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Opposite of Lonely

I don’t often feel lonely, not the way I hear others describe it. I looked it up in a dictionary and thesaurus, and curiously, could not find an opposite for lonely that makes sense to me.

Lonely is defined as the one of the most terrible things in the world: Sad because one has no friends or company, isolated, alone, lonesome, friendless, with no one to turn to, forsaken, abandoned, rejected, unloved, unwanted, outcast, deserted, uninhabited, unfrequented, unpopulated, desolate, isolated, remote, out of the way, secluded, off the beaten track/path, in the back of beyond, godforsaken; in

the middle of nowhere.

Opposite? Populous. Crowded.

I do have a longing for meaningful connections in my life. Love and acceptance from people you can trust. I have a deep, dark, pain, an emptiness much greater than loneliness, because I know it will never be filled. I’ve looked into the depths of this chasm, and it is seemingly bottomless. It seems I’m safe as long as I only glance at it, no jumping in.

For me, acquaintance people are nearly always a nuisance, a stressor. Hell even the current people in my life that are supposed to be loving, supportive, combat loneliness, like my husband and in-laws cause stress and conflict. My kids are the only people I enjoy time with, and even then after a bit , I still feel crowded, smothered, like I can’t think or breathe. When I am alone, I feel peaceful. When I am with others, the tolerance clock starts clicking and I have limited time before I bolt, hide, isolate myself and recover from the constant scrutiny, questions, confusion, misunderstandings, obligations, words…so many endless words attacking my system.

It wears me out to nod, smile, be polite, figure out how to respond, sense danger, protect myself. Talking is my least favorite activity. I’d rather go to the dentist than have to chitchat with some random person. Is it my turn to talk? What did they just say? Are they lying right now? What time is it? Is that a TV show they’re talking about? Is this something I’m supposed to know snd recall or are they telling me something new? Ugh. Too stressful

Add multiple people and this feeling is exponentially heightened, to being the opposite of lonely, I get a strong need to be alone, to escape.

I’m not heartless. I do wish all these people well. I just don’t want to hear about it, sorry. Most things people tell me I can’t do anything about and I feel uncomfortable having to express sympathy or advice. Most people I start diagnosing their personality disorders, recognize cognitive distortions popping up, and of course I must remain silent. People don’t want to know this. They don’t actually want to change their own behavior or think about their thoughts. And they would be insulted or embarrassed, even though they are the one oversharing to me. It is only socially acceptable to offer support like, oh you poor thing that sounds difficult for you. They just want to hear it sucks, for validation.

I’ve found when I interact online, I can control the pace and intensity and don’t get overwhelmed. Each time I venture out to a real life Meetup, it is not a positive experience.

I’m not sure that’s bad or unhealthy. At this point in my life, if I feel satisfied by this level of connection, than maybe I need to stop trying to force myself into a more social, extroverted role just because I’m supposed to be lonely this way.

I’ve been reading “Quiet” by Susan Cain and embracing my introverted self. I don’t think I need fixed. When I socialize it is to complete a task, or because others want me there. I get nothing but stress from most gatherings otherwise.

I watched the Netflix series “Atypical” which was fantastic. I’m not an expert on autism to know if they portrayed this accurately at all. It was entertaining, but also I indentified strongly with his social struggles. I don’t think I’m autistic. But I do think I’m atypical and that my brain can’t be changed much at this point. I don’t connect and form bonds or relationships like most others do. I’m highly sensitive, tuned into emotions, which is the autistic difference. My hyperactive neurons though gives me high scores on tests for autism, overwhelmed by sensory input, can’t look people in the eye, don’t make friends, can’t work in groups, hate loud noises and bright lights, take things too literally at times, repetitive soothing behaviors, trouble following conversation, it goes on and on. Fascinating really. So it seems that autism may be caused by too many neural connections, a lack of pruning, is one theory. I’ve read similar theories for anxiety and PTSD, our connections stay strong reinforcing past memories to keep us vigilant and safe.

This is me rambling and I hope not being stupid or offensive with these curious thoughts. I only look for similarities to figure out the puzzle of me. I don’t claim to be right, ever.

