Aha! A Label That Defines Me…

So, what IS the biggest ‘aha!’ moment of your life so far? The one we talked about last time. A light bulb experience when something clicked and you saw the world through a new lens or with a label you’d not come across before.

In the previous video I shared the moment I first heard the word ‘introvert’ used in a positive way. It was freeing to wake up to the realisation that the apparent ‘weirdness’ of my preferences, wasn’t actually about me at all. I didn’t feel weird because I was broken, wrong, or abnormal.

I was glad to discover that I wasn’t alone. Half of us are wired with introverted temperaments; we need time to process before speaking. A break from external stimulation so we can re-energise. And plenty of opportunities to go inwards and connect deeply with ourselves (and a small number of close friends), in order to experience true joy and meaning in our lives.

That revelation was a game changer.

But it also lead me to some strange dead-ends. And in this second video I talk about the dangers we might face in the aftermath of a big ‘aha!’ moment.

Fitting into My Label

When I first took the Myers Briggs test I came out as an INTJ. Introversion (I), Intuition (N), Thinking (T), Judgment (J).

“INTJs are perceptive about systems and strategy, and often understand the world as a chess board to be navigated. They want to understand how systems work, and how events proceed: the INTJ often has a unique ability to foresee logical outcomes. They enjoy applying themselves to a project or idea in depth, and putting in concentrated effort to achieve their goals.

INTJs have a hunger for knowledge and strive to constantly increase their competence; they are often perfectionists with extremely high standards of performance for themselves and others. They tend to have a keen interest in self-improvement and are lifelong learners, always looking to add to their base of information and awareness.” (From Truity)

I recognised lots of aspects of myself in the itemised descriptions. But not in the archetypes that people shared. The INTJ is often portrayed as the aloof genius or super villain characters who lives wrapped up in their own mind. While there was gentle resonance, there was also a hearty disconnect between me and those depictions.

My first thought was, maybe I just need to follow these descriptions and I’ll become more of who I really am. Perhaps I could use it as an instruction manual.

But no, that didn’t work. I found myself asking ‘what should an INTJ do in this situation?’ And that didn’t feel right.

“But I don’t want to do that. I can’t be bothered. Oh I suck at being an INTJ!”

“Knowing How To Fit In But Still Feeling Dislocated”

The temptation is to attach, and try once more to fit in. Especially if we’ve felt out of place all our life.

It’s too easy to get tribal.

A Label is a Tool

We might start to filter the world through this lens. To categorise and pigeon-hole everyone we meet: ‘introvert/extrovert’, ‘like me/not like me’, ‘goody/baddie’. We build personal constructs (ways of filtering people and the world), which end up limiting our perception of reality. When this happens, we reduce our vision and closes us off to a deeper experience of connection and belonging.

It takes strength to allow ourselves to see and empathise with people who are different from us. In many ways however, ‘aha’ moments about ourselves are only as valuable as the vision they give us to truly understand society more generally.

It’s less about me, and more about we.

There is no homogenous human. We are all fantastically different. We are all right and we are all wrong.

This awareness sets us free to live outside of the victim mindset (“no one understands me”). And we can step beyond the fear of not fitting in (and the confusion of why we’re ‘not like we’re supposed to be’). And into a place of deeper understanding so that we can better manage our energy and bring an acceptance of our differences to the table.

The value of the aha moment is in its validation. It vindicates us as people. It tells us that we’re seen. That we’re OK as we are. We’re not alone. But it doesn’t define the intrinsic elements of our unique personality and character.

Reassuring Labels

Be mindful of what you see and how you relate to the label. We see a lot of articles, memes, and posts that speak to this natural drive. Things with titles like, ‘35 Problems Only Introverts Will Understand’. And memes that say stuff such as “you know you’re an introvert when you’re at a party and all you can think of is what you’ll do when you get home.”

Don’t get me wrong, some of these things can be amusing and fun to read. They can be like observational comedy, speaking to experiences that we’ve had throughout our lives.

A label becomes problematic when it becomes a point of attachment. When they become the point in and of themselves. Rather than being a tool to take us into another place.

Humans are much more complex than the labels we use. A label is a helpful tool to raise awareness and give us insight. But it is not WHO we are.

Over to You

Last time we thought about a significant ‘aha’ moment from our lives. The next question is…“What did this knowledge/awareness make possible?” OK, I know I’m an introvert… Now what? Or even, SO what? What difference does KNOWING that make? How will we use this label?

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