Books

I rarely read books. This doesn’t mean I’m uneducated in anyway, but actually the opposite. Most of the reading I’ve done since I could remember was mostly from my dad bringing home the daily newspaper, and by the third grade I was bringing home encyclopedias, almanacs, and map books home from school. The internet I swear was made for me. In my recent path down self-discovery I’ve found myself reading a lot of books. Some I’m enamored with; some I just simply quit. I always read non-fiction. The one exception I made was I tried to read some classic Vonnegut (Breakfast of Champions). I thought it was really neat how he tried warning us humans of our demise through a fictional story. As much as I liked it, I gave up only after a few short chapters. I need to learn. Truth is stranger than fiction.

Here is a listing of books that has helped guide me through my self discovery into why I’m such a freakin’ weirdo. I paid a lot a of good money for professional help. Turns out all I needed was the internet and a few books.

 

1. Book notes for “Please Understand Me, I”

2. Book notes for “Quiet”

3. “Please Understand Me, II”

4. “A Look Inside a Rare Mind”

5. “The Introvert Advantage”

6. “Introvert Power”

7. “The God Delusion”

 

PUM 1

– There is so much information on the MBTI online. Most of it summarizes the types and uses many solid resources. This is the first book I read, and some following notes so I can return the book to the library before it’s due: Please Understand Me, Character & Temperament Types by Davis Keirsey & Marilyn Bates.

Once the physical side of the relationship is acted out, the male NF [idealist] can lose interest and turn to another fantasy. In a Quixotic way, he seems to be compelled by the impossible dream of a larger-than-life, giant-screen goddess who will be madonna, mistress, lover, whore, mother, daughter, and wife. His real-life mate is not always able to measure up. The NF male, in hot pursuit, is likely to express a love which is undying but which can vanish all too soon in the harsh light of the morning after.

This is not just with mates, but with hobbies. I’ll obsess about a subject (just with MBTI’s most likely), and then will jump and obsess about the next one.

A danger an NF  faces in his intimate relationships is that he will move from relationship to relationship rather than making the necessary effort to develop those already existing. The NF’s tendency to experience anticipation as more attractive than consummation can cause him to use his energies pursuing the dream at the expense of what is actually available. Once an NF believes that he or she knows all there is to know about another, disinterest sets in; restlessness and a sense of boredom develop.

Yet…

A quality an NF can bring to an intimate relationship is an extraordinary sensitivity and ability to communicate emotionally. In the affective areas the NF is without equal. No other type is as empathetic to others as is the NF. As mates they can be a sense of warmth, appreciation, and support which other types have difficulty emulating.

My take away is from this is (my extraverted feelings) I should no longer date. I really don’t want to put another through all of the crap for the unlikely end reward. I’m not worth it. *sad trombone* UPDATE: if you feel I am worth it from what you’ve read, you must be (keyword) resilient. 

I didn’t mark the source, but I will if I find it, that INFJ’s (or NF’s in general?) ‘can feel very defeated, but not for long’. I’ve been through many ruts and waves with depression, but always came out of it. I feel really broken right now, and really hope I pull out of this one too. It feels so unlikely right now as letting someone else ‘in’ seems futile.

More from Keirsey PUM 1:

To be a grain of sand lost on a beach with millions of other grains is nothing. To be lost in the crowd, to have the same meaning as others, to share a faceless identity is not to be at all. In order to make a difference and maintain individuality, the unique contributions made by the NF in his roles as worker, friend, lover, parent, leader, son, daughter, homemaker, wife, husband, creator must be recognized. No matter how the NF structures his time and relationships he needs to have meaning. He wants their significance appreciated, or, at the very least recognized as existing. Only through this kind of feedback does the NF know that he has unique identity.

In regards to work (managerial style); though my temperament is poor for directing others (I’ll admit that), my NF asset is described well as ‘The Catalyst’. To prove how potentially big of a loss I was to ‘Judge Judy’s’ organization (see Preface) if I was utilized properly was to continue my talents in this light:

The Catalyst is outstanding in public relations, is excellent as spokesman for an organization, for he has the facility of communicating his enthusiasm. He works well with all types of people and can “sell” an organization to its clients.

In ‘Judge Judy’s’ organization I sold it online, at the market, with fervor giving tours, and most importantly when dealing with clients giving something that the business world has forgotten. Be personable, authentic, and above all…return all phone calls and emails promptly and sincerely ASAP! You would not believe how SURPRISED people were when they got this kind of attention. I was surprised as well. My reply; I’m just doing my job.

Unfortunately my take away from this experience is I’m no longer a martyr at work. I actually care less now (especially since I’m a temp). I’m not giving my all unless I know you’re going to lead me to, once again I’ll say these words, security & structure.

The book I’m currently reading is Susan Cain’s “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking“. It’s the reason I decided to write today. There is so much good stuff in it I had to catch up with everything else before I could start dropping notes here for my/your reference. In the meantime here is her TED Talk:

Susan Cain’s interview with Fast Company

Notes from “Quiet”:

The first thing I learned from the first few pages of the book is I thought all along that Rosa Parks (an INFJ) was sitting at the front of the bus when she had her famous altercation. Turns out she was quietly sitting in the first row of the Colored section of the bus. As the bus filled with WHITE riders there wasn’t any more room so she was then asked to submit her seat when she said NO. I respect her even more now.

In essence the ‘Culture of Personality’ was about the movement from the era of ‘Culture of Character’ to ‘Personality’ we have lived in for the past century. I relate to this because of the fascination of celebrities in our society that appalls me for the most part. It started back in the 1920’s and hasn’t let up. One quote she referred to from 1921 in regards to this change was “Respect for individual human personality has with us reached its lowest point”. Heh. Move forward to now with the likes of TMZ. Certainly lower now, but his point well taken in regards to what mediums were available then. The word I really liked was in this piece from another critic:

[A]mericans were starting to pay [attention] to entertainers: “It is remarkable how much attention the stage and things pertaining to it are receiving nowadays from the magazines,” he grumbled. Only twenty years earlier—during the Culture of Character, that is—such topics would have become indecorous now they had become “such a large part of the life of society that it has become a topic of conversation among all classes.”

She is referring to more about how the introvert was being ridiculed and looked down upon for the more successfully abled and pronounced extravert that is more sought now versus the quiet intellectual. As I see it, these days it’s better to be popular and dumb than quiet and smart in school, work, socially, etc.

She also refers to one (Don) of the few introverts she found on the campus of the Harvard Business School trying to keep up with mostly extroverts. He was Chinese-American and laments during a summer job in China he felt much more comfortable with the business culture there than in the US. I’m guessing he will/got a job in China if or when he graduated/s because the culture in the US favors the extravert.

Going back to my ‘Judge Judy’ situation (likely over and over again) this exercise in survival and how teams are taught to work at HBS resonated with me. Basically the louder you are, the more apt your ideas/answers are to be accepted by the team. For one, in teams I’ve played in bar trivia, I was new in, left me in this position:

[Don’s classmate]: “Our action plan hinged on what the most vocal people suggested, when the less vocal people put out suggestions they were discarded. The ideas that were rejected would have kept us alive and out of trouble, but they were dismissed because of the conviction with which the more vocal people suggested their ideas. Afterwards they played us back the videotape, and it was so embarrassing.”

Later the professor of the group noted this as a common phenomenon as the “winner’s curse”. Basically a war of egos. The curse is widely accepted because the 50/50 shot that both vocal and quiet people will have the same number of ideas good or bad, so it’s ok to favor the most vocal.

This is why I quit my dream job, and learning the ins and outs of how things work. In Cincinnati for example, nepotism runs amok, and it’s important to identify what school you attended as well. My co-manager who worked along side of me went to the same college as ‘Judge Judy’, agreed with her every word, and was vocal when it mattered. Me; well I was always looking ahead and finding everything wrong with each idea presented. He was praised. I quit.

More about how introverts are disadvantaged in our culture v’s extroverts.

We perceive talkers as smarter than quiet types — even though grade-point averages and SAT and intelligence test scores reveal this perception to be inaccurate.

A significant part of my owner’s manual is that I’m an atheist. My personality has put myself against many social norms, and made me an outcast for them. My religious (or lack thereof) views, being car-free, and not watching/obsessing about movies and celebrities. When I tell people how few movies I’ve seen they act as if I’m an alien, and stop talking to me. Seriously. Back to religion in short my Catholic upbringing I feel didn’t have an overcharged amount of evangelism, but it via my parents forced me to go to church more than just every Sunday. For an insecure introvert this was difficult because you were to always have to put on a front, be perfect, and be above everyone else. When the ritual became mundane that’s when I began to understand the political views of the church. I was making decisions based on lies, and in the end lying about my religion put mine and others lives in danger. So much betrayal and expectations that what against what was taught was so hypocritical. After I left it behind I really have found the pressuring and over enthusiastic religious type the worst kind of people. If I really wanted to make it difficult for a few I could have sued and won big time in a job I worked for a short time. By the time I got the guts to do so I figured I was well past the statute of limitations. Here is Susan’s quote that triggered these thoughts:

Evangelicalism has taken the Extrovert Ideal to its logical extreme. It’s not enough to forge your own spiritual connection to the divine; it must be displayed publicly. Is it a wonder that introverts start to question their own hearts?

There you go you religious zealots. Most recently even in a place where I felt safe I was excitedly approached via phone call by a member of an INFJ group from Facebook. She was so excited to find such a rare and elusive male INFJ, and talked my ear off. At one point the day I created this page I asked her if she had read it, and said ‘yes’. Nearly two hours later I mentioned I was atheist. She had though that since we were INFJ’s I was identical to her, and we all shared the same world views. After telling that she went to bed with her bible and vibrator, she closed up our conversation in minutes after telling her I was atheist. I guess I wasn’t so special after all.

[Some forty years of research has reached the same startling conclusion. Studies have shown that performance gets worse as a group size increases: groups of nine generate fewer and poorer ideas compared to groups of six, which do worse than groups of four.

Revisiting what I mentioned about trivia teams earlier, the above quote is a continuation of why the bigger teams usually failed. I say usually, though there was a lot of rampant cheating in bar trivia. I had one teammate who went to the bathroom to get an answer, so yeah he admitted he cheated. He was off the team shortly thereafter. Cheating is not something I take lightly. Anyhow, back to the quote, I was a bar trivia show host for nearly two years, and I had heard and seen it all. One of the regular complaints I received was the smaller teams would complain that there wasn’t a team member limit. Well, I would tell them that bigger is not better, and less is more. The big teams usually don’t win. I’m glad there is research to back that up instead of my intuition simply telling me so.