Owning It – A step past acceptance

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I always say when you are open, the universe speaks to you. I am hearing one message loud and clear being repeated from multiple sources. It’s starting to sink in and take hold and I hope I can explain this clearly.

I’ve always had something to struggle against. An illness, a disease, a deformity, a disorder.  I’ve always accepted each one as it is diagnosed as a new part of me to struggle with, fight with – and HIDE!! I was taught to be normal, above all costs. Never let anyone know you are suffering. Never let anyone know you are different. Never let anyone know you need help. It is shameful, horrible, disgusting. It is whining, weak, pitiful. No one will want to listen or be in the room with you. No one will accept you with all of your flaws. You must only present a perfect version of yourself, like an edited photograph representing you instead of your real you.

No one can see you in a wheelchair, a brace, a bandage, a pimple, a scar, if you’ve gained a pound, if your nose is red from a cold. No one can see your pain or fear or confusion.

I followed those rules most of life, somehow I actually did. I hid my disabilities like a good girl. I know I shared my difficulty with having to use a can a year ago, in public. It took everything in me to show people I needed that, something so visibly wrong with me, and of course the comments came, “you’re too young to need a cane…” remember that?

OK, so my doctors are now recommending that I get special tinted lenses in my glasses, and special earplugs. The idea here is that my migraines are caused by overactivity, overexcitability, too much stimulation of neurons and these aids can help reduce sensory input, reducing triggers and sensory overload, meltdown and confusion. Makes sense, I struggle when shopping in bright lights or surrounded in a noisy crowd.

But my first thought was, hell no, I don’t want to look like a freak. What if people notice? What if they ask me about my weirdo glasses? Can I handle that?

I’m working with this one major stuck point still as it runs deeply and is multifaceted, this feeling of being a freak and needing to hide flaws. It is a core belief, reinforced by my entire family, and sadly, by most of my adult relationships as well. People do not often respond positively to people with special needs. But that doesn’t mean I should be afraid to have special needs. I started to accept that I do – but can I own it?

Here’s the difference. And wait for it, it was explained to me by my MIL!!! I was telling her about these lenses, and tentatively expressed my fear of wearing glasses that would make me stand out. The ones I need are likely a deep rusty rose color (and yes I’ve already explored all of the implications that my doctor is literally prescribing rose colored glasses, so, umm, anyway) and would be quite obvious. I asked MIL, what if people ask me, why are your glasses pink? She said “Tell them you like pink. Get some other pink things, a pink hat, flower, bow, necklace, color your hair pink. Own it. If they want to look let them look. If they want to ask, let them ask, Who cares what they think. If these glasses help you feel better…that’s all that matters, you are all that matters, not them. Just own it. Be someone who wears pink. why not”

I actually cried. My mind was blown. I have never heard such a message of acceptance in my entire life. And to come from someone that is closest to my mother figure, well, it has broken something in me. I needed someone’s permission I think, and she gave it to me. I can be weird. I can like pink. I look different. why not. who cares what they think?

Can I do that? Can I stop hiding? Can I own it? Oh my god I don’t know but I know I want to. Can I be the girl that doesn’t care what I look like when I dance in the rain, all alone? Just be her, own that feeling I get when I’m hiking and carry it with me everywhere? How do I start? I just start. I stop hiding.

I say hello world. This is me. I am not apologizing any more.

OH!

I forgot to add the other message I received from the universe. I was listening to music this morning, and put on Colbie Caillat to see what I got in the youtube mix. She always makes me happy. First song that came on was “Try” and I wasn’t writing yet, so I watched the video, with all these beautiful, unique women, and woah did this message hit me hard. Tears were unstoppable. This is exactly what I needed to hear coming from one of my favorite singers too. So simple – yet beyond powerful. I think I’ve heard the song before, but never absorbed it like today.

You don’t have to try so hard. to belong. Do they like you? you don’t have to bend until you break. you just have to get up. look in the mirror, at yourself. Do you like you? I like You.

