Tag Archives: understanding

Stay.

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Ok just finished a book all in one day. The beginning few chapters were hilarious! About halfway through I realized I don’t have much in common at all with this writer.  I was intrigued at times and sometimes  bored.  Many of our beliefs differ. I found her shrill at times which is the title of the book so, duh. But she kept me laughing. Interspersed with very serious topics, her humor reared its head and I remembered that we have that in common. Funny breaks down barriers. I stuck with it and learned some things.

Three chapters in I posted a picture of her book on my Instagram page and I tagged her. I was giddy with excitement about a book that had me snorting and cry/laughing/cackling. Then I imagined her seeing the tag and reading my post. She doesn’t believe in God and I have this image of her looking at my page, rolling her eyes and dismissing me. I know I shouldn’t assume but let’s be honest, I almost did the same to her.

I realize that I have in the past turned off shows or stopped reading books or dismissed whole entire people because I can’t relate or I don’t agree. But then nothing changes. I think a lot of us are doing this. Sitting in our corner with our fists raised and our mouthpiece in. It’s people on both sides of every issue. We are getting advice from the people on our “team”,  whispering in our ear and pumping us up for the next round in the boxing ring. Gross. I don’t want to participate in that.

I have a new vision of the ring. Two women in the middle.  They’ve never met before.  Let’s say it’s me and you. Sitting on the ground. Truth telling. Without censor. Laughing and sharing stories. Listening. Witnessing. Seeing each other. Allowing disagreements and different points of view to just sit there and hold space. Safe. Not needing to be fixed or changed. Just hanging out there with us among the laughing and the tears and the awkward silences. All the history and experience and suffering and joy. All of the stories of love and loss. The challenges and choices and education and mistakes and spirituality and baggage and fears and wisdom just swirling there around us grounding us in truth. Because it’s all true.

My story is no less true than yours and your opinion is no less weighty than mine. Neither of us is disqualified.

I will keep listening. Even when I want to run and hide in my corner with my people because it feels safer there. Even if your words shock me or my stories make you cry. Even when you are uncomfortable and want to run or I am judgmental and tempted to give advice. Let’s not.

I picture us making it through all the rounds. No knock out attempt. Just two women holding each other’s arms up in the end. Endurance athletes.

Fighters.

Warriors.

Champions.

©2016 Sue Bidstrup, Great Big Yes™ All Rights Reserved

Our Culture of Personality

 

Are you an introvert or an extrovert?

I’m reading the book, Quiet:  The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking.  It really has me thinking. 

I remember I took the Meyers Briggs test when I was in my early twenties.  It came back that I was an introvert.  I remember thinking that seemed odd, it didn’t really jive with my personality and then it was explained to me that it is about where you go to get refueled.  Where do you go to recharge?  Do you go inside (introvert) or outside (extrovert) to replenish your power?  When it was explained this way, I was in agreement.  I’m an introvert.  (There are many different definitions for introvert and extrovert.  Reading about the characteristics of each helped me understand why sometimes I want to leave a party early to get in my pjs and read a book.  And why sometimes I just don’t want to go at all.)

I remember telling people this and they argued vehemently with me, “You are not an introvert!” As if they were trying to make me feel better.  As if being an introvert is a bad thing. 

Nobody is an completely one or the other, but honestly, at this point in our society, so many people “fake” being an extrovert, it’s hard to tell.  Cain talks about the “Extrovert Ideal” and The Culture of Personality.  She explains when it all started and how our society feeds into it.  Dale Carnegie, Tony Robbins, Harvard Business School, Saddleback Church, iCarly…they are all studied and analyzed here and it’s funny and kind of sad.

I’ve noticed it with my kids.  Chances are if you have more than one child, you may be raising an introvert.  A lot of the things introverts bring to the table…thoughtfulness, seriousness, sensitivity…are not valued in our society.  So, as a parent who was brought up in this society and who happens to live in a very extroverted place, I have unwittingly asked my children to conform to the extrovert ideal regardless of who they are at their core. 

Cain helps me understand this when she tells us, “child guidance experts of the 1920’s set about helping children to develop winning personalities.  Shyness could lead to dire outcomes, they warned, from alcoholism to suicide, while an outgoing personality would bring social and financial success.”    She goes on to explain, “Since then we’ve been discouraging our kids from solitary and serious hobbies like classical music that make them unpopular and introverted students were often singled out as problem cases.” 

