Entries Tagged as "Relationships"

Dealing with Loss…with Death

I just got the news…another friend has died. Patricia was an ENTP who was raised in the foster care system in England.  At one point, an ad was put in the newspaper, “Difficult child needs academic home.”  She got one and became both a brilliant architect and a brilliant judge.  Yes, ENTPs do change jobs and careers more than any other type.

I’m also in the midst of planning a memorial service for my Dad, an INTJ who died at the age of 102 and who had the satisfaction of seeing many of his ideas on nutrition finally accepted as correct.  Yes, INTJs have the longest future-orientation of the 16 types; he knew trans fats were bad back in the 1950s and he hung on long enough for others, including the FDA, to see that as well. (See my article, Lessons Learned from my INTJ Father. You may also search for his name, Fred A. Kummerow, and read his obituaries in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and Chicago Tribune.)

Synchronicity appears once again in my life - I attended a conference recently in which one of the presentations was on Grief and Loss. The presenter was Timothy S. Hartshorne, a professor at Central Michigan University and a college classmate of mine many years ago. 

As he pointed out, “learning how to deal with loss is what life is all about.”  Our life is a series of losses, some small (my doll broke) and some large (my Father died).  You cannot escape loss.

Tim continued:

  • Grief is a journey
  • Grief is individual
  • Certain emotions predominate
  • No one describes it the same way.


He pointed out that healing:

  • Is a long-term process that culminates not as a return to a pre-grief state, but as a growth process
  • Includes thinking of the person without pain but not without sadness


He adds: “Asking when mourning is finished is a little like asking how high “up” is – there is no answer.” *

If you are in a work setting, think about how much time off a grieving person needs and the level of support you can provide.  Be aware that the return to work may be difficult and check on what might be helpful.  Be aware that there may be questions related to meaning and motivation at work.

With friends, the feeling may be of wondering if anyone really understands what you are going through.  And your friends may be wondering what to say and not to say. 

Many people feel awkward about bringing up a death, being afraid to say the wrong thing or to make the survivors sad.  They are already sad. 

Say something to the person: bring it up.  Share a memory, a story about the person. Ask for a story.  Tell what the person meant to you.  Watch the non-verbal signs - they will give you clues for how far to go.  You are likely to be forgiven even if you stumble.

However, please don’t say things like, “It is better now that they are no longer suffering.”  Or “They are in a better place now.”  “It’s part of God’s plan.”  “Cheer up.” 

And with your partner or spouse, figure out how to support one another.  Be aware that there may be changes in the relationship. 

How does one learn to cope with grief?

  • You experience it
  • You get support from others
  • You tell your tale
  • And you might go to therapy


Tim looks at each year of grieving in these terms:

  • Year 1: A year of firsts and disbelief
  • Year 2: A sinking in and coping with the reality of the loss
  • Year 3: Getting used to it and good at it
  • Year 4: Starting to move on
  • Year 5: Healing over the wounds


Life goes on.  I have been blessed with wonderful parents and wonderful friends.  I have lots of memories to sustain me.  And I will experience many more losses in my life, and hopefully get through them, never expecting to get over them. 


 * From Worden, William J. (2002) Grief Counselling and Grief Therapy; A handbook for the mental health practitioner. Springer Pub.

 

No Comments

Preparing for the Rio Olympics!

I’m going to the Olympics in Rio! I had the opportunity to go to the Beijing Olympics in 2008, so this one will be an interesting contrast.

How do I prepare as an ESTJ?  As you know, preparation is pretty important to people of my type!

Part of travelling is learning what I really need and when to just let go.  Long ago, I made it part of my routine to acknowledge that I would inevitably forget something or need something I never thought of packing.  My goal is to figure out what that is as soon as possible and to logically analyze where and how to get it! 

There is my somewhat cautious SJ side that says watch out for mosquitoes, robbers, and bad water, etc.  I hope to handle those negative possibilities with a bit of preparation along with actions to minimize my risks – take mosquito repellent, carry only small amounts of cash, drink bottled water and bring antibiotics, just in case.

There is my Extraverted side – so much to do and so much to see.  I need to make sure I don’t get worn out.

There’s my ESTJ "take charge" side. I’ll be travelling with several others and I need to remember to take other’s needs into account.  I can’t order them around and expect to build relationships.  Luckily the tickets we already have will do some of that structuring for us!

The Olympics is all about organization, something I love. I’m fascinated by how others structure events.  At the Olympic track and field venue, there is a timetable that is rigorously applied; huge timers are always counting out the number of minutes and seconds until the next track and field event starts.  It will be interesting to see how the Latin culture handles the time issue.

I really don’t follow sports that much.  For me, watching the field workers set up the events sometimes is more interesting than the actual events. 

