Lately, I’ve noticed an uptick in my use of screen time. I’ve never considered myself someone who can get “lost” in their screen, but I guess I have the same propensity for this as I’ve seen in other people. I have always been someone who has a reaction when I am out in public and I look around and see people buried in their phones, rather than sharing time together.
Last night: this was me. My partner and I were sitting in the same room, fully engrossed in our phones and not interacting with each other and if this was not enough disconnection, we also had the television on, too, for good measure. Whew. What has my world become?
To be honest, some of this uptick in screen time for me is due to an increase in my social marketing efforts for my business, which is a conscious choice of mine to use some of my time to work on building an engaged audience and increased online presence. If I am really being fully honest though, some of this uptick isn’t about business practices or digital marketing campaigns.
What some of this uptick is about is dissociating inside and managing my emotional experiences. Some of the time. Some of it is about me having finally succumbed to the glorious benefit that screen time can provide in terms of dissociating and numbing out when feelings are coming up that feel like more than what I want to deal with in the moment. Or when I feel bored and dissatisfied, I am finding that picking up the phone and scrolling through social media is a nice distraction from having to feel these unpleasant feelings.
As I have been living into this experience, I recognize that there are two opposing experiences happening inside of me around this experience. Part of me is full of negativity and judgment towards myself for having finally become “one of those people” who I have often hurled judgment and negativity towards, under my breath, of course, because to do otherwise would sully my external reputation as having it “all together” and “being above the fray”.
This negativity, I realize at this point in my healing process, is absolutely 100% about my childhood and the energy I grew up in about always appearing to “have it together”. I continually work with this part of me to grow, heal, deepen and bring love and compassion to this negativity or “shadow side”. It is an ongoing process and wouldn’t it make sense that this is embedded deeply given the bonding that I got and how embedded this was in the energy of my family.
The other experience that I am having, which doesn’t quite yet feel as constant or strong as the negativity, is one of compassion and gentleness towards this part of my humanness. Wouldn’t it also make sense that some times I might be past my own emotional supports and need some kind of refuge, some kind of “numbing out” even if it is old safety? You know…the question is not “I wonder if I need emotional safety”, rather the question is “I wonder what kind of emotional safety I am in right now?”.
We need emotional safety ALL THE TIME. It doesn’t matter if we are 4, 44 or 94 years old. Even in the moments where we are feeling “pretty good” and hitting all the green lights on the road, we still need safety. In fact, the only reason that everything feels like it is coming together for us is BECAUSE we’ve achieved some kind of experience of new, satisfying emotional safety inside.
Safety is a necessary given. Just like oxygen. Without oxygen, we will not thrive, and if we go too long, we will eventually die. Such is the case with safety. Without emotional safety of some kind (old or new), our spirit will also eventually go underground and disappear, sometimes even dying. The task is not how to learn how to live without safety, it’s to learn how to create more satisfying safety inside and bring loving compassion to all the various ways we’ve learned to achieve some kind of relief, in satisfying or dissatisfying ways.
To do anything less, would be like beating the kid inside of us who learned how to do whatever it took to survive. Unthinkable.
As I sat there last night in this place of disconnection with my partner, I was able to detach long enough to observe how my partner and I were completely engrossed in our phones and how much I wanted a connection with her and could feel my old bonding getting energized around feeling abandoned, lonely and insignificant.
I could also feel myself start to shift into my “Plan B approach” (also an old childhood strategy) which was to make her “wrong and bad” and unworthy of me. Queue the condescension and righteousness. (Two things I am quite good at, thank you very much!)
I just breathed into this, and instead of giving myself a hard time inwardly, I gently began to think of the kid inside and what it was that she needed and was feeling. Believe me, this is a newer strategy for me: to feel separate enough from my old bonding to be able to even take a step back and observe the situation from my heart. And then to focus on me and what I needed. BRAND. SPANKING. NEW-ISH. Lots of years of therapy invested to get here folks…
So, I sat down and talked to the kid inside of me, and here’s what she had to say…this feels important to share and she said it was ok to share, so I will:
I wish you would look at me like you do your phone, touch me like you touch your phone and keep track of me just like you always keep track of your phone. You keep your phone closer to you than you do me and I don’t like that. Sometimes, you don’t even know where I am or what I am doing, but you always seem to know where your phone is and what other people around the world are doing.
When we are driving in the car and are at a stoplight and you pull out your phone to check it, I wish you would talk to me or even just look at me. That way, I would know that I was there. When we are sitting in the room together and you are focused only on your phone, I feel sad and lonely. And when I leave the room and you put your phone down, that hurts my feelings. You know how your phone works better than you know how I work. You never forget to charge your phone, sometimes you forget that I am even in the same room. I wonder why you don’t pay attention to me like you do your phone.
I know that I need things and that sometimes you are tired or upset and that it is easier to just disappear into your phone. Your phone doesn’t need anything from you. But I do. I need you to pay attention to me. I need you to look at me. I need you to touch me and hold me and keep me close to you everywhere you go. When I go away for a little bit, I need you to still be there when I come back and pick me up and look in my eyes and laugh with me- not get lost in your phone.
I need you to know how I work and ask me when you don’t know, not just check out and disappear into your phone, I need you to “google” a user manual for me sometimes too. Sometimes I wonder who you love more, me or your phone? It sure seems like you cannot live without your phone and sometimes I even think you’d be happier if I wasn’t around."
After writing this letter from the kid inside of me, I was able to really feel in my body that what was happening for me was that it was old relationship trauma inside of me getting energized in this situation with my partner, as we both sat glued to our screens.