“The pain of independence” has serious implications.  Many of our most important civic institutions, from elections to jury trials to the very idea of majority rule, depend on dissenting voices. But when the group is literally capable of changing our perceptions, and when to stand alone is to activate primitive, powerful, and unconscious feelings of rejection, then the health of these institutions seems far more valuable than we think.

This is the quote that has met me with the most concern thus far. This is how power and our culture is deciding our society and government, and without those of us (including myself) who protest, and use our introverted wisdom for good, many bad policies will go unnoticed of be signed, innocent lives could be jailed and/or sentenced to death, and schools/education will deteriorate. Though some introverts have great writing power, I’ve found that we might bend, but you push our convictions to far, we will snap.

In regards to ‘nature versus nurturing’ (is our personality shaped by genes or our environment), Cain made several references. Here are two I hope to research further:

Davis Dobbs – The Orchid Hypothesis

Jerome Kagan – Galen’s Prophecy

Scientists have known for a whole that high-reactive temperaments come with risk factors. These kids are especially vulnerable to challenges like martial tension, a parent’s death, or abuse. They’re more likely than their peers to react to these events with depression, anxiety, and shyness. Indeed, about a quarter of Kagan’s high-reactive kids suffer from some degree of the condition known as “social anxiety disorder,” a chronic and disabling form of shyness.
What scientists haven’t realized until recently is that these risk factors have an upside. In other words, the sensitivities and the strengths are a package deal. High-reactive kids who enjoy good parenting, child care, and a stable home environment tend to have fewer emotional problems and more social skills than their lower-reactive peers, studies show. Often they’re exceedingly empathetic, caring, and cooperative. They work well with others. They are kind, conscientious, and easily disturbed by cruelty, injustice, and irresponsibility. They’re successful at things that matter to them.

I can relate to the high-reactive temperament. Reading this book has given me so many flashbacks to my childhood, and a number of those things I haven’t recalled since then. I have been diagnosed with social anxiety disorder, and have been in therapy, I have been on anti-depressants. I’ve moved on to accepting this disorder, and dependence on professional help or medications. I suppose with my recent discoveries I’ve just been me all along, and I’ve been forced by our culture to feel something is wrong with me. I’ve just been me this whole time. Also to wrap up this and refer to the past two quotes; I really can get fired up and intense about social injustice, and being in general irresponsible. I will call you out.

[Hans] Eysenck thought that the ARAS functioned differently in introverts and extroverts: introverts have wide-open information channels, causing them to be flooded with stimulation and over aroused, while extroverts have tighter channels, making them prone to under-arousal. Over-arousal doesn’t produce anxiety so much as the sense that you can’t think straight — that you’ve had enough and would like to go home now. Under-arousal is something like cabin fever. Not enough is happening: you feel itchy, restless, and sluggish, like you need to get out of the house already

I just simply loved the above metaphor. This really helped me understand me and how we tick more than anything. Best thing I’ve read thus far.

[In regards to finding your ‘sweet spot’] in another famous study, introverts and extroverts were asked to play a challenging word game in which they had to learn, through trial and error, the governing principle of the game. While playing, they wore headphones that emitted random Burt’s of noise. They were asked to adjust the volume of their headsets up or down to level that was “just right”. On average, the extroverts chose a noise level of 72 decibels, while the introverts selected only 55 decibels. When working at the volume they selected — loud for the extroverts, quiet for the introverts — the two types were about equally aroused (as measured by their heart rates and other indicators). They also played equally well.
When the introverts were asked to work at at the noise level preferred by the extroverts, and vice versa, everything changed. Not only were the introverts over-aroused by the loud noise, but they also underperformed — taking an average of 9.1 trials rather than 5.8 to learn the game. The opposite was true for the extroverts — they were under-aroused (and possibly bored) by the quieter conditions, and took an average of 7.3 trials, compared with the 5.4 they’d averaged under the noisier conditions.
In regards to the above quote (all of a sudden my blog seems out of order after being away for a few weeks) how it related to me once again is about workplaces; not only at my job, but even places like coffeehouses where we introverts hope/expect to have library type environments, but usually is not the case. Reading about and being in a open floor plan irritates me to no end on some days. Loud laughing/cackling and other disturbances that should be supervised to a minimum. Though I don’t like the boss man getting after me, some of it (excessively) is a real problem if your trying to find your sweet spot. You get your coffee and settle into your zone and your outer environment is screaming at you. I feel like my inner environment is screaming all the time, so even more is just detrimental to my productivity. I get very picky about where I take my outside work (such as this). Today I’m fortunate to hardly have a distraction at my restaurant/cafe of choice. I’m writing; I’m getting stuff done. I’m being PRODUCTIVE! So the point she is making is for work places especially where productivity/numbers are so important is to help find their introverts a place to shine, and it’s not in an open floor plan.
[A study] suggests, says Jadzia Jagiellowicz, the lead scientist at Stony Brook, that sensitive types think in an unusually complex fashion. It may also help explain why they’re so bored with small talk. “If you’re thinking in more complicated ways then talking about the weather or where you went for the holidays is not quite as interesting as talking about values or morality.”
We all do the small talk, even me. Most of us are agreeable though, where I am usually negative/honest in regards to talking about the weather. For example after this long winter we were dealing with when somebody did the weather small talk I’d bring out my weather knowledge, or just general negative show stopper: “It’s winter/January/February”. Another avenue is holidays. “Have a great holiday”, or “What are you are doing/going for the holidays”. Usually I’ll just be more apathetic in these situations. I wrote somewhere that I blame all of the world’s problems on Christmas. Anyhow, it’s likely just my deflection for small talk I just didn’t know was in my personality stack.
Introverts are “geared to inspect” and extroverts are “geared to respond.”
When I took notes on this quote I’m not sure what triggered it (it’s been a few weeks since I finished the book), but I’ve always been one to rarely miss much. I’m very observant. I absorb the things most never see. I’m currently reading a e-book for example and I found several errors and typos. I’m certain it was proofread several times, yet as my old nicknames go “eagle-eye” and “Ref Jeff” it’s rare for you to get something past me. One of the most fulfilling jobs in the past was being a proofreader or in quality control. Lately at my new job my co-worker and manager are just memorized how I can locate a file or remember a name of a employee despite the large numbers we deal with. Once again, we all hold talents that can be utilized in jobs that simply can’t be put into a resume. So many introverts like myself might get overlooked because we’re not loud.
[Warren] Buffet takes pride not only in his track record, but also in following his own “inner scorecard.” He divides the world into people who focus on their own instincts and those who follow the herd.
I suppose Warren is talking about “sheeple”. Those who mirror what everyone else is doing. In regards to the previous quote, ‘responding’ I suppose. I notice when everyone starts following a fashion trend, but I don’t respond to it. I only observe. Oh, all the women are now wearing infinity scarves because everybody does. Yes, this is the new ridiculous thing you will point at in pictures in five to ten years. I say it looks ridiculous now, and it’s more ridiculous because so many of you fell for it. I suppose I do keep my own personal ‘inner scorecard’. I’ll admit when I’m wrong, but my internal intuition is rarely wrong. When I am wrong, it’s likely another part of my functional stack playing tug-of-war and the thinking winning.
Even though I make no special attempt to observe the discipline of silence, living alone automatically makes me refrain from the sins of speech. – Kamo No Chomei, 12th Century Japanese recluse
Simply, the more time I spend alone, the less of a chance I have to say something stupid. When I’m quiet, I’m just holding back on giving you the truth; because nobody wants to hear the truth.
These days, even [Walter] Mischel admits that personality traits exist, but he believes they tend to occur in patterns. For example, some people are aggressive with peers and subordinates but docile with authority figures; others just the opposite.  People who are “rejection-sensitive” are warm and loving when they feel secure, hostile and controlling when they feel rejected.
I’m very “rejection-sensitive”. If I’m not getting the attention I’m seeking such as getting a return phone call from my staffing contact, or don’t get praise, or worse negative criticism, for something I put a lot of work into I can get either hostile, or most likely apathetic. I have a strong basic need to feel secure, and when I ask for something to even out my insecurity, and it goes unanswered I get very unnerved. It’s quite a simple fix though. When a few of these situations occurred recently I simply started becoming more friendly and productive once my security was put in check. I think that’s why I tell people I’m so simple, yet so complex. I try to tell you what I need in a certain way, but it seems like such a simple request from my point of view. It’s a simple fix, just respond. It drives me crazy when the only person that can help me doesn’t help me.
We should all look out for cobblers who might have been great generals. Which means focusing on introverted children, whose talents are often stifled, whether at home, at school, or on the playground.
This was a great story leading up this line asking where to find the best general. Once again I’ve dealt with this paradox so many times, even in my current job. Actually probably every job. I’m quiet so people think I’m dumb, or not capable of more, or being challenged while it’s the exact opposite. Unless you stick me in a situation where I have no knowledge or talent in a certain task (like a construction site or auto repair shop) I will figure it out and excel. I need very little training, and my work ethic is actually quite solid. If I have work at a job, it will and shall be done. I have the determination, knowledge, and boundless abilities to be that general, but you have to believe in me first. That seems to be the missing link usually in my wide array of choppy job history. When I just re-read the word playground in regards to school…well that’s a whole other animal.
[K]ids stop learning when they feel emotionally threatened.
Not getting away from the school subject again. Simply I was bullied in school. This doesn’t change as an adult either. When you’re bullied at your job, they are stifling not only your employee, but the talent pool of your business. “Judge Judy” couldn’t (and still can’t) understand that they need to listen instead of bulldozing their way to success.
Whoever you are, bear in mind that appearance is not reality.
This is the last quote I took from the book, and maybe I’ll expand on this, and the other quotes later. I suppose the quote is still just a fancy way of avoiding the cliche of “don’t judge a book by it’s cover”. We all make assumptions, and those that are placed on me are likely something like this: quiet, conservative, stupid, lazy, gamer, movie buff, anti-social, and so on. This are all wrong, or quite opposite in most regards. This is the hump as a society we need to get over, but we won’t. That reality TV show will still be more popular than nature, science, education, or anything at all dealing with real life. We live in a world full of distractions to hide the truth. In the light of fear we seek fiction to forget. My way to respond is to continue to learn, and try to tell people to keep an eye out for the forthcoming dooms of the future, but they’d rather watch The Voice or American Idol. Because those people are going to change the world.

