We are all multidimensional in the sense that most of us, if not all, are ambiverts – we are neither fully introverts nor fully extroverts, as we are usually somewhere in between the two polarities, and we may lean towards one end in some situations and towards the other end in some other situations. I think it is also true that the personality type profiles are limited because even though they may represent or match some or most of our individual traits, they may not be able to fully describe our uniqueness or represent the multidimensional aspects of ourselves. At best, the personality type profiles may help us understand ourselves in terms of why we may respond to situations differently from others in social situations, and at worst, the personality type profiles may unwittingly result in stereotyping or over-generalisation of people.
There have been situations in life in which I find myself opening up and interacting with people in social settings, and I usually tend to do that when I am comfortable with them, and sometimes it can also be easier to talk and get to know new people because in such social settings, everyone is eager to be friendly. I was googling about “infp introspective conversation” earlier on since I find myself leaning towards this particular personality type, and I found this article which I kind of resonate with on some ways INFPs can improve their social interaction skills. Like what the article says, INFPs sometimes over-scrutinise themselves and avoid small talk, and the writer suggests that sometimes small talk can be helpful when it comes to meeting new people because it can help them feel more at ease, and I agree with that in this aspect.
On the other hand I quite agree with this article that when it comes to determining between traits such as sensing and intuiting, “most people don’t fall at the extremes – they fall in the middle”. I also agree that people’s personality traits tend to change over time, so their MBTI types may change over time as well. I would add that people may respond differently to a similar situation they responded one year ago or five years ago. For example, when checking out a MBTI test earlier, I came across statements such as “You feel at ease in a crowd”, and for such questions, my answer may be “yes” in some situations, or “no” in other situations, as it depends on several factors such as the kind of crowd I am in, my general mood and disposition during that time, and so on. I agree with the conclusion in the article that “finding out my personal strengths and weaknesses is a process that can take a lifetime, and is most likely not going to be reflected in any one set of numbers from a personality test”, and such tests may only serve as a useful tool or guide so long as I am aware of their limitations.
“I am large, I contain multitudes.”
- Walt Whitman
I have checked out the video and I resonate with Drew Sumrall’s message on what it means to be a militant of truth, and I learnt that Paul was a militant of the universality of truth by maintaining a steadfast fidelity to the event of the cross, or the death and resurrection of Christ, through faith, hope and love, which are the three things that remain. I noted that love is the work of maintaining fidelity to the event in the here and now, and love is over and above all other things such as spirituality, faith, charity and hope, which, while having their place, are worthless without love, for “the greatest of these is love”.
According to Drew, the mystery of love is our incompleteness reaching out to love the other, for love is about the other, hence the work of the militant of truth is to love the other. He added that love is what faith is capable of, which means faith is only the beginning of the work of love. He also said that they hanged Jesus on the tree not because he preached hate or he preached love but because he lived love, and his death was the consequence of his love. Love is the narrow road and the small gate, which paradoxically leads to life.
I noted that true love doesn’t foster acceptance as it foments rejection, and just by loving another, who is the other, we will risk a great deal, and as Drew said, to have everything without love is nothing, for the greatest of these things that remain is love. This is a timeless message to me that is worth remembering and meditating upon.
Recently, I was reading up on Freud and Lacan psychoanalysis, and I learnt from this article that Lacan has built on the foundation of Freud’s works and developed his theories on the real, imaginary and symbolic.
According to the above-mentioned article, the real is always necessarily outside experience, and denotes what we might imagine as the blissful state of pure being, whereas experience is only possible in the symblic. To me, this implies there is something deeper beyond the surface of life on earth. After all, there has to be more to life than just the physical activities such as being born, eating, walking, and so on. As the article noted, “we start off as no more than mindless animalistic subjects awaiting access to the world of meaning”. Perhaps this is where literature and psychoanalysis come into the picture, to serve as tools for us human beings to uncover deeper meanings beyond the surface of life itself.
The article also says “The human imaginary begins with the mirror stage. What this means is that a child identifies with another (an image of itself in the mirror or some other similar figure like a child of the same age). The ego is made up of successive layers of such identifications but is fundamentally nothing in itself.” This reminds me of the similar theory of Girard’s theory of mimetic desire, which can be positive or negative, depending on whether it develops into mimetic love or mimetic rivalry. Maybe the gospels in the bible is meant to be a mirror in which people see themselves and understand their true nature of love, when seen through the mirror of Christ, and vice versa.
