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Getting beyond appearances with Intuition

Isabel Myers believes that just because we get good use out of some elements of our personalities doesn’t mean we can’t get use out of all the elements. If accessing Intuition helps Intuitive Introverts fend off loneliness but Intuition hasn’t been put to much use by Sensing Extraverts, it doesn’t mean they can’t learn to use it. Isabel says so in her book Gifts Differing. Sensing Extraverts have Intuition and can use it to put an end to sadness living alone. Their personality type doesn’t take much interest in people’s internals and it’s time it did.

Sensing Extraverts are gifted with externals. They look outward rather than within to establish what’s real for them, to find Worth and affirm it, and to meet their needs. Sensing types identify with the body rather than with mind which is not matter. They rely on their bodies’ senses to tell them what’s real when they look outward. They do not rely on Intuition. This deprives them of attributes of mind – the inner guidance of Logic, insight, and wisdom – we all need to see beyond appearances. To get at the Truth and Meaning of things that lie behind the distractions and facades imposed on us by our bodies and their physical environment.

Sensing Extraverts get by without concerning themselves with internals, but that changes when they age and social connections dry up. Their internals tell them that this is so. Every time they feel the anguish of loneliness and abandonment, it’s their internals reminding them that they have work to do: to let go of attachments to externals which are only appearances. To get serious about attachments to what aren’t appearances: their real Self, their real Worth, their real companions. Their inner Guide who loves them, wants them to be happy, and will lead them there if they let her know that’s what they truly want of their own Free Will.

"Happiness is an inside job"

If they truly want companionship that will end the anguish of loneliness then they should know that what they truly want is to connect with their Self. With their inner Guide who’s there for them if they choose to connect with her through their own Intuition. In their youth, they may have suspected that “happiness is an inside job.” They may have written it, recited it, without reflecting on it. What it means is when other people can no longer provide companionship, there’s an alternative. An even better source of companionship than other people that Intuitive Introverts are blessed with: the Truth that we are never alone. That no one, including Sensing Extraverts, need ever be alone.

I’ve spoken in the past of the inner Guide that Christianity refers to as the Holy Spirit. I’ve suggested that Sensing Extraverts reach out to their inner Guide – to connect with their Self so they don’t have to be so dependent on others – by putting their thoughts and feelings of the moment into words. By bringing them to the surface and working with them. Teasing implications and meaning out of them by letting their minds reflect on them. Realizing that every thought, every feeling, is led forward by their implications to a deeper understanding of where they’re coming from and what they mean. To the message of Love and Hope they have for us when we delve into them and allow them to speak to us.

Experiencing emotions like grief and abandonment without inquiring into them is missing opportunities. To find and articulate the purpose and meaning of Life. The purpose that Life has for each of us subjectively, individually. Inquiring into feelings means being with them, letting them speak to us of their own accord, unforced, through the spontaneity, the Free Will of our Intuition. Through the Memory that all of humanity shares.

Serving a cause worth living for and not being alone

Where our inner Guide is to be found is not in anything to do with “social.” With professional resumes that detail our service to groups and their agendas. With social connections and the broad sweep of history’s flawed ideologies. With the “broad sweep” of anything. It’s in the specific circumstances of our individual lives in the moment. Accompanied by our most intimate thoughts and feelings. These frame the context Logic needs to answer the questions that trouble us: Where are we and what are we doing here? What is our Purpose? Where is Meaning? How can we turn the pain and despair of loneliness into fulfillment instead of emptiness? Into a sense that we serve a cause worth living for and in doing so we are not alone?

The key to getting started is putting thoughts and feelings into words. Composing sentences that require thought, that open us up to what’s going on inside our minds where the questions are, where the pain is coming from. Letting them lead us forward through their implications to deeper understanding, deeper connections, until there is reciprocation. Until our minds open and become accessible to another Self hearing us, responding to us. Until our awareness is no longer limited to bodies taking up space in rooms but is instead liberated by Mind to explore an expanding universe of possibilities. Our other Self, our Real Self, is there because our Intuition is there. The Sensing Extravert’s Intuition is there.

I describe what Intuition is and what it does. We all have Intuition. Sensing Extraverts’ Intuition hasn’t been exercised much over the years not from negligence but simply because of their personality type. Isabel’s theory is well served by Intuition and it tells us that they can fix that.

Questions of purpose and meaning always begin with circumstances

When Sensing Extraverts write what’s on their minds what they will be bringing to awareness is their circumstances in the moment. They will be examining their lives in all their extraordinariness and banality down to the last detail, as if they were looking at them through a magnifying glass. If they wonder what they would have to say to their typewriters, their computers, this is my answer. Getting at purpose and meaning must begin with where we’re at. Because without context Logic has nothing to work with. The philosophy built on this premise has a name: it’s called “existentialism.”