PUM 2

Keirsey’s second ‘Please Understand Me’ book was really just a slight expansion over the first. It just went into a little more detail for the different types. I skipped most of it, just focusing more on my type. I didn’t highlight any quotes like the other books, but bookmarked a few sections of the book to review. The part I seemed to focus on was regarding relationships. As an INFJ most of my depression lies on not having made an intimate connection. In his first book there was a piece about how essentially INFJ’s are doomed, but alas the intense and passionate INFJ doesn’t give up. I have given up for the past four or five months, but with the latest read with PUM 2 I’m planning on taking a scientific approach to dating. In a flashback to the days of asking “What’s your sign?”, it may come down to “What’s your MBTI type”?

In regards to the ‘Idealist Soulmate’, this is what I’m up against:

Finding the rare person with whom they can share their inner world is difficult for Idealists, a painful process of trial and error, and they often vow not to date at all for periods of time rather than go through the search.

The current period is certainly not the first. I had one date all through college. I had about a two year period in my early 30’s. It seems I’m either all in, or all out. The trial and error though has been ridiculous for me though. I certainly have had my fair share of dates. I rarely get second dates, and anything beyond that in the light of a budding relationship is, just that, a bud. Usually it’s over in a month on average.

The above quote continues:

For NF’s, dating means more than physical fun or social experience; it is an opening of their heart and mind to the other person, in some cases a baring of their soul, and carries with it both a promise and expectation of deep regard and understanding. And because they are offering so much of themselves to the other, and expecting so much in return, NF’s are highly sensitive to rejection, and can be deeply hurt when spurned by another, or when having to break off a relationship themselves. The trauma of breaking up can be so difficult for Idealists that at times they will avoid getting involved with others for fear of things not working out, or, at the other extreme, they will remain in a relationship longer than they should just to put off the soul-hurting scene of rejection.

One of the things I wanted to share with my INFJ group recently is that I’ve noticed that when I’m single I want to be in a couple. But as soon as I am on the cusp of a relationship I want to be single again. A blog I read this past week mirrored that thought, and it’s an introverted defense. My favorite INFJ blog, Introvert, Dear explains this wall so well. To alert my next trial better might just be to lead her on to how I’m wired, in hopes she will understand me;

3.     It takes a lot of energy to form a new relationship.

More talking. More smiling. More energetic head nodding and saying positive, happy words. More watching my behavior to make sure I don’t screw up and do something awkward and end this potential relationship prematurely. All of these things take A LOT of an introvert’s precious, limited “outside” energy. Thankfully, the better I know someone, the less energy it takes to be around them.

Back to the book, and again on the subject of perhaps scientifically taking on dating, the consensus from the book, and other online links is that INFJ’s pair best with ENTP’s, ENFP’s, and even other INFJ’s. I’m uncertain, and wish I could go back and understand better what type many of my past brief relationships have been. Still, I’m trying to crack how best to meet them. Do I stick with my old standby OKCupid, or go about it the old fashioned way meeting people out in social settings? There are women I’ve met at work, and see on the bus I swoon over, but the danger is the rejection and having to still encounters those daily of who rejected me. I tend to cut ties to avoid those feelings. I don’t want to quit my job or ride a different bus because of this. I have to be extra careful in who and where I meet people. I moved to another city a few times to avoid this conflict.

A Look Inside a Rare Mind

Since discovering, and the following months researching, I was an INFJ my quest has been to better understand myself. Being the most misunderstood MBTI personality is not only difficult for those who encounter us, but at times been paralyzing through the disappointments, near misses, countless transitions, and even therapy.

The book’s first chapter is about the author’s own discovery of being an INFJ. The discovery is the equivalent of breaking a lifelong curse. The author later notes how it is both a blessing and a curse. Despite the struggles (curse); “have(ing) recognized that my gifts of deep thought, strong feelings, self-reflection and astounding intuition bring about incredible moments of joy and peace.”

This book, along with any other about MBTI or introverts or INFJ’s in particular is like taking each written piece with a grain of salt. This one is no different. Every INFJ is as much the same as we are different. One of the ideas I had before reading this book was that I wanted to write something to share with my parents to help them understand me; to maybe explain all of those weird and unexplained things I’ve done, or have not done in the past. In some ways I feel it would be wrong given that no INFJ personality is an exact match to another, but I could nearly pass this book off to a family member or friend to help me explain me. This book resonated so well with me, I still might.

Some of the material is very common with other authors and researchers regarding the INFJ. The one part that made me light up because it wasn’t something I had read before was the chapter “Conceit” regarding mediocrity. The author’s notes (on page 26):

“I would never condemn others for being less than perfect. We are all struggling in this world to be the best we can be. Though, to be honest, I do look down on those who are satisfied with mediocrity, because I believe that is a large character flaw. If we grow comfortable and satisfied with where we are, how will we ever grown and improve?”

This is a daily fight for me that I give with intense passion. It divides me from others at times, but gives rise to who I am always seeking/defining identity, strength, and confidence.

Given that this book was developed from an blog, the pieces she shares along the way (and the end of each chapter) helps connect the reader more with other INFJ’s. I find this as a daily, and important practice almost as daily therapy we receive from others like us.

I highly recommend this book if you’re not only an INFJ, but if you know one and need help getting closer to understanding or maybe fixing a relationship with one. Each section is a quick and easy read, and easy to reference if necessary. Let it be your guide.

You can purchase Jennifer’s book here.

The Introvert Advantage

I’m not adding any personal commentary from this book, by Marti Olsen Laney (at least for now). As you can see by the number of notes the book is a great reference/resource.

Page 6 –  Otto Kroeger and Janet Thuesen are psychological consultants who use the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (more on this later). In their book Type Talk, they discuss the plight of the introvert: “Introverts are outnumbered about three to one. As a result, they must develop extra coping skills in life because there will be an inordinate amount of pressure on them to ‘shape up,’ to act like the rest of the world. The introvert is pressured daily, almost from the moment of awakening, to respond and conform to the outer world.”

 

Page 9 –  Obviously, extroverts have many charms. And they are a good balance for us introverted types. They help us go out and about. We help them slow down.

 

Page 11 –  Many introverts don’t feels as if they know enough about a subject until they know almost everything, and that’s the way I approached this project. The is happens for three reasons. First, introverts can imagine the vastness of any subject. Second, they have had the experience of their brain locking, so in an attempt to avoid that awful blank-mind moment, they overprepare by accruing as much information as they can. Third, since they often don’t talk about what they are thinking, they receive no feedback to help them gain perspective about how much they already know.

 

The pendulum of the mind oscillates between sense and nonsense, not between right and wrong.

—C. G. JUNG

 

Page 35 – We bring important attributes to the party—the ability to focus deeply, an understanding of how a change will affect everyone involved, the capacity to observe, a propensity for thinking outside the box, the strength to make unpopular decisions, and the potential to slow the world down a notch. Of course, introverts would like to just drop these qualities off at a party and then skedaddle on home!

 

Page 37 –  [We] are not scaredy cats, shrinking violets, or self-absorbed loners. Nor are [we] necessarily shy or antisocial.

 

How much easier it is to be critical than to be correct.

—BENJAMIN DISRAELI

 

Page 50 –  When introverts appear reluctant to speak or speak slowly, they often don’t engage extroverts. Extroverts may think (introverts can think this, too) that the introverts don’t have anything to contribute. Introverts dislike interrupting, so they might say something softly or without emphasis. Other times comments made by introverts have more depth than the general level of the conversation; because this may make people feel uncomfortable, they ignore the comment. Later another person may say the same thing and receive a great response. The introverted person feels unseen. It’s frustrating and confusing for them.

 

To err is human; to blame it on the other guy is even more human.

-BOB GODDARD

 

Page 54 –  Introverted children usually get the message loud and clear that something is wrong with them.

-Clues that you are experiencing shame may include:

• an impulse to shrink or hide

• the wish to disappear

• the sense that your whole body is withering

• the feeling that speaking is even harder than usual

 

Page 55 – Although shame affects everyone, it is a double whammy for introverts. If we are shamed, we have few resources left to calm ourselves. We may withdraw and not show ourselves for a long time. This is a loss for everyone.

 

Page 69 -Word Retrieval

Often introverts have trouble finding the word they want when they are speaking out loud. Our brains use many different areas for speaking, reading, and writing; therefore, information needs to flow freely between the separate areas. Word retrieval may be a problem for introverts because the information moves slowly. One cause of this is that we use long-term memory, so it takes longer and requires the right association (something that reminds us of the word) to reach back into our long-term memory to locate the exact word we want. If we are anxious, it may be even more difficult to find and articulate a word. Written words use different pathways in the brain, which seems to flow fluently for many introverts.

 

Page 71 – In Mapping the Mind, Rita Carter states, “Too much dopamine seems to cause hallucinations and paranoia. Too little dopamine is known to cause tremor and the inability to start voluntary movement, and is implicated in feelings of meaninglessness, lethargy and misery. Low dopamine also results in lack of attention and concentration, cravings and withdrawal.”

 

The goal in marriage is not to think alike, but to think together.

-ROBERT DODDS

 

Page 104 – The cultural environment heavily influences the course of our intimate relationships. For example, when the male is an extrovert and the female is an introvert, conflicts often arise. However, research suggests that the most serious conflicts occur if the situation is reversed—the male is the introvert and the female is the extrovert. This combination goes against our social conditioning. Introverted men can feel overwhelmed, intimidated, and unheard by extroverted women. And extroverted women may believe that the introverted man’s quiet nature means he is weak, submissive, or unprotective. They can also feel lonely and understimulated by the relationship. These duos can solve their problems, but they won’t be able to change each other’s hardwired temperament.

 

Page 125 – The ability to tolerate these feelings, the awareness to think about your reactions and to make choices about how you act develops an old-fashioned concept called character. People with character can trust themselves, and they have healthy relationships because they know they can withstand life’s ups and downs.

