Posted by Dee (220.127.116.11) on September 10, 2003 at 08:06:31:
In Reply to: Re: being an unhealthy four...avoidant personality~ posted by Kitty (18.104.22.168) on September 10, 2003 at 03:46:14:
> > Sorry if I do this wrong, I've not posted to many message boards!
> > I came to this site after a long personal search to find out more about my personality. Obviously that led me to the enneagram, and after taking every test I could find (for free anyway), and reading every piece of material available (again, for free), I've come to the conclusion that I am a 4w5. YOur story has only solidified that conclusion. About two years ago I felt very much like you currently do. I had moved from NY to CA with almost no money and very little forethought - just to get away, basically to run away from my past, from my pain, and, probably, from myself. For a time, I found a niche in CA, working for, not surprisingly I guess, a company that published psychological assessments! They liked my psychology undergrad and MBA combo (the MBA being an earlier "sell-out," another rash move I made, that time in the name of my version of "practicality"). After a while with that company, and some success, that 4-ish need to ponder the grass on the other side of the hill turned into an unbelievable anxiety and a feeling that if I did not quit my job, abandon my career, and "do something more myself," I would quite literally just die. That led to depression, social anxiety, and an unbelievable period of perceptiveness - though I was almost not functioning in the real world, I was at least thoroughly enjoying the colors and textures that at that time accompanied the music I listened to (I hear synesthesia is actually fairly common to 4s), and my ongoing emotional dialogue with myself.
> > That all now looks strange to type out on a screen like this. Since then, I have turned things around quite a bit. Relatives I call whom I have not spoken with in a while don't even recognize my voice at first. I am happier and feel better than I ever have, despite the fact that objectively I am worse off than I ever have been. I am flat broke, have $80K in student loan debt accrued, am unemployed, just lost my (almost) fiancee, live with my former abusers, and have little to show. Yet somehow I feel happier and, for the first time ever, I know that my life is going to turn out well, and that I have the skills and drive to do the hard work to make it well.
> > I guess my main message is this - you have to find a path to what some enneagram authors have called equanimity, and what I call peace of mind brought about by realizing a few key points: you are, and always have been, just as good as anyone else; your definitions of "success" and "happiness" are just as valid as those of anyone else; you have skills to bring to this world that very few others can; things will not always be the way they are - as Buddhists say, this too shall pass; America's ridiculous obsession with superficiality is soon to pass as well - you, with your gift of emotional depth play a crucial role in making that happen; one look at any major bookstore, or a google search online reveals this - 'Merica is starving for spirituality, emotional depth, and growth - just look at the number of self-help and spirituality books of all persuasions; you cannot change how you were born, where you were born, or what people did, and continue to do, to you, but you are absolutely totally responsible for what you let those external circumstances do to you inside; you are the only one who can change your reality; if you want things to be different, you must change them.
> > Maybe that all sounds a bit harsh; it looks harsh to me. But no single decision in my life was ever as important to my current state as making the decision that I was going to do all in my power to co-create a more personally meaningful and rewarding life for myself. I decided to take a journey inward, really look at, and think about, myself, and figure out how what has happened has happened. I discovered that I played a part in every negative event in my life. Literally every one. Every girl that has hurt me - I alone am responsible for attracting her to me, and for being attracted to her. The question was why. I discovered that I let events from my past - an abusive childhood - shape what I did every day of my life. I let those people steal 28 years of my life. I saw that I had formed defense mechanisms early on and continued to apply them later in life. (that's what the enneagram shows - don't cling to the 4-ish, you have to move beyond it, to integrate pieces from every point). The problem is what works as a survival strategy for a 6-year old does not work for a 28-year old. In fact, those very defense mechanisms, most of mine being very much 4-ish in nature, were what was holding me back. Instead of seeing the positives and the beauty in the present, I was dwelling on what was wrong with everything, and so on. I saw that I had throughout my life attracted to myself others with similar self-esteem issues - friends, girlfriends, even work environments. That explained a lot in terms of why people had done the things they had done, which I had always taken into myself as a rejection of myself, when in fact it said far more about themselves and how low they were feeling about themselves. But again, I brought it on myself - I alone invited them into my life and allowed their views and their issues to affect me personally. I have learned to care, but with a sense of independence and autonomy. Care, but don't let them bring me down.
> > My advice is to listen to your intuition. 4s have it in abundance. It will tell you what to pursue. For me, Nathaniel Branden's books on self-esteem were an incredible, life-changing resource. Those works turned my view of the world on its head. I had always considered myself critically different from everyone else - broken, unfixable, and unlovable. Those books (and especially his writing exercises) helped me to root out the causes of those faulty, unspoken "rules" and finally put myself on an equal plane with everyone else. Another thing that has worked wonders is writing, that is, keeping a journal. Of course, as a 4, it is completely without any structure. I write when I feel like writing and what I feel like writing. When the time is right, you will be amazed at what comes flying out! Meditation has helped tremendously. I have a hard time getting my mind to stop running, and getting my feelings to stop my process of rationalization. Meditation, and something sort of like it, which I consider just turning my attention completely inward - listening to all the voices, feeling all the feelings, naming and labeling things, and just paying attention to my own internal signals, has helped me to learn about myself. It has also helped me to become more conscious of myself so that I can cut off certain tendencies I have had, like letting my feelings of anxiety, fear, and inadequacy drive me away from social encounters. I have also learned to remind myself continually that every negative mood will pass. So will every positive one, which is really just a reminder to make the most of it while it lasts. Counseling helped greatly. I decided not to take any meds; that choice was a personal one, and of course you may find them very helpful to keep you on a level plane. I found a lot of solace in the ideas of both Phenomenology and Buddhism. Both seem to allow, or rather demand that individuals co-create a reality. Yes, there is a reality, and there are perspectives. Not every perspective is as valid as every other, some "work" better in the sense that they bring that particular individual greater "success" in the real world, with other people, by that person's definition. I know that right now you are feeling that others are alien to you, superficial and shallow. Some are, but not all. Many, many people are much deeper than they let on - they are just not brave enough to show it. But back to the issue of co-creating your reality...For example, today I and my MBA, Fortune 500 experience, et al, worked a manual labor job landscaping. I could have chosen (and at first did) to see it as a failure, an indication of my current difficulty in finding work in my field. Instead I redirected my attention to the positives - getting exercise, which is so important to 4s, getting to be in nature, working to create some beauty, working with others, paying my short-term bills, and so on, which turned it into a self-esteem building day. I did what I set out to do, even though it was not easy.