When Alice B. Toklas asked Gertrude Stein on her deathbed, “What’s the answer?”, Gertrude is said to have answered, “What’s the question?” It’s taken as a joke but it’s right on. Questions of purpose and meaning always begin and end with circumstances. With circumstances that are experienced, i.e. lived. Subjectively not objectively: with personal hopes, fears, desires, ideals, passions, pleasures and hurts, vulnerability and wounds, perceptions and beliefs, rationality and craziness. A point I’ve tried to make in Origin and Meaning: the Logic of Everything (April 4).

It’s hard for Sensing Extraverts to be subjective rather than objective. Being Introspective, self-aware. They can change that by accessing their Introvert. Any Introvert can help.

Our circumstances are raw material for purpose and meaning and there’s plenty of it in every life. Getting a handle on where we want to be headed now begins with being intimate with our situation, the details of our circumstances. With the specifics of what our mind-Logic and our heart-feelings have to say about them. Every observation we put in writing will lead to another observation. We will be led by Logic and by value, what our minds’ reflections produce and by the feelings they evoke.

The dynamic of conversation with our Self

Our individual worlds may seem static at first. Not being used to this Sensing Extraverts may even feel resistance. But as our Intuition opens up, as reflections come of their own accord, there will be movement. Our worlds will expand. They will be less and less anchored to concrete physical reality and more and more attuned to conversation, a dynamic-reciprocal flow of thoughts that won’t let us rest until the points our inner Guide wants us to have are made. Until the gifts of insight that incubate with yearning are brought to life through Intuition.

If I were the inner Guide of a Sensing Extravert suffering with loneliness I would be encouraged. Because I would know that I’m loved. That my host wants to be close. Yearns to connect, to communicate, and be involved with me. Other people fill hearts with love, too. But they come and go, don’t they? They’re not always available. And even when they are they can make us think we’re better off alone.

Our inner Guide is our connection to our Real Self, our Real Parents, our Real Home. She’s always available. My inner Guide has expanded into a spiritual-personal family: spiritual, human, and animal friends inhabiting a Temenos of soaring moonlit clouds, lakes, mountains, forests and streams. Lighthouses and great trees all connecting me with Mind and Love. Aligning my thoughts with Logic that leads me purposefully, joyfully back Home.

Feeling better

Want to feel better? That’s what our inner Guide is all about. It’s her whole purpose. So if you’re a lonely Sensing Extravert get to work! Your Intuition is waiting. She’s waiting.

To my two shining stars,

Learning

Our world is a laboratory where we have to figure out how to make things work, including relationships. Families are laboratories for figuring out how to get along when everyone has their own personality. It helps us get along at school, at work, and at play when we’ve learned to get along at home. When we understand that our differences can be our friends that show us how to grow. How to unlock abilities we didn’t know we had. How to experience pleasures we didn’t know were there to be enjoyed.

Different personalities that seem to make our lives more difficult may actually be teaching us how to be happier. We just have to be aware that we have our personalities and others have their personalities. Respect the differences, let others be our teachers, and learn from them.

It’s what I’ve been doing with you: learning from you. One of many reasons why you make me happy, because you’re my teachers and you’re good at it. I don’t have to be like you for us to get along. I can be myself and you can be yourselves. You’re very good at it. Thank you for being my friends. Thank you so much for being my teachers.

Adapting and growing

What did I do when my wife left and took my boys? I went to work, came home to empty rooms, and cried. Then the day came when I stopped crying, moved away, and began a new life. I reconnected with old friends and made new friends:

* Sally, who became my mentor and led me on a journey of personal growth to what I could do to make my life better.
* Judy, who led me on a journey of spiritual growth, to a Guide who would help me from within to make every life better.
* And Larry, who threw open the doors to professional adventure, to a world of friends and acceptance I never knew existed.

I went from being a solitary life in an empty room to a life of abundance and purpose. To being blessed and thankful and wanting to share. To never looking back.

The Why and the Who of Easter

Our world is a laboratory for figuring out Why to make things work. The story that made Christmas and Easter part of our lives is the story of one life, a brother who tried to help us with that. He was born on Christmas and on Easter showed that no matter what he will always be trying to help us. He is here now, a presence to share with everyone because he set a good example. He is the Guide that I was led to and he is the nicest.

