Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Steal This Book*



According to the Meyers-Briggs personality index, I am an INFJ.** Though the "I" (introvert) causes me some degree of trouble out there in my culture of extreme extroverts, even more challenging is being a "J". As a judger, I tend to take things quite literally, always a problem, and too I construct for myself millions of rules that, if not followed, create in me such a sense of failure or at least stress, even though these rules come out of my own head and serve no real purpose.

Lately, as a result of re-working certain stories of my life, my habit of rule-making has become completely transparent. My revisioned personal history has given me a more flexible foundation to stand on, allowing me to loosen my habit of rule making. I don't know how to explain it. It sounds so weird to say that knowing I had fun in high school has reverberated throughout my life, but it has.

You would not believe how much more relaxed I feel. It's this ability to relax that has helped me realize it isn't crucial, for instance, to first slice the banana, then add the granola, and lastly spoon in the yogurt, when making breakfast. This combination can be assembled in any order I like, with no harm done. What a revelation for a rule-bound person such as myself!

My immediate environment has reflected this recent loosening of self applied rules. Out of the blue my roommate suddenly this week replaced my front door. The "ex" door wasn't fancy, but it served the purpose, closing and opening as needed. The new door is super cool, sleek. Doors are potent symbols, marking as they do the boundaries between one thing and another. Having a brand new very cool door means something, at least to me. I love my new door!

Yesterday my roommate told me he has also ordered new windows for my room. Custom windows that will open and close smoothly and easily. First, a brand new door and next, new windows to the world? Wow. I know it's early yet, but so far I am really liking 2009.

**Don't give me that look, Coffee Messiah, for labeling myself. In this case, the label helps me understand my tendencies, rather than pigeonholing me.

*A low bow and serious gassho to Abbie Hoffman, a quintiscential rule breaker. I salute you.


33 comments:

A Cuban In London said...

Doors can be the way out to succeed or a shortcut to failure. I enjoyed your post, especially as I am an 'E' :-).

Greetings from London.

Wildeve said...

I love how the Rumi poem in your last post somehow manifested in your life as real doors and windows, how cool is that? And I love how you turn a phrase. Hooray for the loosening...

My ex came home with a copy of Abby Hoffman's book in the Seventies. He stole it.

Reya Mellicker said...

A shortcut to failure? I'll give that some thought!

Reya Mellicker said...

A shortcut to failure? I'll give that some thought!

Reya Mellicker said...

Your ex stole the book? Wow, that is cool.

And thank you for linking the poem and the "real" life events. Believe it or not, I had not put that together.

Joanne said...

As we're planning some cosmetic house work this spring, including a new front door, you've given me pause for consideration. What do I want that door to say?

Angela said...

Your rule-making and -obeying sounds very different from myself, Reya. Strange how we all live on different earths. I think I have decided very early in my life that rules just keep me shut in, and I did not want that. I like open doors, too.

John Hayes said...

I can be a creature of routine-- which is "rules" in a sense-- no question that spontaneity, breaking rules or routine can be a "door" to creativity.

Reya Mellicker said...
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ArtSparker said...

I prefer the enneagram to the Meyers Briggs, because it seems more fine-tuned and flexible, also there is some built in humor. I find If I change my answer to one question depending on mood, and there are many questions on Meyers Briggs to which I feel indifferent, I change my "type".

scarlethue said...

I'm an INFJ too, and what's funny is that I and another blogger (Joy at Red Silk Streams) were just talking over the weekend about being INFJs. Serendipity that you'd blog about it today :)

I make rules for myself too, and it drives my husband crazy even though he's a J too. I guess because he's a T (ENTJ altogether) he rationally knows that the process by which I make myself do things actually have no purpose.

ArtSparker, I'm the opposite-- I can't seem to find myself in any of the enneagram types. I think I'm a 9, just from reading descriptions, but when I take the tests I never get that result! I identify with several of the categories but never completely, not the way I completely identified with the description of INFJ.

willow said...

Doors and windows are both very symbolic! Very interesting.

Fire Byrd said...

It's a very liberating place to be, to be able to break our own rules and to realise that the roof won't fall down on us as a result.. You go girl.

Meri Arnett-Kremian said...

Going out, staying in..... hmmmm, I can't decide. And I love the process of deciding better than the outcome. Can you tell that I'm a P, not a J?
And my other letters are "I" - just barely; "N" without any tempering by S; and though I test as just over the border into T-ness, probably because of all those years in law school and practicing law, I'm really an F. So INFP, that's me. Never could figure out enneagrams, either.

Chris Wolf said...

Have you taken the Strength Finders evaluation? I found it extremely helpful to focus on what I'm good at and not be put in a box. It leaves a lot of open doors (and windows) for further self discovery.

Lover of Life said...

The "mind" is an amazing task-master, not to mention always offering its opinion on everything. Using the personality test, as a guide, you get some idea where your mind likes to go.

Reya Mellicker said...

Yes the mind is capricious and opinionated, sometimes with conflicting opinions. Sometimes? Should say ALWAYS.

