Pet peeves and phrases I hate

Day 11

A chart with descriptions of each Myers-Briggs personality type as well as instructions for how to determine one’s type. (Wikimedia Commons)

I think Myers–Briggs Personality Types are just fascinating.

I’ve always been interested in what makes us tick. Yes, there’s environment and genetics. But the Myers–Briggs Type Indicator gets me the closest to seeing myself in one of the categories. I guess that’s comforting because it means I’m not alone … there are others who think like I do out there.

Perfect timing. The following just came across my desk, and it’s spot on.

INFP Pet Peeves

Phony Behavior: Talking badly behind someone’s back, sucking up to authorities, or in any way being inauthentic is a major turn-off for INFPs. As people who value sincerity to a high degree, these types find any display of manipulation or fakery exasperating.

Being Told to “Hurry Up”: INFPs need time to decide on everything from relationships to the flavor of ice cream they’re craving. Being backed into a corner or forced to make a decision prematurely makes them stressed and frustrated.

Assumptions About People: INFPs believe that every individual is a collage of 1000 different unique traits, dreams, strengths, and weaknesses. People who assume that they’ve got anyone else “figured out” seem pretentious to them.

This linked to one more … again, spot on.

10 Things You Should Never Say to an INFP

INFPs are known for being patient, passionate, and caring individuals. If you open many typology books you’ll read about how they are accepting, open-minded and sincere. Even so, there are certain phrases that really get on their nerves. They may not over-react or call someone out when careless words are spoken, but they will gradually put up guards against people who are condescending, cruel, or belittling.

According to neuroscience, INFPs show high activity in brain regions that process verbal expression and language to find specific words fitting a situation. They don’t just spew out the first thoughts that comes to their mind; they are careful and conscientious. Because they are so careful with how they speak, it can be frustrating for them to live in a world where few other people consider their words as carefully. So without further ado, here are some phrases you should never say to an INFP.

“You’re Being Too Emotional”

INFPs lead with a process called Introverted Feeling (Fi). Fi is deeply emotional, but it’s also deeply private (hence it’s introverted direction). INFPs are strongly affected by troubles in the world, by cruelty, bullying, or harsh words. They may seem more emotionally impacted than other types; however, because they prefer to keep their emotions more private they also feel frustrated when their reactions show. Saying they’re feeling something “too strongly” is a sure way to frustrate them and build walls in your communication. If they’re being emotional because they are stirred by something and they are trying to make a point, trying to downplay their values or their passion will only wreak havoc on your relationship with them. If they are speaking up about something that moves them emotionally it’s time to listen; condescension will get you nowhere.

“You’re Too Naive”

Healthy, balanced INFPs have a moral integrity that is hard to corrupt or change. They believe in being true to their values and standing up for their beliefs and ideals. They have no desire to gossip or make jokes at other people’s expense and they are deeply affected by cruelty and corruption in the world. Certain people misinterpret their idealism as weakness or naivety, when it is anything but. INFPs are often more than aware of the harsh realities of the world. But they choose to hope for something better for themselves and for the future. Trying to change them or to “educate” them on the ways of the world will just seem condescending.

“Don’t Take This Personally”

Prefacing an insult or critique by saying “don’t take this personally” will only make INFPs feel belittled and irritated. INFPs are more than happy to get constructive criticism, but it needs to be done in a way that isn’t patronizing. Zen habits has an amazing article on how to give constructive criticism kindly.

“Life’s Not Fair”

They already know this. Pointing this out really doesn’t help. To be honest, does anyone actually like hearing this?

“Stop Trying to Find a Deeper Meaning”

INFPs are programmed to find deeper meanings. They look for symbolism, patterns, and connections between ideas that build to a holistic understanding of the universe. They truly enjoy finding deeper significance behind real-life scenarios, music, movies, and storylines. Taking the depth, the mystery, and the gravity away from things is unnatural to them.

“Get Your Head Out of the Clouds”

INFPs are known for their vivid imaginations and their longing to explore new theoretical ideas and avenues of thought. They have a childlike wonder about the world and about possibilities in it. Some people feel it’s their duty to “bring them down to earth” and force them to confront the concrete realities of daily life. This kind of patronizing tone completely ignores the imaginative and creative gifts that INFPs bring to life.

“You Wouldn’t Understand”

INFPs yearn to understand and to “get in the shoes” of other people. Don’t dismiss their concerns or input without giving them a chance to at least try to understand. They are exceptional listeners.

“Because I Said So”

Adhering to a rule or demand just because an authority figure “says so” isn’t natural for an INFP. They need reasons, especially if their conscience conflicts with the directions given. Because INFPs have a strongly value-focused function (introverted feeling) and because they think outside the box (via extraverted intuition) they’re likely to question and confront ideas that seem rigid, don’t feel right, or don’t align with what they believe in.

“You’re Just Like This Other Person …”

INFPs are very individualistic people. They believe that everyone has a unique personality and that people shouldn’t be compared or held up to a pre-ordained set of standards. They try not to compare people and they dislike it when people compare them.

“Lighten Up!”

INFPs are extremely passionate, idealistic individuals and they believe in making a difference in the world around them. They often have a cause or belief they fight for and they are intensely focused on this cause. They have a hard time enjoying superficial pleasures or ignoring the pains of others.  “Lightening up” can feel empty to them. They want to just be allowed to be who they are; whether that’s serious, playful, imaginative, solemn, sad, or exuberant!