For example, with all those throwing events (hammer, discus, javelin) I don’t know good form from bad form.  I can understand long throws and short ones.  But what I like best is watching the little remote control cars that the field helper puts the thrown object into and then the person with the remote control speeds back to the athletes. 

I admire the helpers in the trucks who set up the hurdles quickly and then take them down quickly; it’s a study in efficiency.  Love it!! 

So, look for me in the crowds at the track and field finals, the team synchronized swimming, and the women’s diving.  I’ll be waving directly at you!!

 

No Comments

Reading Type into Reading

I don’t usually spend a lot of time typing the people I meet either in person or in a book.  And the people I spend time with are grateful for that! 

But sometimes I just can’t help it.  That just happened when I read A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman and “met” Ove and his wife, Sonja.  The book is about the impact (planned or not) one life can have on many others.

Ove seems like an ISTJ to me with his focus on structure and details and doing what needs to be done with little fuss and fanfare. He likes following the rules and seeing his world in straightforward ways. (Okay, so he goes a bit over the top into curmudgeondom, but still, his basic personality is intact.)

Sonja is probably an ENFP, loving color and change and creativity and seeing potential in people.  She cares about enjoying life wherever she is and in whatever circumstances she finds herself in.

He is loyal to those he loves, although the concept of love is a tough one for him to acknowledge.  She accepts people for who they are and the concept of love is not a just a concept, but a reality. 

She speaks and he listens, and they love one another deeply.  We grow to love them both too.

Just to keep going with this opposites theme … if you know the RIASEC model, there’s another chance to see differences!  (RIASEC refers to Holland's six personality types: Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising and Conventional.)

Ove is a “Realistic,” dedicated real, tangible things with his building, and fixing.  Sonja is the opposite, a “Social,” into helping people grow and develop through her teaching of “unteachable” kids. 

But he ends up building things all the time that help people!  Someone’s car breaks down, and he fixes it just to shut them up and stop asking for help.   And no matter what he does, he seems to inadvertently help others.  And in the process we see type development happening! 

While getting acquainted with their characters, I was also reminded of some research on couples by Drs. Julie and John Gottman.  They documented that on the average 69% of the issues couples have with one another will never be solved.  But they can be discussed in civil ways and perhaps even accepted.  Expecting the other person to change usually is unrealistic!!

That research was particularly helpful on a recent trip I took to Russia with my sweetie and another couple.  When we would find ourselves being annoyed with our partners, we would pipe up, “okay, that’s one of the 69%.” 

We would observe other couples bickering and think to ourselves, they probably were at 89%!  But beyond that we did not type them.

I don’t know if you read type into fictional characters, or real ones for that matter, but I can recommend this book, which is a good reminder that learning to accept differences helps in enjoying life! 

 

No Comments

The Perennial Pleasures of ISTJs

Every year, my ISTJ sister spends a week at her condo in Florida and for the last few years, I’ve been joining her. We do the same things she’s been doing every year: kayak on the Manatee River, swim in the condo’s pool, go out on a sunset sail, sit on the beach, walk along the sound, and eat crab legs at three different restaurants.

If you’re an ENFP, you may think that sounds like hell, repeating the same activities year after year. You would prefer to go to a place you’ve never been to, and explore all of its possibilities.

But wait a minute, let me make a case for the ISTJ way of vacationing, because I suspect that anyone, of any type, might enjoy it.  

First of all, because my sister has been doing these things for so many years, she knows how to do them right. For example, when we go kayaking, we go on Monday because that’s when we’re most likely to be alone on the river. The night before, she takes two bottles of “Simply Lemonade,” empties a little off the top, replaces it with vodka and puts the bottles in the freezer. The next morning, she packs a bag for each of us with a bottle of spiked lemonade, a bottle of frozen water, and a hefty serving of dry roasted peanuts. We each bring a small cushion to put behind us, which makes the seat very comfortable, and for three hours, we drift quietly down the river, paddling only to steer the kayak, admiring the trees and flowers, eating peanuts and getting a pleasant vodka buzz. It’s heaven, and I look forward to it all year.

Of course there are surprises; there are always surprises. One year the kayak rental owners had a peacock on the premises who was showing off his plumage, another year, an owl was perched in a tree right above us and hooted down at us. One year we saw an alligator sunning himself, and one year we actually saw a manatee. 

The point is, my sister has done this so many times she has worked out the kinks, and she knows how to make the experience simply perfect.

I once read a quote by a world famous chef. His advice to young cooks is to make a dish so many times that you have experienced almost everything that can go wrong with it, so you know how to avoid the possible errors. When it comes to vacations, my sister is like that famous chef. She has made all of the errors, and she knows how to avoid them.

ISTJs get a lot of flack for being resistant to change, but there are good reasons for their resistance. It’s because the routines and traditions that they have developed were hard won. They made all of the mistakes and learned all of the lessons, so now their finished product works every time. We need to remember that when we go in with our ideas for big changes. First, we need to ask why things are the way they are, and to acknowledge all of the painful lessons that have been learned.

