I was recently in therapy and I started talking about how I’ve basically given one person control of my happiness.
That one person? My wife.
Which means if things don’t work out with her, I’m totally fucked.
In the process of marital-non-bliss that we’ve been going through, I’ve had a lot of ups and downs (like, really far downs). And that is caused by one thing: I put my happiness in her hands and her hands alone (mind you, the possibility of divorce is enough to punch anyone in the gut and I don’t envy any of you who have gone through one).
Her finger is filling a hole in my heart. So if she leaves, I’m going to be gasping and grasping, trying to put my hand over the hole.
And that’s the way I’ve always been with lovers. I give my total self to them and barely anyone else. Everyone knows bits of me, but I only reveal the full extent of myself to my lover.
This is a recipe for disaster.
James Altucher wrote a book called Choose Yourself where he talks about taking your ability to thrive out of a single person’s hands. This was in relation to jobs.
And what he meant was if you work for one company, who has it’s own objectives, they can pull the plug on you at any moment.
And that’s where many people get screwed; they loyally work for a company for most of their lives, don’t demand much, don’t work on gaining new marketable skills and get kicked in the balls (or ovaries, not trying to discriminate here, just writing from my perspective) in their mid-40’s or 50’s, when it’s inevitably harder to find a new job.
If, on the other hand, you work for yourself and have MULTIPLE clients, if one of them decides they don’t want to work for you, you can generally keep going.
In the land of entrepreneurship, the primary goal is to create multiple streams of income where you are getting money from book sales, courses, etc. If one source dries up, you still have more coming in and you can survive and create more. That’s always been my dream.
So I explained that to my therapist and that my wife is the sole keeper of my happiness and the therapist used a word I’ve been waiting to hear: “co-dependency.”
I’m a recovering alcoholic – six years ago I quit drinking. But when you quit, you need to keep doing work on yourself or you can end up becoming dependent on other things – like sugar or other people – because the underlying reasons for drinking still exist – a sense of worthlessness, feeling like you don’t matter, low self-esteem, etc.
I don’t think my relationship is co-dependent because it would have to be two people dependent on each other. It’s more like uni-dependent.
Regardless, the way I found this fact is that on some weeks, I felt so crippled that I realized I needed to start reaching out to people for help. I felt bad about reaching out, like I didn’t want to bother them. But I did anyway.
And I felt better in those weeks when I reached out.
Then in one of my lowest lows, I realized I hadn’t talked to anyone. I just stewed in my juices, soaking it in. It reminded me of being a teenager when I was constantly depressed and anxious.
And I realized that even though my survival skills have evolved, they have very much stayed the same. I don’t reach out to others when I need help.
My DIY and figure-it-out-yerself nature was raking my limp and lifeless body over the coals and repeatedly throwing it down on them.
It’s been a bad time to be
Spider-Man a superhero a nondescript male office worker in NYC.
But the fact remains, many of my problems are caused by common INFP problems – being afraid of the phone, being in my head 24/7, trying to deal with issues on my own.
But the point remains. Keep in contact with people and ask for help, especially with emotional difficulties!
What do you think? How many people can single-handedly take away your happiness? How many people can you reach out to if things start getting bad?
“I’m insignificant in this world.”
That was the last drunken text I sent before realizing I was sliding down an alcohol-lubricated slope. It was what caused me to actively seek out help for my drinking.
6 years later and I’m in therapy again while my wife and I deal with some issues.
My therapist and I were talking last week and I was talking about masculinity and being clueless about how to be masculine since my father was a weekend Dad and effectively couldn’t teach me how to deal with feelings in a constructive way; instead I learned by emulating other guys – holding my feelings in and trying to appear tough, the whole while, toiling in the pain of being uber sensitive.
I mentioned that I used to play baseball and I would be able to hit the ball fine during practice. But my Dad would show up and while I was up to bat, he’d yell “Go Mike!”
I would freeze. Something about him being there and seeing me made me so nervous that I would just stand there, not swing the bat and walk or strike out.
“What about your father being there made you so nervous” my therapist asked.
I thought and sat in silence while I tried to remember and examine the feeling.
“I don’t know. He just wasn’t there that much and it was a lot of pressure” I said.
“What was the fear? What was causing you to be so nervous” she probed.
“I didn’t want him to see me fail. I didn’t feel like I was good enough.”
She said “that’s really powerful. These deep beliefs can really be hard to get rid of.” So I finally started seeing how many times it’s shown up in my life, including that last drunken text message.
It’s always been there. Like a ghost hovering over my bed.
What’s crazy is that I couldn’t see this belief for what it was. It was/is so limiting and debilitating.
She asked me to examine all aspects of that belief and then answer the question “when AM I good enough?”
