How do we know ourselves? Comparing versus LIKE and LOVE

How do we know ourselves? I think we tend to know ourselves by comparison. I’m shorter than my one cousin, fatter than my niece, slower than my brother, slightly worse at Maths than my best friend etc. BUT I’m also taller than another cousin, slimmer than another niece, faster than my other brother and slightly better at Maths than another friend.

And that is exactly the problem with comparing ourselves to others. There will always be somebody better than you. And there will always be somebody worse off than you. But we (OK, no: I) usually compare myself to everybody that is better than me. Usually on the days that I actually need some positive reinforcement.

I was transcribing an interview and I couldn’t quite make out what the person was saying. Something about “a ??? personality”. Of course, what do you do if you want to find out more about something? Starts with a G….?

So I googled personality types, hoping to match what I see with what I can’t quite hear … and happened on an interesting blog on the INFJ personality type:

I still don’t know what personality the interviewee was referring to, but I learned something new about my own personality type in the process.

INFJ is just one of 16 personality types according to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. (Did you know that Myers and Briggs were both female and that Briggs was Myers’ mother? Bit of useless information.)

Perman and Albritton discuss these 16 types in detail in their book I’m not crazy I’m just not you. The types are determined along a continuum of four dimentions:

(E) Extraverting   ENERGY                 Introverting (I)
(S) Sensing             PERCEPTION        Intuiting (N)
(T) Thinking          JUDGMENT           Feeling (F)
(J) Judging            ORIENTATION    Perceiving (P)

Can you see what the INFJ refers to?

You can find out what your personality type is here:

In any case, back to the point I was trying to make. At some point the INFJ coach advises the reader to answer a list of questions with positive declarations like “I love candy” in stead of negative declarations like “I eat to many sweets”.

Based on this positive declaration mindset, I now realise that I absolutely LOVE brownies. I LOVE fudge. I LOVE condensed milk. I also LIKE baking and making sweet stuffs. As soon as I reframed the brownies and fudge and condensed milk as positive, I took away my self-judgement. I’ve been complaining about eating too much sugary things and judging myself and feeling bad about it and not being on a diet even though my figure would surely thank me for having less to carry… Filling myself with dread because another day passed with too much sugar. So now I’m still eating too much sugar, but not feeling so bad about it? I understand your skepticism.

However, in the process, I also realised that I do not really LOVE or even LIKE the smores (melted marshmellows on Marie Biscuits) that I’ve been devouring one after the other. Also chips (crisps/potato chips). I’ve never been able to open a packet and not eat everything. But I don’t really LOVE or LIKE it. I’m just on automatic. Reminds me of a scene in the animation Ratatouille where the food critic is criticised for being so thin and that he obviously doesn’t like food. And he replies: I don’t like food. I LOVE food. And if I don’t LOVE it, I don’t swallow!

I do hope that the premise that you can’t change what you’re not aware of will proof to be true. I mean, really. If I could delete automatic intake of the smores and chips that I don’t LOVE, my hips would surely be better off?

Any way, I have started writing down the little things I like/love every day. Now instead of comparing myself to what I observe of someone else (comparing my insides to somebody else’s outsides) – and basing my self-image on how well I compare, or not – I now find comfort, pleasure and self-acceptance in my little quirks: I like “playing around” (meaning not in too much detail) with apps and software that improve my work and/or that works well. I absolutely LOVE a colourful plate of food (any plate of food looks better with a bit of green, have you noticed?). I LIKE my first cup of coffee in the morning. I LIKE Google.

For some strange reason, I feel like ending this piece with:

How much do I love thee, let me count  the ways 🙂



Here’s the first step

Too much positive feedback seems to have immobilised me with this second post after the l-o-n-g break. I’ve decided to follow Napoleon Hill’s advice to face this uncertainty:

Here’s the first step: Start right where you are. Go as far as you can see. When you get there you will see even further.
– Napoleon Hill

So here I am. I showed up. What can I see?

I can see that my perspective in life is everything. Rory Sutherland’s TEDtalk [] in Athens provided the inspiration for this idea: Things are not what they are. Things are what we think they are and what we compare them to. Wayne Dyer, in his book on intention, basically says the same thing: if you change the way you look at things, the things you look at will change.

How to do this? I found the easiest way to manage this shift of perspective is to look for something that I am thankful for in what ever circumstance it is that is pulling me down.

As easy as that. Gratitude. Gratitude reframes your perception of your environment and provides a positive context or lens for you to look at your situation.

What can I see further?

I can see further that even though I’m of the glass half full type (and I don’t like the colour or the taste), I acknowledge that I’m grateful that I do, in fact, have a glass.

Rule #6

Have you heard about Zander’s Rule #6?

You can listen to Benjamin Zander tell the story of Rule #6 here:

 Rule #6 is Don’t take yourself so damn seriously.

This rule can be applied in a multitude of environments and somehow manages to bring a smile to my face and a lightness of heart that is exactly what’s needed for me to cope better in the circumstances. Work getting you down and pulling you in all directions and you’re all stressed out: Don’t take yourself so damn seriously! Family tension, children demanding attention, food not ready for supper, homework, exams, prepared speeches … Don’t take yourself so damn seriously! Sitting in traffic, moving from one lane to the next and just when you’re in the new lane the other one starts moving? Don’t take yourself so damn seriously!

It is as if by confirming this rule helps me get some space between me and the stuff that, in that moment’s mode of thinking, is getting me down.

Taking yourself less seriously might just lead you to finding your energised, inspired and exciting self!