No man is your enemy, no man is your friend. Every man is your teacher.
A likely story. But not so easy to accept when we are not in tune with someone else or we just don’t see eye-to-eye or we’re not on the same page or we’re at each others throats. Know what I mean?
Last week I expressed my gratitude to all of y’all and I’m not saying that this week the honeymoon is over, not at all. But I wanted to expand on that. First comes love and then what?
Well, then comes finding out that we are different.
Yesterday I was listening to an interview with Kate Bernhardt where she was explaining Carl Jung’s genius types. Jung published his theories in 1921 as a biblical-sized book called Personality Types. Then during World War Two, when women were sent to work without knowing what skill sets they had, Katherine Cook Briggs and her daughter, Isabel Briggs Myers, turned Jung’s study into a personality test for practical use. Perhaps you have heard of or taken the Myers Briggs test?
According to Kate Bernhardt, Jung’s original work was much more detailed, but I will attempt to recall what she said about it. Basically there are eight personality types that all of us can be categorized into. We are born this way, with certain areas of our brain having more active neurons in the corresponding parts. Our personality type indicates the way in which we process information. She compares it to different opperating systems on the computer, like using Excel or Word. Both these systems process and use information in their own way. Our brains deal with information in similarly different ways.
Ms Bernhardt gave the example of Albert Einstein, whose internal world was so intricately organised that he needed freedom on the outside world. He was famous for looking eccentric with crooked glasses and uncombed hair and apparently would go out in his boxer shorts at times, as putting pants on had slipped his mind. Physicists share similar characteristics and we can also think of the absent minded professor, mumbling and fumbling amongst his piles of books. For others, whose internal world is not ordered, they need to create order in their environment, and everything must be neat and tidy. It is not as simple as neat or not neat, obviously, but these are just some examples she gave.
As our processes are in-built from birth, it does not change during our life-time, but can mature and develop and by accepting what kind of processor we are, we can function at a genius level. So Gandi, Jesus and Martin Luther King were the same type, as were Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.
It’s great to find out that you are actually a genius right? Perhaps you expected it all along or it may even come as a complete surprise. Only one thing’s for sure – thinking you’re a genius is not going to help you get out of a fight.
So often in life we are made to address the issues of what we are not or we blame others for what they aren’t. In knowing what we are and how we work, perhaps we are freed from feelings of inadequacy for those things we seem incapable of and we are also hopefully able to understand others better. Now we have something real to blame – neurological differences!
And if we are all processing the world differently, then wouldn’t this be the cause of so much conflict? We find it strange that someone else acted in a certain way when we wouldn’t have done or said the same. But we are only perceiving the world through a certain filter and theirs may be different. And often we are attracted to exactly those people who process information differently - they have what we lack – and so conflict is guaranteed.
This is exactly where the gold lies though – the people closest to us have the most to teach us. The conflict is an opportunity for us to work through and clear our shit. Sometimes our reaction to other people is to close up and get defensive, unconsciously we blame the other to protect our own ego. If we do this, we are missing the chance to step into a higher state of being.
And what do I mean by ‘shit’? I’m sure we all know what our shit is. I think of it as the repeated habits or ways of thinking that keep us small and stop us from living a full life. We all want love and connection and interesting conversation and a healthy body and to be heard and respected and to do satisfying work and help others and have pleasure everyday and to be divinely guided and feel abundantly wealthy and creative and get a good night’s sleep. Have I missed anything? So what is standing in our way of having all of that now?
And these repetitive thoughts.
And these behaviours that don’t serve us.
Maybe there is someone bugging you at work. Or home. Or at coffee. Or on the team. Or at the pub. Or at the family gathering. Maybe your reaction is to plan your escape or to yell or to blame or to strike out or to sulk or to bitch or to go into your cave or to tune out. Or all of the above.
But these people – you and me – are here to teach us. We need this friction in our lives to grow. Without it, an endless summer with no seasons.
It is easy to write when you know what you want to say. It is easy to laugh when you’re happy. It is easy to talk when everyone is getting on. It is easy to love when the other person thinks the sun shines out of your arse. The real work is in loving, doing and being despite….