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!

New INFP Survey

I was inspired by a post on reddit where someone did this insanely detailed survey and got 500 great responses from INFPs like us. So I contact that guy and asked him to give me a copy. Boom! Done.

INFPCentral is a community of hundreds of email recipients and thousands of visitors every month, so I’m pretty sure we can do much better than 500 responses and get a much more detailed idea of who else is here! Please click on the INFPCentral User Survey and fill it out so that we can learn about each other and the beautifully tragic condition of being an INFP. Ah, my negatively positive side is coming out 😉

PS Results will be shared as soon as there’s something quantifiable to share!

 

What’s Your Paralyzing Fear?

I like to think that I’ve overcome a lot of my fears by this point, but I got up to use the bathroom at 4AM and when I turned on the light, I saw an enormous beetle. I thought it was a cockroach first, which made me want to puke. But I looked it up and it was a beetle, which didn’t change anything. I couldn’t move. I could only stare at the little bastard, examining what to do about it.

I had no weapons, no shoes and there was no way I would crush it with toilet paper. The thought of the crunch of such a huge bug, even beneath layers of t.p. creeps me out to the core. I moved toward it and it ran so-fucking-fast and the sound it made as it’s hard shell slammed into objects in the bathroom! “clink, clank” shudder

I just kept picturing and feeling him crunch in my mind. Then I pictured trying to get him on to an empty toilet paper roll and saw him running up my arm. I grabbed a wand for my toilet bowl cleaner and pictured him running up THAT on to my arm.

Finally I went in for the kill and gave him a good whack. He wasn’t moving. I blew on him, still not moving. I’m freaking out at this point because I’m thinking he’s playing games and as soon as I go to get him, he’s going to run up my body and eat my soul. But I persevered and grabbed the empty toilet paper roll to scoop him up. I dumped him in the toilet bowl and he started flapping his little legs. In true INFP fashion, I felt remorse for senselessly beating and being in the pre-flush glory of mercilessly drowning one of god’s beautiful creatures. And then flush. More chills tickle my body.

Jesus Christ!

30 minutes where I could have been sleeping! 30 minutes instead of 2 for any other human with a spine! WTF?!

I hope this account of the true terrors of the tiniest, most harmless things in the world can provide some entertainment this morning and show you that we can really make real fears out of ridiculous things.

Now it’s your turn! What scares the shit out of you and makes you feel like a doe in the headlights?