Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Colour Babble

I have a confession to make.  I keep writing blog posts about personal colour theory which I don't publish.  I am aware that I repeat myself, but every time I have a new idea or insight a whole new post emerges, generally a mixture of things I've said before and new thoughts.  I am free to write and post and nobody is forced to read but it's possible I don't want anybody to know just how obsessed I am.  I think about colour theory, colour combinations and I plan colour compositions for art quite frequently though this is a bit more abstract and it is easier to give it context and purpose if I focus on colour as applied to what looks best on a person. 

I get a bit irritated when I roam the internet and encounter various stylists offering colour advice with what I would consider to be varying levels of qualification or understanding of colour.  It's okay to be wrong or misinformed, I know that I have been myself,  but it's another thing to offer your advice for a fee and not really know what you are talking about.  Buyer beware I suppose, and to this day I am still angry about the woman who did my colour analysis back in 1984 and whom I now realise didn't have a clue what she was doing.  I sensed it then.  I questioned her.  My mother shushed me.  These days I say to my mother, 'Why were you so worried about whether or not my questioning her was polite  when she was charging money for a service she wasn't qualified to give?'  Mum just laughs and reminds me that it was she who paid for it and not me.

Personal Colour Theory In My Closet

 We hit the sweet spot of personal colour if we get the hue, value and chroma all matched to our own even though we may not realise that is what we are doing.  Hue refers to the colour as we see it and would name it.  In personal colour systems it tends to refer to whether or not that colour is a warm or cool version or somewhere in between on a scale.  Value is how light or dark a colour is and chroma refers to the saturation of colour and we might describe it as soft or bright or somewhere in between. 

Most people get one or two of these right instinctively.  Most analysis systems give you the palette that is your best one, though one or two others will be close to best.  Sometimes you will find what seems to be overlap between palettes and although it isn't if the colour mixing is analysed, when shopping and putting together outfits close enough is usually good enough. 

I will probably dip into the warmest colours of Soft Autumn and the more muted colours of Warm Spring* at times without even realising it.  My key words are medium, warm, earthy.  The entire palette of Soft Autumn isn't warm enough or saturated enough and the Warm Spring palette is generally too bright and clear.  The Spring neutrals though, browns  and khaki, tend not to look as clear so there is overlap there.  Sometimes a garment seems right on the border between clear and muted and either Warm Spring or True Autumn could make it work.  Sometimes the fabric plays a role in giving a brighter or more muted effect.  I might dabble in a brighter Spring colour if it is in a softer and duller fabric.  It then ends up being somewhat on the border between the two palettes.

* I tend to use the words True and Warm interchangeably for Spring and Autumn because different systems use those two words for the same palettes.  It is the same with True and Cool Summer and Winter.

Colour Preferences

Some people love any version of a particular colour ( I encounter this frequently with pink, blue and purple ) whereas others have never met a green that they liked.  Green, yellow and orange seem to be colours some people have no tolerance for.  Then there are people who don't like anything too neutral or earthy.  If it's not in the rainbow it's not of any interest.

I have seen colours I would not normally like on their own but which look stunning grouped with other colours with similar qualities, or being worn by a person with similar colour qualities.  The most off-putting baby poop yellow/brown/green will become a stunning bronze on the right person.   Context and lighting will always affect colour but whatever the lighting is doing to a garment it is also doing to the wearer.  I've noticed this when taking photos and feeling frustrated about both my skin tone and the garment colour being wrong.

On Yellow

When I thought that yellow and orange were not good colours for me, I was testing bright versions.  I now know it's the brightness that was the problem.  If the colour is too bright and saturated it competes against me and wins.  I also know that when I was cautiously testing warmth I was not going warm enough. It doesn't work to try a colour that is slightly warm and if it's not right conclude that warmth doesn't work.  And sticking with yellow as an example, there are so many different kinds.  Yellow that has a little drop of blue in it to cool it will have a slightly green look.  Yellow for the Winter types is saturated and bright, and words like lemon and acidic might apply, or else so close to white it's a frosty sort of yellow.  For Summer it's a difficult colour and Summer yellows are softer, lighter, more pastel and softer looking, a bit dusty or muted.  Spring yellows are sunshine, tropical fruit, a bit more of an orange yellow but clear and bright.  Autumn yellows get muted in an earthy way. 