What feels true is that I do need more connection sometimes in my here and now relationship, this is the part of the experience that felt quite simple and clear.
It is also true that as humans, we often project any unmet childhood needs for deep and meaningful connection onto our adult relationships, especially our intimate and significant connections. This is the part of the experience that often feels sticky, complicated, convoluted and unclear. It also tends to be a human thing to project like this onto significant others in our life.
What also feels true is that my partner has every right in the world to exist exactly how she needs to exist in any given moment. It is not her job to meet my unmet childhood needs just because I need her to in any given moment.
All of these experiences are true.
The difference is that one part (the majority) is about my childhood and another unfinished piece of unmet need that is coming forward to be healed, and the other part is about a current, present day adult need. Past and present need intersecting in the here and now.
Without doing deep healing work, it’s hard sometimes, if not impossible, to know which part is which. And even with deep healing work, it’s still difficult sometimes to discern which is which and what is really happening present day and what is a projection coming up from the past.
Here’s what I do know though, all parts (the “there and then part” and the “here and now” part) of all of our experiences and feelings are important and true. And all parts deserve love, gentleness, compassion and consciousness. All the time.
Go gently forward.
Kate Schroeder is a psychotherapist and coach who utilizes the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator ® and the Enneagram, as well as experiential body-mind-spirit healing practices to access one’s inner wisdom in order to create a life filled with satisfaction. To learn how to communicate more effectively and start changing your life, download her guided imagery program, Soul Meditations: Building A Relationship That Lasts, or join Kate’s Visual Journaling Group on Facebook for more support in finding your true self. To sign up for her newsletter click here.
#emotionalintelligence #visjournaling #olderthanwords
Remembering Your Body
As a culture, we are proficient and instinctual at disconnecting from our physical bodies. We live in a society that is heavily based on a “Western medicine” approach for attending to physical symptoms. When we have a headache, we are immediately encouraged to take an aspirin to relieve the pain. We have a muscle pain or body ache, and immediately are told that we must “treat it” with medicine or exercises designed to alleviate the pain, or even in some cases that we need to have surgery. There is strong reinforcement both from the medical field, as well as from the general culture, to function “at a high level” at all times, and not to let anything get in the way of our success and ability to “do our job” and “do it well”. Remember the old aspirin commercial: “I haven’t got time for the pain”?
One of the first lines of treatment for depression or anxiety is very often psychotropic medications. In most cases, by the time I begin working with an individual, they have already been on medication for some time, and still are experiencing the symptoms of depression or anxiety, loneliness or malaise, which is why they are now seeking an alternative therapy to address their issues. There is nothing wrong with medication as a form of intervention to treat symptoms. However, the limitation of taking a pill as the primary solution to feeling better is that we are essentially postponing having to deal with the underlying emotional issues; we are “numbing” out so to speak, to the emotional pain that also exists alongside our physical condition.
You see, when we were born, we were designed to function as an integrated system, body/mind /spirit, all operating in conjunction with each other, and in this paradigm, everything we experience on one level is also experienced on the other levels simultaneously. I am not suggesting that we need to sit in pain until it goes away on its own, that would not be responsible to ourselves. What I am suggesting is that there is always an emotional or energetic component to every physical condition. If we are willing to listen and attend to its message, we are tapping into a deep and profound source of wisdom from our bodies which we can use to heal ourselves.
We will be doing our first "LIVE" event today at 2pm cst. For those of you interested in joining us this afternoon, please join the group first and then you can sign in for the live event tomorrow. In case you miss the live event tomorrow, it won't be up forever, but you can you can still replay it later so feel free to join the group after the fact and you can access our resources too. This live event is EXCLUSIVE for members only of the Visual Journaling group- so come on over and check us out! Here is the link to join Visual Journaling Group: Bit.ly/VisualJournaling
A Word To The Wise with Kate Schroeder, M.Ed, LPC, NCC Remembering Your Body (Originally published June 2014 for "The Healthy Planet")
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Does knowing one predict the other?
As you may already know, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI®) and the Enneagram of Personality are two of the most widely used personality tests today.
While each of these tools is based on its own theory of how personality traits align in combination to form a fixed number of psychological types, people often wonder how much their Myers-Briggs type reveals about their Enneagram type, and vice versa.
The short answer is: very little.
Although both inventories are useful in deepening your understanding of yourself and who you really are at your core, the two systems have no correlation to one other. Your Myers-Briggs personality type cannot be used to predict or guess what your Enneagram personality type might be, and the same holds true in the reverse.
Combined Myers-Briggs & Enneagram Personality Types Reveal About Who You However, these systems are similar in that they attempt to describe what you, as an individual, are like when you are "integrated" and when you are "disintegrated" — i.e., feeling pretty functional vs. feeling as though you are in a tough place in your life).
Looking at your Myers-Briggs and Enneagram personality types side-by-side can is a great way to gain a more comprehensive understanding of your "whole self."
Each brings an important and deep understanding of yourself — they just each describe different parts of yourself.
Your Myers-Briggs personality type reveals your core self.
The MBTI tells you about your your essence, the person you were wired to be way back when you were born. It's the part of your personality that is dedicated to aliveness and life.
Your Myers-Briggs personality type gives you a sense of your true self, what makes you happy and satisfied and what does not. This is absolutely essential in understanding how to support yourself in the world and what your true needs in relationships and friendships generally look like — at least, the satisfying ones.
Your Enneagram personality type reveals your defense system.
The Enneagram shows the part of you that protects your essence (i.e., your Myers-Briggs personality type) when it is under threat or stress. It's the part of your personality that is dedicated to survival.
