then.  But I changed over the years.  Now I am the one the director looks at when a piece suddenly hits forte or fortissimo.  And that is okay!

It is actually okay to have the other stuff, too–the prima donna labels behind the scenes and all–because I don’t go around doing that to others so I expect they have no actual cause nor justification to do that to me.  And . . . if they don’t, then all I can do is continue to sing and keep my heart pure and free from rancor towards my fellow choir members.

If they choose to have rancor toward me, it is not my issue.

If we would all understand that the best defense against gossip is a life full of integrity, I think we would all get along much better, introverts, extroverts, and people in between.  

Amen! 

14 Ways To Handle A Christian Introvert

17 Dec

This is fabulous–in fact I am preparing a post on being a Christian extrovert. We will have to compare notes.

There have been many good blog posts this year on introversion. I think maybe the best bloggers are introverts.

J.S. Park

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If you ever met me, you would think I was an extrovert — I preach, I lead praise, I talk to everyone, I talk too much, and you can hear me laughing from across the street — but I am a full-blooded introvert.

If it were up to me, I’d rather be in my boxers all day eating Godiva while browsing food photo blogs and bothering my dog and cracking up at YouTube videos of Whose Line Is ItAnyway and leaving dry ironic comments all over Facebook while reading the latest theory on how Sherlock survived the second season finale. 

I intensely guard my personal space and my private life.  It takes a herculean effort to step outside my comfort zone and interact with messy, fleshy, real live human beings.

Here’s how you handle us.

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