He helps me understand every day Why it’s important to learn: to change and grow. Because our personalities aren’t supposed to lock us in. They’re opportunities to open up. To unlock. To be more than who we are. To be stronger and freer, more creative, more imaginative. And happier. By being who we are and allowing others to be who they are. By teaching others and allowing them to teach us.

What does Easter mean to me? Faith, Purpose, and Hope. It’s what it means to everyone touched by its story. It’s what I would like for it to mean to you.

And, by the way, he was also a she. In our minds, that is, where she belongs, now and forever.

Happy Easter!

David Clark Harrison
In memory of Owen Clark Harrison
March 31, 1970 – March 2017

Not long ago, I asked a friend for a favor. It was a bit unusual and I knew it would require some thought, but not so unusual that it could upend a friendship. But it did, at least for a while, quite emphatically. The way my friend and I interpreted what happened was a study in contrasts. It was as if we lived in two separate realities, spoke different languages, and transacted business with different currencies, hers as worthless to me as mine was to her.

It was one of those things, a train wreck in a relationship we’re all familiar with. And yet it turned out to be very interesting. It revealed that my friend and I, who have been close over the years, are exact opposite personality types. I’m an INTJ and she’s an ESFP: INTJ for Introvert-Intuition-Thinking-Judgment, ESFP for Extravert-Sensing-Feeling-Perception. These are from Isabel Briggs Myers’ Gifts Differing, not as “scientific” as other theories some might prefer, but my Intuition trusts her Intuition.

The holidays are all about one universal value: everything that makes us family. Forgiveness is one of those things, and let me be the first to admit: If you’re reading this it probably means you’re a big nuisance but you’ve been forgiven – many times. “I love you in spite of your many faults” my dad liked to joke, usually to a good laugh. But it’s no laughing matter, because real forgiveness is beyond reach. At least it is for me. Especially if the big nuisance happens to be my exact opposite personality type.

My instinct in this case was to bail for good. I was on my way out the door. Then I read Gifts Differing and discovered that Isabel’s theory doesn’t stop at showing us how opposites wreak havoc with relationships. It shows remarkably how opposites can be used to bring us closer together and, in the process, promote personal growth and self-awareness. What philosophy, what faith, couldn’t use an analytical tool like this to bring about peace and forgiveness!

It’s done by accessing the opposites of your weak personality traits – mind-Intuition, for example, if you’re a body-Sensing type, -- preferably in consultation with someone who’s your opposite. You “pool your resources,” and at the end you’re both more fully developed, better balanced personalities, more sympathetic, more adaptable to change, and better equipped to forgive. That's the theory and, so far, it's working for me.

Isabel’s theory is inspired, not least because the metaphysics of A Course in Miracles calls for its practical application to individual circumstances, and students of the Course intent on practicing forgiveness will find that it’s a big help. If my friend is reading this she might be incensed that I’m talking about us, but not if her Feeling has accessed Thinking, and Perception has accessed Judgment. You see, what this is all about is making everyone more like me. Proof that what I've learned from her is the joy of spontaneity and laughter. Pity the poor INTJ Scrooge who never learns it!

Wishing you the Joy of Life and laughter for the holidays and all through the New Year.

Our values are what really matters – love and family; friendship and community; health and healing; freedom and free will; self-worth; purpose, learning, striving, growth and achievement; abundance; protection and trust; beauty, purity and innocence; empowerment and control. Whenever we’re in doubt, these are our conscience. These are our best guide to avoiding mistakes.

Grandparents know all about mistakes because they’ve seen and made lots of them. They know a lot about values, too, because experience has taught them what’s important. Kids might do fine without a grandparent. But it’s possible they’d do even better with one. Grandparents want kids to have this resource: helping them with values so they avoid mistakes.

This is how grandparents want to be there for their kids. They applaud kids' performances and cheer them from the sidelines. But when kids are ready for more, grandparents are ready for more.

Grandparents don’t tell kids what to do. Setting a good example, standing up for their values – that’s their job. If they follow the wrong example they won’t be role modeling their values. They won’t be role modeling the values they want their grandchildren to have.

What kids need from their grandparents is good role models.

Here are some thoughts about grand-parenting, relationships, and role modeling based on one grandparent's experience:

Respect and affection between friends can never be taken for granted, because that would be telling our friends their needs and feelings don’t matter. That they don’t matter. It would tell them that they’re worthless when friendships should tell them the opposite.

Differences between people can cause serious problems. Our reading and entertainment tell us that every day. Our minds work differently. Our personalities aren’t the same. We value different things. Our priorities are different. We present ourselves differently. We try to connect and communicate differently – the list goes on and on.