Here’s the entire song:

Put your make-up on
Get your nails done
Curl your hair
Run the extra mile
Keep it slim so they like you, do they like you?

Get your sexy on
Don’t be shy, girl
Take it off
This is what you want, to belong, so they like you
Do you like you?

You don’t have to try so hard
You don’t have to, give it all away
You just have to get up, get up, get up, get up
You don’t have to change a single thing

You don’t have to try, try, try, try
You don’t have to try, try, try, try
You don’t have to try, try, try, try
You don’t have to try
You don’t have to try

Mm, mm

Get your shopping on, at the mall, max your credit cards
You don’t have to choose, buy it all, so they like you
Do they like you?

Wait a second,
Why, should you care, what they think of you
When you’re all alone, by yourself, do you like you?
Do you like you?

You don’t have to try so hard
You don’t have to, give it all away
You just have to get up, get up, get up, get up
You don’t have to change a single thing

You don’t have to try so hard
You don’t have to bend until you break
You just have to get up, get up, get up, get up
You don’t have to change a single thing

You don’t have to try, try, try, try
You don’t have to try, try, try, try
You don’t have to try, try, try, try
You don’t have to try

You don’t have to try, try, try, try
You don’t have to try, try, try, try
You don’t have to try, try, try, try
You don’t have to try
You don’t have to try

Mm, mm

You don’t have to try so hard
You don’t have to, give it all away
You just have to get up, get up, get up, get up
You don’t have to change a single thing

You don’t have to try, try, try, try
You don’t have to try, try, try, try
You don’t have to try
You don’t have to try

Take your make-up off
Let your hair down
Take a breath
Look into the mirror, at yourself
Don’t you like you?
‘Cause I like you

How to Socialize an Adult

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I’d go out much more often if the world was full of bubbles. Something to think about.

Okay but the world isn’t full of bubbles. And I’m not 4, so its not socially acceptable for me to blow bubbles everywhere I go. Socially acceptable – Yuck – I hate that.

See, I was not properly socialized when I was little. I was not exactly raised by wolves, no, I think wolves would have done a better job.

So what is an adult to do, when she finds herself in her forties, wow, yes, forties now, and completely alone? I have never learned to make friends, not really, not the kind that lasts or that will be helpful and supportive. I have only learned to blend in, hang out, be a part of a group. When I start actually getting to know people, or letting them know me…stuff goes all wonkers.

So a quick recap, thanks to neuropsych dude, I know I have never felt safe, and I have these rules and alarm bells for how I operate to keep myself safe. Even though I may not need to be so strict now, these rules and bells are hard wired, they formed in my brain to help me grow up. Am I doomed to always be alone because of them?

I have been taking first steps at genuine friendships. Face to face was way to scary, so I have been using a variety of online friendship apps. I find that behind the safety of my phone or computer, and the delay of texting, I can calm down those alarm bells and proceed further with people than I can in real life. In real life, I shut down or run away, not great friend making skills.

I’ve been using friendship apps that have a no flirting, no dating policy. I’m actually finding genuine people this way, instead of the multitude of creeps I was finding online at the other sites, even when I would say I’m not interested, BAM an unsavory pic sent to my text. No thanks, goodbye.

I’m starting to believe there are good people out there, but so far I have not found any near enough to me to meet for coffee or whatever. But I am patient, and building skills. And more important, people are reaching out to me with kindness, showering me with it. They check in on me, encourage me, and also get me to do some tough thinking to help me get unstuck. One is helping me to find my spark, my words, get me to start writing and painting again. They are becoming…true friends? wow.

I am so grateful.

Maybe I can do this

Love and Obligation and Duty

Why did the Hero flush the toilet? …. Because it was his duty.

Sorry.

Blame my kids and Wreck it Ralph for that one. I can’t even think the word duty without an inappropriate smile any more. I was already immature. You would think having kids would help that. Nope. Made it worse.

I have been thinking seriously though about why I do what I do. Examining some tough thoughts, like what is love, is love real? Or is it only obligation? Do I need love?

So I think we lump many things under the love umbrella that are human needs.