 

Page 191 – What every extroverted employee should know about introverts:

• like quiet for concentration

• care about their work and workplace

• may have trouble communicating

• may know more than they reveal

• may seem quiet and aloof

• need to be asked for their opinions and ideas (won’t simply supply them)

• like to work on long complex problems, and have good attention to detail

• need to understand exactly why they are doing something

• dislike intrusions and interruptions

• need to think and reflect before speaking and acting

• work alone contentedly

• may be reluctant to delegate• prefer to stay in office or cubicle rather than socialize

• do not like to draw attention to themselves• work well with little supervision

• may have trouble remembering names and faces

 

Page 198 – You are an excellent employee, and it is important that you not forget your own contributions. Remind yourself every day of what you bring to the party: concentration, loyalty, thoughtfulness, persistence, tough-mindedness, creativity, originality, foresight, and a wide range of knowledge, to name just a few introverted advantages. Introverts are often the employees who go about their day quietly improving the workplace. They have the ability to both make difficult decisions and give co-workers space. They develop lasting one-on-one relationships and work well without close supervision. Innies tend to be considerate and want cooperation. They are good listeners and good teachers. Every day shine a little positive light in your own direction.

 

Page 204 – Instead of avoiding conflicts, try to resolve them creatively. You may be surprised at how much you can improve both your work life and your work-based relationships.

 

Page 212 – Drink a glass of ice water. Studies show that even mild dehydration affects concentration, thinking, metabolism, and the flow of neurotransmitters. In his book High Energy Living, Dr. Robert Cooper says that water “stimulates increased energy production throughout your body and increases alertness in your brain and senses.”

 

Page 214 –  Although in many ways it can be easier to work for an introverted boss, it can also be problematic. Introverted bosses may forget to communicate expectations, may fail to delegate, and may not realize the importance of praise and rewarding good work.

 

Page 217 – Despite all of the hazards, introverts enjoy their work, and work is often an important part of their lives. In fact, a recent study by the Oxford Happiness Project revealed that happy introverts enjoy their work more than happy extroverts. If introverts can learn to interact without feeling washed out at the end of the day, they can use their “innergy” to bring their company incredible advantages.

 

Page 223 – If you don’t pace yourself, you can end up feeling stressed and overwhelmed, unable to do anything. It gets worse if you procrastinate. A “major stall” may set in. Then anxiety or depression can descend on you. Anxiety whips you up into a frenzy, and you become forgetful, lose your concentration and your ability to think. Or depression drags you down into exhaustion and listlessness.

 

Page 227 – One of the quickest ways to accept the absence of something we wish we had—but don’t—is to acknowledge disappointment. Many people want to skip over this step. It’s called denial.

 

Page 228 – I thought to myself, If I write one page a day, by the end of the year, I could have a book.

 

Page 231 – Most introverts care about meaning. Think about the different areas of your life and what is important to you. Meaning is what gets your juices going, what makes you feel like hopping out of bed in the morning.

 

Page 237 – Remember, developing your goals and priorities harnesses your energy for what will give you the most fulfillment in life.

 

Page 238 – We introverts often feel guilty that we can’t do more than our time or energy allows, so we capitulate to whatever demand is made upon us, setting no parameters at all. Or we are unable to accurately evaluate our energy supply and set boundaries that are either too firm or too wishy-washy.

 

Page 240 – Right-brained introverts require large amounts of protected sifting and sorting time because they take in so much unconscious information. Without private time they end up feeling confused and fragmented. Left-brained introverts also need replenishing time, but they don’t become as fuzzy-headed if they don’t get it. They may, however, become quite withdrawn.

 

Page 241/242 – Left-brained introverts often develop rigid parameters, too.  They value thinking over feelings and interpersonal relationships.

Some of the other consequences of having rigid parameters are:

• feeling relationships as demanding or invading

• feeling helpless and hopeless

• feeling trapped and unable to see choices

• being unable to grow emotionally

• being controlling, thought of by others as having an “anal personality”

• appearing self-absorbed and critical

• pushing people away

If you tend to have more rigid boundaries, you may feel lonely or angry with others in your life. You may think they are causing the problem. It may be difficult for you to connect the loneliness you feel with the parameters you set. You may not realize you are so walled off.

 

Page 243 – Introverts often feel as if they should make decisions the way extroverts would, without letting themselves wonder how they feel, and deciding what to do based on their own thoughts and impulses. But maybes broaden the world and open decision making to lots of prospects, views, and options. Another valuable benefit of saying maybe is that it grants introverts the time to “noodle” out their responses to something. It is hard for all introverts to make instant decisions. We generally can’t (because we’re too overwhelmed) or shouldn’t (because we need to think things through owing to our long brain pathway). What might seem obvious to extroverts—where to get a quick bite to eat, for example-can seem like a monumental decision to a tired introvert with a fuzzy head. Introverts need the roominess of maybes.

 

Page 246 – We are often pressured by extroverts to answer quickly. Don’t fall into that trap. Practice sleeping on ideas, projects, or anything that involves complex thinking. If I have to make a decision, I remind myself that the pros and cons will be clearer in the morning. Sometimes I imagine I will wake up from the loud crunching sound caused by my brain’s working on an especially challenging question.

 

Page 249 – The more you are able to appreciate your introversion and relish it, the more you will be leaping into self-acceptance, understanding, and growth. if you feel competent and lovable as an introvert, you will be able to set your own parameters.

 

Page 251 – Imagine trying to drive a car that has run out of gas. The only way to make it go is to get out and push it. Introverts often try to push themselves through life. That is why they often complain of feeling fatigued. In an attempt to be more energized, like extroverts, they sometimes use anger (which pumps adrenaline), anxiety (which increases heart rate, blood pressure, and sugar and stress hormones), caffeine (which stimulates the Full-Throttle System), or drugs (usually ones like cocaine that rev up the system). If introverts don’t realize they are overextending, they can become ill. They don’t even realize until their bodies break down that they are running on anxiety and adrenaline.

 

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us.

—RALPH WALDO EMERSON

 

Page 254 – What’s more, as Anthony Storr says in his book Solitude, “The capacity to be alone is also an aspect of emotional maturity.” The very quality that has been thought of as troubling or as a liability is actually a sign of psychological health.

 

Page 258 – Genetic research has shown that it takes introverts longer than extroverts to reconstitute themselves when they are depleted. The reason? The receptor sites at the end of introverts’ nerves are slow to re-uptake neurotransmitters. In other words, introverts require more resting time to feel restored.

 

Page 262 – Many people misunderstand this phenomenon [Philco static]. Let me explain. I have worked with many introverts who did not think they were very smart. Ironically, about 60 percent of the intellectually gifted are introverted (Silverman, 1993). The real problem is that they have been in an overloaded state all of their lives. They think “nothing” is in their brain when actually there’s “too much” in there. However, if they are not  aware of the need to give themselves time to sift, sort, and contemplate, they may feel they can’t think. Or, worse, they think their head is empty. Innies need uninterrupted time and space to let their thoughts and feelings get sorted out, to think about the pros and cons of things. Only reflective time allows them to figure out what they really feel about something and gives them access to information they have unconsciously ingested.

 

Page 263 – When introverts spend too much time around other people, they can start to feel drained just by the physical proximity. They can feel tired in a crowd without ever talking to anyone. Carving out physical space gives them the expanse they need to regroup. Most introverts need their own personal space because they tend to be territorial. They need an actual place to call their own. It gives them a sense of controlling their own energy.

 

Page 270 – Studies show that humming, singing, and whistling can also keep us energized. They improve mood and awareness and decrease anxiety. Think about how many parents naturally croon to their babies. Singing increases oxygen and seems to affect neurotransmitters, so sing in the shower or the car or, if you’re serious enough, join a choir. Notice how lighthearted singing makes you feel? And don’t forget whistling. It is a lost art— bring it back by puckering up and blowing. Bet you’ll feel more spirited.

 

Page 271 – The best food sources for increasing acetylcholine are fish (salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines, and others), egg yolks (excellent source), wheat germ, liver, meat, milk, cheese, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and lecithin.

 

Page 274 – Introverts are more sedentary than extroverts. They are not motivated to move as much, and many do not like to exercise. But it’s important to find a way to stay physically fit. One reason it’s important to exercise is to increase the oxygen to your brain. With more oxygen your neurotransmitters and memory function better.

 

Page 283 – Remaining too comfortable causes us to lose aspects of our personalities. Just as muscles do not gain strength when they’re not used, parts of our personality will not be strengthened unless you flex them every now and then. What’s more, you can become bored or depressed without new information and challenges. Fears of being abandoned, rejected, or disappointed may increase unless positive outside experiences remind you that these fears are not always grounded in reality.

 

Page 284 – We introverts need to feel that we can rely on ourselves to manage in an environment that is not our natural niche. Standing up to a difficult co-worker, returning merchandise to a store, lobbying for a promotion, complaining to your child’s school, or joining a book club can be challenging.

 

Page 285 – There is a difference between confidence based on accomplishment and confidence based on your inner qualities. This is why achieving a specific goal, like graduating from  school, buying a fancy car, getting that promotion, or having a certain amount in the bank, feels good but wears off relatively fast. Research indicates that increased satisfaction from a big promotion lasts, at the most, about six months. In order to feel self-assurance we need something that is always with us. Confidence needs to come from what is inside us, not what we do outside. Confidence rests on an inner pledge. It’s an agreement you make with yourself to learn or do whatever you need to do in order to attain your goals. It’s the ability to be determined, curious, tolerant of mistakes, and kind to yourself as you learn new skills. No one can take your persistence or any of these qualities away from you.

 

Page 310 – Also bear in mind that the Internet community can be a good place for introverts to connect with friends and family, as well as make new cyber relationships. Even though there have been many dire predictions about how computers cause alienation, reduce personal interaction, and diminish a sense of community, the Internet appears actually to increase people connections for introverts. It also permits people who are ill, isolated, live on the other side of the world, or can’t meet in person to check in with each other on a consistent basis. And when you e-mail someone, you can give yourself plenty of time to think about what you want to say and revise all you want before you hit the send or reply button.

 

Page 313 – Words for Introverts to Live By

Be playful.

Take breaks.

Appreciate your inside world.

Be authentic.

Enjoy curiosity.

Stay in harmony.

Revel in solitude.

Be grateful.

Be you.

Remember, let your light shine.

 

Introvert Power

I’ve decided while reading this book, despite a list of books on my list, that would be my last for the time being regarding MBTI/introversion. I do want to read more specifics on on Highly Sensitive People which will likely be my next read. I have learned a lot, and I feel like I’m not going to get the most of my reading/research unless I review my own notes, reflect, and begin exercising my strengths to power my way through this extroverted world. Like the last book I simply copied and pasted passages from the e-book as I felt necessary, though sometimes I felt like I was was simply copying the entire book verbatim. It’s that good. Here are my notes:

INTRO

Here’s a well-kept secret: Introversion is not defined by lack. Introversion, when embraced, is a wellspring of riches. It took me years to acknowledge this simple reality, to claim my home, and to value all it offers.