I was barely able to answer that question this week, except to say “when I was singing Guns ‘n’ Roses while walking down the street and day dreaming about singing at karaoke.”
So I obviously need to work on that one, but here are some of the ways in which it presents itself in various areas of my life.
Do any of these apply to your life?
- I’m hardcore into self-improvement and having the best possible life. So not only am “I” not good enough, but I’m also highly critical of my wife and our home and to a lesser degree, our kids.
- My wife has remarked that nothing is ever good enough for me. She’s right.
- I get something set in place and then move on to the next. I’m not sure what percentage is perfectionist vs idealism vs ADD mind spinning out of control.
- I work in a super competitive industry where companies seem to think they own you and your time because they pay you well. And I never feel good enough, so I drive myself to exhaustion and then collapse and start slacking off for huge periods. It’s a very predictable cycle marked by overachievent and underachievement and it very succinctly describes my entire professional career. The low points cause me to quit and leave for a new high stress job that pays more. And the high points make me look good enough that I don’t get fired during the low points. Good Christ.
- Let’s not talk about how all of this plays together with my need for external validation, because that’s when it really gets messy.
- Other than marriage, it does affect my home life. I’m unhappy when I see a messy house. I’m unhappy with the way my schedule is put together, the lack of alone time, lack of time with other adults, etc.
- I give my 5 year old shit for not doing X the right way. I’m so happy I found this belief because it shows me that I’m trapping him in the same feelings.
- I can’t just write a blog post and publish it. I belabor it for days until I finally lose interest or give up (admittedly I wrote this a week or two ago and am forcing myself to finish it today). So you’ll see periods of nothing on my blog for months or years at a time. But behind the scenes? I think I have hundreds of ideas, some titles, some half written articles. I recently wrote an email to my readers about filling out a survey and tested two different versions. One I wrote in minutes. The other I belabored, made it this big personal story and I liked writing it. But it took a lot of time so had it not been for needing important information from my readers, I probably wouldn’t have finished.
But guess what?
THE SAME NUMBER OF PEOPLE OPENED EACH EMAIL!
I didn’t need to beat myself up about writing this fantastic message.
I didn’t need to spend precious time that I don’t have writing a second email. Good enough is good enough!
This is a colassal finding for me. It has shaped my entire life and continues to be a button I let people press in me.
How will I gracefully tell people “I’m fine just the way I am” without ending it “go f*ck yourself if you don’t like it” remains to be seen. But for now, it’s a game changer.
Have you had any huge perception-shifting realizations about yourself? I’d love to hear them in the comments!
When you’re done here, come share in our Facebook community. There’s already been some great comments about not feeling good enough and a great TED video about vulnerability! Come join in the discussion!
I used to work at 1800Flowers.com. I loved it because it was pure chaos (at the time I was also abusing alcohol, had un-diagnosed ADD and things there were so messy that I always had something for my idealism, perfectionism and unfocused mind to prey on).
BUT, I was becoming a workaholic on top of everything else. I was constantly working, never had fun (“work IS fun to me”) and never knew when I’d get a call from our support team (I was in IT and we get calls at all hours of the night).
At some point, I started identifying physical indicators of stress and anxiety.
For instance, I grind my teeth. So much so that I bit through one of those bite guards that I bought at CVS while I slept.
There’s also a lower level grinding that I learned to identify. I was sitting at my desk and would put my teeth close together. They would chatter if I was anxious. Wow. That’s kind of crazy.
There were definitely some contributing factors. Factors such as:
- Lack of sleep
- Checking news websites
- Falling prey to the “do more with less” mentality
- Not caring for my own emotional and physical well-being.
- Not having a support system.
In all of that, I learned:
- I need to actively manage my anxiety level and take care of myself.
- I need to say “no” more often (in a tactful way).
- I need to have an escape plan in the works.
- I need to be closer to my users. In software, you can be close to the users or 20 layers of bureaucracy away from them. I would be the latter.
- I need to stop being “all-in” to my own detriment.
- I need to consider a career where I’m not constantly stressed.
How does stress affect you in the workplace and what are the factors that make it worse? Let us know in the comments!
I stumbled across this amazing career research tool today.
You play games and it learns about you and then tells you what career you’d be best suited for and then gives you companies that want what you’ve got.
Watch this video to see what it’s all about and then scroll down to see my results.
Now look at this.
That’s what I’ve been working toward for a long-damn time! It KNOWS ME!!!
So if you’re interested in checking it out, I think it took me about an hour to get through the required games, click here (this is not an affiliate link, I just think it’s cool as hell and super useful for INFPs who tend to struggle with careers).
When you’re done, come back to this page and leave a comment with the top 3 results. I’m DYING to find out what other INFPs end up with.