On Blue

Blue is a colour we see a lot of.  It tends to be popular and of course there is denim.  Our eyes are accustomed to blue and I've never met a person who didn't like it.  While we think of yellow as warm, we typically thing of blue as cool.  But just as I described how there are cool yellow and warm yellows, there are cool blues and warm blues.  As the cool yellows are less in  number so are the warm blues.  In order to warm up blue you must add yellow and to cool down yellow you must add blue so eventually you will get green.  It doesn't take long before the blue become something we would call teal.  Thus the True Autumn seasonal palette doesn't have a lot of pure blue but is very welcoming of teal blues and turquoises. 

On Neutrals

Black is too intense for many of the palettes but they all have their near-blacks.  The darkest versions of colours that might read as black except up close.  Often this is navy blue or deep brown, some burgundies, plums and dark greens can work for this too.  Grey is tricky to warm up but it can be done with a drop of yellow.  It begins to become something more like taupe and I find I lose the ability to discern between cool beige and warm grey.  Perhaps there is a point where they overlap.  Greige has become popular in home decor but I don't find this colour readily available in clothing.

Even if you like to dress in neutrals it helps to know your best fashion neutrals based on your best colour palette.  I really wish the myth that everyone looks good in black would die, but I realise how convenient black is and when I got frustrated with finding the right colours for myself I toyed with the idea of only wearing black.  It makes me looks very pale and grey.  Once I saw myself in coral, peach and burnt orange there was no going back.  Now I think I might be so hooked on my versions of orange and yellow that they have become my favourite colours to wear. 

Final Thoughts

Some people worry that personal colour palettes will be limiting.  I don't find that at all though I suppose it might depend on how you shop.  I rule out lots of clothing items for a variety of reasons and I have always ruled them out based on colour.  My criteria is different now but looking for certain colours has always been a factor.  It doesn't appear that the colours I'm looking for are in fashion at the moment so it's a little disappointing to go into a store and see nothing other than cream as an option.  But I'm just eager and it's still early.  I don't need to accumulate a large wardrobe at all and I certainly don't need to do it in a hurry.  If I attempted to shop for and find every colour in my colour fan I would have more than I need.  I know that some colours will show up more often and others will be a treat to find.  It won't be difficult to buy creams and browns and fortunately I like them quite a bit. 

The Pantone predictions for Spring 2017 offer up a perfect green for me which they are calling Kale.  The other colours are too bright or cool pastel which is rather to be expected for Spring and Summer, but if they are a general indication of colours to expect then I might find some orange and yellow that work for me.  

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

A Café Day

I don't get out much these days.  There are no poetry readings and even if there were my energy levels are very low so I don't know if I'd manage them.  Once a week I spend an hour having lunch at a local café with my parents and once every week and a half I get out to do my shopping.  Once a month I meet a friend for coffee, usually at a café though sometimes I suffer through the atrociously bad coffee at the house of a friend who does not read this blog so I can get away with insulting her coffee.  The point is, I show up for her company and not the beverage.  For awhile I was taking my journal or laptop to local cafés just to get out but even that hasn't been so manageable in the past year.  Ah well, good days and bad days, good years and bad years.

Recently I took my journal to the cafe half an hour earlier than the time I was expecting to meet up with my parents.  Some cafes are easier to write in than others, and often it depends on what seating I find.  I really need to be tucked into a corner or with my back to a wall if I am going to be comfortable enough to relax and write.  If the cafe is very busy I can get distracted with people-watching.  Come with me for half an hour to one of our local little cafés.


