vivifies; isolation kills.
-Joseph Roux, Meditations of a Parish Priest, 1886
Isolation Is Never
Healthy and Adaptive
the possible exception of ascetics living on ledges at high altitudes, no one really
wants to be cut off from everything. "Leave me alone!" may be
just another way of saying, "I only feel safe when I'm by
myself." Abusive childhoods, ghastly traumas, and other myriad shocks
quake and sever individuals from their fundamental tools for love and, indeed,
the hope for love. Not only does the ability to love crumble, the pain can
be so great that the very memory builds up a callused protective shell.
Damaged people toughen and retreat ever further into aloneness. Their
shield against intimacy grows by habit.
people come in many varieties. They may seem shy. They may seem
curmudgeonly. They may even appear totally normal, but continually
withdraw into their self-imposed isolation rather than relate to others.
Even those who would like to overcome their solitude -- whatever its variety --
find it difficult to cease the behaviors that they have constructed to ward off
intimacy. Their solitary habits become the "known" and forays
out are the "unknown." The longer this continues the scarier and
the less knowable the unknown seems.
do not mean to suggest that everyone needs a husband or a wife or a lover.
I do not mean people should not live alone. Some lone wolves get all the
interaction they can handle through work and find they really require relative
seclusion after hours, at least much of the time. A few phone calls and an
outing here and there are enough to sate their emotional demands.
whatever amount, friends, family, and colleagues provide the close human contact
that nurture and often challenge us to expand our emotional repertoire.
The reciprocity that loving relationships provide allows us to stretch our
hearts and fortify our connection with mankind and with ourselves. A
loving circle of exchange that includes giving and taking is key to fulfillment.
Like a Shrink, by Emanuel
H. Rosen, M.D.
relationships, more than personal satisfaction or one's view of the world as a
whole, are the most meaningful factors in happiness. If you feel close to
other people, you are four times as likely to feel good about yourself than if
you do not feel close to anyone.
Birenbaum, and Pery 1996
Face Your Problems Alone
can appear to be unsolvable. We are social creatures who need to discuss
our problems with others, whether it be those who care about us most or those
who have faced the same problems we have. When we are alone, problems
fester. By sharing, we can get perspective and find solutions.
Here's an example:
is a familiar story that the folks at Credit Counseling hear all too
often. It goes like this: Sam missed a mortgage payment. Then
he missed a second. Then he missed a third. Then the bank came and
took his house away.
he missed the first payment, all kinds of things could have been done.
arrangements could have been made that would have protected Sam and his
house. Sam had friends who knew the rules, who could have helped.
Sam didn't ask. He was embarrassed. He got himself into trouble, and
he was going to get himself out of trouble.
was, Sam didn't know how to get himself out of trouble. He didn't know
what to do, and as days passed and his situation grew more grave, Sam only
became more upset, more embarrassed. As a consequence, he isolated himself
even more from his friends. Before they knew what hit Sam, he was out the
door. Credit Counseling's counselors tell people, "The only thing
that hiding your problems accomplishes is making sure no one helps you with
from Vicky Jo: this does not only relate to financial problems. I
know one INFJ who was verbally and physically abused by a freeloading live-in
boyfriend, and she was so ashamed that she shut herself off from friends and
family. Thankfully the creep left her, but it took a long time before she
bounced back from the downward spiral she was in. In hindsight, all she
had to do was reach out for help, and all her suffering could have been
alleviated. It's all too common for IN_Js to think they have to go it
alone and can never ask for help.
experiment was conducted with a group of women having low life
satisfaction. Some of the women were introduced to others who shared
their situation, and some of the women were left on their own to deal with
their concerns. Those who interacted with others saw a 55 percent
reduction in their concerns over time, while those who were left on their own
showed no improvement.
and Liao 1995
100 Simple Secrets of Happy People, David Niven, Ph.D.
Magical Personality Traits
to the research of David Myers (a leading Positive Psychology therapist), people
who are happier than average tend to exhibit four characteristics:
feeling of control over life
(surprising but true)
happiness will increase as we cultivate these personality traits.
have to tell you that #4 rankled like hell with me when I first read it, since I
have a preference for introversion. Nevertheless, I admit that I am
happier when I feel included and as though I am part of something that includes
others. I suspect there is something about this implicit in the type
model, in that our auxiliary function activates our "parenting"
archetype AND it is one of INFJ's highest values to be a
"catalyst." (It's hard to be a "catalyst" without
other people!) To reinforce this, the Evaluation Counseling school states
that a basic human characteristic is craving natural relationship between
any two humans. This relationship seems to consist precisely of enjoying affection
to another person, enjoying affection from another person, enjoying communication
with another person, and enjoying cooperation with another person.
given all that and sitting with my resistance, I suppose it does make sense that
"extroversion" is a source of happiness, since our extraversion is how
we connect with others.
does not need we must be extroverted All The Time. What I make up is that
for INFJs to feel truly happy, they must readily and freely express their
extraverted Feeling and Sensing.
some INFJs, perhaps this is something they must work on.
reason for evil in the world is that people are not able to tell their stories.
- Carl Jung
Alone Time and Time With Others
people love to be around others all the time; other people prefer to have more
time to themselves. Several research studies suggest that people who spend
a lot of their time alone experience higher than average rates of
depression. People who live alone and introverts, for example, tend to be
spending all of your time with others can be unhealthy if it's used as an escape
from yourself. You should value your alone time as much as the time you
spend with others. Everyone needs balance in these areas, so follow
your instincts. Though your head may be telling you to be alone, your
heart might need company.
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