Our circumstances are always changing. And our needs and feelings change with them. Because everyone’s circumstances are different, no one has the same point of view.

Our physical, biological, and social environment is a dynamic system driven by powerful forces. Understanding these forces is the purpose of every field of learning -- physics, philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, social science, political science, ethics, theology, biology, and more. We are brought together in one great human enterprise: learning.

One of the great lessons of life is the need for continuous improvement -- for learning and personal growth. This is as true for groups as it is for individuals. It is our purpose. We can’t stand still. We must move forward.

Learning takes effort. It takes thought, and kids are capable of that. If grandparents didn’t believe in their kids they would say, “They’re just kids” and ignore them. Grandparents don’t ignore their kids. They think their kids are worth a whole lot more than just one birthday gift. They're worth a million birthday gifts! They're not “just kids.”

As Vince Lombardi would put it: What’s best for our kids isn’t everything: it’s the only thing. Being useful to their kids is why grandparents exist. A good grandparent will try to be useful even if it means doing without the affection, kindness, joy, and laughter that their kids bless them with. Their kids are worth a trillion birthday gifts!

Relationships usually survive misunderstandings and hurt feelings without too much damage. But when we don’t respect our differences it can have more serious consequences. It can cause wounds that take away trust and safety. It can even bring close friendships to an end.

In the end, there is only one way to save a friendship and that is to earn it. To have strong values, share them, and to stand up for them even if it takes work and may not succeed. What is friendship worth, anyway, if it doesn’t ask something of us? If we don’t risk something?

Living a truly good life and doing what’s right aren’t things to be casual about. They require thought and deliberation. They require care and concentration, because it can be very easy to lose sight of what really matters and make a mistake.

It’s up to each of us to determine for ourselves what’s right. It’s everyone’s duty to affirm the truth about who we are and what we believe in everything we do. It’s all about Character. It’s all about Purpose.

Modesty is being aware that a higher power knows what’s best and letting this awareness guide our conscience. Anyone can find fault with what’s wrong, but who really knows what’s right? This is modesty, a virtue that is everyone’s duty to share, and grandparents would share it with their kids.

Miracles happen when power that we’re not aware of works quietly through our minds and hearts to overcome barriers to change and lead us forward. The barriers to change necessary for friends to move forward may not come down without a miracle. This is as true for brothers and sisters as it is with fathers and sons.

“Happy endings” aren’t a given but neither is disappointment. What we think are “happy endings” may also lie beyond our understanding. We should be prepared for both, because whatever comes may be for the best – we don’t know.

Freedom and spontaneity imply no limits on doing whatever we want. Absolutes of all our gifts-values imply having it all without limits. This violates the logic of Reality because we live in a state of opposites, a condition where logic says being or having it all without limits is impossible. Defying this truth can have painful consequences. The way we go about using our gifts requires discipline.

Spontaneity that’s allowed to cross this line will insist that the only permissible approach to feeding the body is to gratify-indulge its senses for our wants-pleasure (excess). It will overrule an approach that recognizes and respects limits (moderation) in order to care for its needs-health. Spontaneity will do this because its purpose is happiness-fun that we experience from living uninhibited in the moment. It will do this especially when it is an idea raised to the level of an ideal -- when it’s part of a value system linked to a feeling that’s compelling because it’s become an absolute, because it’s idealized.

Weight management requires spontaneity management. It requires discipline that respects the logic-limits imposed by mind-reason and Reality. Evidence that spontaneity has been allowed to rule beyond reason is arrival of the opposite of pleasure-fun: disabling abuse and pain. Our bodies are saying they need less pleasure-gratification from spontaneity and more health-nourishment from caring-discipline. They need less free-spirited happiness-feeling and more disciplined reasoning-thinking.

Excess weight is concrete evidence of an imbalance between body-feeling-spontaneity and mind-thinking-order within a sensing-feeling-perception (spontaneity) personality type. The conversion of feeling-pleasure into its feeling-pain opposite is the body’s signal that it’s time to correct the imbalance. It’s a necessary stage in personal growth that focuses on the role of youthful passions in obstructing maturity.

The creative sanctuary that makes spontaneity and freedom possible has boundaries that protect as well as confine. The onset of body abuse-pain says the time has come for the Illusion of spontaneity without limits to cease its irrational rebellion against confinement. It’s time to recognize and appreciate the protection of boundaries. Accepting limits on our gifts, respecting the mind-logic that put them there, bringing thought to our choices as well as feeling, keeps us within our boundaries and safe from opposites.