It is the part of you that's responsible for protecting your vulnerability and your heart, the part of that kicks into automatic (and in most cases, unconscious) action whenever you perceive an emotional threat, real or imagined.
Although this part of your personality may be more familiar to you than your Myers-Briggs personality type, it is always running in the background. It's like the virus software that is always working on your computer, even if you don't remember or think about it until a little box pops up on your screen letting you know a threat has been detected or a virus has been quarantined.
The Enneagram defense system operates just like this. It is automatic, continuous, and often gives no visible sign that it's running the show ... that is, not until the wheels begin to come off the cart.
This is the part of you that motivates most people to consider or start therapy, as this aspect of personality can obscure someone's true self, their essence, and it's responsible for many of the unhelpful behaviors or choices we make in our lives.
The Dark Side Of Each Personality Type
It's important to note, however, that neither of these two parts of yourself is more important than the other.
That would be like someone who is left-handed saying they only need their left hand, and could be just fine without the right.
When you consider that one part of yourself is dedicated to living and the other is dedicated to surviving, you can see the value in knowing about both of these personality types, despite the fact that one doesn't directly reveal anything about the other.
That's why separately, these personality typing tools are rich. But, together, they are powerful.
There is no "good" or "best" combination when it comes to your Myers-Briggs and Enneagram types.
They simply co-exist within you and describe the unique personality traits, values, and behaviors you have that are inherent to that particular type.
When you become intimately familiar with the traits of both your MBTI and Enneagram types, you can readily recognize when you are functioning within one operating system or the other — your true essence (your Myers-Briggs type) or your defense mode (your Enneagram type) — which will help you understand why you get stuck in certain areas of your life, like relationships or jobs.
In some cases, you might have an Enneagram and MBTI type combination that have a lot of compatibility in personality traits.
Your life may feel less emotionally disruptive due to their similarities. However, you might also have a difficult time recognizing other possible ways of relating or operating in the world.
For example, if you have an Myers-Briggs and Enneagram type combination in which neither personality type knows how to do anything other than to achieve or work, you might have a difficult time finding balance in the areas of slowing down or relaxing.
On the other hand, when there is a lot of opposition between your Myers-Briggs
and Enneagram traits, you may feel a lot of internal disorder.
When you're in one part of yourself, you feel or believe a certain way. But when you shift into the other part of yourself, you may feel diametrically opposite the way you felt moments ago.
Although you might have a sense of volatility or instability emotionally — which can look and feel a lot like having bipolar disorder or other extreme mood shifts and related disorders — it will be marginally easier for you to recognize when you're acting from either your center or your defense system.
Overall, knowing more about your personality type combination helps you improve your emotional intelligence and recognize when you are in “survival” mode as opposed to coming from your centered, grounded self.
This might sound obvious, but for many people, it's not.
Most people live primarily in the part of themselves governed by their Enneagram defense system, spending their daily lives stuck in survival mode.
It becomes difficult for them to recognize that their actions are about survival, because these patterns feel so familiar and constant.
It's not a problem to be in survival mode from time to time — anyone who's human is familiar with being in that place.
But the more you learn about what each part of yourself looks like — your core Myers-Briggs personality type and your defense system Enneagram personality type — the more readily you can support yourself and your needs.
This is what therapy is about: deepening your understanding of you are and why you operate in the ways that you do.
Building awareness and compassion for all the parts of who you are can help you experience deep, transformational shifts in your life and relationships, in addition to teaching you new and more satisfying ways to support yourself and get your needs met.
And isn't this what we all ultimately want? Super-Secret Side Of Each Personality
Type You Don't Get To See
Kate Schroeder is a psychotherapist and coach who utilizes the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) and the Enneagram, as well as experiential body-mind-spirit healing practices, to access men and women's inner wisdom in order to create a life filled with satisfaction. Start changing your life today by downloading her guided imagery program or joining her Visual Journaling Facebook Group for support in finding your true self.
Originally published on YourTango.comcom
Separately, they are rich. Together, they are powerful.
When it comes to understanding yourself and the way your inherent personality traits affect all aspects of your life and your relationships with others, gaining deeper insight into two of the most highly regarded theories and instruments for assessing personality types — the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and the Enneagram system of personality— can help you learn far more about the core of who you are and how you operate in the world, both when you are centered and when you are under stress.
Of course, while these two personality tests are well-respected tools for uncovering multiple layers of knowledge about what makes each of us tick, neither can truly explain any person in totality.
When Myers-Briggs and the Enneagram are used together, however, they offer a fairly comprehensive portal into a truly meaningful understanding of self.
Separately, they are rich. Together, they are powerful.
The Myers-Briggs system of personality typing, based on the work of Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Carl Jung, describes your true self, sometimes known as your essence or spirit.
This is the part of you that is innately wired into your system and explains who you were truly designed to be, way back before you took your first breath and the world started telling you who to be, how to be, what to do, how to look, how to act and so on.
Many of these messages from the world were implicitly absorbed when you were very young, which is why you often do not remember how you came to believe some of the internal rules that operate much of your life.
Some of these messages are helpful, such as how to hold a fork, drive a car or persevere in the face of adversity. Others cause distress and keep you restricted to particular ways of being that are limiting and dissatisfying.
Most of the time, these implicit messages operate in the unconscious part of who you are, so in order to unearth them and clear them out, you have to be willing to dive deeply into a process of self-growth and healing.
Your Myers-Briggs personality type describes the innate part of yourself buried under all this informational rubble and is waiting to be brought back to life.