> > Oh yes, to your question about jobs. I personally think that any point can do any job. As a 4 (and an INFP male), I have found that I need to somehow see my work as meaningful and creative. I also have had a hard time here because of the MBA. It was not cheap and I have a lot of bills to pay, which demands a certain level of income that more or less limits me to the field of business. I have found that market research and the training and development field have more creative, free spitited, and intellectual people than other areas of business. I would imagine that counseling, ministry, teaching, and journalism would also be good options.
> > Thanks for reading. I hope this helps at least a little. Sorry if I sound "preachy" - that's just that recently incorporated and still a little rusty "1" integration! Plus I'm really excited that all does not have to be doom and gloom as a 4/INFP.
> > > I'm new to the board and I guess I just want some sense of empathy and to feel like other people are going through the same things that I am. I'm 4w5 and INFP (wonder how many males are this way).
> > > I know my problems stem from genetics and childhood. I was born shy, so when Risso and Hudson try to implicate that our personalities are all about our connection to our parents and modeling, I just don't buy that. On the other hand, my siblings are mostly 3''s and 8's which is frustating at times. My brothers in the past think that I just simply need to be around people more often and that I'll be fine. Fact is I don't like most people as they seem so shallow and uninteresting- I hate small talk. The worst part about it is that I feel so out of place around most people because that's what 90% of what life is about, small talk, and I feel guilty and self-concsious because I think I shouold be interested in their small talk on one hand, and on the other I could really care less.
> > > It's the part of me that wants to fit in on one hand and feels guilty for not paying attention to small talk and the other side that could care less.
> > > Being a 4w/5 I'd rather talk about knowledge or ideas or human nature. It just really sucks when you never meet any people out there like you. I guess that's why i decided to finally post on this board.
> > > I think the biggest mistakes in my life deal with trying to live up to other people's expectations of what I should be versus not accepting myself for who I am. The "fire within" would duie down if I could just accept who I am and not try to live up to some gregarious, outgoing, fun, spontaneous, people pleasing image that others want me to be: or at least as I perceive them wanting me to be. Problem is I reject this notion on one hand and still feel the pressure to bve that gregarious, charming, friendly person on the other.
> > > Has anyone else who is a 4w5 been diagnosed with having avoidant personality disorder. There is a discussion board for that on another site and I think it would help \me to accept myself more and see that I am not the only person who feels so alone in this world. If anyone has, I'd like to learn more about them and their life experiences.
> > > In one of the Risso books, he talk about the fact that 4's must overcome their self-consciopusness no matter how painful it may be. Ah, sounds easy on paper but when applied to the real world it feels like an almost impossible task. At work, I feel little but overwhelming social anxiety, self-consciousness and paranoia. What angers me so m,uch is that no one seems to understand my place in life, and I think the only people that can are average to unhelathy fours. Interaction with people totally taxes my reserves as I am constantly afraid they are looking at me negatively and judgmentally...a result of the fact that I never felt appreciated or accepted by any other person in my entire life...save one or two people who were compasssionate. Hence, the avoidant personality disorder, paranoid personality disored, and even a diagnose of schizo-affective.
> > > Growing up was pretty much a nightmare in terms of finding myself in the world and pretty much continues to this day. As with most 4's, I don't feel like my parents ever understood me....perhaps they were too involved with their own issues...but when you've never heard anything but sarcasm and putdowns from your opwn father your whole life, itis no wonder that I have little self-esteem...how can I identify with a person who has bnever given me a positive statement or assurance in my entire life, who is withdrawn from people himself (he is a 9 integrated to a 3). And on the other hand I couldn't identify with a mother who thinks that attending to a childs needs only means attending to their physical needs and who has no idea on how to relate to people in a deep way.)
> > > I'd like to know more about middle-child syndrome and how that affects our lives.
> > > Anyway, I'm here and plan to come back because I sometimes feel I'm at the end of my rope and am crying for people who can realte to me. I have a multitude of issues: schizoffective, avoidant personality disorder, paranoia which I just can't seem to handle on my own anymore which is why I've come to this board.
> > > I just need to know that their are others out their like me for whom pain and loneliness seem to be the dominating factors in their life.
> > > Sorry if this sounded way too self pitying, but I just feel like I am unable to handle all my issues on my own anymore, probably doesn't help the fact that i am an alcoholic and am drunk while writing this.
> > > Thoughts and suggestions are welcome.
> > > Btw, I'd like to know what you other 4w5 do as far as careers?
> Thanks for posting. I appreciate your honesty and candor and just wanted you to know there are probably lots of people out there who read this board but don't post. Most of my 'writing time' goes toward journaling and emailing my therapists. I often want to respond but either don't have the time or am afraid of being judged for what I might say:( I think many of my general thoughts and feelings as a 4w3, INFJ female are often spoken and validated here, and I am grateful to all who post!
Thanks, you have so much to offer and have helped me in the past. I want to say thank you again for your time.
Keep coming back!
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