In this culture of competition, it is no wonder that those of us who prefer introversion feel anxious. We are expected to “think on our feet,” but we think best when we’re still. We’re pressured to join and keep up, when we’d rather follow an inner guide. And with the ever-multiplying multimedia—from pop-up ads on the Internet to phones that can reach us everywhere—the competition finds us where we live.

CHAPTER 1

The stereotyped introvert is often seen as introvert by default when, in fact, introversion is defined as a preference. Introverts generally prefer a rich inner life to an expansive social life; we would rather talk intimately with a close friend than share stories with a group; and we prefer to develop our ideas internally rather than interactively.

So how have we jumped from these preferences to images of a cowering, reclusive weirdo? Iris Chang commented, “Whatever is not commonly seen is condemned as alien.”

Isabel Briggs Myers discussed in her book, Gifts Differing, “The best-adjusted people are the ‘psychologically patriotic,’ who are glad to be what they are.”

So, being an introvert does not mean you’re antisocial, asocial, or socially inept. It does mean that you are oriented to ideas—whether those ideas involve you with people or not. It means that you prefer spacious interactions with fewer people. And it means that, when you converse, you are more interested in sharing ideas than in talking about people and what they’re doing. In a conversation with someone sharing gossip, the introvert’s eyes glaze over and his brow furrows as he tries to comprehend how this conversation could interest anyone. This is not because the introvert is morally superior—he just doesn’t get it. As we’ve discussed, introverts are energized and excited by ideas.

Simply talking about people, what they do and who they know, is noise for the introvert. He’ll be looking between the lines for some meaning, and this can be hard work! Before long, he’ll be looking for a way out of the conversation.

A good conversation leaves an introvert feeling more connected, but also personally richer.

WE ARE NOT SNOBS

While this is an assumption some introverts like—being a snob is better than being impaired—it ultimately hurts us. Think of a group of Extrovert Moms gathered together at a Little League game, excitedly chatting and enjoying the action. In comes Introvert Mom who, after a full day of work, wants nothing more than to savor the game—all by herself. She sits off a bit from everyone else, stretching her feet onto the bleacher bench, and may even have a book to indulge in as the team warms up. She might enjoy watching the people around her, but she has no energy to interact.

What are the Extrovert Moms thinking? Because they are oriented to people, they will likely assume that Introvert Mom is, too—which means they see Introvert Mom as not liking people (what we know now as asocial) or being a “snob,” thinking she’s too good for the Extrovert Moms. More likely, Introvert Mom is not thinking about them at all! She is just doing something she likes to do.

The snob assumption is an extrovert personalization of the introvert’s behavior: she’s not just doing something for herself; she’s dissing us. This misunderstanding may lead to gossip and suspicious looks. If Introvert Mom feels this hostile energy, she may become defensive and further withdraw to protect herself, only confirming to the Extrovert Moms that she is indeed a snob.

[I]ntroverts are higher users of mental health services. Why? They like looking inside! For many introverts, therapy is attractive and exciting. They are not afraid of what they’ll find—they’re already familiar with the territory.

As a therapist myself, I find that it is often the healthiest family member who enters therapy, because he is willing to look at the limitations of his own reality and risk change.

Under normal conditions, the introvert places less value on what is outside, and puts less energy there. Briggs Myers described this outside self as the Aide to a General:

“The introvert’s General is inside the tent, working on matters of top priority. The Aide is outside fending off interruptions…If people do not realize that there is a General in the tent who far outranks the Aide they have met, they may easily assume that the Aide is in sole charge. This is a regrettable mistake. It leads not only to an underestimation of the introvert’s abilities but also to an incomplete understanding of his wishes, plans, and point of view. The only source for such information is the General.”

Though the metaphor of a General may or may not fit your tastes, it is an image of power. Whether your tent is a busy laboratory or a vast library, a creative studio or spiritual sanctuary, your inner world is the place where the action is, where your heart starts pumping, and your potential expands. And like the General in the tent, we can move the world. But first, we need to recognize that someone is there.

[T]he writers of the 2003 MBTI Manual concluded: “Introverts appear to do their best thinking in anticipation rather than on the spot.

 

CHAPTER 2

Solitude is indeed “the great omission in American life.” We are told to have family values, to be a team player, to have a huge wireless network. More is better and there is never enough. How did we get so far away from ourselves?

The potentially violent loner is, ironically, externally focused. Rather than accepting and enjoying his preference for solitude, he focuses on his resentment of the group, seeing himself as a solo victim entitled to revenge. When this happens, solitude can become dangerous indeed, leaving room for his paranoid distortions and growing hatred. Here’s the rub: the very distortions that place him outside of the group are ones we perpetuate in our society.

 

CHAPTER 3

In an extroverted society, we rarely see ourselves in the mirror. We get alienating feedback. Alienating feedback comes in the form of repeated encouragement to join or talk, puzzled expressions, well-intended concern, and sometimes, all-out pointing and laughing. Alienating feedback happens when we hear statements like, “What kind of loser would be home on a Saturday night?” Alienating feedback happens where neighborhoods, schools, and offices provide no place to retreat. Alienating feedback happens when our quiet spaces and wilderness sanctuaries are seen as places to colonize.

The Socially Accessible introvert looks like an extrovert on the outside and sees extroversion as a bar that he or she can never quite reach. These individuals are often very successful in social arenas, but fault themselves for not having more fun. This self-alienation is rampant among American introverts, as is the self-interrogation—society’s puzzled attitude turned

Accessible Introverts need to be pissed off more often or to tell others (nonverbally, of course) to piss off more often. We get harassed by strangers, hounded by competitors, and asked intrusive questions. We have the fatal combination of being accessible, yet lacking the extroverted capacity for comebacks. We are the ones that take a dig, mull it over, and spend days developing better and better comebacks. We can take our anger in and turn it on ourselves with demeaning self-talk, such as: “Why do you have to be such a wimp?,” “Why do you let people treat you that way?,” “Why didn’t you say anything?” and so on.

Most of us also carry our stories of humiliation. And, sadly, many of us, like Insecure Girl in my dream, have participated in the humiliation of other introverts—introverts who were unable or unwilling to participate in the extroverted games.

 

CHAPTER 4

The MBTI Manual reiterates an anecdote shared by attendees at a “psychological type” conference in Great Britain: The U.S.

attendees found it hard to identify the extroverts among their British colleagues because they did not act like American extroverts. The British attendees reported a similar difficulty identifying introverts in America because “U.S. Introverts exhibited behavior that in the United Kingdom was associated with Extroversion: sociability, comfort with small talk, disclosure of personal information, energetic and fast-paced conversation, and so forth.” Most Americans, whether introverted or extroverted, have learned to look like extroverts.

In the American workplace, introverts often feel immense pressure to be extroverted. Whether spoken or not, we pick up the assumption that we’re supposed to make friends at work. Introverts don’t get this. We generally go to work to work. I can hear the protest, “But it’s more fun to have friends at work!” Here is another extrovert assumption. Extroverts are energized through interaction. They are happy to create more friendships, because then there are more people to keep the interactions going—after work, on the weekend, at parties, and so on.

Introverts more often see the workplace as a place to interact with ideas. A friendly greeting is fine and good, but workplace chatter feels distracting and intrusive. And if we work with clients or customers, we may be all the more protective of our social energies. Yet, the extrovert assumption is so woven into the fabric of our culture that an employee may suffer reprimands for keeping his door closed (that is, if he is one of the lucky ones who has a door), for not lunching with other staff members, or for missing the weekend golf game or any number of supposedly morale-boosting celebrations. Half. More than half of us don’t want to play. We don’t see the point. For us, an office potluck will not provide satisfying human contact— we’d much rather meet a friend for an intimate conversation (even if that friend is a coworker). For us, the gathering will not boost morale — and will probably leave us resentful that we stayed an extra hour to eat stale cookies and make small talk. For us, talking with coworkers does not benefit our work—it sidetracks us.

Whether we are at work or at play, the extrovert assumption prevails and alienates over half of the population. Half. Not just a few nerdy recluses, but more than half of us.

More than half of us now have a place to be publicly introverted. You think it’s the coffee? The people who primarily want the coffee take it to go. As I scan the room, only one of the eleven is drinking coffee—at least I think it’s coffee: some dark blended drink topped with loads of whipped cream and chocolate syrup. Maybe that person, like me, sees the purchase as a very reasonable rent payment on some prime introvert real estate.

 

CHAPTER 5

The introvert’s habit of keeping “one foot out” of a given social grouping—whether it be family, community, or society—is a lifesaver, sometimes literally, when the group stifles or oppresses what the individual values.

The “middle way” [Nordic] government, with features of both democracy and socialism, seems quite suited to the introvert, who requires freedom but is not big on competition.

Intrusive behavior is commonplace in America. You and a friend are having an intimate conversation in the restaurant, and a friend of your friend comes right over and interrupts you to say hello and start a new conversation.

You’re on the freeway, a lane is closing ahead, and you dutifully move over — while others use the opportunity to move ahead of you and merge at the last minute. You’re on the phone and politely say you’ve got to go; the person on the other end keeps talking.

Confucianism,more a code of ethics than a religion, has been woven into the fabric of Japanese life since the dawn of formal education. If you want to get a real feel for this phenomenon, read Confucius Lives Next Door, but to employ the American “bottom line,” here’s the gist: Everyone is responsible for making things work.

Here is the paradox of introversion in society: individualism gives each of us a voice, but excesses of individualism result in a cacophony of voices, allowing only the loudest to be heard.

• Create space for yourself by planting a garden, clearing clutter, or honoring a mundane task.

 

CHAPTER 6

Do you find yourself getting things ready —cleaning, fluffing pillows, arranging fresh flowers—only when you have company coming? Or if you do make things “just right” for you, do you relax and enjoy the space? It seems ironic that so many American homes maintain formal living rooms that are for display only, not for living!

There is a vast difference between the quiet pleasure of tending a private space and the pressure of outdoor work that only improves the view for our neighbors. Both are valid, and an attractive yard is indeed a gift to the neighborhood, but I feel a certain sadness when I pass by a manicured lawn that I know will not enjoy the dance of bare feet. Like the good china, it is not to be touched.

