Thursday, December 8, 2011

Mama Bean has some more thoughts on introversion (or: the drunkenness of being your Self)

I was commiserating with my guitar teacher, after my busy overly-social weekend, about burning out my introverted resources. I made an observation I've been mulling for a few months now - sometimes, it seems like an extroverted person, deprived of social stimulation, can then get a bit abandoned in a vibrant social setting (their! favourite! thing!), and it's almost like they're drunk - they're just a bit more punchy, a bit less inhibited, saying or doing things they might not otherwise, or might think better of outside of those circumstances. My teacher agreed with the analysis. I don't actually have many extroverts in my immediate circle, so I've been piecing this observation together for a while now.

But then I took the next thought-step which I had not previously considered: well, what about an introvert, deprived of time alone, suddenly gifted with solitude? Would they do the same? And my teacher kind of joked, "Yeah, that's why I stay up all night by myself." And he's right! The corollary for introverts exists: with an abundance of solitude, we will likewise get drunk on it - get punchy about the tasks we undertake, lose inhibitions on needing rest or other sustenance. Because it just feels so damn good to be alone :)

As I thought about this later, I wondered if it applied to other aspects of the MBPI categories. For example, I myself get a bit punchy and "social-drunk" in certain circumstances. Friends from real life might recall some sugar-fueled moments near the end of a recent day-long scrapbooking event, which involved many repetitions of the phrase, "Up your bum!" Yeah.

(Well, and I'm not claiming to be a paragon of self-control on the best of days, regardless.)

I was thinking this might be explained by the Feeler aspect of my personality sort of reveling in a surplus of Relationality. Social situations with an abundance of people I know and trust and love surrounding me provide a lush environment of friendly, relational thinking and interacting, which is my natural state, the way my head works (albeit, not always healthily.) And so, in those circumstances, I get similarly trippy and uninhibited, my brain skips some steps between The thoughts in my head and The saying them out loud.

In a way this is almost doubly dangerous, because at the same time the social-ness is depleting my introverted resources, it's potentially uninhibiting my feeler sensibilities, making for some very goofy, sometimes ill-advised behaviours. It's like simultaneously acting against type and acting totally within type. Yikes.

So what would be the "drunken" situations of the Thinker? Unlimited opportunity to sit and be logical? lol. Or for the Judger/Perceiver pairing? Or the Intuitive/Sensing pairing? 

You know, I think this just underscores the effects of trying to live a lifestyle which too often demands you behave against type. Under those circumstances, it's not surprising that the opportunity to behave as your inner being desires, as it most naturally is wont to do, will result in some relaxation, like your Self just breathing a sigh of relief, "Oh, thank goodness I can just Do Me now." 

And I think I'm going to become a bit more observant of when I feel this sort of personality-drunkenness (hopefully I can be self aware about it...) Because I think it will point out to me what parts of my current priorities are depriving me of the chance to be my most natural self.  I realize we can't get too entrenched in our Type - because there are weaknesses/challenges to every aspect of the Index. Life won't allow us to Never Act Against Type, and it is important to be flexible. However, I do think this phenomenon exists when I've been acting against type for too long, and that's a good reason to make some changes to lifestyle, so it's most in line with creating situations that don't constantly over-tax and over-stress the natural resources of my personality.

Just thinking about it now, I think this might be why I've been staying up so late at night, despite knowing a baby is going to wake me up several times during my sleep, despite knowing the toddler is going to wake up at 8 no matter what, despite knowing I'm sick and need rest, despite knowing what responsibilities face me the next day. It's because this is the only chance I get to be alone. And I relax a little desperately into it, trying to squeeze as much downtime activity into these brief hours as I can. I think it's also why I've been so frustrated with Sprout's unwillingness to go to bed at the same time as Bean. This is a good revelation for me to have. It will help me release the frustration, and help me go to bed at a reasonable time, instead of unreasonably indulging in meaningless, not terribly exciting late nights that only make the next day harder to get through.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Mama Bean is so utterly introverted

I've been musing lately that nothing demonstrates your introvertedness quite like becoming a parent. Introverts find social interactions - being with people - uses up energy, instead of giving it. They prefer being in small groups, because it uses up the energy less quickly. But ultimately, an introvert requires time alone, to rebuild their resources. Stock the reserves.

Children are people, too. And when they live with you, they are, like, always there. And chances are, they need something from you. If only your attention. In a small family, like mine, they use up my introverted energy less quickly than a large family would, but they use it up, nonetheless.

I think, before kids, I convinced myself I wasn't really all that introverted. Compared to my husband, I'm a veritable social butterfly. And you know, it is possible to behave "against (personality) type", to be extroverted in some situations, on purpose or otherwise. But behaving against type uses up resources - so, in an extroverted moment I might find myself energized by the party, as it were, but I have to have mental and emotional stockpiles available to make that possible. 

Guess what I don't have. Mental or emotional stockpiles. I mean, whatever, this is parenting, this is what we sign up for. So yes, I'm sleep deficient. And low on patience. And lacking compassion, many days. So, behaving against type? Ain't. Happening.

In fact, it's quite fascinating to see how having low resources highlights my personality, and really shows me the strengths in it, and also its challenges. Being Introverted when there's kids buzzing around all day is a challenge. Being Intuitive when there's clutter and toys and general disarray all over my Big Picture is a challenge - I can't just brush it to the edges and ignore it so long as it's not directly in my way or affecting my convenience (as PB does. And that's not an indictment. I often wish, these days, that I could just function through the chaos. But I can't.) Being a Feeler when my responsibilities to my relationships with my kids often feels like it isolates me from relationships with anyone else (including my husband) is a challenge. If I could be more logical about the division of my time and efforts, I might be more emotionally efficient, and have some love left over for myself at the end of the day. I don't know a mom who can do this. If you know one, or are one, tell us all your secret fortheloveofGod. Being a Judger when any given task may go four times faster, or (more likely) a thousand (million kajillion) times slower than you expected, or a tandem poop might upset your baby and your nostrils at any given moment, or your best intentions to always carry a snack for your unpredictably hangry toddler have once again gone awry - it's a challenge, friends. I am not so good at changing course on the fly. I like to know The Map. Parenthood is like a magical map that never looks the same the next time you look at it. It is unknowable...

Anyway, I'm just saying parenthood has taught me a lot about myself. What a cheesy thing to blog about. What has parenthood taught you lately?