It provides you with information and knowledge around the kinds of traits and values that are unique to our particular personality type. It also teaches you how to move towards more satisfaction or flow in your life and away from the experiences and things that drain your energy.
The MBTI helps you understand why you are proficient in some areas and struggle with others. It explains how you learn and why certain subjects delight you, while others might make you want to shut down emotionally or pull your hair out.
It describes how you like to operate in the world and why you might have difficulty with others who aren’t as structured or organized, or perhaps are as flexible and spontaneous, as you are.
Your Myers-Briggs personality type is an incredibly rich resource for helping you reconnect back to your true spirit so you can find more satisfaction in your life and relationships.
The Enneagram system is equally important when assessing your personality type, because it describes your emotional defense system.
This is an essential part of us that we could not survive without. So in essence, your Enneagram personality type illustrates how you protect your Myers-Briggs personality type.
Quite often, your defensive structure gets bad press. When a person begins to learn about how they operate under stress or when they're emotionally triggered by something, they have some judgment or negativity about this part of their structure and work like mad to disown or deny this part of their personalities.
What’s true about the Enneagram defense system, though, is that it’s your ally — you need it!
It is just as important as your spirit, your soul, and your true essence that's described by your Myers-Briggs personality type.
It is the part of you that provides protection when you're under stress or distress. Think of it like your skin, which protects your internal biological systems and vital organs from disease and injury.
In a similar way, your defense system, illustrated by your Enneagram type, protects you from further emotional injury when you are facing threats, real or imagined.
But here’s the thing about emotional protection: It doesn’t always bring you satisfaction.
When under stress, your Enneagram personality type kicks into action automatically. It’s governed by the autonomic nervous system and has only one purpose: to stop or minimize pain or threats.
This defense system is generally limbic and irrational, in that it doesn't stop to consider the consequences or impact of your next actions or words. Rather, it reacts unconsciously to help you survive the situation at hand.
In this way, understanding your Enneagram personality type can help you learn more about how your protect your vulnerable self, as well as teaching you how more consciously recognize when this part of
your personality is in charge.
Your Enneagram defense system's only concern is survival.
It does not concern itself with life kinds of issues, such as, "What do I want to be when I grow up?" or "How do I like to be treated?" or "What is my favorite color?"
So decisions you make when this part of your personality is running will be geared toward survival, not geared towards your life satisfaction, which the Myers-Briggs portion of your personality is concerned about.
That's why many of people, as adults, end up in marriages, relationships or careers that they find no longer satisfying and, in fact, might create depression or anxiety.
When you're driven by your Enneagram/defensive structure, it is only a matter of time before these choices, which are based on survival criteria, no longer bring you the relief they once did.
At this point, it is time to get some help learning how to create different emotional safety and supports that are much more in line with your innate MBTI type.
This process requires the willingness to go in and heal unresolved developmental issues from your childhood, which continue to unconsciously keep your Enneagram personality type front and center, while not allowing your Myers-Briggs personality type to make many choices.
It can be hard to understand how both personality types and sets of circumstances can be true for you.
Ultimately, your MBTI type is about your essence when you are centered, grounded and in connection with your spirit, and your Enneagram type is about your defense response when you try to protect yourself emotionally.
Understanding how the two interact opens up a whole new level of understanding that neither personality tool can provide on its own.
Together, these two typing systems can be powerful agents for personal healing and growth.
Kate Schroeder, M.Ed., LPC, NCC is a psychotherapist and coach who utilizes the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® and the Enneagram, as well as experiential body-mind-spirit healing practices to access one’s inner wisdom in order to create a life filled with satisfaction. Start changing your life today by downloading her guided imagery program, Soul Meditations: Building A Relationship That Lasts or sign up for her newsletter for more information on how to connect with your best self.
Originally published on YourTango.com
Some addictions are hard to see because society considers them normal.
Addictions. Huh. That thing everyone whispers about or worse, tiptoes around, yet, has the power to take someone out or ruin their life in the blink of an eye. An addiction, as defined by Merriam-Webster.com, is evident when there is a “compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance (such as heroin, nicotine, or alcohol) characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal”. I think that most of us would agree with this definition.
More broadly defied, Merriam-Webster.com states that an addiction is characterized by “persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be harmful”. And although this might seem more general, this is the definition that I believe to be more important whenever someone is determining whether or not they have an addiction.
Truth is folks, everyone has an unhealthy dependency on something. Absolutely everyone that you meet. And if someone tells you that they do not, then you absolutely know that they do. And this is perhaps, the most overlooked symptom of an addiction. We all have some degree of addiction. The question is not do I have one, but rather, what and where is mine.
Problem is, that when most people think of an addiction, they think of the classic examples such as drugs or alcohol, cigarettes, gambling or sugar. Although these substances and behaviors are common addictions, there are many other forms of addiction that unfortunately stay hidden from most people, because they are accepted by society as within the range of normal behavior.
Things like exercise, caffeine, reading, work, food, religion, and even technology are examples of addictive behaviors or substances when used to avoid there here and now reality of someone or something bothering you. This, coupled with the inability to choose to use or engage or not use or engage in these behaviors when feeling down, can also be an indicator of an unhealthy dependency or addiction.
I like to think of an addiction as broadly defined such as anything that someone uses to feel better, numb out or distract when they are having a hard day or a rough experience. We all have addictions to varying degrees, and the line between what constitutes a “serious” or “diagnosable” addiction between a harmful dependency on something is very small.