In an article for Fortune (March 22, 2006), Julie Schlosser reviewed how cubicles were faring thirty years after Robert Propst released his prototype for the enclosure. The article, “Cubicles: The great mistake,” noted that Propst, like inventors of tools used in warfare, despised the office culture that grew out of his contribution. Schlosser compared the cubicle to crabgrass that persists in growing despite its lack of popularity: Reviled by workers, demonized by designers, disowned by its very creator, it still claims the largest share of office furniture sales—$3 billion or so a year —and has outlived every “office of the future” meant to replace it. It is the Fidel Castro of office furniture.

 

CHAPTER 7

The introvert mode of thinking first is not valued, because the thinking time is not a tangible product. Even if the thinking time is on its way to being a tangible product, we believe time is scarce, so we can’t afford much of that kind of time. Those who think on their feet, or simply use their feet and their mouths, seem to be making good on the time-money trade. In our American “just do it” society, doing takes the lead over knowing. Value is associated with what you produce, what you show to the world. And, like cheap talk, credit cards allow us to show much, much more—whether or not we have anything real to back it.

Introverts have a hard time keeping up, and this may be our salvation—and society’s salvation. Introverts shut down when there’s too much stimulation. We don’t have much choice. A red light flashes, “OVERLOAD,” and we know it’s time to pull back and think. The only problem is, we don’t have time. Or at least that’s what we’re told.

In our society, time is rigid, stingy, and running out.

Introverts have direct access to this internal power—the power to birth fully formed ideas, insights, and solutions. People ask me how I’m able to come up with enough material to fill a book. I tell them, “I’ve been writing this all of my life.” An introvert who sits back in a meeting, taking in the arguments, dreamily reflecting on the big picture, may be seen as not contributing—that is, until he works out the solution that all the contributors missed.

A person bent on getting drunk probably does not want to consume toxins and eventually become sick and depressed; she desires a change in her state of mind. She didn’t overindulge at all; she underindulged. She did not give her desire enough time, thought, or attention. In fact, addictive behaviors usually have more to do with a need to extinguish desire. The thinking is: “If I binge, I won’t ever be hungry again,” or “If I build a huge house with everything I need, I will never have to move.” Why in the world would we want to eliminate our experience of hunger or stop exploring new horizons? Because time is running out, of course. We need to figure out how to make babies quicker!

The paradox is, when we use the desire model instead of the death model, everything is easier. Desire, when it is properly nourished, works like pregnancy and birth: once it gets going, there’s no stopping it. But birthing requires the capacity to hold, to tolerate the growing pressure of what’s inside and to patiently wait until it’s ready. This holding capacity is the hallmark of introversion. And it’s extremely powerful.

There is more to life than increasing its speed.

—Gandhi

Sometimes we focus our desires on an obstacle to what we want. For example, you may say, “I want this project done,” when you mean “I hate this project and want it out of my life forever.” Or maybe you just want the rest you will earn after completing the project.

In his fascinating book, Time Shifting, Stephan Rechtschaffen discusses another factor in how we experience time: entrainment. Entrainment is what happens when you set two pendulum clocks to swing at different rates, and then put them side-by-side. They start to move together.

[T]ime to think is not only a luxury for introverts; it is a necessity.

BILL OF RIGHTS:

  • Unless someone is bleeding or choking or otherwise at risk of imminent demise, you have a right to think about it.
  • Someone else’s pressure is their pressure. You have a right to let them keep it.
  • If someone makes a request and demands an immediate response, say “no.” It is easier to change a “no” to a “yes” than it is to get out of something.
  • You have a right to not know until you know, especially when you’re asked a big question. We all carry around a sense of knowing—that internal, inexplicable sense of when something is or isn’t right, but we can’t access that sense while under pressure.
  • You have a right to obtain more information. If you don’t know, find out more.
  • You do not have to jump in with affirming comments when you don’t feel it. You have a right to remain silent.

It can feel wonderful to indulge in time, to wander aimlessly, to sit blankly. I especially enjoy sitting with the warm sun on my face, knowing I could move, but deciding that would be too much trouble. Just letting time pass, just breathing the air. Letting time pass. How wonderful.

 

CHAPTER 8

-Retreat suggestions and information-

Whatever retreats you design for yourself, do them regularly. Protect them. Put them on your calendar and tell others you will not be available during these times. Turn off your cell phone. And melt.

 

CHAPTER 9

The entrained introvert becomes overstimulated and shuts down; the flâneur shops for inspiration and feels larger. It is as if the best parts of ourselves are scattered about. As we stumble upon them in the world, we discover who we are.

The flâneur, artist or not, has a talent for staying out of the scene even as he is in the midst of it. This introverted observer can draw energy from society because he or she remains the interpreter of what is happening, the integrating action happens inside. This skill—focusing outside while staying inside—can come in very handy.

We have an assumption here in America that the kind thing to do is to be “friendly,” which means being extroverted, even intrusive. The Japanese assume the opposite: being kind means holding back.

An introvert just needs time and space, and interaction occurs more spontaneously. But because we get so little time and space, we spend more time defending our boundaries than we do reaching beyond them.

Cecilia, my contact from Puerto Rico, explained: “Only when we can be guaranteed anonymity, can we take our masks off and bare our souls. When we are no one, we become who we are.”

 

CHAPTER 10

Let’s clear one thing up: Introverts do not hate small talk because we dislike people. We hate small talk because we hate the barrier it creates between people.

[D]o introverts expect too much? Might we drive someone away with our intensity? True, those of us seeking deeper connection can be intimidating to those who prefer meeting and moving on.

Whatever kind of introvert you are, some people will find you “too much” in some ways and “not enough” in others. You may be considered too intense or not enough into socializing. And when you are seen this way, it hurts. And you question yourself. That’s normal.

Don’t…

Introduce topics that bore you—i.e., “Where do you work?”

Ask questions that can be answered with “fine”—i.e., “How are you?”

Do…

Ask questions you don’t know the answer to—i.e., “When did you first know you wanted to teach?”

Ask for personal definitions—i.e., “Help me understand. When you say the film was ‘dark,’ what does that mean to you?”

Observe. Notice how it’s going. Allow silence. Don’t try too hard.

Being authentically introverted in relationships may feel weird at first. That’s because, in our society, we equate relating with being extroverted.

 

CHAPTER 11

Though some interview situations are high pressure by definition, we can often make formal conversations more introvert-friendly. Consider the following:

  • With media interviews, indicate that you’d like to provide “talking points” or a list of questions to help the interview run smoothly. Most hosts appreciate this.
  • Do your homework. Listen to the show, talk to the producer about what to expect, Google the people who are interviewing you for the job. Don’t let your imagination run wild and scare you. Get the facts.
  • Call the shots. I have asked interviewers to send me questions in advance, I have told newspaper reporters that I need to think on a question and get back to them, and I have said “no.” You often have more power than you realize.
  • Remember that you know more about you—your research, your qualifications, your opinions—than anyone else in the room.

 

CHAPTER 12

Yes, saying “No” is an option.

“Thanks, but no.”

“No thanks.”

“Hell, no.”

Whatever works for you, it’s your option.

Though this two-letter word is the simplest and clearest response, it’s not easy for many of us to say. Why? Because, according to the prevailing extroversion assumption, inviting you is a nice gesture, and pressuring you is a compliment—an indication that you are wanted. How many times have you equivocated on or even declined an invitation, only to be asked again—and again?

[Introverting at the party]

• Be a flâneur.

This approach is best suited to a large party with mostly strangers. Bringing a notebook, camera, or sketchpad will establish a boundary and vantage point for observation. Pretend you’re invisible and walk among people without trying to engage. Being comfortably alone at a party communicates confidence; trying too hard to engage actually puts you in a weaker position.

 

CHAPTER 13

It is typical of our extroverted, externally-oriented society that we define ourselves by what we do rather than what we think and feel. “Doing” is the observable part and, for many of us, says very little about our work.

Though we also learn through our interactions, introverts prefer to learn through independent analysis. Leave us alone and we’ll figure it out. But how much time do you get at work to be alone and figure it out, without interruption? What if your job is interactive? How well does the work you wanted match up with the work you have?

Use the following questions to help you identify your Natural Work:

  • What is your greatest gift? Your gift is something you may not think much about, because it comes easily for you. You would probably do it whether you were paid for it or not. But it is not easy for everyone. Others may marvel at your gift because for them it is a mystery, something they can’t imagine doing. Are you indulging this gift through your work?
  • When do you feel “in your element”? Some call it being in the flow. I call it that “sweet spot” where work and play intersect. You are present, engaged, and free of conflict.

What do you do naturally? Do you attend to the details others neglect? Are you good at making difficult concepts understandable? Do you secretly love to clean? Do you chart out everything on paper without even thinking about it?

In America, we don’t talk much about what is at the core. We talk about the “top priority” and the “bottom line.” We talk about goals and ends rather than constants. Introverts have access to something much more stable—and powerful. That is, if the Imposed Work doesn’t pull us off

As so scathingly captured in the sit-com, The Office, efforts to make work fun only annoy most of us, especially the introvert. I talk with many Shadow Dwellers who are mystified by the fact that chatty workers are rarely reprimanded. Sit and gossip and you are fun; close the door (if you have one) and you are antisocial. And we’re talking about work here, not a party!

Executives and managers need to consider how introverts—at least half of their employees—produce. Employees require energy to produce and, conveniently, introverts come with their own generators. Instead of trying to entertain us, mute the chatter and give us some space. Instead of rewarding the introvert with a party, give her a gift certificate to a restaurant, spa, bookstore, or coffeehouse. Instead of requiring attendance at a staff retreat, give introverted employees their assignments and send them to private cabins. Instead of insisting that introverts attend meetings, give us the option to submit written ideas. Employers are learning that, for many employees, less is more: less discussion, fewer meetings, and less so-called fun.

Another common misunderstanding is that focused workers are grumpy, as if happiness is measured by how much we talk!

A good rule of thumb is that any environment that consistently leaves you feeling bad about who you are is the wrong environment. Have the courage to evaluate your job, to demand more from it, to put it on probation when it is failing you, and to terminate it when necessary. Dream job or no, you have a right to change your mind.

Respect your introversion and your ideas, and the power will come. Richard Florida, in his book, The Rise of the Creative Class, proposes that our society is moving toward a “knowledge-driven economy.” The Internet doesn’t require golf outings and schmoozing; we can connect through ideas—develop a business, teach a course, conduct research—at our own pace and from our own space. Ideas are becoming society’s power centers, and introverts are natural generators.

