Matrignosis: A Blog About Inner Wisdom

Think Pyschologically; Live Spiritually

Does Writing Suit Your Personality? May 9, 2014

Writing has always suited my personality.  One of my earliest memories is of folding pieces of paper together to make a book. When I was ten I was 30 pages into a novel before I tore it up in disgust because I had no idea what I wanted to say. As a teenager my favorite thing to do when I got home from school was to write plays.

Today I can sit down at my computer and, with only a few breaks in between, get up eight, nine, or ten hours later with little awareness of how much time has passed, feeling excited and utterly rejuvenated.  The next morning I can’t wait to get back to my computer.  When I was working on the manuscript for Healing the Sacred Divide I ran this marathon three or four days a week for almost three years with only a couple of months off in the summer.  For two of those three years, I had zero input about my writing from any living person. It was just me, my Self, and my computer.

Obviously, this way of life is not for everyone.  Our friend Howard enthralls all who know him with fascinating stories about his very unusual and interesting life.  People are always telling him he should write a book and I think he finds this idea attractive…but not enough to actually do it.

Carl Jung’s theory about personality types helps explain why one person can be very well-suited to writing while another is not. He found that two basic attitudes affect the focus of our attention. Extraverts are primarily oriented toward the outer world of people and objects; introverts toward the inner world of concepts and ideas. Jung saw these attitudes as mutually complementary and believed both were necessary for maintaining a balanced personal and social life.

In an article about the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator, Wikipedia cites these major differences between the two types: 1) Extraverts are action oriented, while introverts are thought oriented; 2) Extraverts seek breadth of knowledge and influence, while introverts seek depth of knowledge and influence; 3) Extraverts often prefer more frequent interaction, while introverts prefer more substantial interaction; and 4) Extraverts recharge and get their energy from spending time with people, while introverts recharge and get their energy from spending time alone.

Of course there are lots of extraverted writers and plenty of introverts with no interest whatsoever in writing. Moreover, both types struggle to complete writing projects because of myriad other issues such as education, financial limitations, attention deficits, self-confidence, self-discipline, time constraints related to work and relationships, and other personal preferences. But understanding our basic attitude toward life greatly enhances our chances for success with writing or any endeavor.

I’m a strong introvert and my friend Howard is a strong extravert.  I love what Dr. Judith Rich says about her extraversion, “We E’s live outside the cave and struggle to find our way in, while the I’s live inside the cave and struggle to find their way out.” The bottom line? I love my cave and resist leaving it. I enjoy being alone. I like sitting uninterrupted at my computer for hours. I like working in perfect, luxurious, soothing, rich-with-possibility silence:  no music, no people, no phones, nothing to distract or interrupt my thoughts.  But Howard?  Cave-dwelling doesn’t suit his personality. He likes stimulation, activity, conversation. His passion is story-telling, not story-writing.

If you’re not sure what kind of work suits your personality you might ask yourself a few questions. When I was a child, what did I want to do in my spare time?  If your answer is  “Read” or “Watch TV,” you might find a clue in the subject matter of your favorite books or programs. What was my favorite subject in school? Which did I enjoy more: playing outdoors or indoors?  With friends or alone? What would my ideal work scenario look like?  Do I work best with noise or quiet? Am I an extravert or an introvert?

Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications, Inc. Ebook versions of The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, and Diesel Ebooks 

 

Notes From An Outsider October 21, 2011

Lately the prospect of my high school reunion has stirred up some almost-forgotten memories. Like most girls I read the teen magazines and advice columns. A big issue then was popularity and all the articles said the same thing: “Be yourself.” That always frustrated me.  I had no idea what it meant, no clue who I was.

Many of the most popular kids came from wealthy, socially prominent families. It seemed getting a new Corvette for your sixteenth birthday was a sure ticket. But since my family was barely making it, this way was closed to me. Several were very attractive and stylishly dressed, but some weren’t, so this wasn’t the whole story either. The one thing the “in” kids did have in common was social confidence. Most used this gift in positive ways, but a few couldn’t resist going for the “one up” feeling that undermining a peer’s confidence gave them.