And quite honestly, it serves no purpose to mince words: if someone asks you whether or not you could give this person, thing or substance up for a period of time, and you feel panic or even look like a deer in headlights, then there is a reasonable chance that there is an addictive dependency that is present as a way of avoiding uncomfortable feelings or emotions.
Perhaps one of the most obvious addictions, and most socially acceptable addiction present day is right in front of our nose. We all use it. Repeatedly. And sometimes multiple times throughout the day. It is called technology, otherwise known as “screen time” for kids. If we think about an addiction as anything we do to take us out of the moment, there is nothing better than Facebook or the internet to help us pass the time or forget what was bothering us.
An addiction it is something as simple as use of or engagement in something that results in repeated harmful or dissatisfying outcomes, whether those harmful or dissatisfying outcomes are physical, behavioral or emotional. And addictions can not only be on a substance, such as cigarettes or alcohol, but that can also be process addictions, which are compulsive behaviors that have negative consequences for us.
Many abusive relationships are often process addictions that someone cannot break free from. In many cases, these process addictions go undiagnosed or unrecognized, which can be incredibly detrimental to self-esteem and worth.
Ever had a friend or loved one continue in an abusive relationship, saying that they need to leave but just cannot? Well, chances are there was some kind of process addictive quality in the relationship. It has only been fairly recently that there has been an increased emphasis on learning about process addictions in the mental health field, although these types of addictions and dependencies have been around for a very long time.
I tend to not get hung up on whether something is an addiction or harmful dependency because in my experience, anything that “numbs us out” or distracts us when we are feeling down or overwhelmed, or keeps us from having to feel more painful feelings if we were to stop, serves the same purpose: to get emotional relief in any sort of way available.
I am inclined to believe that everyone has an addiction or unhelpful dependency on something, and this dependency generally stems from an inability to get emotional relief in any other way. Depending upon the amount of emotional support in childhood, the degree, amount or severity of addictions in later life will vary from person to person.
If there was not much support for having or processing feelings as a child, then as an adult there is going to be little skill or knowledge about how to handle difficult feelings or experiences that occur in life. And this is where addictions come in- they give us emotional relief when we are unable to do so in more satisfying ways.
Just because we look like an adult, and do grown up kinds of things such as drive cars, pay bills, raise children and so forth, does not mean that we are emotional adults fully capable of supporting all of our feelings in satisfying kinds of ways.
The question is not “do I have an addiction” but rather “what is my addiction”. An addiction is anything we use to feel better that we cannot give up or stop voluntarily for an extended amount of time.
So the next time you feel compelled to get on the computer or to go for that run, or even notice that you have to have your Starbucks before you can do anything else, you might ask yourself: “what would happen if I didn’t do this”…?
And if there is any sort of negative reaction that happens inside at the thought of not making that next move, you might want to explore that further to determine whether you are avoiding some emotional experience thing that isn’t going to go away on its own, and actually limits the amount of satisfaction you can feel in your life.
Kate Schroeder is a therapist and coach who utilizes the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator ® and the Enneagram, as well as body-mind-spirit healing practices to access one’s inner wisdom in order to create a life filled with satisfaction. Start changing your life today by downloading her guided imagery program, Soul Meditations: Building A Relationship That Lasts, or visit Kate at Transformation Counseling, LLC for more information on how to connect with your best self.
Don't fall for the hype, you need a little of both!
"Introversion" is the trendy word right now. Or should I say the non-trendy word? Often, when I am working with a client and we discover that they are truly an introvert (as determined by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)Personality tool) I get some sort of scrunched-up facial expression from them, as if they’ve just smelled something undesirable.
This is generally followed by some kind of response similar to, “But I like people and I like doing things,” followed by all sorts of facts and arguments about why this cannot be true as if they’ve just gotten some sort of terminal diagnosis that spells the beginning of the end for them.
And the exact opposite happens for those who are determined to reallybe extroverts by the MBTI personality tool (in my experience, everyone wants to be an extrovert but far fewer actually are than statistics show).
As I sit across from them, they look as if they’ve just won the lottery.Like someone has just told them they have found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. I generally get some kind of comment like, “See, I knew I was an extrovert — I am really social!” followed by an enormous smile on their face.
The truth is that even introverts require a connection in the world and with others, and all extroverts require solitude to some degree. These are signs of being human, moving toward and away from connection according to one’s needs. And is also a sign of living in balance and harmony with one’s needs.
The problem is that as a society, we often get fixated with only one end of the connection spectrum: either totally connected all the time and unable to easily move into solitude or totally immersed in solitude and unable to easily move toward connection.
Finding the balance between solitude and connectedness is an age-old concern, that often gets muddied up when we are living from anything other than our true self and needs.
Trying to find a healthy balance between being happy on your own and with yourself and how to connect in meaningful ways with others is not something we can “figure out” with our brain — we have to live the experiences and learn from how they impact us in order to determine what we need at any given moment.
Here are 5 suggestions for how to begin to find your own unique balance between solitude and connectedness:
1. Know thyself.
Seriously. Even Socrates was on-board with this idea. He observed that people were trying to know obscure or hard things before they knew about themselves. He called them ridiculous. So did Plato. Even St. Augustine supported this notion when he stated that “People travel to wonder at the height of the mountains, at the huge waves of the seas, at the long course of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars, and yet they pass by themselves without wondering.”
The ancient philosophers were on to something a long time ago that we have a hard time remembering today.
How many people dedicate extensive amounts of time, money and energy traveling the world or immersed in the pursuit of knowledge about topics outside of themselves? Lots. But very few people put the resources or efforts into knowing themselves, which is perhaps the most important knowledge we can acquire.