 

CHAPTER 14

One may have a blazing hearth in one’s soul, and yet no one ever comes to sit by it.

—Vincent Van Gogh

We want someone to help us make it more real, to linger with us in the warmth. We are wise to be selective about whom we let in. But it is also good to find worthy guests.

As humans, we have the ability to hold relationships and conversations inside, and this capacity helps us work through conflicts, tolerate separations, fall in love, and remember. In fact, imagining a prototype of the person you want in your life can help you find a desirable partner. The stronger your desire, the more likely you will “go for it” and meet someone who matches your criteria.

I think Van Gogh is such a sympathetic character because we know what it feels like to invest in someone who does not or cannot reciprocate. The vision or idea of the relationship can be very powerful, and has a magnetism of its own. These are the visions that seduce lovers and break down defenses. But, if not checked by reality, even the most beautiful idea can break down and break hearts.

Though everyone fills in blanks about other people, introverts are particularly vulnerable to this. Because we limit our interactions, we may miss opportunities for “reality testing,” or checking our perceptions with the source.

Introverts tend to internalize problems. In other words, we place the source of problems within and blame ourselves. Though introverts may also externalize and see others as the problem, it’s more convenient to keep the problem “in house.” Internalizers tend to be reliable and responsible, but we can also be very hard on ourselves. And we can be wrong about ourselves.

As an introvert, you can be your own best friend or your worst enemy. The good news is we generally like our own company, a quality that extroverts often envy. We find comfort in solitude and know how to soothe ourselves. Even our willingness to look at ourselves critically is often helpful.

Here are other ways to stay on your own side:

  • First, notice how you talk to yourself. It can be very helpful to write down an inner conversation, especially one that includes a stream of judgment and criticism. You can also use feelings as a cue: if you are feeling “beat up”— depressed mood, low energy—see if you are beating yourself up. What are you telling yourself?
  • Stop the destructive conversation, and “call out” the hurtful message. When I catch myself, I might just say, “That’s mean!” and start over, addressing myself more kindly. In an approach called narrative therapy, problems are purposely externalized to allow for these confrontations. For example, if it’s Guilt that goes after you, you talk back to Guilt. If it’s Fear, you’ll give Fear a piece of your mind. I worked with a musician who learned to tell Pressure to back off so he could enjoy his performances.
  • When we criticize ourselves, we often disown aspects of ourselves that we value. Try changing your criticism into an affirmative statement. For example, “I’m too sensitive” is critical, but “I’m sensitive” is neutral. You are stating and accepting the truth as you see it. Where “too sensitive” imposes an external criterion, “sensitive” stands alone. You are in the center.
  • Practice being kind to yourself. Lovingly observe your way of being in the world. See the wisdom in your pace, your manner, and your choices—even the bad choices. It’s fine to want to change some things, but change is easier from a position of acceptance. Treat yourself with respect.
  • Give others credit for their part in problems. You don’t have to confront everyone who makes a mistake, but it helps to be clear about the location of the problem.

If you pay attention, you can probably tell when the air inside is getting stale. You feel mentally stuck, bored with your own thinking, or overwhelmed by the intensity within. You’re not having any fun. Ironically, these may be the very times you feel immobilized. The introvert preference for “figuring it out” keeps you locked inside. Writers know this experience: we torture over a sentence, writing and rewriting. Then, when we finally have the courage to leave the scene of the bad sentence and go for a walk, the right words pop into our minds.

So how do we know when it’s time to reach out? And when it’s time, how do we leave that nice, cozy interior of solitude?

Try these strategies:

  • Observe yourself. Just notice when solitude feels generative and when it feels confining. Do you want to be here, or are you just stuck in your thoughts? At the end of your day, note what worked and what didn’t. Remember to be a kind observer.
  • Do you actually need more solitude? Sometimes, even when we’re alone, our surroundings—the phone, email messages, and clutter—distract us. If this is the case, you may need a retreat rather than a person. Close your mailbox, step away from the computer. It’s hard, I know. Just. Walk. Away. Practice leaving the demands behind, even for five minutes. Get air.
  • Other times, you may experience “introvert overload” and become either overwhelmed or bored with your own inner process. Maybe your head is cluttered because you have taken too much in and thrown too little out. Or, alternatively, your inner space has gotten a bit drab and could use some fresh furnishings. These are times when human contact helps. Share what you’ve got and bring in some new ideas.
  • As we’ve discussed, sometimes we take in concerns that really belong to someone else. Sort out what is yours and what isn’t. Clean your house: if it isn’t yours, delegate it, throw it out of your mind, or give it back. Because introverts seem to have a lot of room, we can become storage facilities for the problems of others. You don’t have to accept every delivery that arrives at your door.
  • Sometimes it’s refreshing to have someone else talk, to have a distraction from our own problems. If you’re bored with your own company, ask somebody in your world to tell you what’s new. Learn about something entirely new.
  • Sleep on it. Anecdotal and experimental evidence support the wisdom of letting ideas simmer overnight. People who sleep on it seem to do better than those who toil away. If you’re stuck, try calling it a night.

Do what you love a little more publicly, and your people will come.

 

CHAPTER 15

Oh, the comfort—the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person—having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out.

—Dinah Craik

For introverts, relationships create a paradox. We crave safe, comfortable, intimate, small-talk-free connections. But we also want ample time to ourselves, space of our own, and quiet. Some of us want a relationship at the center of our lives, and some of us want solitude at the center. Many of us want both.

 

[W]hat about the many introverts who prefer not to have kids?What about those who prefer to stay single? In “America the extroverted,” relationships are good, and even if they are very bad, they are better than no relationship. Introverts don’t think this way. Many of us want and have great relationships, but we generally prefer “no relationship” to a bad one. Quality matters. We conserve our relationship resources, because we know they are limited. We probably see ourselves as having less to offer a relationship than we actually do; extroverts generally think they have more to offer. This is not because extroverts are arrogant, but because America is about quantity, and extroverts revel in quantity.

Introverts are often very close to family members. We like the familiarity, the shared history, the opportunity to bypass small talk. But the “family comes first” idea is often foreign to introverts. We are wired to start inside: many of us couldn’t start outside if we wanted to. We are centered inside, and we like it that way.

  •  Email your updates. It often fits better into the flow of my day to send an email update to a friend than to call. Like many introverts, I am freer with my fingers than with my mouth anyway, so they get the real deal more quickly. When I vent via email, I show a crude side of myself that few people see.
  • Get together for solitary activity. Beth and I do this: we meet at a coffeehouse to write or read, and intersperse conversation into the flow. I find this “alone together” time very soothing, and try to foster this atmosphere in our home. I think of Fred Pine, the child development theorist, who wrote about the importance of “quiet pleasure,” or “low-keyed pleasure in nonthreatening doses” to the development of healthy children. Ironically, introverts often crave more time with the key people in their lives. We need this time to allow the inner life of both self and other to emerge without force.

Introvert conversations are like jazz, where each player gets to solo for a nice stretch before the other player comes in and does his solo. And like jazz, once we get going, we can play all night.

In an introvert-extrovert relationship, the introvert often sees the extrovert as selfish in conversations—interrupting or too easily responding with her own comments. The extrovert sees the introvert’s need for alone time as selfish.

When we accept and respect our differences, the rest is not that hard.

I know what it feels like to lose a reclusive friend who “drops off the face of the Earth” indefinitely to sort something out, unable or unwilling to give me any read on what was going on. It sucks.

One of the gifts of introversion is that we have to be discriminating about our relationships. We know we only have so much energy for reaching out; if we’re going to invest, we want it to be good. When your assessment is done and you hit on a winner, just don’t forget to show up and reap the rewards.

 

CHAPTER 16

How often do you apologize, explain, or make excuses for being introverted? If you were to track these behaviors for a day or two you may be surprised. Introverts often pull out all three methods—the apology, explanation, and excuse—in declining an invitation.

But that’s how programming works: society’s assumptions sink in, and we don’t even know it until we hear ourselves restating those assumptions— automatically, without thought. We change by becoming aware. We become aware by observing: watching our own conversations, noticing the lies, seeing the truth. And once we get clear about the truth, we can try something radically different: honesty.

Never apologize for showing feeling. When you do so, you apologize for the truth.  —Benjamin Disreali

Ironically, introverts assert introversion by demonstrating a more respectful way of interacting. We listen, because we value listening and want others to listen to us as well. We try not to get in other peoples’ way, because we don’t like being interrupted. We follow the writer’s dictum: “show, don’t tell.”

“I appreciate that you took the time to include me, but I don’t want to add anything to my schedule right now.”

I used the word “want” in the above example, because this word changes everything. To express want is to own the desire, to stand in your own reality. The easier alternative is the language of impairment: “I can’t come because I’m run down, overworked, under the gun, tired, sick, or not up to it.” The underlying message is, “I cannot attend because I am impaired,” rather than the more honest and self-respecting response: “I choose to not attend because I prefer the other option.”

Introvert integrity means going the distance for what we love: moving from apology to acceptance, from acceptance to acknowledgement, and from acknowledgment to activism.

 

CHAPTER 17

To some degree, introverts will always be outside of society, and this is not only the key to our health, but to the health of society. We bring something “not of this world” to the world. We have access to a wealth that is not dependent on the gross national product—or subject to the national debt. We reflect while others move ahead. We invent while others rely on what is established. We seek while others produce. We create while others consume. We stay rooted while others waver.

Extroverts worry when we hang out in the dark, sometimes for good reason, but often because they fear the dark. Internal space is more threatening to extroverts, so they project their concerns onto us. The introvert, in the meantime, may be quite content. We are more trusting of the dark. We know that, if we allow our eyes to adjust, we can see.

Introverts are drawn to mystery, complex ideas, and inner realities. If extroverts seek stimulation, introverts seek to be absorbed, to be fascinated. And, as we succeed in this endeavor, we become fascinating!

An introversion party is three people sprawled on couches and pillows, reading and occasionally talking. Or a couple cuddling by a fire at camp, savoring the music of crackling wood and crickets. Your introversion party might be a solitary walk where thoughts are exposed to air and become clear. You might find your party in meditation, when time expands and everything seems possible. Your party might come with popcorn as you passionately observe the big screen of the theatre, or with a steaming cup of Ethiopian blend as you watch people from your table at the coffeehouse, or with a cold beer as you watch the world go by from your porch.