It's a busier Friday than it has been lately at this little café in my hometown.  Conversations buzzing around me seem to spew out disconnected words that I can't make sense of.  Typically I would focus on one conversation and listen more carefully but today all voices are either just marginally on either side of the dividing line between possibly interesting and probably dull.  Small talk between myself and people I know usually bores me; small talk amongst strangers is a potential source of interesting snippets that could be used in fiction writing.  Did I mention that sense of buzzing?  It's louder than usual and I can't tune it out.  I didn't bring headphones or earplugs as I have sometimes done.  It's louder than I am used to it being in here and I'm disappointed that having decided to come early and write, the cafe is not as peaceful as it usually is at this time.  My eardrums pulse.  There is hiss and clang from the kitchen, a syncopated  beat from the unidentifiable background music and all the voices.  Eventually I will be one of them and I will not notice them, but at the moment I am apart, I am other, I am feeling less than fond of these noisemakers.

It's a room full of females today, only one lone male sits at the bar beside me and reads a newspaper.  Or at least he appears to read it.  Perhaps he stares at it hopelessly, the words and images dancing in his brain in syncopated motion.

I'm early today, on purpose, waiting for the arrival of my parents with whom I will have an early lunch.  They eat all of their meals about an hour earlier than average so I expect them at eleven and it's now about 10:30am.  I have ordered and paid for a coffee but in the rush of customers it has been forgotten.  People arrive steadily for take out and more fill up the few tables.  I don't sit at a table because I don't like to occupy a table for four as a single person for the half hour I was intending to be there alone.  I find the bar uncomfortable though and I cannot sit still, wiggling and adjusting and shifting.  I scribble in my journal but my words are compromised by all the words in the air around me.  I attempt contortions of concentration just as I attempt to contort my body into comfort.  Sometimes I write a misplaced letter in the same way I might type one.  Both my writing speed and typing speed are too fast to allow for perfect accuracy.  They have to keep up with my thoughts.

More and more people are pouring in and I think that I've not seen it this busy in months.  It becomes increasingly difficult to write because I am now distracted by trying to keep an eye out for a free table.  The coffee which had been forgotten was just now being brought to me with smiling apologies.  I had ordered a small so I was brought a medium to make up for the wait. I sip my coffee and try to write again but now my eye is distracted by movement.
There is a woman who has been seated alone at a table for five since I arrived.  She seems to be making movements that suggest departure.  She has rummaged in her bag for a lipstick and applied it.  I swivel around in my bar stool, not wanting to pounce on her, trying to allow time for her to at least stand up before I descend and claim the table.  

And then there is another woman there. She is one of a group who have just come in.  The others are still at the ordering counter and I see and hear this woman speak to the departing one.  "Are you about to leave?"  She asks.  I am filled with an emotion I cannot identify.  It's not strong enough to be anger but I think to myself, "Oh no you don't!"

Normally I am someone who gives way to others.  I was raised to do this as I think many women were and like many women who get to be my age, I'm getting better at asserting myself.  I arrive at this table in seconds, before I can think and talk myself out of it.  "Excuse me,"  I say firmly though quietly.  "I have been waiting for this table for twenty minutes."

Departing women seems rather delighted by this.  The woman I was challenging rather strangely said 'You little devil' which strikes me as a bit odd since I am certainly not smaller and although probably younger not by more than ten years.  Departing woman tells me that I should have just joined her right from the start.  I smile and agree although of course the idea sounds quite unappealing to me.  I have come here to be alone, at least for half an hour.  Having triumphed at table procuring, I settle down at this table only to see, moments later, another table  being vacated and the large group of women pointing at that one.  Should I leave well enough alone? No, I cannot.  Here I was about to be a group of three, occupying a table for five while a group of five was going to squish themselves in around a table for four.  Apparently I have a sense of balance which must be appeased.  There is only one solution. I get up and suggest that they take the larger table and I will take the smaller one as my group is smaller.  A woman who had not called me a devil beams at me and gushes that I was such a nice person.

Angel and devil, I park my bottom in a chair at this table for four when suddenly a table for three in the corner is vacated.   Not only is this table preferable being meant for three but it is in the corner and I always prefer the corner.  I move again and feel quite pleased to see a family of four arrive and head to the table in the middle of the room which I have just vacated.  I am just settling into the corner table, arranging my bag and coat and scarf, when my parents arrive.  Beaming happily they join me in the corner and ask, 'Have you just arrived too?'

