Archive for July, 2010

That’s Not Cool


As I was flipping through radio stations this morning on my way to work, I stopped on a station where the deejays were discussing women who continuously go back to their “anti-Christ” (presumably emotionally abusive, narcissistic) boyfriends.

The male deejay on the show proclaimed, “The best boyfriend is the one that is always trying to get you back.”

One of the female deejays said wryly, “Yeah, because he’s on his good behavior.”

I know exactly what they mean. A woman’s heart’s desire is to be pursued by a man. There is something deceptively alluring about a man who is constantly working to win a woman’s heart, telling her that he knows they are meant to be together, he loves her, he needs her. Even when his actions towards her are not loving or cause her to second-guess herself, a woman is drawn in by a man’s pursuit and words. When a man’s words and actions are incongruous, it is very difficult for a woman to be discerning, particularly if she sees him or talks to him every day, because she is constantly hearing him say those magical and persuasive words. It is very difficult for many women to break away from these types of men, especially because they will continue to pursue.

A few days ago, I saw a commercial that impacted me more strongly than most. In the commercial, shown below, a boy is harassing a girl via text message (“textual harassment”), constantly asking what she is doing (“have you told your family about us?”, “are you with your friends?”, “what did you dream about? me.”) and subtly manipulating her emotions, trying to get her to respond or react.

The commercial ends when the narrator says, “When does caring become controlling?” and directs the viewer to the website, http://www.thatsnotcool.com/.

This commercial affected me because I can identify with the young woman who is portrayed. I dated someone who constantly called and texted me to let me know how much he “cared” about me, but he was really trying to control me. Because of emotional vulnerabilities I had at that time in my life, it was very appealing to me to be pursued so relentlessly. I always knew where I stood with him, and I always knew he would be there for me (or so he convinced me to believe).

Never mind that he was a pathological liar, he pretended to get counseling to help our relationship and used things that the counselor supposedly said to manipulate my emotions, he was jealous and possessive, he faked medical issues to arouse my sympathies, he used spiritual language and shame to manipulate me, he needed to know where I was at all times, he had people check up on me and report back to him regarding my whereabouts, he played mind games, his stories were never consistent, he threatened to go back to using drugs and possibly kill himself if I broke up with him, he constantly stirred up conflict, he used silence to block communication, and he destroyed items I gave him.

Despite all of that emotional abuse, he was able to get me to believe that he really loved me, and he pursued me so heavily. He would not let me leave him. Until finally I did.

This issue concerns me for young women who may have less awareness about abuse, a smaller support network, and fewer resources for getting help. I am thankful for the Family Violence Prevention Fund and other organizations who have sponsored the “That’s Not Cool” commercial, website, and awareness of issues like controlling behavior and constant texting.

Enneagram of Personality

A facebook friend of mine sent me a link to the Enneagram Personality Test. I know very little about this measure of personality, but I took a free version of it online here.

I came out as a 1, and the results stated that my behavior motivation is, “I must be perfect and good to be happy.” The results also indicate that “Ones are idealistic and strive for perfection. Morals and ethics drive them. They live with an overbearing internal critic that never rests. They are always comparing themselves to others and are overly concerned with external criticism.”

The Enneagram Institute gives the following summary for my personality:

Ones are conscientious and ethical, with a strong sense of right and wrong. They are teachers, crusaders, and advocates for change: always striving to improve things, but afraid of making a mistake. Well-organized, orderly, and fastidious, they try to maintain high standards, but can slip into being critical and perfectionistic. They typically have problems with resentment and impatience. At their Best: wise, discerning, realistic, and noble. Can be morally heroic.
Basic Fear: Of being corrupt/evil, defective
Basic Desire: To be good, to have integrity, to be balanced

I was intrigued by the results, especially in light of my post yesterday about my struggles with perfectionism.

It is often easy for me to feel like I am alone in the way I think or feel. I appreciate being validated when I read over the results of personality tests. The summaries help me to realize that I am the way I am because of my temperament, that there are other people like me, and because that is the way God made me. He did not make a mistake when He created me.

The Paradox of Perfectionism

I struggle with perfectionism, and I give myself no room to not be perfect. If I am not perfect, then I am a failure. Clearly, this black-and-white thinking does not work to my benefit when I am inevitably not perfect. At times like that, I can be so hard on myself.

I expect myself to be perfect, yet at times I do not have a clear definition of what that is, or the definition is clear but impossible to attain. I have a lot of unconscious rules for myself, things I tell myself that I “should” do or be. When I break those rules, I feel like a failure. I have noticed two such rules that are impossible to live up to, given the constraints of human nature. Yet it is very difficult for me to have grace for myself when these issues arise.

Rule #1: I do not allow myself to feel insecure.

When insecurities arise, and of course they naturally will come up, I judge myself. I tell myself that I should never feel insecure, that insecurities are a sign of weakness, and that there is something wrong with me for feeling insecure. Of course, the truth is that everyone feels insecure at times, and many times there are legitimate reasons for feeling insecure.