I think love is actually acceptance, validation and respect. I don’t think it means feeling happy, feelings come and go. Except maybe peace. Does peace go with love? (probably more to it than this – but that’s what I am talking about today)

I think we do need acceptance – in some form. We need validation. We need acknowledgement of our existence and our journey. I struggle to give and receive that in real life, but the internet has provided many platforms that makes it possible. Love is not exactly involved with this. I care about the people I interact with but I am not sure love is the right word.

How do you know you love someone? And is it a different type of love defined by the different types of obligations?

This is probably confusing and not making much sense. I will try to give some examples. I loved my parents. I thought this was a love without end, a love that should exist, that had great meaning and defined me and them, bound us in loving obligation to each other. But –  they always had the right to withdraw love and I did not. I had to earn it. I constantly tried to prove myself worthy. I did not have acceptance or validation. And I know now, that love I was seeking, never existed at all, a fabricated universe concocted to control me. Love should not include control. Parents guide, not control.

Okay…

So what about Hubby? Is this love? This dance of power, control, seduction, confusion, manipulation, irritation, fear, dissocation, isolation, secrecy, and lies? There has not been acceptance and validation here either – on either side.

Love also means respect.

And that has been missing here too.

I am not saying we don’t care about each other, help each other, try to do things right. We have a deep sense of obligation, honor, and duty. We are good people and care about and help many people. But it isn’t enough for a marriage. It isn’t right.

When I think about my kids, it is entirely different. I think that is love. I feel acceptance, validation, respect – in both directions. I hope that is what they feel. We listen and support each other. We encourage each other. We accept our faults and oddities and work our days around them – we are accommodating. I don’t feel like a frustrating freak with them. I feel like me.

I guess that is why this blog is so important to me. Yes I want to get my story  out there, talk things through, reach those who are silent. But I think this is me. This is my voice and I want it out there. I want it to exist.

Because generally I don’t ummm exist. I plod along in a vacuum, or alternate reality. Even when I am present, not dissociated, I often don’t feel fully here. A spacey surreal feeling that keeps me cut off from everyone, unable to feel love even if offered. And so I examine thoughts like this. Am I loved? Do I love? Is it a real thing anyway? Do I need it? Will I always feel like this? Do my kids feel loved? Is this my attachment disorder talking? Do others feel like this? Should I give up trying to fix this and accept this is how I am?

I am reaching acceptance of myself, that I am different. That I may slowly change, but that I don’t want to count on this change to happen. I would rather accept myself the way I am, and surround myself with people that accept me the way I am – or be alone.

The acceptance I receive online and from my children feels like enough. I don’t feel lonely, even though by most people’s standards, I suppose I am alone. I feel better alone, with emotional distance from the people in my life that do not accept me.

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I took a three hour walk (yes 3 hours!! I can walk for 3 hours now! My back and leg are getting so strong!) in the forest last week, taking photos of the fall colors. I was alone on this walk, but I felt fuller and more alive than I have in weeks. Everything in the forest was so alive, I could feel the energy, hear the wind in the tree branches, hear the birds, the squirrels scurrying. I saw fungus and vines thriving on decay. I saw dead trees full of woodpecker holes. I saw and felt the life, the survival, of the creatures there.

Why do I feel more loved, safer, content – at peace – alone in a forest? Should I keep fighting this feeling or just go with it? Accept this, do what feels right, enjoy my peace without guilt, stop trying to make friends that I don’t want, stop trying to feel love I don’t feel. Just stop. And just be.

 

 

Isolation

I have been isolating myself again, or still. It seems to be getting worse, and I don’t care any more. Being social is no longer a goal, short term or long term. I am not going officially hermit…yet. Though I would if I could. The only thing stopping me from slipping away into my own world is my kids. 