I confess my activities to them.  Whether I am an angel or a devil depends on whom you ask.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Body Image and What to Wear: Absolutly No Advice From Me

If you read this blog you may be aware that I went on a personal style-finding journey and then I stopped.  Did I find my style or did I just give up?  I might answer that differently, depending on the day or my mood but mostly I would say that I discovered I'd never lost it.  I did temporarily misplace it and confused other styles for my own but that's okay, I like learning new things.  I explored systems and methods and various forms of advice and I tried winging it too.  I considered colour, which I admit is my main obsession, as well as style and personal expression and one of the biggest lessons I learned was that admiring or even wanting a certain style is not the only factor that will be important in determining if it is right for you.  When it comes to what you look best in there might be a right answer but various people will have differing opinions and you may either be clueless or have opinions which conflict with those of your friends... or the expert on television... so just forget about it all and wear what makes you happy.

Looking good is mainly about grooming and attitude.  Mostly, you will look great if you are clean, deliberate and look confident.  Models pull this off all the time because not only are they good at making model face, we have been told that they look awesome so many times we believe it. It doesn't matter what they are dressed in, we think they look good.  But how is 'good' even defined. It seems to me it is defined by having a body that the clothing can completely take over. Who is that serving?

 If you are young you can get away with an ungroomed look and it will look cool but if you are over thirty you will just look like you are depressed or completely unaware of social norms or don't have a job.  And looking like any of those things is totally fine but I'm just telling you so that nobody can say I neglected to mention it.

Wear whatever you want to and wear it with confidence.  No matter what you wear someone will hate it, someone will be indifferent, it will go out of style, and it may or may not give you the illusion of beauty as we currently understand it.  You can find every opinion out there so prioritise your own,.  If you ask me 'Does this colour suit me? Should I wear a belt with this? Does this make my bum look big?'  I will have an opinion and I won't tell you the truth because that's not socially acceptable but you shouldn't care anyhow.  Unless you do, and then I can't help you.

If you want to achieve the smallest looking waist you can possible achieve, only wear colours that make you look healthy,  that make your legs look miles long or your elbows look their prettiest, then there are rules you can follow and usually, although not always, the so-called experts agree on them.  I stopped trusting the experts when they said use a belt to define your waist and make it look like you have one when you don't.  That's rubbish.  If you don't have a small waist I'm sorry but all that belt is doing is flashing like a neon sign that says hey look here at where there isn't a waist.  Maybe that's the look you want. Or maybe you just like the look of a dress divided in half by a belt.  Go for it.

I used to be worried about clothing making me look fatter than I actually am.  I was obsessed with how to dress to look my most slender and I don't only mean slender as an optical illusion.  I found that often I was choosing clothing that made me look larger than I really am.  It bothered me.  I obsessed over it.  I was determined never to make those mistakes again.  But I still do and because sometimes how an outfit looks when I am standing and looking in the mirror is not the same as how it looks when I am seated and photographed this is always going to happen.  Sometimes I just want my clothing to be a little loose fitting because I find it more comfortable.  In fact, most of the time.

Maybe it's age.  No, I don't actually WANT to look frumpy but if all my efforts over the past few years have taught me anything one of the things I've learned is that no matter how many of the strategies you employ you aren't fooling anyone about what sort of body you've got under those clothes.  Maybe a little bit.  But not much.  Not enough to wear something you don't love or don't feel comfortable just for the sake of trying to look thinner, but at the same time there is no need to give in and wear shapeless oversized things unless you love wearing shapeless oversized things and then we don't call it giving in.

You can wear whatever you want on any body shape, not because you will look great so long as you are confident, though you might, but because you should dress in whatever way makes you happy.  I might think you look terrible or mediocre or flashy or boring  but that doesn't matter.  You might think the same of me and that also doesn't matter.

Plenty of people are confidently perambulating about wearing unflattering colours and shapes and not caring at all what anyone thinks.  Be one of those people and be happy.

Friday, 20 January 2017

Accidental Capsule Wardrobe

I have had a capsule wardrobe for most of my life and never called it that.  In the past few years  I strayed from that approach and experimented and didn't think too much about how much was enough or anything at all beyond experimenting and the fun of hunting for things in thrift shops and trying new colours and styles.  Except for those few years of play which were fun for awhile but are now over, I have always had a small wardrobe of mix and match pieces with a consistent colour palette and styles suited to both my taste and my needs.