Did you ever feel that panicky feeling of needing a bathroom NOW after eating something that disagreed with you?
Well, I’m far too aware of the fact that there are people in this world who go through this every single day, seemingly for no reason.
Imagine, sitting there, minding your own business while looking for cat videos on YouTube and BOOM! It’s on!
Next thing you know, you’re running down the hall with your pants down like that scene from Dumb and Dumber where Lloyd poured an entire bottle of laxative in Harry’s drink!
I’m happy that I don’t personally have this issue but my sister Kate Watson, a registered Dietician in the state of Washington and more importantly, an INFP, has had digestive issues for over 20 years.
She has truly suffered from the pain and paranoia of not knowing if there was a near-by restroom.
I must warn you that I’m simplifying the problems a bit. It’s not just an urgent need to go. It’s also gas, bloating, nausea, constipation and other things. If you’re like me , you’ve experienced all of those things at one time or other and they’re NOT FUN! So imagine these poor souls who go through it each day.
Luckily for Kate, she went to school to become a dietician. So she had the tools and the skills to research and find medically-proven solutions.
Cut It Out…
Something I believe to be true is that you have to abstain from certain things to realize how bad they are for you. Just pick a vice and quit for a month to see what I mean. I’ve done it completely with alcohol and then on-and-off with caffeine and various foods.
Kate’s biggest win was along those lines. She found something called the “Low-FODMAPs Diet,” which is a highly restrictive diet where you have to eliminate certain types of carbohydrates from your diet (very common items cause digestive issues in people with food sensitivities – think of lactose intolerance PLUS gluten intolerance and throw a bunch of other common foods you love in, just to add insult to injury).
It’s not an easy protocol, but it’s better than being in agony and constant discomfort.
Finding her Mission…
Something I’ve been advising INFPs on for a long time is finding a mission or a higher calling. This is how you go from a mundane, meaningless, crappy job to something you love.
Well, Kate recently decided to devote her life to helping people with digestive issues. She was working in a dialysis unit and felt huge meaning in what she was doing, but patients died occasionally and as you can imagine, constant death takes its toll on sensitive people like us.
So she quit her day job to start her own private practice as a dietician.
Then, in an unexpected turn of fate a few months ago, her husband Jesse Watson (also an INFP) lost his job and they decided that instead of returning to their Corporate jobs out of fear, they would kick it into high-gear and join forces to do something meaningful for the world.
They launched a website called The Watson Center a few weeks later, which helps people with IBS and digestive issues to make dietary and emotional changes.
Through their work at The Watson Center, they discovered a common problem that people on the Low-FODMAPS Diet have; namely, not being able to buy food that they can actually eat at the store (nearly every packaged food has FODMAPs, so the people on this diet usually have to cook for themselves every single night). It’s very frustrating not to have the convenience of the pre-packaged foods that the rest of the world takes for granted.
But that’s where Kate and Jesse, in all their INFP glory, found themselves NEEDING to help people (remember what I said about being a super hero and needing to help people?)
They spent months designing and testing a ready-to-eat protein bar that is Low in FODMAPs, so that people who need to be super conscious of what they eat can have something when they’re running late or just too tired to cook!
The Mission Has Grown… Fast!
Early last week, Kate and Jesse launched a KickStarter campaign to allow them to make Low-FODMAP Protein Bars. This will be the first available protein bar in the US.
Their goal is to raise $12,000 USD by the end of November to allow them to ramp up production, create additional flavors and expand their capabilities.
This really excites the hell out of me because I’ve seen them go from desk-ridden wage-slaves like me to entrepreneurs in a matter of months. AND, more importantly, they’re doing something that will legitimately help others.
Why Can’t You be an Entrepreneur Again?
Call me side-track Sally , but I wanted to mention this. The number of INFPs who say “I can’t start a business, I’m terrible with numbers,” or “I need the security of an office job” really upsets me because those people are currently miserable in their jobs!
And what’s more, INFPs are hugely creative and idealistic, two traits that when combined, create a nuclear reactor-powered idea machine that can create solutions for the World’s problems! It’s just the FEAR and self-doubts that keeps us bound to our crappy jobs! More on this in coming weeks…
Ok, back to the story…
Approximately 10%-15% of the US population suffers from IBS and/or digestive issues.
With that many people suffering, you very likely know someone who would benefit from this.
It might be someone you love who’s too embarrassed to tell anyone else about it (fun fact, this is one of those problems that sensitive people like you and I get and our doctors treat us like idiots and tell us there’s “nothing wrong with us” when we actually get up the nerve to tell them, like when my doctor told me there was no such thing as anti-depressant withdrawal 10 years ago despite feeling like I was dying, going through heroine withdrawal and pointing out the numerous Internet posts about people feeling like their brains were being “zapped”. When your doctor makes you feel like you’re crazy, you tend to start doubting yourself and being generally embarrassed about the problem).