I know that when I first arrive at the condo, the chicken salad and gazpacho that my sister has prepared will taste absolutely delicious and just the way I expect it. I know that while I’m with her I’ll never be hungry, thirsty, hot, cold, uncomfortable, bored or afraid, because my sister has experienced it all before me and now knows how to avoid it. I don’t have to repeat her mistakes, and that’s a great gift she gives to me.

This year, we did some new things, mostly because so many people had recommended them to my sister that their experience almost made up for her lack of experience. The new things were fun, but they weren’t perfect, like the old things. We came away with a little bit of dissatisfaction and things we would change if we came back next year.

For years, the people at my sister’s condo community complained about the temperature of their swimming pool. It always seemed too warm or too cold. But now the maintenance men seemed to have found the perfect temperature, where you don’t get any shock when you jump in, but it still feels refreshing after the hot sun. It took at least 20 years and a lot of aggravation to find that perfect temperature. I never jump in now without remembering what went into that lovely water. Thank god for the things that are perfect every time, and for the people (mostly ISTJs) who finally got them to that place.

 

4 Comments

Going with the Flow and Over the Cliff

My son’s girlfriend, Amy, is an ISFP. One night last summer, my son made a fire in our fire pit and we were all sitting around admiring it. “There’s a trick to making a good fire,” said my son. Amy jumped up and said, “Show me.” Pretty soon she was helping him move logs around the fire and collect sticks from the woods.

That struck me. It’s rare that people show that much interest in other people’s activities. Even if we think it would be nice to know the trick to a good fire, most of us would probably just ask. Getting up from a comfortable chair to actually participate in fire-making, well that’s something very few of us would do.

You might think it’s because she’s in love, but I see her do it with everyone. With my daughter – a real foodie – Amy has long, animated conversations about good restaurants. Even with our family on New Year’s Day, Amy seemed to really enjoy listening to us read out the family memories of the year that I have been recording each month, and asked me questions about how I keep the records.

Amy reminds me of two of my friends who are also SFPs.  Over the years, I have always been impressed with how “present” they are. When they are with me, they seem to be completely with me. The attentive, happy look on their faces makes me feel like there is nowhere else they’d rather be, and they are just having a marvelous time.

If I suggest an outing or a get together, they are always up for it. Whatever is going on in the moment is the most interesting thing in the world to them.

They are both mothers, and when I used to watch them with their kids, I’d think, “It must be nice to grow up with someone who looks like she just loves being with you, and would not want to change a thing about you,” because that is just the vibe they sent to their children. My SFP friends send that vibe to me as well. When they leave, I always feel as if I am perfect just the way I am.

I wish I could return that vibe. Unfortunately, there is one thing that I would really like to change about them.

That sensing and perceiving ability to enjoy the present moment, to go with the flow, to adapt to what is in front of you, can be a real handicap when the flow is going in a bad direction. Over the years, I often heard my SFP friends complain about the way they felt in their marriages. I can’t count how many times I said to them, “Did you tell him? Does he know?”

They never did tell them though, and over time things built up to a point where it became intolerable for them, and they suddenly walked out. Their spouses were completely shocked. The children were too, and took sides with their dads, and my friends are now, for the most part, alone.

I could never understand why they never said to their husbands, “This is the way I’m feeling when I’m with you,” or “This is what I need and am not getting.” I also didn’t understand why they never confided their feelings to their children. But I realize now that talking about negative feelings is a lot easier for me than for them.

We both share the feeling types’ dread of confrontation, but being an intuitive, I’m more comfortable with language and discussions about anything. The secret to initiating a difficult conversation is finding words that aren’t going to bring retaliation on your head, and even though I tried to give my friends examples of things they could say to their spouses, like, “When you said that, I felt unwanted,” they didn’t seem to trust words or expressing vulnerability. It was more natural for them to express their feelings in sudden and dramatic action.

Part of the reason they didn’t trust words may have been that they both had a history of getting “out-talked” by their husbands and being confused and silenced by them, whereas no one has ever been able to leave me at a loss for words, at least not for long.

Also, being a judging type, I’m more comfortable with directing the action than going with the flow. I believe that bad things just keep getting worse unless you do something to stop them, whereas my friends seemed to believe that if they just waited long enough, things would sort themselves out on their own.

Thank goodness that Amy, my son’s girlfriend, doesn’t remind me of my friends in that way. When my son has done something thoughtless and bone-headed, she tells him soon afterwards, in a nice way, that the action hurt her, and they talk it out. Amy only reminds me of the things I love about my SFP friends - that it’s wonderful to be with someone who thoroughly enjoys you and whatever you are doing.

 

No Comments