There were definitely limitations imposed by budget and availability and in the past my need for a work wardrobe influenced the types of clothing I spent the most money on.  I had never heard the term capsule wardrobe nor was I in pursuit of any sort of minimalism, I simply didn't by outfits but purchased items singly which would work with at least two or three items already in my closet and impulse purchases or purchases that went beyond need were rare. I tended to keep my bottoms neutral and use colour and pattern in the tops. A simple formula.

My time spent experimenting eventually brought me full circle but what is different now is that it seems a way of dressing which I believed was imposed on me due to a limited budget is actually a way of dressing that suits me for a variety of reasons.  Here is some of what I figured out about myself and clothing.

* It has turned out that I don't  mind a simple wardrobe at all.  I prefer it.

* My life is casual and it would not surprise me if I never needed to wear a dress or skirt more than once every couple of years ever again.  

* I wear skirts or dresses in summer by choice but in winter I find myself not wanting to wear the tights or leggings and finding the excess fabric involved rather a nuisance. 

* For awhile, dressing up was fun but it grew tiresome and complicated and basically clothing began to get in the way of my movement.  I don't believe that is a standard, across the board sort of thing. It's personal.  What feels good on our bodies, what is comfortable versus what is a nuisance is a very personal thing.  We can change over time too.  I was once more comfortable in more formal clothing than I am now.  For a short time I was in love with jersey, leggings and tunics, but then found these got baggy and slouchy and attracted a lot of cat fur. 

* Not every style that I like works out for me and not everything that looks flattering is practical.   I tried on some clothes today and they looked great.  I loved the colours, they were very hippie-boho-free spirit looking and they suited me but I knew that they were too fussy.  I would regret the purchase and I just don't have a lifestyle where I need clothing for sitting around or walking around looking good.  I stay home and I read, write or paint.  Once or twice a week I go out for a couple of hours for a bit of shopping or meeting my someone at a cafe.

* I love to be comfortable -wait let me rephrase that because who doesn't like to be comfortable?  I like my clothing slightly loose because that is what feels comfortable to me.  I like body skimming things, I wear my jeans a bit loose. 

* I am neither interested in dressing up to display my creativity nor am I someone who loves to live in pyjamas or sweatpants. 

So I have what these days is called a capsule wardrobe and it adjusts slightly for the weather, with adaptations for very warm or very cold or wet.

Many capsule wardrobe suggestions include things like a pencil skirt and a blazer and a little black dress.  I don't need those things.  I also do not own a white button down, chambray button down, trench coat or Breton top.  I am definitely not doing the French Chic capsule wardrobe.  I have stopped wearing black and am finding myself quit content without grey. Although I still like grey I just am not sure it likes me.  My neutrals are denim, cream and brown.

 It may not be the most fun way, but if I've got anything figured out it's that I don't look to my clothing for fun. It is absolutely self expression because any form of clothing is.  Our clothing says something even if it is saying something we do not wish it to.  It might be saying "I have no idea what suits me or what I like or I do not care".  We have little control over what our clothing choices say to anyone else.  People advise us to make sure our clothing choices say what we want them to be saying.  Perhaps that is possible to some degree but no matter what we think our outfit is saying we don't have much control over  what other people hear.  Better to wear things because you like them than to worry about what anyone else thinks and that goes for being flamboyantly stylish or under the radar casual. 

For people who like the details, this is what I wear for Winter

This list doesn't include underwear, pyjamas, socks and the gloves, hats or rain boots I also have on hand for inclement weather.

Some of these items would be part of my Autumn or Spring wardrobe with small changes-additions or swaps.