And then they complain that they're not happy. They isolate and avoid relationships. And then they complain about that.
Or else they cannot be without “doing” or “producing” or “socializing” lest they have to begin to feel things that they have kept running from feeling their whole lives. And they complain how they are too busy and stressed-out.
Self-knowledge and deep understanding of our true needs and desires, as well as deeply understanding the habitual ways we all have learned to unconsciously protect ourselves emotionally, leads to greater satisfaction in life.
Because for those still living out of protection mode, life is much more limited and dissatisfying. And for those who are interested in learning how to find a balance between separateness and connectedness, here’s a place to start.
2. Find and build the community that will support who you really are — not who they want you to be.
I love this one because it is so simple. Not easy, but simple. Find a way to do what makes you happy and not to do what doesn’t make you happy. That’s it. Avoid those people, places, and things that do not make your heart sing— you know them: these are the experiences or relationships that feel obligatory or required.
And in order to be able to do this, you have to know who you are and what makes your heart sing. What brings satisfaction. And the only way to know this is to begin to dive deeply into building awareness of who you were designed to be. Once you have that a deeper understanding of who you really are, you can begin to notice more quickly when you are doing something you want to do and when you are not.
Some people are even so dedicated to supporting their true self that they have learned how to track on an energetic level when they are moving towards something that will be satisfying or when they are in protection mode and following the steps outlined for them so that they don’t rock the boat.
In fact, some of these people are so astute that they can tell the distinction between isolation and solitude — which on the surface can look the same — by deeply connecting with a physiological experience inside. Talk about having a GPS that will never get you lost.
And when we begin to be able to deeply discern those people, places, and experiences that are supportive of who we really are from those experiences that are not, then we naturally begin to gravitate toward what feeds us and what does not. It’s kind of like having super powerful emotional taste buds.
3. Clear out the emotional debris that gets in the way of easily moving in and out of separation and connectedness.
About those people who are molecularly-connected toward a deep wisdom inside that guides them toward satisfaction and away from dissatisfaction: These are people who are deeply committed to their own personal growth and have spent years working on their emotional process.
Rest assured, though, that even those of you who are just getting started can build a beginner’s awareness of what gets in the way of being able to find balance. And it doesn’t take an incredible amount of time. But it does take commitment to yourself and to your discovery of what you really want.
You can start by simply paying attention to how your body responds to the meaning of the different words "solitude" versus "isolation", "connectedness" versus "socializing".
Generally speaking, the things that we want and need create a softening or relaxing experience in our body and energy, and the things that are against our grain tend to create a hardening or tensing physically and energetically.
And for some of you, it may take the help of a therapist to begin to be able to see how your defensive structure differs from your true spirit. A defensive structure is always about protection and survival emotionally. Isolation is an example of a protective or defensive behavior. Especially if the isolation does not feel like a choice.
Separateness is an example of a healthy behavior, a boundary that is creating space for you to get your needs met. It is always about choice, although we may have some strong feelings about needing to be separate from others for a while to regroup. And although on the surface they can look similar, they originate from two very different energies and motivations in our body.
Simply speaking, isolation leads to dissatisfying experiences and separation tends to move us toward satisfying opportunities. It may take some help to begin to see the difference between these two experiences and what gets in your way of being able to easily distinguish between these two experiences. You’re probably going to have to do some work to learn more about this and to solidify your knowing deep inside.
4. Keep in mind that balance doesn’t look the same for everyone.
Balance is not always a 50:50 split between things. In fact, it's defined differently for everyone, and will look different for everyone. Some people need more time on their own to recharge their batteries, but for others, they may need more time with others in order to regroup and rebalance. So we have to keep an open mind that your balance is likely going to look different from another person’s balance, and that is OK.
What we’re talking about is the difference between extroversion and introversion — as well as differences between things like being a feeler or a thinker — all preferences on the MBTI personality tool.
There are also differences in defensive structures, as well as leftover needs from childhood. Many factors play into how everyone determines what feels like enough alone time and how much contact they need with others.
When I start working with a client in therapy, one of the first places that we start is by using both the MBTI and Enneagram personality tools to gain a beginning understanding of how they were truly designed to be, and how they’ve protected that vulnerable child inside from heartbreak and disappointment.
Over time, with the use of this self-knowledge, people can begin to see when they are off balance or out-of-center when it comes to a need, and when they are right in line with supporting themselves. And it does not generally take that much time to begin to be able to do this. And the wonderful thing about this work is that in this process, they organically begin to move toward what makes them feel good and away from what doesn’t bring satisfaction.
Remember that your balance is going to look different from another person’s balance, and that is OK. Sometimes it can help to create daily reminders that it is your right to be alive in whatever way that you need. And to call on your support, both inside and outside of you, to back yourself up on this.
5. Commit to yourself, not to behaviors.
One of my favorite quotes is the old saying that goes something like this: “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” I like this because it is all about teaching someone how to be self-sufficient over the long haul — not just how to acquire immediate change, which is never usually sustainable for very long.
This is the idea behind committing to yourself, not to behaviors.
Changing your behaviors, although perhaps helpful in the short term, is not going to be very sustainable as you go throughout your life.
All it is going to take is one or two hard days in a row, and fairly quickly you’re going to find yourself back in old behavioral patterns. This is old safety and because it is so familiar, it is the default. So, if you have a tendency to isolate, it is not going to be very long before you run out of support inside and find yourself back into your isolation no matter how hard you promised yourself you were not going to do that again. Or for those of you who cannot be alone no matter what, it’s only going to be a matter of time before you find yourself back out in the world again because the solitude was unbearable.