I think it is especially helpful to see the bible through a psychoanalytic perspective because it helps me to see Jesus as a physician/psychoanalyst who came to help humanity embrace their own brokenness and pains. I was reflecting that perhaps like Jesus himself, I am also battered, brusied and wounded by the societal system of the world. His life and teachings encourage me to tune out from the distractions and delusions of the world system, and tune in to the frequency and sensitivity of the spirit within, to recognise that life is suffering since we experience pain and sorrow when we encounter loss, death, harsh words, callous treatment from the inhumane system. I learnt from this article that the attitude adopted by the power structure is called “triumphalism”.
“Triumphalism is the attitude or belief that a particular doctrine, religion, culture, or social system is superior to and should triumph over all others. Triumphalism is not an articulated doctrine but rather a term that is used to characterize certain attitudes or belief systems by parties…”
Such societal attitudes in power structures (principalities and powers) often hurt us and inflict emotional wounds, and hence psychoanalysis can help us heal from our wounds, when we identify the sources of our hurts, and acknowledge and embrace our wounds. We can also take comfort in knowing we are not alone in our sufferings as Jesus has gone through similar sufferings before too – this is something I would remind myself as a consolation.
Egalitarianism is a collective of those excluded from the power structure of society
I was reading Chapter 4 of Drew Sumrall’s book “An essay toward universal revolution“, and I like what he wrote here as it resonates with me:
“To put it another way, the Christian ‘negation of negation’ is the move from society’s excluded (content) to a society of the excluded (form).
This is why the egalitarianism that is Christian Universalism is in no way utopian, for it seeks the impossible only after moving outside the possible – the kingdom of God lies outside the count (of the society proper). Therefore it cannot include All, for it is a collective of those excluded from All - a society outside society – which is precisely why division is Universalism: the excluded is the universal singular.
The dialectical paradox is that Christianity’s being ‘for all’ means that it is in fact not for All. And it is in this way that egalitarian struggle is – at its very core – a Christian project. The epoch of Spirit on the horizon is that what names revolution ‘for all’ who have been excluded from All.
So when one speaks of Christian Universalism, one is not at all speaking of the ‘big number’, but rather the exception to the ‘big number’ – not the count, but those excluded from the count, for (and for the last time) division is Universalism.
This, my dear brothers and sisters, is egalitarian equality: not the powers granting equal rights to all those beneath, but the world rid of the powers.”
(From “An essay toward universal revolution” by Drew Sumrall)
Yes, it is comforting to know that we are in good company if/when we find ourselves being seen or treated as “a society of the excluded”, because that is where the kingdom of God is, according to Drew Sumrall – “outside the count (of the society proper)”. Being excluded from the mainstream society, then, becomes no longer a stigma but a blessing, as we bear the mark of Christ in his crucifixion and resurrection, because I used to despair about how I wasn’t able to fit into the mainstream since young, no thanks to the relentless competitive and “meritocratic” system in education and other aspects of society.
The meritocratic system is fundamentally flawed
Lately, I have been musing how the “reward” system or the meritocratic system is fundamentally flawed, as it debases and degrades humanity. For example, the formal school education system – by attempting to reward students with points for giving the “right” answers or for participating in class discussions – may have, perhaps unwittingly, robbed people of the ability or the need to really think for themselves. It is sad if they have been conditioned by this “reward” system to the extent that their motivation for participating in class is only for the sake of scoring more points, instead of for the desire for truth and justice, or for making the world a better place. Indeed, the meritocratic system of the society may have only succeeded in churning out people who are brought up to toe the line and conform to the system, which seeks to control them with material “carrots and sticks” based on their performance or willingness to obey and submit to “authority”, instead of listening to and following their heart/intuition to bring about justice and equality in the world for the betterment of humanity and the environment.
According to Dr Brene Brown, empathy is feeling connection. It involves seeing from the other person’s perspective, staying out of judgment, recognising the emotions of the person, and communicating that.
Empathy is entering into that sacred space in which we say to the other person “I know what it is like down here. You are not alone.”
Empathy is a vulnerable choice in which in order to connect with the other person, I need to connect with something in myself that knows the other person’s feelings.
Sometimes it helps to not draw a silver lining in the clouds to try to make something better at that time. What makes something better is connection (of love and understanding), which may involve admitting that we do not know what to say or do too.
“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another.” (Romans 12:15-16)
I find this guided meditation video helps me to focus on being aware of my breathing.