5 pairs blue jeans-two casual straight leg, two casual boot cut, one dressier boot cut

4 long sleeved tee shirts

3 casual blouses (2 of these I have to admit to not wearing much)

1 fancy blouse (not worn much but it works for 3 seasons)

2 knit tops

1 pull over sweater

3 cardigans

3 tank tops to layer for warmth

3 prs lace up boots -hiking or granny style

1 parka

1 quilted vest 

assortment of scarves and jewelry, 1 belt

I am NOT making any claim about or attempting minimalism and I am not aiming for any specific number of items or imposing any rules on myself.  I included the numbers only for interest.  This is more clothing than I actually need, but I am not immune to the pleasure of something new or the possibility that I might find a cardigan better than one I currently have.  The quest for the perfect cardigan seems never ending and I am happy to continue that mission.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

On Impatience and Ice Cream

On Facebook someone recently posted a link to a video in which a woman is talking about how she is not as calm as people think she is and in actual fact she 'loses her shit' all of the time.  She makes a funny presentation which I think is largely the point.  The poster commented, along with sharing this post, that she thinks anyone who says they don't do this is lying.

Can you hear my eyeballs rolling?  That justifcation for our own behaviour-oh everyone does it and if they say they don't they are liars- is ridiculous.  I rarely 'lose my shit' if ever.  I just don't.  It's not how I am.  And while it's true that I only had one child and one annoying husband, I was also an elementary school teacher with a classroom full of children.  I do not react to frustration by 'losing my shit'.  I do not yell.  I do not get angry easily.  while I won't say never, as I can recall times when I have, it's easy to recall those times not because they happened yesterday but because they were so rare they can probably be counted on one hand.  My mother is also like this.  As a parent she was a firm disciplinarian but she did not yell and she did not hit randomly or with things.  Yes we were spanked, a practice she no longer believes in and which I did not use on my own child.  The spankings of my childhood were never dealt in anger, and they were rare.  They were private, deliberate, and dealt with a bare hand on a bare bottom because my mother believed she should always be able to feel how hard she was hitting.  I come from calm and rational people.  We do not 'lose our shit' and that's no lie.

In case you are wondering, none of us are perfect, however calm we may be.  What I suspect is a truth is that everyone has their own way of dealing with overload.  I also suspect some people choose to have

 My struggle is that I am a binge eater.  No purging is involved, just guilt and shame.  There are ways of managing this tendency and the best one I know is to only stock ingredients in my kitchen and not snack food.  By ingredients I mean, generally meat, dairy, produce and uncooked grains although I eat very little of the latter.  Condiments, tomato sauce or soup stock is also a kitchen staple.  If there are cookies, crackers, candies, ice cream, chips, bread or even boxed cereal that is what I will eat and I will eat too much.  If feeling overwhelmed, tired, emotional or bored that is the food I will turn to.  I eat those things only when I have bought them as a treat in a small quantity.  Until recently I would have told you that this is my strategy because I haven't got willpower.  It is interesting to note that recent studies by psychologists are beginning to suggest will power may be a myth.

How is will power a myth?  The idea is that people who claim or seem to utilise will power are actually doing something else.  They are either using a strategy like mine or they do not feel the typical urge in the first place.  For example, my mother tells me she rarely actually feels hunger.  If I let myself get too hungry it gets difficult to control and the urge for a quick hit of carbohydrate takes over and if I let myself have it I do not stop at enough.  My mother rarely gets this feeling of hunger and is much more able to deal with a bit of hunger by eating a carrot stick.  Current research is apparently suggesting that this difference between my mother and myself may be something we cannot change, therefore my strategy for managing it is the best solution and that what Mum is doing is not will power, it is just the way she is.  Mum also does not like chocolate, which seems to be a rare attitude but not eating the chocolate candy sitting in a bowl in front of her would not be about will power.  It would be as easy for her as it would for me to ignore a bowl of mints.

As I write this I am beginning to think that my mother may be one of the rare people who has very little difficulty with any impulse control because she does not seem to feel any impulses.  I suspect that isn't true but she may possibly be someone with fewer of them or the type that are less readily triggered in daily life.