Why does any of this matter? Because it helps to normalize these aspects of my personality. I’m a dreamer, an idealist, seeking the deeper meaning. It’s what I do, it’s who I am. There’s nothing wrong with me. I’ve spent a long time fearing there was, that I “should” be more like other people.

What a relief. I just need to be more like myself!

Pen or computer?

Day 10

Somehow I lost a day. I’ve had plenty in my mind, but I guess I have neglected to write it down.

Neglected. I was talking with my daughter about this blog, about how the voice doesn’t feel natural to me. I chalked it up to this: I can hear the difference in my writing when I use a computer (including my smart phone, which I’ve been using to compose a lot since the Internet went out during the ice storms we had here), vs. when I write longhand. “Neglected” is a great example.

It’s not that I don’t use that word, but it’s more formal. When I write with a pen and paper, I might say instead “I haven’t written.” More to the point, too.

Maybe it’s because when I write by hand, it’s primarily for journaling, or writing to a prompt with one of my writing groups. It’s creative. Something in my brain is programmed to think “This is work, this is business” when I sit down at the computer to compose.

I remember reading somewhere that when you write by hand you’re closer to the page — and to your thoughts and emotions — so your writing is more authentic. (Here’s an article that supports that premise.)

Of course, it’s quicker to type, edit and post than having to retype. But so what? The slowness, the opportunity to think about what I’m writing and who I am writing it for, and how I want my voice to sound, would be worth it.

The next post will start by longhand before turning to the keyboard.

‘People come and go so quickly here’

Day 9

Is it “overfamiliarity” to grieve when a prison writer departs?

Overfamiliarity is a corrections buzz word that signals you’ve crossed the line. You, or the prisoner, have shared too much, gotten too close. Forbidding overfamiliarity is a way to ensure that boundaries are maintained, that behavior stays appropriate.

But it’s subjective. People connect. They can connect appropriately, but they still connect, and care. People, at least emotionally healthy ones, care about people they are in relationship with.

Like Dorothy says in “The Wizard of Oz,” “People come and go so quickly here.” The men in a correctional facility can be there one day, find out they’re “riding out” to another facility the morning of the next, pack up and be gone by the afternoon. This was the case with one of my writers, L.

I learned Saturday morning when I met with the prison writers group that L. rode out on Tuesday. Unlike when they’re paroled, when the men ride out like this their leaving is unexpected. They have little chance to say good-bye, to bring closure to any relationships they’ve formed. Once they’re gone, they aren’t allowed contact with anyone at their former facility, and this includes volunteers.

When someone leaves on parole, it’s bittersweet. I’m sad, but I’m also happy for them. But when they are suddenly moved, I’m just plain sad. There’s no bidding farewell nor any closure for me either. It’s an abrupt end to a connection L. and I have had around writing for several years.

From L.’s time in the writing group, he knows I believe in him. He knows I think he is intelligent, creative and talented. His writing is phenomenal. And he knows that I believe he has worth, that he is not his crime. He — and every one of these men — deserve the opportunity to turn their lives around if they chose to.

No one is disposable.

I volunteer because I want to walk alongside these men, and provide support, encouragement and resources on their road to rehabilitation. It’s not overfamiliarity that drives this. It’s compassion for another human being. It’s empathy.

And right now, it’s sadness at L.’s unanticipated departure and the loss of our connection.

Whether L. and I will cross paths ever again, who knows. My life is richer for knowing him and working with him. I hope he feels the same.

[Added 2/15/19: Here’s one prison writer’s insight about what this destabilization feels like.]

What’s a writer without pens?

Day 8

This morning I went in search of an old Namiki Vanishing Point fountain pen in my collection. I’ve already forgotten why I thought of it.

I love pens, expensive ones and cheap ones, and am always buying (or picking up) new ones. I don’t necessarily use them; I have boxes and cups and drawers filled with them all over the house. I’m sure many are bone dry by now. But a collection is a collection.

The Namiki pen was dry, of course. I think the last time I used it was in the early 2000s. So I went rifling through a desk drawer searching for a refill. I found several … and in the process laid eyes on this 8-pack of Papermate Liquid Expresso medium-point porous point markers. “Writes smooth like a felt pen tip,” the label says. The ink is still flowing in these pens.

One blessing of aging (or maybe it’s in having that many pens) is I forget what I have. When I discovered the Liquid Expressos, it was like getting a Christmas present, or making a trip to Target or receiving an Amazon package without spending money. Those dollars are long gone.

So for now the 8-pack, and the resurrected Namiki, join the rest of the favorite pens and highlighters on my bedside table for purposes of journaling and planning. They’ll rotate out when I re-discover others and add them temporarily to my writer’s palette.

If you’re a pen fanatic like me, check out this review of top 100 pens. How many do you own?

How many do I own? Hint: Number 2 is in my Amazon cart. I’ll pass on Number 1; it’s a rollerball. Not a fan.

It’s OK if someone doesn’t like me

Day 5

This meme is what’s on my mind tonight. I had two conversations with friends today during which it was clear their struggle centers on not being liked, or approved of, or appreciated by others. I know that struggle too.

Not feeling confident in our own opinions and ideas holds girls and women back from being who they are and who they are becoming. I’m not sure how to change this, but as grandmother to a soon-to-be born granddaughter, I’m sure as heck going to figure it out.