Entries Tagged as "Spirituality"

Eulogies

Thank goodness you decided to read on. Thank you.  For some, eulogies clearly are about the topic of death and that is enough to keep them away.

I am at an age where people I know are dying and some are such good friends that I want to acknowledge their life in some way.  A eulogy is one way to do that. 

The church I attend has a “collage of voices” in the memorial service in which they combine remembrances from many people into one long eulogy.  I am a regular contributor. 

So how do I write those eulogies?  They call for use of the functions and my type dynamics as an ESTJ.  I use extraverted Thinking to structure the process and I have come up with a formula – I want to include stories, humor, personality characteristics and quirks, family member acknowledgements, and tugs at my heart.  I carefully critique my eulogies, often tweaking them as I remember more and more about the person and go deeper and deeper into their lives.  (If you want to see an example, you are invited to read "Susan Brock: A Memorial." (2000). Journal of Psychological Type, 53, 37-39.)

So here’s my process.  I use my introverted Sensing to recall as many stories about the person as possible; how did we connect?  What did I see that person saying and doing? 

Then I figure out what each of those stories told me about the underlying characteristics of that person using Intuition to find the patterns. Did the story show them to be inventive, conscientious, analytical, giving or just what?

Sometimes I reverse that process, first identifying their characteristics and then finding illustrations of those. 

Each person has left a mark in this world through living out their values and I make sure to include those values and their contributions (aka introverted Feeling). Each person also leaves loved ones behind and I try to acknowledge them and their special relationship with the person who has died. This part calls upon my inferior function and is what often brings me to tears as it hits me and I see what we’ve lost.

Once after a memorial service a friend and I were talking about how lovely the eulogies and those collages of voices were and how we need to hear those things in our lives now.  I promptly went home and wrote up something for her.  She said when she opened it, she cried, and thanked me for it. 

The school of positive psychology suggests writing these “gratitudes” and sending them to people in your life who have made a difference.  And even more important for your state of mind, it recommends that you do this for yourself daily answering the question “what of your strengths did you use today in a new or different way?”

Career counselors sometimes use the technique of having clients write their own eulogies. It helps to focus on future goals and reveals what is important to the person.

I find eulogies to be uplifting and the ultimate story; they inspire me to live a life of both service and joy.  What do you find them to be?

 

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Personality type is a habit – a cognitive habit

This post feels like it’s going to be a bit all over the place. Apologies in advance. Maybe I don’t want to feel boxed in today – or maybe I don’t feel like boxing others in. So, here goes…

Personality is a habit. Habits can arise from innate predispositions, from environmental demands, and from the interaction between the two. Habits arise from practice. Consequently, personality type is a habit. A particular kind of habit.

In some models of personality, we look at a habitual ways of behaving, or orienting to relationships, or orienting to power. From a type perspective, personality is a habitual way of using one’s mental functions. Thus, we have a psychology of cognition - of how we orient our consciousness. These cognitive habits may or may not show in a particular behavior, a particular career or partner choice, and so on.

And now there’s that word – choice.

We may have a constitutional predisposition to get such needs as security, affiliation, freedom, power, and identity met in certain ways. We may also have a constitutional predisposition to use certain mental functions to get those needs met. BUT, this doesn’t also mean that we can’t choose our behavior. In fact, civilizations are built on the human capacity to choose behavior – to get some needs met in ways that don’t destroy a society.

This is one of the functions of the ego – to aid in adaptation. And to help us choose – consciously. We constantly make “adjustments” between innate predispositions and the outer socio-cultural environment. Jung noted that starting in youth we often develop a particular function to help us adapt to and survive in the world. Predisposition interacts with environment and is mediated by the ego. Thus a set of habits – and a type - are born.

Of course there’s vastly more to people than their type; the functions of S, N, T and F do not, for example, constitute one’s will, memory, imagination, intellect and emotions. This is one explanation of why all INFPs, for example, aren’t psychotherapists. Or why all therapists aren’t INFPs. Predisposition. Environment. Adaptation. Choice.

Since type is about cognitive orientation, note too that just because a person identifies as a certain type, we shouldn’t presume to know how they’re going to behave – or what they’ll choose. Since we’re adaptable creatures, we can develop habits that don’t seem to match our preferences.

And now there’s another word – identity.

How do I identify? What is my sense of self? It’s possible - and probably natural at least initially - for someone’s conscious identity to be a bit “tied” to a way of orienting to self and the world. For example, any given ESFP’s sense of self may be more or less tied to Sensing and Feeling - and they may have more or less access to other functions. Thus, one ESFP might be quite comfortable using Thinking and characterizing a particular thing they thought or did as “tough-minded.” In contrast, another ESFP might have something they said or did pointed out to them as “tough-minded” and they might be quite upset by that characterization; it flies in the face of their conscious sense of self. Just because a function was relegated to the unconscious, doesn’t mean it goes away or ceases having impact in our lives.

It’s in these eye-opening and/or uncomfortable moments that the unconscious “reminds” us of a larger self and world of which we are unaware. Lesser-preferred functions continue to operate and we need to honor them. Otherwise, we’re in danger of becoming rigid in our identity, letting nothing in that doesn’t fit with our sense of self or our view. We become a stereotype of ourselves and in that rigidity become fragile. Sadly too, we remain out of touch with the energetic ground of our being and psyche - the foundation out of which the differentiated and adapted self emerges. If we respond to the call to move beyond our adapted self and conscious identity, then maturation can continue.

In some ways all of this talk of innate predispositions and adaptation to the environment sounds so… clinical. Or purely biological. Mechanistic even. But in emphasizing how we as egos and identities adapt to our environment – how we negotiate between inner and outer forces - I neglect the beauty and the mystery and the vastness that is everything other than the ego and identity. The unconscious, the larger self, the mystery, the spirit. But that’s what happens isn’t it? In focusing on one thing, we push other things aside for a bit. But that doesn’t mean those things aren’t there, right?

Trust me, they’re there.

 

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