I was morally idealistic and intellectually confident, but socially naive and insecure. I had the additional liability of having been traumatized by my parents’ divorce and my father’s death, and I was ill-equipped for dealing with anything other than the kindness and respect I had always received from my family. I found mean-spiritedness so confusing and appalling that I began to equate popularity with shallowness and callousness. Not wanting to be like that I stopped worrying about being popular and came to terms with living outside the inner circle. It was years before I understood that by honoring my values I was being myself. It was just that my self-doubt, self-consciousness and introverted tendencies made me difficult to approach.

Because of my inner-referential perspective, in college I joined the sorority that made me feel most welcome and comfortable. It was not one of the “best” ones. After marriage my husband and I didn’t join the church with the most status, but one whose uniqueness and diversity appealed to us. We bought a house in a fringe area instead of the “best” part of town. In those days we didn’t even know where that was! When friends were joining the Junior League I was getting my doctorate in Education. I didn’t think either direction was somehow better or worse; I was just following a powerful inner compass with little understanding why.

I taught college for ten years as an adjunct instructor, not a tenure-earning professor.  When I finally accepted the truth that I didn’t love my job and wanted to write about the psychological and theological matters I found so fascinating, I had no professional credentials in these fields and belonged to no esteemed scholarly organizations. While this limited my range of potential publishers, it had the advantage of sparing me the in-fighting, criticism, and intimidation that so often characterize groups like this. As Carl Jung repeatedly pointed out, group membership requires a certain amount of conformity and nothing stifles authenticity and creativity more.

Humans are social creatures. We need families and friends who love us, and I doubt there’s a person alive who doesn’t enjoy feeling popular and sought-after. It’s just that we need to know who we are, who likes us for who we are vs. who just wants something from us, and when being “in” is beneficial vs. when it’s not. I have a sensitive, vulnerable soul and it’s very apparent to me now that the cost of youthful popularity could well have been devastating. When it comes to discovering my voice and following my passion, being an outsider has undoubtedly been one of the “best” blessings of my life.

 

Does Writing Suit Your Personality? August 9, 2011

Writing has always suited my personality.  One of my earliest memories is of folding pieces of paper together to make a book. When I was ten I was 30 pages into a novel before I tore it up in discouragement because I didn’t know what I wanted to say. As a teenager my favorite thing to do when I got home from school was to write plays.

Today I can sit down at my computer and, with only a few breaks in between, get up eight, nine, or ten hours later with little awareness of how much time has passed, feeling excited and utterly rejuvenated.  The next morning I can’t wait to get back to my computer.  When I was working on the manuscript for my next book I ran this marathon three or four days a week for almost three years with only a couple of months off in the summer.  For two of those three years, I had zero input about my writing from any living person. It was just me, my Self, and my computer.

Obviously, this way of life is not for everyone.  Our friend Howard enthralls all who know him with fascinating stories about his very unusual and interesting life.  People are always telling him he should write a book and I think he finds this idea attractive;  but not enough to actually do it.

Carl Jung’s theory about personality types helps explain why one person can be very well-suited to writing while another is not. He found that two basic attitudes affect the focus of our attention. Extraverts are primarily oriented toward the outer world of people and objects; introverts toward the inner world of concepts and ideas. Jung saw these attitudes as mutually complementary and believed both were necessary for maintaining a balanced personal and social life.

In an article about the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator, Wikipedia cites these major differences between the two types: 1) Extraverts are action oriented, while introverts are thought oriented; 2) Extraverts seek breadth of knowledge and influence, while introverts seek depth of knowledge and influence; 3) Extraverts often prefer more frequent interaction, while introverts prefer more substantial interaction; and 4) Extraverts recharge and get their energy from spending time with people, while introverts recharge and get their energy from spending time alone.

Of course there are lots of extraverted writers and plenty of introverts with no interest whatsoever in writing. Moreover, both types struggle to complete writing projects because of myriad other issues such as education, financial limitations, attention deficits, self-confidence, self-discipline, and time restrictions related to work and relationships. But understanding our basic attitude toward life greatly enhances our chances for success with writing or any endeavor.

I’m a strong introvert and my story-telling friend is a strong extravert.  As Dr. Judith Rich says about her extraversion, “We E’s live outside the cave and struggle to find our way in, while the I’s live inside the cave and struggle to find their way out.” The bottom line? Cave-dwelling doesn’t suit my friend’s personality and writing just isn’t his passion.

If you’re wondering what to do with the rest of your life, you might want to reflect on these questions: When you were a child, what did you choose to do in your spare time? Are you an extravert or an introvert? What kind of work best suits your personality?

 

 
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