Strenuous exercise while carrying serious excess weight beyond our youth is physical abuse. Straining muscles-tendons-joints-nerves to “burn calories” can wait until after healthy weight is restored by light exercise (walking) and by managed diet. Risking permanent damage and chronic pain is not rational. If burning calories by intermittent strenuous exercise was once rationalized to permit bouts of undisciplined excess – the joys of youthful spontaneity, -- those days are over. Undisciplined excess is over.

Attempting weight loss while preserving the ideal of youthful spontaneity is unworkable. Our bodies carry us forward inexorably. Clinging to youthful spontaneity is pointless. Resistance to parting with youthful fun that imagined it could do whatever it wanted, without consequences, is pointless. It reflects not the exhilaration of life but morbid fear of the loss of life.

Too late, we declare, “I’m going to beat this.” What clinging to an idealized spontaneity translates into is, “’I’m an exception; I won’t have to part with my youth.” It translates into “I insist on being who I’ve always been: a loving-lovable, happy-go-lucky, live-in-the-moment, carpe-diem guy.”

The pain, the loss of resiliency, that accompanies aging requires adjustments not only in how we live but who we are. The old identity delivered a cornucopia of benefits for family, community, and profession. It wants to prevail beyond its time because it was hugely successful. But time requires identities better suited to changing circumstances when our bodies can no longer support the fantasies of youth.

Willpower – psychic energy -- that’s needed to remove excess weight, restore health, and avoid pain is now directed toward preserving an idealized self-identity that can never grow old. The feeling that’s getting in the way of doing what circumstances call for isn’t just spontaneous pleasure, fun, and happiness. It’s fear of separation from a self that served its purpose and belongs in the past.

Being overweight may actually reinforce the illusion that it’s not necessary to let go of the past, because it’s become a part of the self-identity that experienced the fruits of spontaneity: gratification, indulgence, fulfillment, camaraderie, contentment, and pleasantness. This may explain why obesity has been so well tolerated. The onset of chronic pain could be a wake-up call that forces a more realistic calculation, an awakening to costs that now outweigh the benefits.

All these considerations lead toward a new paradigm, a new definition of self and the world the self occupies. They lead toward acceptance of what mind-thought-logic can contribute to the life of a mature person, along with feeling, in achieving a kind of happiness that’s better suited to circumstances: happiness with limits and discipline, happiness that may never deliver super-bowl euphoria but it can let our bodies live in contentment without pain.

If our youthful objective was achieving pleasure, our objective beyond youth becomes preventing debilitating pain. The balance is tipped toward realistic thinking-logic-discipline and away from when idealized experience-feeling dominated. It’s tipped from needing constant contrived action toward the calmness and serenity of thankfulness for life-being, from the joys of sensation (indulging the body) to the joys of thinking and awareness (indulging the mind). And always connecting.

Why do selves who idealize spontaneity falter in their efforts to manage weight on their own? Why do they need to borrow someone else’s self-discipline to succeed and lapse when it’s gone?

The sensing-feeling-perception personality type who idealizes spontaneity has purposely deprived himself of the function of self that’s essential to management – mind-logic-order-discipline, i.e. deliberation. This is done to allow instinct to open him to unlimited possibilities to feel and express the joy of living (joie de vivre), creativity, happiness, fun, pleasure, and gratification in the moment.

In pursuit of an ideal of fulfillment that’s rooted in gratification of the body’s senses, the deliberative self that normally imposes limits is discarded in favor of impulse whose only guide is the “moment.” The void this leaves in self-management reveals itself when obesity calls upon willpower, an essential attribute of self, that’s been turned over to its opposite, the “moment.”

Precisely what’s been sacrificed to achieve the ideal of spontaneity is self-discipline. No wonder the perception-spontaneity type can’t manage weight on his own!

The personality type intuition-thinking-judging experiences satisfaction and contentment from continuous learning and growth. Yes, without super-bowl rapture but also without debilitating pain. This can’t be a role model for an opposite personality type. Or can it? If needs and aspirations come together as we age, maybe it can.

Children will have recourse to their immediate ancestors’ examples to guide their own choices – their parents and their grandparents. They deserve to experience their own youthful spontaneity. They deserve the gift of role modeling that lets them express the joys of life without being conditioned to believe that their gifts come with no limits, that discipline isn’t necessary, and that excess has no consequences. What will be the legacy, the imprint, of an overextended youth troubled by its consequences and preoccupied with its preservation? What can it offer to guide its children’s choices if it struggles with its own?

The role modeling that guides children toward happiness can’t come from other children. It can only come from parents and grandparents who put their own childhoods behind them, who take their responsibilities seriously, have their acts together, and pay attention to role modeling. It can only come from grownups.