On the Enneagram I am definitely a four with a 3 wing. I love ALL systems that help me get a grip on who I am, but must remember Coffee Messiah's warning not to take it all too seriously.

Butternut Squash said...

The one and only fight that I ever had with my husband was over rules. He forget to tell me that his imaginary lines were supposed to apply to me as well. Fortunately, although he may be rule bound, he is very smart. Now there are no more rules, only requests.

I find all of the labeling hysterically funny! Even if I did fit a category, I'm denying it.

I'm off to take my shaman walk and I'm leaving my doors and windows wide open. And its winter, ha, ha!

jenna said...
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Merrim said...

Hi Reya you reminded me of my Mother , She loves doors!! ...doors also preserve what is insight, show status, keep other things out ... but most of all doors , in my view , are made to be open .. because when you open it and take a step you are opening your life to new opportunities , friends, family and life it self... i would say , if you alowe me to ,that this year is offering you new paths and adventures ... enjoy them!!

Delwyn said...

Hello to one INFJ to another.
I like to approach life now with a mantra that goes something like: "how can I do it differently." There are so many things we do by mimicking our mothers - the ways we prepare food and organize our homes for example, one day I realized that there must be many other good ways to do all these tasks and I began to look for them. Whereas once I was stuck in my regimented rules I now look to see how others do things differently...It adds freshness and I learn more. Rules can be so stymieing.

tut-tut said...

Windows and doors; very important.

Reya Mellicker said...

Blonder than You said:

i never think of you as a "rule follower" i think of you as "ritualistic"... rules are made for breaking but rituals... feel grounding...
xoxo

Reya Mellicker said...

Here are two things I love about these comments:

First that there are so many of us INFJ's here. Very cool.

Second that there are so many differing opinions about rules and rule following. Very cool! As rule bound as I have been (seem to no longer be) I love variety, I honor and respect other points of view.

Artsparker must certainly be a "P" instead of a "J" which is why she prefers the Enneagram. Just guessing on that Artsparker - no intention of putting you into a box.

I like the specifics of Meyers-Briggs. But I like the Enneagram too.

e said...

I'm an INTP and a four with a three wing, a two wing. The worst rules are almost always self-imposed, for me, anyway. I've always found the symbolism of doors intrguing, as is the choice to walk through one and leave another behind or unopened. You are going to have an interesting year.

Reya Mellicker said...

Believe me, e, it's already really interesting!

Ronda Laveen said...

I can't remember how I finished on the Meyers-Briggs. I'd have to find the paper work. And I don't know much about the Enneagram. Being a life long remodeler, doors and windows are pretty comfortable territory. I love my new windows, which aren't all that new anymore. I love opening up the entire house and feeling the air flow through on windy days. Doors and windows can bring joy.

kathi said...

I have no idea what tests you're referring to but I always do things in a pretty routine way.
Does that make me OCD or AEIOU?

Mrsupole said...

I too do not know about this test, but it is funny about the breakfast rules. On some mornings I make a protein shake, or at least what I call a protein shake. I always do it the same way, I slice the banana, first then I put in the dry protein mix, the coffee mocha mix, I then add exactly 8 ice cubes, one small chocolate truffle and then milk. I never thought about how I always follow the same routine when making this. I guess when I make a bowl of cereal it is the same way, cereal first, milk and if needed a small amount of sugar. I am surprised I do not measure the sugar. This is the only meal I do this.

Wonder what I would be if I took the test. I do believe some rules are made to be broken. Only the ones that cause no harm to anyone.

That first picture was so beautiful, the colors were amazing and Jake seems to have been taking some great walks. I like the blue jacket he has on. Red VW really reflects well.

Val said...

something for you on mine! although i havent managed to upload the pic yet - you can find it on Angelas Letters From Usedom xx

Adrianne said...

I'm another INFJ to add to the mix. It's interesting that so many of your regular readers are INFJs, because it is, statistically speaking, the least common of the M-B types. I only found out my M-B type in 2007, and, like you, I found the typing process to be not so much a label or pigeonhole as a way to understand myself and other people more fully. Always a good thing, in my view.

As for the 'J-ness,' in addition to being an INFJ I also am also a Capricorn, which tends to compound my rule-bound nature. A lot of what I have been doing during my 1.5 years away from the workforce is observing and understanding the rules that I traditionally have had and loosening up the ones that no longer (maybe even never) make sense. My new "rule" is to be more comfortable with guidelines, rather than bright lines, in most things. Life has been a lot more fun that way.

Bee said...

Reya - so funny, but my daughter came home from school yesterday -- all full of information about the M-B personality index. (I think she was the exact opposite of you!)

Also - we are getting new windows!

I don't know why, but these little coincidences charm me. I'm glad that you are loosening up on your rule-bound structures.

Morgan said...

The feathers would usually be symbolic of an intellectual person becoming more spiritual. As photographed they point west, northwest, and north, and the directions generally have symbolic meaning to us all, though the meaning will vary according to where you live and how you think.