Rule #2: I do not allow myself to feel emotions.

When I feel emotional, I immediately block my feelings by telling myself I should not be emotional, and/or I intellectualize my feelings and try to cognitively understand them. I do not see my own emotions as being valid, but it gives me a little relief to have a logical explanation for any emotion I feel. The truth is that emotions are normal and healthy.

The irony is that I would never judge someone else for feeling insecure or feeling emotion. These are normal human reactions, and paradoxically, I often admire people who can open up about their insecurities and emotions.

Yet I have a very difficult time giving myself permission to be or express insecurity and emotion. Doing so makes me feel weak. A lot of times in past dating relationships, I have been unable to express my feelings to the person I am with. I would rather be someone’s fantasy (in other words, the “perfect,” idealized version of me that I feel I need to be) than his reality (the messy, sometimes “weak” and emotional version of myself).

I have noticed that in my relationship with Smith, though it is challenging to do so, I always express everything I am thinking and feeling to him. This is very difficult for me because of my internal rules; I fear that he will judge me as harshly as I judge myself. Yet, Smith has been such a safe person to me. He listens patiently. He validates what I say, he can relate to my perfectionism, and no matter what insecurities and emotions I have expressed to him, he still loves me.

Yesterday, I was talking to Smith, and I was looking for some reassurance. I said, with some irony but some seriousness, “Are you sure you want to spend the rest of your life with me? That means I won’t be a distant but idealized “perfect” person. Do you really want to get to know me, get close to me, and see all my messiness?” Smith easily reassured me that he does want to see my imperfections and weaknesses.

I do know that I have a lot to offer, that the perceived “bad” comes with a lot of positive characteristics. But at times, my perfectionism limits me to seeing only my inadequacies.

I’ll Meet You Online

When I was a teenager, my friends and I had limited options of where to engage in our favorite pastime: hanging out. The only thing to do as a teen is hang out.

If you look like you are too young to drink legally, you are automatically under suspicion of loitering, no matter what you are doing. It is a catch-22: you are too young to legally actually *do* anything, yet by not doing anything, you are loitering. Illegally.

When you are a teenager, everyone who is older than you is likely a dreaded Authority Figure, and therefore must be distrusted out of hand. Likewise, all Authority Figures have their evil eye on teenagers, necessarily expecting riffraff.

During my formative years, our hang out locales included a empty field behind our neighborhood where a plethora of my teen peers learned to smoke weed for the first time, lost their virginity, and camped out when they ran away from home. Sadly, that field was ultimately converted into an elementary school where my mom has worked for the last fifteen years. Other hang out locales included Waffle House, Starbucks, and the smoking deck at the mall, which They (the aforementioned Authority Figures) closed after about six weeks when they realized that the area acted as a homing beacon for teenage riffraff.

Since my high school indoctrination to Starbucks as a social contrivance, I have always used Starbucks as a hang out spot. To me, Starbucks has always been a social networking tool. I do not drink alcohol and thus do not frequent bars. I distrust all restaurant food, and the dining establishment frowns upon hanging out sans ordering from la carte. Since I hit age 20, Waffle House as a hang out joint is beneath me. But at Starbucks, one can engage in profound conversation with friends and make fun of yuppies sipping their $7 lattes, and there is always one located right around the corner.

In light of my Starbucks-equals-socialization cognitive association, I was surprised at what I saw when I walked into my local Starbucks a few days ago. I spied six tables, each one occupied by one lonely soul clicking away on his/her computer. Each patron at the coffee joint was accompanied not by a friend or first time meet-up with an Internet date, but instead was companioned by a laptop computer.

One dude was surfing facebook, his socially constructed self interfacing with other socially constructed entities, in an attempt to build intimacy via a wireless network. Another guy was insipidly looking at porn; feeling lonely at home, he sought intimacy by viewing sexual encounters in a public place. He longed to connect by sitting amongst other people who were powered up and plugged in. Another bro stared blankly and meaningfully into the abyss, aka his computer screen. One woman checked emails, interacting across the unfathomable faceless miles.  A young lady surfed shopping sites online, seeking escape through consumption and identity through materialism.  A man used his laptop to simply listen to music; he had come to Starbucks to escape whatever location he occupied previously so that he could escape via iTunes.

What happened to real live conversation? Do people meet friends at Starbucks anymore? Do people still actually hang out? Or do they say, “I’ll meet you online while I’m at Starbucks with my laptop.”?

Status Updates

“What’s on your mind?”
“What are you doing right now?”

Do you have friends on facebook who consistently post annoying status updates?

Sometimes I hide those individuals from my news feed, but I have never actually removed a friend because of annoying updates, though I have considered it.