As I near the end of my therapy program, I have done some even deeper thinking than usual if that might be possible. I am thinking I am done changing to be accepted or make others happy. (Except my kids, they are always the exception and I will endure whatever is needed for them) If others don’t find me acceptable I am finding I don’t care. I prefer to be alone and at peace. I have no need or desire for friends. I am done trying to force fit myself into some model that works for others. I am content being invisible. It is only when I try to fit in that it pains me when I cannot. I have never enjoyed what others enjoy, even when I am included. Shopping is a tortuous necessity. I know nothing of fashion and dress for comfort and function and value. I hate wasting money. I feel most things most people have is a waste of space and money. I admire beautiful things but feel content to visit them in nature or museums, no need to own them. I have no need for touch or affection. I would prefer no one ever touched me ever again. I continue to adapt, to try to be okay in a world that disagrees with me on nearly everything. Everything I am ‘supposed’ to be, I am not. I am done trying. I won’t run away or become the eccentric oddball everyone talks about. No, I choose door number 3. I shut up. Keep to myself. Try not to bother people and try not to let them bother me.

Same house, worlds apart

I’m here, he’s over there, same house, same room, same sofa, worlds apart.

confused and lost in translation. what are you talking about. I don’t understand. Give me an example.

We know it hurts to use certain words like “you always….” and yet and we always use those words

Sometimes I’d rather say nothing at all in stead of risk you misunderstanding me and having to get on the wheel of pain round and round we go again

but nothing is ever on your on mind

everything is fine??

 

 


Wow – I found this draft in my folder, dated “a year ago” sometime. Sadly the words are still true.  We are not being good to each other. We barely tolerate each other. We attend couples counseling every week but nothing changes here at home. We are so on edge, so impatient, we can’t listen to each other. At some point I stopped looking in his eyes. Sadly I can’t recall when, and when I pointed it out last night, sadder yet, he hadn’t noticed. I stopped because the intensity of looking in eyes, anyone’s eyes, is too much for me to bear, and his are the worst. Too much stress, tension, pain, anger. Too much history there. I actually wondered if I became autistic with all of my eye avoidance, but it reflects my fear of intimacy, I understand it now. I glance at faces to get a quick read on expression, then away again or I get sucked into those emotions, it is too powerful without my shield. The counselors stole my shield, I used to be numb and now I feel it all. But I feel it less if I don’t look directly at others. And I feel protected, like I am hidden in plain sight, if my eyes are not making contact. I feel in control. I need that now, whatever and whenever I can get it.

I try to hope that one day Hubby and I will talk openly with one another, but I really don’t believe this is possible, not completely. I am too afraid to trigger his defense mechanisms and have him lash out at me. Or almost as awful is when I share something and get back silence or a grunt. I know he is trying. I am too. We care about each other. Why is it so hard to just talk?

Self responsible

I read an amazing book that has really helped me think differently. It is supposedly a marriage book, but it is so much more, or it was more for me.

The book is Everybody Marries the Wrong Person: From Infatuation and Disenchantment to Mature Love, by Christine Meinecke, Phd.

It introduced me to a concept of being self responsible. It is a radically new way for me to think and operate and simply makes so much sense! I kept saying “huh?”, “No way”, “what the..” and “woah” as I read it. Being self responsible means being accountable, independent, compassionate, and free. I say free because I think many of us feel stuck or trapped in a relationship’s bad patterns. This book offers a way out that does not have to end in divorce or going no contact. 

Firstly, if you were raised by wolves, I mean narcissists and psychopaths like me, you have no idea how to be self responsible because you are over responsible. I have always made everything for everyone around me my problem, my fault, my job. It has always been my job to make everyone happy. It is my fault if they aren’t.

Now I have been learning this is not true, but this book actually gives examples for why and how to adopt different behavior. The personality theory and brain science adds to the whole interesting factor and breaks up the advice bits.

I highly recommend this book. It is not what you think it is from the cover, and I love that the self responsible behavior benefits everyone, not just married couples. I think if every human was self responsible the world would be a much more pleasant place and therapists might be out of work.