But committing to yourself means that you will learn not only how to be more in touch with your true needs and desires, but also how to discern more easily between your true need for separateness or connection or hiding out in isolation or socialization when that arises.
By committing to you and not just to a behavior, you will build a skill that will last for your lifetime, and if you’re committed to it, get passed down to your children and their children and so on.
This will also allow you to experience greater freedom in your life, as you learn to depend less on environmental feedback about what you need and more on the messages inside of you. And this is what emotional maturity or “growing up” is all about.
Being unable to easily move toward or away from others is a sure sign that there are deeper issues going on that are motivating the fixation in either place. If you find yourself getting stuck on either end of the continuum of connection, then it is time to go get some help to discover what is in the way of easy movement back and forth.
It is also important to also remember that balance doesn’t always reflect a 50:50 split. The balance between solitude and connectedness is different for everyone, and it is important to discover what that balance looks like for you. Keep working on deepening your understanding of yourself — in this manner, you’ll be able to deepen your connections with others and find meaningful relationships in your life whether in solitude or connectedness.
Kate Schroeder is a therapist and coach who utilizes the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator ® and the Enneagram, as well as body-mind-spirit healing practices to access one’s inner wisdom in order to create a life filled with satisfaction. Start changing your life today by downloading her guided imagery program, Soul Meditations: Building A Relationship That Lasts, or visit Kate at Transformation Counseling, LLC for more information.
Originally published on YourTango.com
Ah…happiness. The ever-elusive quest we are all on from birth… it is the one thing that drives us to be in a constant search for that “right” person, the “right” job or house or to reach our ideal number on the scale; a static goal line that once we get there, will secure this state of wellness for eternity.
It is the number one goal most everyone has for their life- even if their more immediate goal is materialistic, it is always driven by some esoteric belief that if they just acquire “enough” of this material item, then they will feel satisfaction or happiness FOREVER. As if somewhere in our minds, we believe that we can just unlock the secret to happiness, we won’t ever have to feel unhappy again.
Ah…what an idea. How wonderful would that be to never wake up again in a bad mood or feel disappointed by a friend or partner, or get rattled and begin to go down the rabbit hole of emotions after a difficult interaction with your child or boss. If we just…have…do…more, then maybe we’ll get there.
Trying to be “happy” and stay there is like trying to catch smoke. Impossible. Just about the time that you think you have a jar full of smoke, and open it up to see how much is in there, it all drifts out and you’re back where you started.
What an impossible idea really: to hinge our enduring well-being on a dynamic state of being that is designed to ebb and flow in its most natural form. Trying to be happy forever would require us to become robots, capable of feeling only what is programmed into you upon design.
As humans, we are wired to feel an enormous range of feelings, which creates the beauty, drama and mystery of life. Feelings, are spontaneous emotional reactions to something happening around us in our outside world. As such, when we have a particular feeling, we are responding in a particular way to a stimulus outside of us.
And in this manner, our feelings can tell us much about how we regard and consider this particular experience, person, thing, but ultimately what we need about the situation. To have our settings get stuck on “happy” all the time, would actually be a disservice to us in that we would never have the benefit of our other filters to tell us about our preferences, needs and desires, and to create the nuances that makes each of us unique, and ultimately “us”.
So, I’m going to share with you a little secret to how you can both be more satisfied, i.e., happy, in your life AND maintain your uniqueness as a human being. Are you ready? Here I go… happiness isn’t determined by how you’re feeling, it is determined by how you FEEL ABOUT how you’re feeling…
There it is folks. The simple truth about how happiness and satisfaction evolve. Or not. Now, the concept is a shockingly simple one, as you can see, but absolutely not easy to achieve. And here’s why.
At some point in your development as a small child, likely in many cases even before you began to have conscious memory, you began to be shaped by others’ judgements and reactions to your feelings. Intentional or not, how others responded to your feelings and needs, began to encourage or discourage repeating those feelings or not.
For example, if when you cried, you were responded to, enough of the time, with gentleness and patience, compassion and understanding, then it is likely that you grew up to become an adult who can easily be vulnerable and open with your sadness. If, however, you notice a hitch at all in your ability to easily be sad and openly stay with your sadness as an adult, then it is likely that you have some internal and unconscious judgment and resistance towards the feeling of sadness.
So, that’s why when you feel sad now, it feels like some kind of predicament or problem when it happens or like something that has to be hidden or stopped. And for those who have a fair amount of body awareness, you might even notice a body response when you start to feel sad: you might notice that you tense up, collapse energetically, get a headache, or even have to leave the room.
Not your fault. You were programmed long before you had the ability to have choice or boundaries against this kind of assault on your feelings and aliveness, when you were met with less than satisfying responses to your sadness. Problem is, it is still an unconscious reaction that happens inside whenever sadness begins to come up, because the earlier experiences around how your sadness were consistently met, were so unpleasant.
It’s called conditioning, and is much like when we come across a food that once made us physically ill, we have an involuntary body response towards moving away from this food because the experience of getting sick was so unpleasant. It’s involuntary and cannot be overridden by thought alone.
Anger is another perfect example. How many of you were encouraged to be angry as a child, to have a “no” or a protest towards what was happening to you or around you? If you’re anything like most of the rest of us, anger was an experience that was quickly punished or stopped. And so now, there is an unconscious association inside, whenever we begin to feel anger, that it is “bad” or “wrong” or something to be avoided or stopped, and so we often do, along with a physical body response to shut this energy down.