I think back to preschool days when people, including me, started our kids younger and younger in school.  We would stand around at the park and talk about helping our kids be more “socialized” and how it’s important to send them to school early to work on socialization.  I didn’t know it then but I know it now, I bought into the Culture of Personality hook line and sinker and I was going to do everything in my power to make sure my kids had all the “right tools” to succeed.  At times these young children would be over stimulated or uncomfortable or not ready.  As I was criticizing and belittling their true nature, I told myself I was preparing them for the “real world”. 

But here’s the thing.  They already have the right tools.  They come equipped from God.  What? I think I can do better?  I think I can take something so good, a personality that has been crafted by a loving creator and placed in this world to make a difference…and “fix” it???  What was I doing? 

I was buying the load of crap this culture is selling me. 

As I was reading the book, I said to my husband, “Do you think Ghandi’s mom told him he should try out for basketball or asked him why he was reading a book and wasn’t out with friends on a Friday night?”  Please. 

I have been frustrated with teachers in a system that idealizes and rewards the extrovert without regard (or sometimes with disdain) for the introvert.  I have felt something was off but I couldn’t name it.  This book helped me.  Without the gifts of the introverts, this world would be lacking much of the music, literature, films, technology, organizations and so many other things that shape us and feed us and inspire us. 

I LOVE this book.  It brings clarity to an issue that hasn’t been sitting well with me. 

If you asked me what kind of a mother I wanted to be, I would have told you I want to love and respect my children for who they are and I want to honor their gifts and encourage them to love and bring light into the world. 

Yet, in practice, with all good intentions, there have been times that I have told them their light is not bright enough and their gifts are not loud enough and they are not good enough. 

Shame on me. 

I could quote her entire conclusion here because it is so beautiful but one line sticks out to me.  From now on, it’s my parenting motto: 

“Love is essential; gregariousness is optional.”

Amen?

I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.
— Sir Isaac Newton
 
 
©2012 Sue Bidstrup, Great Big Yes™ All Rights Reserved

Tweeting

Okay, I’m twittering.  Or is it tweeting? Am I a tweeter?

A friend told me it would be a good idea to get on Twitter to spread the word about my blog.  Did you know what’s going on out there???? There is a whole world of people having conversations every minute of their lives with thousands of strangers!!!

This is amazing, incredible, powerful, INSANE?!?!

I love it, I hate it, I’m overwhelmed by it…wait, just a minute, I need to check my twitter account. 

Do people want to know what I’m thinking that often?  I can even update it from my phone! On the run tweeting.  I can drive, text, tweet, email, and put on make up at the same time! (Just kidding)

I am excited by this and a little frightened.  This does not fit into my plan of being still, aware, calm and thoughtful.  I’ve been ignoring my family as I set up the twitter account and every time a new tweet comes in.  My mind is racing.  I can’t rest.  This can’t be good. 

But I’m sure the novelty will wear off.  I’m sure, just like other things in life, the newness will die down and then it will just fit in with my life in a more natural way.  I will be tweeting but it won’t consume my day.  Isn’t amazing how we can be so gung ho for something and then it becomes ho hum?

This is how love is.  Exciting, thrilling, captivating, intense and then if we are lucky, eventually, it becomes steady, real, authentic, lasting. Often people try to recapture that initial, frenetic phase of love.  They want to feel the newness; they want to feel enthralled again.  But the reality is love gets better with time.  Although the excitement often dies down, intimacy grows.  True love slows down, listens, gets comfortable, opens up, shares, trusts and endures.  The good stuff happens when that initial phase is over. 

The same is true for our relationship with God.  Many of us are trying to recapture our initial feelings of our relationship with God.  I am loved! I am joyful, I have found the way! We want to go to church and be entertained! We want to sing and dance and feel it! When we are not entertained or ON FIRE, we are questioning, does this really matter?  Is it true?  I don’t feel jazzed up on God anymore.  But again, the good stuff happens when that initial phase is over.  There are days to be dancing and excited and there are days to be serious and thoughtful.  There are prayers that are loud and exuberant and there are prayers that are quiet and intimate. 

We settle into a routine of comfort with the people we love and with God.  We are known, we are understood.  We can rest.