Connection and Communication

“It’s easy to feel uncared for when people aren’t able to communicate and connect with you in the way you need. And it’s so hard not to internalize that silence as a reflection on your worth. But the truth is that the way other people operate is not about you. Most people are so caught up in their own responsibilities, struggles, and anxiety that the thought of asking someone else how they’re doing doesn’t even cross their mind. They aren’t inherently bad or uncaring – they’re just busy and self-focused. And that’s okay. It’s not evidence of some fundamental failing on your part. It doesn’t make you unloveable or invisible. It just means that those people aren’t very good at looking beyond their own world. But the fact that you are – that despite the darkness you feel, you have the ability to share your love and light with others – is a strength. Your work isn’t to change who you are; it’s to find people who are able to give you the connection you need. Because despite what you feel, you are not too much. You are not too sensitive or too needy. You are thoughtful and empathetic. You are compassionate and kind. And with or without anyone’s acknowledgment or affection, you are enough.

— Daniell Koepke

Reminded me of Simon Garfunkel, Sounds of Silence

You’re too young for a cane

You’re too old to be this clueless, or insensitive…

You’re too stupid to walk at all…

Those are the things I want to say, but I of course never do, when seemingly harmless strangers approach me as I’m walking along.

Today on the way to therapy a nice older lady holds the elevator door for me to get on. Then gives me that look of pity and the ‘awwww’ sound of pity as she puffs out her lip watching me slowly make my way. As soon as the doors close she says, “sweetie, did you fall and break something? You’re much too young to have a cane”

I tried to smile politely but I’m not sure it worked too well, and gave her the short answer that I have a bad disc in my back. I did not make eye contact and turned away hoping she would know I really don’t want to discuss it.

The whole time I’m thinking was I too young for a wheel chair at age 12 then?  How about the walker and braces? Is it really impossible for someone to imagine I’ve had a spinal cord injury most of my life? That being 39 does not grant me a free pass to great health?  I wonder what age is too young for migraines?  Hell, what age is too young for abuse?

Yeah, I suppose I’ve through many things that I’ve been too young for according to the wild assumptions of others.

Please don’t make assumptions and dumbazz comments to people. Please do offer to hold the door for me and wish me well. I appreciate the help when my hands are full with my binder in one hand and cane in the other. I will actually hope you have a good day too instead of muttering what a sheltered buffoon you are.

Personal strengths and tendencies

I’m looking for something that stays constant throughout different circumstances, and I thought about strengths and talents rather than broad areas of personality. We own our strengths, and can choose to use them within the behavioral framework of our personality. I stumbled upon a useful book, not new- but new to me, called Strengthsfinder 2.0 by Tom Rath. It points you to another assessment, this one based on 34 areas of strengths. Like the Myers Briggs, I don’t choose to use my time or money taking the actual tests, just read the material and descriptions and sort it out for myself. If you want to shell out the bucks for the test, go for it.

Now like I said, I was hoping for constants when I started my quest for strengths, but many of these 34 areas are definitely personality behaviors, and disappointingly could change situationally. But this is a good start to my end plan of where I want to bring all of these personality areas and strengths together along with the maladaptive schema and show how it all works together, in my case works against me at times.

I’ll summarize the 34 themes and ideas for action from the book here, but the book has some really great suggestions for how to use each strength, pitfalls to look out for, and how to work well with others with that strength, so I’d recommend actually reading it yourself, found mine at the library.  I truly enjoyed reading this book and playing around with these theories, as I’ve been so focused on specific student skills for the past decade, common core, math and reading skills, this is fun for me to get back into people skills like this and feel like I’m back in college.

Strengthsfinder areas:(alphabetical – I underlined the ones I feel I have personally)