In the status box on your home page, the prompt reads, “What’s on your mind?” Facebook wants to know what you are thinking. About one year ago, facebook changed it from the former status prompt, “What are you doing right now?”

Incidentally, many of my readers know that I am fascinated by Myers-Briggs personality theory. One of the functions of personality type according to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is sensing versus intuition. The facebook statuses listed above represent a nice metaphor for the difference between Myers-Briggs sensors and intutives.

A sensor is likely to express present, tangible, and concrete information, such as the details and facts of a matter. Sensors often write what they are doing right now. Intuitives express intuitive, abstract information, ideas, patterns, and future information. A person with an intuitive personality type is likely to write what is on his/her mind.

I find that when my friends post deep, clever, and insightful statuses, virtually no one comments on them. When friends post trite, inane, annoying statuses, they receive 18 comments. Case in point is a “friend” of mine who often posts mindless status updates. Yes, this is a real post, and yes, she really got 18 comments on it.

Confirm or Ignore?

 

Facebook friend requests: to accept or to ignore, that is the question. 

Don’t you want to have as many friends as possible? Accept all the friend requests you receive, even if you know the person incidentally, or you think the person looks like someone you may have seen in your third grade class. Send a friend request to everyone that pops up in the suggestion area. It used to be kewl to have hundreds or thousands of facebook friends. 

Having more facebook friends than your friends makes your socially constructed self look popular. If your socially constructed facebook self is popular, you can be more secure in your identity, right? 

These days, however, for many people, the trend is downward. People seem to be dumping friends, cleaning out their friend list, or ignoring friend requests from the people who are not truly friends. If you have a small number of friends on facebook, especially if it is by choice, you look elitist. You cannot be bothered with incidental friends; those people are beneath you. Therefore, your elitist socially constructed self is better than those who are facebook friend whores. 

 

I received a friend request from a high school friend a couple of months ago. We were not really close friends, but I hung out with his group of friends a few times after college, and at that time, I found out from a mutual friend that he had spread some damaging lies about me. When I found out about it, I ceased all contact with him.

So, when he friend requested me on facebook recently, I “ignored” his friend request. A few days later, he requested a friendship again. I left the request pending for several weeks and again “ignored” it. Now a third time, he has requested a facebook friendship. Additionally, he has a “gaming profile,” whatever that is, and he has friend requested me with that profile as well. When will he get the message that I do not want his facebook friendship? 

I am not going to “ignore” his friend request any longer. He is now relegated forever to the “friend request pending” category. 

I have thought seriously about removing some of my facebook friends. I have a few who I barely know, and some who have consistently annoying status updates, but that is a post for another day. 

Do you like having a lot of facebook friends? Under what circumstances would you ignore a friend request? Do you feel guilty when you reject someone? If you ignore a friend request or de-friend someone, do they friend request you again?

Things Every INTJ Should Know

 

I am an INTJ personality type, as are my three brothers, my dad, my man Smith, my brother’s girlfriend, and many of my friends and colleagues. I counted 22 of my facebook friends who are INTJ, and those are just the ones whose personality type I know for sure.

I am fascinated by Myers-Briggs personality theory. Most of us who are INTJ personality types have always felt like we are odd, like we don’t fit in, that perhaps there is something wrong with us. In reality, we are simply wired with a certain temperament that makes us unique and special, but because our type is rare, we often feel like outsiders.

An INTJ friend and fellow blogger, unruly helpmeet, recently googled the phrase, “things every woman should know,” and wrote about what she found on the topic. That gave me the idea to write a list of things every INTJ should know.

As an INTJ, if you have the following skills and knowledge, you may feel more balanced, less drained, and generally happier.

1. We know how to avoid small talk.

2. We know that there is nothing wrong with us.

3. We know we are socially awkward, yes, but we know how to be okay with that.

4. We know that no, we do not think too much or analyze too much. If someone says we do, we know how to reply, “I don‘t think too much. You don‘t think enough.”

5. We know that it is our prerogative to look serious or not smile, and people are just going to have to deal with that.

6. We know how to avoid talking on the phone, and we especially know how to avoid returning phone calls. Thank goodness for text messaging for the times when it is absolutely necessary to communicate a piece of information.

7. We know how to avoid people and especially crowds. We also know how to just walk away from a social situation with no explanation or apology when our social capacity is reached.

8. We know what we know, the limits of our knowledge and competence.

9. We know that we are always right.

10. We know how to be sarcastic, though others often do not seem to know when we are being that way.

11. We know how to zone out when we are bored by others’ conversations, which is most of the time.

12. We know how to use language and grammar, and how to correct others when they misuse language.

13. We know how to avoid surprises, gifts, and compliments.

14. We know how to see through people’s bs.

15. We know how to protect our alone time, and how to deal with people who complain that we never want to go out or do anything. Hey, those people are more than welcome to come over and spend time with us doing crossword puzzles, sudoku, or plotting to take over the universe, in silence of course.