Sharing on Facebook Opened my Eyes
I truly believe that you know someone who is suffering from digestive issues, whether you realize it or not. I really want to help my sister and her husband find and help these people. But as I’ve said, they’re probably in hiding because these issues are embarrassing to start with. Then they have doctors who try to medicate the problems away or tell them they don’t know what they’re talking about.
So I want to ask you to do something that would benefit those people. Would you share a link on Facebook and/or Twitter for Kate and Jesse’s KickStarter campaign?
I know this can be a little uncomfortable for some people, but when I shared it on Facebook, I realized just how helpful this could be to people. A handful of people liked it and two of my friends posted that it would help them!
I didn’t even know that the first guy who commented had digestive issues and would benefit from this.
The second guy who commented used to be my roommate. He has Chron’s Disease, has had multiple surgeries on his stomach and intestines and was in constant agony, with occasional episodes where he was bed-ridden for a few days. It really broke my heart that I couldn’t help him.
Just knowing that this protein bar may be something that can ease his suffering a bit brought tears to my eyes. Literally.
I felt that feeling that I’m constantly chasing – the feeling that I actually helped people. Isn’t that what we’re all looking for anyway?
If you would consider sharing the link and/or donating, I would love you long time and I’m quite certain your silently suffering friends would be grateful for showing them a new tool to have at their disposal.
If you’re having trouble figuring out what to say, I wrote this up. Feel free to copy, paste and edit as you like: “This protein bar is being developed for people with stomach issues. They say 10-15% of the US population has stomach issues, so I started thinking it might be helpful to people I know http://nicerfoods.com/kickstarter ”
Part of saving the world is taking action. Another part is starting small enough to be able to achieve results. We can save the world with this project; one stomach at a time. I hope you’ll help.
Thanks so much!
We are the INFP, the super sensitive.
We can hear what others can’t hear. We can see what others can’t see. We can feel what others can’t – or won’t – feel!
We are the happiness seekers, truth tellers and listeners. We dig through the dirt of our minds, battle our skeletons and toil in our emotions so that eventually, we have a million lifetimes worth of knowledge, a connection to our souls and hearts so deep that others can’t compare.
And so we eventually take that knowledge, spin it around and learn how to convey our findings to the rest of the world so that we can prevent the decay and downfall of our fellow man.
And dammit, it doesn’t come without it’s burdens! We experience the pain of depression, the agony of self-doubt and that ever present feeling of being totally and completely stuck – shackled to a world that we don’t understand and that doesn’t seem to understand us either!
We fight that world, we fight with our egos and we say:
“God dammit, the world doesn’t seem to care about me, why should I care about it?!?”
Because we simply have to. That is infused in our souls. We can be as negative, as cranky or as pained as we want.
Our egos can make us do crazy shit like drugs, drink our minds into quiet states and pretend we don’t care.
But we do. We really do. Now more than ever. And we always will.
Let’s find ways to make the world a better place for everyone and fight our inner critics. Let’s tell the inner critics to go to hell and speak up anyway. Let’s show the world what we see. Let’s show them the potential of the world around us. Let’s show them a perfect world and get them to help us create it!
Are you with me? Comment below and let me know!
I am, to say the least, very sad as I read the news about Robin Williams passing away.
I’m not sure if he’s an INFP or not. But one thing’s for sure, he was himself.
And as INFPs, we struggle to be ourselves, yet fit in.
This man took what was given to him and made millions of people happy over the course of his 63 years on Earth. Isn’t that what INFPs were put here to do?
Unfortunately, being unique does seem to come with a price. He had his dark side, his drug abuse, alcoholism and depression. Ugh, I know them well.
I watched his most recent comedy, The Crazy Ones. I could tell he put a lot of his heart into it. I could tell he put a lot of him into it. And when it was cancelled I could just think about how much it must have sucked to have it cancelled.
Alas, my friends. We put ourselves out there. We wear our hearts on our sleeves, almost literally. We must nurture our hearts and be careful not to let toxic thoughts into our minds.
Surround yourself with positivity. Be a good person. Entertain your friends and the world with your true, goofy nature. And don’t let bad things like this stop you from living. Please stay strong and safe.
I love you INFPs!
One of my regular readers, Eomer sent me a link to this TEFL Taster which is a short tutorial on what Teaching Abroad is all about.
This is probably something suited toward recent college grads or soon-to-be grads.
This is a great idea for INFPs because you’d be helping people, you’d be the expert so they’d come to you for help and you’d get to travel, which is something everyone should do more of, especially after graduating college.