  1. Achiever: Driven to achieve, an internal fire burning inside you pushing you to do more that rekindles after each achievement, always living with a whisper of discontentment as you work towards the next goal or challenge.
  2. Activator: Impatient for action, ready to start, ready to do something. feel you are judged not by words or thoughts, but only by actions.
  3. Adaptability: Live in the moment, expect detours, very flexible and spontaneous.
  4. Analytical: Prove it, show me. I will prove it to you. Armed with data and connections, root causes are revealed. Tend to be logical and rigorous. You love raw data because it has no agenda and the patterns will always emerge.
  5. Arranger: Enjoy managing complex situations with many variables and can easily see the best solution for schedules or other configurations.
  6. Belief: Your core beliefs affect your behavior and give your life meaning. This demands you find work that meshes with your values, work must matter to you.
  7. Command: You impose your view on others, are not frightened by confrontation, you may intimidate people or they may be drawn to you to lead them
  8. Communication: You explain, describe, host, speak, present, write. You hunt for the perfect phrase, you paint word pictures, you inspire others or move them to tears
  9. Competition: You must outperform your peers, and you must win
  10. Connectedness: You feel things happen for a reason, and that people are all connected in spirit, part of a larger picture, and that no one should be harmed or exploited
  11. Consistency: You feel people should be treated the same no matter what, no special privileges because of connections or backgrounds
  12. Context: You look back to understand the present, the presnt is unstable, a confusing clamor of sensory input, and only by analyzing the past can you see the blueprint and make sense of it all,
  13. Deliberative:Careful, vigilant, private, you know the world in unpredictable. you sense the risks underneath the surface and rather than deny, you identify, assess and reduce. you are fairly serious, and plan ahead. you identify dangers and place your feet deliberately instead of running through a minefield willy nilly.
  14. Developer: You see the potential in others and feel that no one is yet fully formed, everyone is a work in progress. signs of growth in others are your fuel. others seek you out for help.
  15. Discipline: your world needs to be predictable. your world is ordered and planned. big projects are broken down and you focus on timelines. you dislike surprises, you are impatient with errors.
  16. Empathy: you sense and feel the emotions of those around you as though their feelings are your own. you are able to see the world through their eyes. you may not agree with them or feel pity – that’s sympathy, not empathy, you just feel what they feel.
  17. Focus: Where am I headed? you need a destination and get quickly frustrated without one. You set goals and evaluate if your actions are leading you towards these goals or if you need to revise.
  18. Futuristic: wouldn’t it be great if…always dreaming and looking ahead to something better, a better, team, a better product, a better world
  19. Harmony: You look for areas of agreement, and feel little is to be gained from conflict and friction. while others are in heated debate, and in your opinion useless, debate, you hold your peace until there is a way to be productive
  20. Ideation: delighted and energized by ideas and looking and things in new ways, always looking for new connections, labeled as creative, people say “how did you think of that?”
  21. Includer: Expand the group so as many people fit in as possible, accept everyone and draw them in, you are warm and inviting, avoid groups that exclude others
  22. Individualization: intrigued by the unique qualities of each person, focus on the differences, impatient with ‘types’ because each person is so special
  23. Input: you collect things, objects or information, facts, books, quotes, dolls, whatever interests you. you read to acquire, not to refine and learn. trouble throwing things away.
  24. Intellection: like to think, enjoy time alone in reflection or musing or learning, introspective. you ask yourself questions and have a constant mental hum.
  25. Learner: you love to learn, the content does not matter, it is the process of learning that is exciting, the first steps of mastery. you may not need credit, degrees, the learning itself is important to you
  26. Maximizer: your goal is excellence, not average. you want to focus on what you’re already great at and make it the best, not be wellrounded
  27. Positivity: quick to smile, energy, enthusiasm, quick to praise others. you celebrate every achievement and know it is good to be alive
  28. Relator: you are pulled towards people you already know and people similar to you, comfortable with intimacy and closeness, you have strong trusting friendships
  29. Responsibility: you take psychological ownership for anything you commit to, you can’t live with yourself until things are right, impeccable ethics, everyone knows you are dependable and will get it done. willingness – often take on more than you should.
  30. Restorative: You love to solve problems. energized when encountering breakdowns, enjoy analyzing symptoms, and feel greatest when faced with complex unfamiliar problems.
  31. Self-Assurance: you have faith in your strengths. confidence in your abilities and in your judgment. no one can tell you what to think, you have final authority and no one intimidates you.
  32. Significance: you want to be significant in the eyes of others, you want to stand out and be known. you need to be admired, credible, successful. pulls you up away from mediocre.
  33. Strategic: sort through the clutter and find the best route. you see patterns where others only see complexity. you play what if scenarios, evaluate all paths and obstacles, then move forward.
  34. Woo: winning others over. you enjoy the challenge of meeting new people, connect easily to others, strike up conversation with anyone

So I underlined 17/34 of these strengths, which at first seems to be too many when the assessment will actually give you your top 5 for $9.99. I’m not sure how this works, since to me many of these are so closely related and fall into groups. I’ll group mine here to what makes sense to me and give them a title for how they work together. This is not how the book or assessment is built, this is my own interpretation building off the core strength that the book lists.

