Don’t Let One Person Hold Your Heart in Their Hand

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 Not Good Enough

“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?

Marriage:

  • 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.

Job:

  • 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.

Family: 

  • 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.

Blog/Writing:

  • 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!

How Anxiety is Affected by the Work Place

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:

  1. Caffeine
  2. Lack of sleep
  3. Checking news websites
  4. Falling prey to the “do more with less” mentality
  5. Not caring for my own emotional and physical well-being.
  6. Not having a support system.

In all of that, I learned:

  1. I need to actively manage my anxiety level and take care of myself.
  2. I need to say “no” more often (in a tactful way).
  3. I need to have an escape plan in the works.
  4. 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.
  5. I need to stop being “all-in” to my own detriment.
  6. 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!

Awesome INFP Career Research Tool Using Neuroscience and Games

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.

Entrepreneur.

That’s what I’ve been working toward for a long-damn time! It KNOWS ME!!!

Pyometrics Results
Pyometrics Results

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.

Have fun!