The dilemma around all this is two-fold: even though this shaping and judgement around your feelings when you were a child, was not your choice originally, it is now interfering with your ability to feel your aliveness and satisfaction (happiness) in your adult world. And here’s the kicker: it is also your responsibility, now, as an adult to clean this mess up, if you so choose to have more satisfaction and happiness in your life.
Really. You might have some feelings about this. It would sure make sense if you do. And the tricky part of this all is that most of how we feel about how we are feeling is unconscious. We were not born to judge feelings as good or bad, we were blank slates on which feelings just were experiences, not good or bad.
So, when you find yourself having a feeling that feels “bad” or like something you want to stop, that is a sure sign that you have some healing to do in this area. And this healing is not just a cognitive healing- that only works with your thoughts. The healing also has to encompass the body and spirit too in order to fundamentally change your unconscious response to your feelings. It is time to get out of the box with your healing.
So, happiness isn’t about how we are feeling. It’s about how we feel about how we are feeling. When we can reach a place of unconditional support for ourselves, no matter what it is that we feel, think, choose, want or do, then we begin to have more of an experience of peace and satisfaction no matter what is happening inside or outside of us.
And I cannot think of a better definition for happiness than that. Can you?
Kate Schroeder is a therapist and online life coach who utilizes the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator ® and the Enneagram, as well as body-mind-spirit healing practices to access one’s inner wisdom in order to create a life filled with satisfaction. Start changing your life today by downloading her guided imagery program, Soul Meditations: Building A Relationship That Lasts, or visit Kate at Transformation Counseling, LLC for more information on how to connect with your best self.
Are you just giving up?
Have you ever, in the middle of a fight or particularly painful moment in your relationship, flashed to the idea of “just breaking up” as a way to end the problems? You just want some relief from the conflict that is going on between the two of you, and your instinct is to simply get out.
There is nothing more painful than to be in conflict with someone you love, especially a romantic partner. Especially when it's an ongoing situation.
Many couples have conflicts that continually resurface, and despite engaging in these conflicts over and over, the blocks never seem to really go away. There might be a truce for a while as everyone is on their best behavior, or one person in the relationship finds a way to put up with their partner’s questionable antics — but the problems never seem to go away. Instead, the problems change or shape-shift as couples learn more about each other. This is because their deepening understanding of each other allows them to arm themselves with more intricate, unconscious ways of playing out childhood issues in their relationship. But this isn't all bad!
That's because, if this is happening with you, it means your relationship is unfolding in exactly the way that it needs to in order for you to have an opportunity for incredible personal and emotional growth.
Some people believe that we get involved in romantic relationships (unconsciously) in order to heal our wounds from childhood, as this is the stage upon which all of our attachment and relationship issues from childhood are triggered and play out front and center. And doesn’t this make sense? Our romantic relationships are, generally, the closest opportunity to mirror our attachments to our primary caregivers.
Given that our romantic or closest friendships most closely resemble the intimate attachments from childhood, this is where we project all of our unfinished business from childhood.
And it generally is never a “coincidence” that our partners often have some resemblance, emotionally, structurally, or even on an energetic level, to one or both of our parents or caregivers. This is not random at all. That can make it scary to be vulnerable. So, when these ongoing conflicts arise, what they are offering you is an opportunity to learn about your unfinished relationship business from childhood, and how you are also impacting the conflict between you and your partner.
The actual dilemma that you feel, the part of the conflict that you are hung up on, believe it or not, lies within you.
Your responses and your reactions, as well as what you believe that you need from them is based upon your unfinished developmental and relational issues from childhood. Think about the last time you asked your partner to take out the trash and they didn’t do it — or acted like they didn’t hear you. The upset that you feel isn’t fully about the trash sitting in the bin for days on end.
Sure, neglecting to take out the trash might be something that you are not ok with in any circumstance, but the discontent and upset about this that keeps you up at night, or drives you to talk with your friends about it, is really about something much deeper.
Perhaps it's about how you don’t feel heard or important perhaps, or taken seriously in the relationship, and the inability to work through these and resolve them is about some unmet childhood need around this. Because if it was just about the here and now, you’d be able to work through them easily and move on with things.
If something feels complicated or ongoing, it’s because it’s the past getting projected onto the present. It’s never really just about the trash.
You and your partner actually might be more compatible — or incompatible — than you know, but there is no way to really know this unless you are willing to look inside and examine whatever unfinished places are showing up front and center in your relationship. Both of you. And if your partner is not interested in looking inside at their own part while you look at yours, then this would be a sure sign of incompatibility between the two of you, and a great time to decide whether you are willing to take 100% responsibility for the health, well-being, and outcome of the relationship. But don't let your fear of commitment keep you from doing the hard work. And if not, walk away.
Unless your physical safety is compromised, walking away from a relationship just to stop the pain or end the problems is never going to be the solution that brings you the most satisfaction.
It may bring you relief, but relief and satisfaction are not the same things. And I can guarantee you that you are just going to be walking into the same problems in another relationship — it is just a matter of time. Hanging in there and growing together is incredibly fulfilling and awonderful way to build intimacy in the relationship. But it takes two for this to happen.
Kate Schroeder is a therapist and life coach who utilizes the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator ® and the Enneagram, as well as body-mind-spirit healing practices to access one’s inner wisdom in order to create a life filled with satisfaction. Start changing your life today by downloading her guided imagery program, Soul Meditations: Building A Relationship That Lasts, or visit Kate at Transformation Counseling, LLC for more information on how to connect with your best self.
Originally published at YourTango.com