1- GET IT DONE – Achiever, Focus, Responsibility, Self-Assurance, Discipline, Belief: This is what keeps me going, my internal fire, my drive to succeed, my drive to help others, my need to not just overcome but to excel, my search for meaning and purpose in daily life, my intolerance for greed and laziness, my self-loathing at perceived failures, my impeccable ethics and unrelenting standards for myself and others.

2- FIGURE IT OUT – Analytical, Context, Deliberative, Strategic: This is how I understand, find the patterns, zoom in and zoom in see the details and the big picture too, see the dangers, all the dangers, assess them, and decide which path is safest, which path allows for growth with the most safety too, seek to control my environment by applying knowledge of the past to the possibilities of the future, always planning, always adding more data and reframing theories.

3- THINK, LEARN, CREATE – Intellection, Ideation, Learner: This is how I approach the world – with my head and thoughts first, action later. I enjoy and spend hours in my own head, thinking, turning thoughts around, playing with words and phrases, writing stories and poems, reading, surfing the web for new words, stories, new thoughts. New ideas bring me joy and excitement and energy, my own idea or others. I can make connections, see things others don’t, juxtapose and visualize, entertain myself with a blank wall in front of me, a vivid imagination always on the loose, but also ready to absorb large amounts of new info, if its new I want to learn it, new software, new music, new technology, new theory, new thought I want to learn it, love it, own it, roll in it, toss it around, connect it to other thoughts, make it into something and then show people

4- GROWTH – Futuristic, Developer: This is why I’m never content in the here and now, I am always dreaming of the bigger and better future for myself, others, my family, and the world. I’ve always been this way. I look around and I see a million ways to instantly improve the room, the lesson, presentation, the school, the chair, the building, the playground, the highway, the car, the book, and the people. I naturally see the easier way and want to show others – if you just do it like this instead…I ask why to see why we do it this way to build on this to do it better. I want to save money, do it more quickly, I hate wasting anything. I look around and I see potential, that nothing is ever done, ever. so I am always unsettled, wanting more.

5-PEACE – Empathy, Harmony: This is why I am often so quiet and listen 90% of my time with people, unless I am scheduled to speak. I feel the need in others to get attention, I feel their loneliness, feel their pain, feel their grief, feel their sorrow, frustration. I also feel their happiness, joy, sexual energy, fear, uncertainty. Sometimes I feel someone elses’s feelings so strongly I confuse it for my own at first, it can be overpowering. I need to protect myself, and I have learned to stay quiet, learned to not react quickly, learned to observe and let events play out. When others enter into futile debate, especially repeated debate each time we meet, I sit there silently and let it pass to preserve harmony. I am tuned in to the feelings of a room whether I want to or not, so I can get bombarded with sensory overload in a crowd, or if too many strong emotions, like when my children are crying and upset and I need to retreat to a safe physical or emotional distance. I then choose my words carefully, if I am still at peace that is, and can restore harmony to an upset room. When I’m already vulnerable and my child is disappointed, hurt, sick, etc, it is unbearable for me to add his pain on top of mine and I can no longer regulate and keep the peace. Hoping to learn this skill, as emotions are my biggest strength and downfall too.

I’ve been trying for a week now to complete this area with real life examples of how I use these strengths both for and against me, and I keep getting swept away in the emotion of the memories. The words don’t want to be written here, or maybe I’m not sure which examples to use out of so many in my lifetime. I keep typing and erasing, typing and erasing. I finally got something down. This was a super useful exercise for me. Next post I will connect my thoughts to the schema books I’ve been reading.