 

CHAPTER 18

As my scream had revealed, I needed to find a big vehicle—or vehicles—for expressing myself. Introverts don’t use the little vehicles, like small talk and rapid-fire conversation. Besides, we enjoy keeping ideas inside for awhile. But when we’re ready, when the elements come together and we have something to say, we’re really ready. In fact, we may feel ill or depressed if we don’t get it out.

I tell my clients that the time between sessions is as important as the time in session. Therapy is most effective when the client has the capacity to metabolize ideas raised in the sessions, to come in hungry next time, and obtain more food for thought. Writing works the same way. The best writing generates more to think about, and more to write.

Salvador Dali offers these helpful reminders: “Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing,” and “Have no fear of perfection, you’ll never reach it.

“The stage is a place where I can assume…a larger personality than what I show in mundane daily life… My wife often remarks how reticent and reserved I can be sometimes on social outings, but put me on a stage and I become this much more “out there” figure. The stage is a place of unlocking those parts of myself I don’t give permission—or am not given permission—to express in daily life.” —Doug

 

CHAPTER 19

I work with a man who has handled his finances impeccably all of his life. He didn’t make the mistakes most of us do, like stacking up credit card debt or forgetting to save and invest. He has achieved that enviable position of knowing that he and his wife will be fine, financially, whatever happens. But this man does have a problem. He deeply resents people who squander money, who put entitlement before earning, who spend first and pay later. I told him one day:

“You both have half of it figured out. The spenders have no money but know how to enjoy it. You have money but don’t know how to enjoy it.” When he realized that he could learn from, rather than resent, his opposite, his attitude changed.

According to Jung, we are attracted to the people we need in order to grow. These people hold parts of ourselves we are not yet ready to integrate.

There is great wisdom in attraction. When you feel it, you want to be around the object of your attraction as much as possible. When both of you feel it, you touch heaven—you touch wholeness. You both feel like you have won the lottery. And in a way, you have.

I realized that I did care about what I had downplayed—my face, my exterior. I also realized that my appearance was fleeting and vulnerable: could I afford a little vanity, a little enjoyment of this gift? The answer was a bold “yes!”

Most everything you detest in others will come back and kick you in the butt—if you’re lucky. It is good to define yourself, and it is good to know when it’s time to break out of the definition and get bigger.

  • Ignore “should”; follow “want.” The word “should” is a good indication that somebody else’s standards are involved. “Want” is within you, and is the seed of change. To know what kind of extroversion you want to add to your repertoire, look to extroverts, real or fictional, that you admire or find attractive. If you want to know your future potential, desire is better than a crystal ball.
  • Know when you’re stuck. Boredom is a clue. Addiction is a clue. Low energy is a big clue. Real desire promotes flow and expands you. Fear, sometimes masked as desire, constricts. You may feel compelled to stay locked behind your computer even though you are miserable there and all life has been sucked out of the activity. This is not desire; this is avoidance, a response to fear.

 

CHAPTER 20

As we stubbornly make room for ourselves, reflect and wait until we are ready, we come up with the kinds of ideas, creations, solutions, and solid truths that render others silent. We baffle extroverts with our mysterious power, the “Where did you come up with that?” kind of awe. Isn’t it refreshing to know that what comes perfectly natural for you is your greatest strength? Your power is in your nature. You may not think it’s a big deal that you can spend hours immersed in something that interests you —alone—but the extrovert next door has no idea how you do it.

 

The God Delusion

The only family member I shared my new path about my INFJ discovery is my brother-in-law (ISFJ). In the midst of the discovery he kindly (he’s always very kind) about a book I needed to read. When he told me about the subject I was interested, but it seemed like quite a disruption from my obsession with read about introversion and MBTI. Now I’ve identified myself as atheist for a better part of 10 years, so I felt like I didn’t have to read a book about it. I opted to take a break from my MBTI obsession and try to dig into it; and tried I did. The first few chapters was a difficult read. To me between the style and what I felt to be a scientifically forced diatribe to have an airtight case to disprove was God for me at least wasn’t necessary, but in my defense I didn’t need this. I didn’t need to be converted. Was I got into about chapter 4 or 5, then it began to resonate. It took me over 3 weeks to get through the first few chapters (it normally only takes me 2-3 weeks to get through the average book), but once I got into the latter half I couldn’t put it down. The last chapter was a loss as well, so my notes mostly come from chapters 4-9. –Oh, also of note. I read two novels (yes, FICTION!) while trying to get through those difficult chapters. I may note those books later.

In review the first note I made was actually a quote from another author:

Most scientists are bored by what they have already discovered. It is ignorance that drives them on. – Matt Ridley

This made me reflect on the recent Bill Nye debate with a well respected creationist. The Science Guy simply destroyed him, but most importantly the summary was about accepting one piece of evidence (literature/scripture) and the unrelenting need to keep asking why, how, when, etc. The questions that science explores everyday to prove or disprove is what makes waking up everyday worth it. Nothing changes with religion. ‘Because the bible says so’ is such a cop out, and serves no need to develop, learn, and above all THINK. Maybe I think too much. Maybe people don’t understand me, but it’s because I’ve thought about and asked the hard questions. Usually I had to find the answers myself. I do this daily. That’s why I’m good at trivia, folks, and an atheist.

[O]ne of the truly bad effects of religion is that it teaches us that it is a virtue to be satisfied with not understanding. -Dawkins pg 126

Dawkins expands on this in what he calls ‘gaps’. Anything that can’t be explained by science is a gap that is always filled with a cause for the unexplained. That cause is always God and/or religion. Until science explains everything, there is a thread of faith that God exists. As the thread thins the religious threat/defense goes up. This of course leads us to the fundamentalist/extremist movements we have today. In the USA we don’t have a ‘war on terror’. We have a ‘war on other religions’. Here is another take on the gaps Dawkins presents rather humorously (page 132):

Here is the message that an imaginary ‘intelligent design theorist’ might broadcast to scientists: ‘If you don’t understand how something works, never mind: just give up and say God did it. You don’t understand how the nerve impulse works? Good! You don’t understand how memories are laid down in the brain? Excellent! Is photosynthesis a bafflingly complex process? Wonderful! Please don’t go work on the problem, just give up, and appeal to God. Dear scientist, don’t work on your mysteries. Bring us your mysteries, for we can use them. Don’t squander precious ignorance by researching it away. We need those glorious gaps as a last refuge for God.’

For later reference:  http://knizky.mahdi.cz/21_Richard_Dawkins___The_God_Delusion.pdf

The book really resonated with me once I reached Chapter 5: The Roots of Religion. It actually took me way back, and hit me in the gut in a dark alley a few times. It really made me angry, and it’s one of the more difficult things I like to talk about. It really explains the realization I had, and what led me to atheism today. Strangely enough other than a few select friends the only person I really opened up about this was a Presbyterian preacher. Shortly after my older brother was married I was really moved by the pastor at the church (which outside the Catholic faith we were brought up in). At the time though I no longer identified as Catholic, I still considered myself Christian. I actually can’t remember where exactly, but I had a meeting with him, and told him how I felt wronged by the Catholic Church for tricking me into Confirmation. I was only in the 7th grade when I was confirmed. Even though it’s meaningless to me now; I started asking a lot of questions preparing for it. I actually told my brother that I didn’t want to be confirmed. His answer was, “if you want to get married some day, you have to be confirmed first.” I trusted everything my older brother told me at that point in my life. Heck, I actually wanted to get married at that point in my life (LOL!!)

Anyhow I explained my plight to him, and he said he never heard such a perspective before. I even told him I felt guilty with putting my confirmation sponsor (my uncle) through something I ended up refuting. We had a good talk, and I had much respect for him. I started going to his church services, secretly while I was living at my parents for a spell, until one particular Sunday. I actually came home from church one Sunday and my mom wanted to take me aside and talk to me. My parents have never taken me to their room before in private. There, both my mother and father embraced me as they felt even though I left the Catholic Church they were elated that I was going to church nonetheless.

I was enraged. Simply enraged. I told them this wasn’t for them, but for me. In retrospect baptizing me was for them. Making me go to church against my will was for them, being an alter boy was for them. Religion for me was for them. Me making a reasonable choice and exploring a different sect of religion was for them. That day religion began to end in my life.

I felt so railroaded to the point that I wanted to see if it was possible for me to contact the Archdiocese of Indianapolis to have myself (at least my confirmation) stricken from the records. I no longer wanted to be part of how I was raised, what I was led to believe, etc. Really it’s no worse than the priests who have been accused of sexually molesting boys. Though there experience was physical, it really doesn’t discount the brainwashing I was forced to be subjected to.

One year for either my birthday or christmas as a young teenager I asked for a bible. Of course I got one. Later that summer I spent many afternoons huddled underneath the shade tree reading it. I never finished it. Why? Because it’s full of shit. There you have it. Later when I was moving out some of my stuff from my parents I left it behind. The same older brother I had mentioned before made a note of it that I forgot it. He also later tried to give me a religious intervention on a long ride home in the car where I couldn’t escape. I tell many today that I lost my older brother from something far worse than death, but religion. He was replaced by his wife.

I miss my brother.

I was also the one in the family that was supposed to become a priest. That was railroaded also. The most religious man in our Catholic congregation was Adolph. He was about 10 years older than me I guess. He spent a long time becoming a priest, and I actually attended his ordination. I’m still uncertain to this day what happened, but he was expelled from the church. I always thought it was because he came out that he was gay, but I also read he also had performed a wedding that the church didn’t recognize. Either way, when I found out the Catholic church didn’t have a place for such a religious man, I didn’t have a place for it either.

I was raised and taught that I didn’t have to do anything in life but to go to church and school. I’m glad I went to school. I’m glad I brought home encyclopedias, almanacs, atlases, and everything that the pre-internet would allow me to learn. I’m thankful my sense of wonder wasn’t satisfied by some sky god, but by thinking for myself.

Religious leaders are well aware of the vulnerability of the child
brain, and the importance of getting the indoctrination in early. The
Jesuit boast, ‘Give me the child for his first seven years, and I’ll give
you the man,’ is no less accurate (or sinister) for being hackneyed.
In more recent times, James Dobson, founder of today’s infamous
‘Focus on the Family’ movement,* is equally acquainted with the
principle: ‘Those who control what young people are taught, and
what they experience – what they see, hear, think, and believe – will
determine the future course for the nation. – pg 177

.

(page 228 regarding the Montreal police strike)

(page 256 & 257)

(page 306)

(page 356)

We can give up belief in God while not losing touch with a treasured heritage. – pg 344

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