I do not get angry easily at all, I do not yell, I do not typically lose my patience and I am not lying but I don't think that's anything to brag about but I dislike the inaccuracy of the suggestion that if I make that claim I must be lying.  If there is a tub of ice cream in my freezer I will consume the whole thing in as short a time as I possibly can.  Depending on the size of that tub this will probably happen in a 24 hour period.  If you do not do this, have never done this and cannot even conceive of doing this, I do not call you a liar.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

MBTI for Healing after Emotional Abuse

Studying Myers-Briggs typology (MBTI) and finding my best fit within it has contributed greatly to my healing from emotional abuse.   There is much criticism of the MBTI and it certainly is not based in what most people call hard science.  It is a model with limitations and is often misused or misapplied but it still has some use and it remains popular.  Some have compared it to astrology but I think that comparison is based on some misunderstanding as well as the tendency for internet users to spread memes and and write blog posts that suggest it is a guide to personality in its entirety.  Unlike astrology, which claims that your time of birth has some sort of connection to personality traits or to how your life will unfold, MBTI describes 16 different sets of cognitive styles and posits that everyone falls into one of these categories with some variation  (It's somewhat like how many different women might wear a size 6 but not have identical body shapes.)  and works from the hypothesis that how you think will have some significant effect on how you behave.

I am not going to spend much time explaining Myers Briggs or defending it nor explain how I arrived at my own type, but I spent some time at it beyond just a quizz or two.  I studied the eight cognitive functions in order to identify my dominant four which is what leads to a designated type.  In my initial conclusion I made an error based on mistaking behaviour and values I was taught for my own preferred behaviour.  The fact that this can happen illustrates that these types are in no way an excuse for bad behaviour or unhealthy behaviour because we can all adapt and modify our behaviour to some degree.  There is a stereotype that the INTJ is usually an unfeeling robot genius.  This is a bit silly, but the stereotype persists and perhaps it is there because an emotionally unhealthy INTJ is likely to perform this way but it is not a given that every INTJ is cold and socially inept. It is possible that INTJs need to put extra effort into learning social skills as they may not come as naturally as to other types.

(I used the word behaviour five times in that paragraph)

I have spent most of my life living with people whose types differed significantly enough from mine  that it was obvious that I was the oddball.   In varying degrees of subtlety I got the message that I was a bit defective, a bit off, a bit too intense for most people to take.  Whether that message was intended or whether that is just how I took it I can't really know.  But later in life when I married, I did end up married to someone who steadily and frequently told me that I was defective, wrong, incapable, and in general causing him strife and harm.  I have since learned that this is called gaslighting.  Anyhow, it worked.  It was persistent and consistent and pervasive and I was perhaps already primed, because I already knew I was different.  It wasn't a big leap to turn different into difficult.

Fast forward to my emancipation and the journey of self-rescue.  Reading about a cognitive style that fits me, matches many aspects of my personality and shows me that while I may not be typical I am just fine as I am has been a very healing experience. It is obvious to me that MBTI is quite irrelevant for some people.  It worked well for me and contributed to my healing so I am inclined to be supportive of anyone who is interested and to suggested to anyone who is trying to better understand themselves.  When you need to heal from emotional abuse and gaslighting, anything that can help direct you towards self-understanding and self-acceptance is a good thing.

Monday, 2 January 2017

Musings, Migraines and MBTI-It's All Stuff in my Head

If you are one of the few followers of this blog you may have given up by now and I can't blame you.  Posting is sporadic at best.   I simultaneously do and don't care and I contemplate ending, finishing, wrapping up, concluding or just walking away from my blog as it feels somewhat less purposeful than it did when I began.

On the other hand, I probably won't abandon it.  It is possible that I like to think I entertain, amuse, inform and connect with others through my blog though I have no interest in making money, gaining followers, improving the blog or attracting sponsors and advertisers.  I have no interest in making it pretty or finding my niche and I have lost my interest in giving much thought to personal style, which is where this blog began. 

It is and always has been, one of many journals I keep in order to explore thoughts.  I am as inconsistent in all my journals as I am here. 

The battle with migraines is generally going in my favour, and I've got medication for the painful ones but still frequently experience ocular migraines.  Thankfully, those ones don't hurt but they require resting the eyes and are such a visual disturbance that there is little to do other than close my eyes and wait it out.  The first time I experienced one I said to my then husband, 'Either there is something wrong with my vision or there is a giant blob of ectoplasm floating in our living room.'  If you know me you will know that the former was my true conclusion and the latter my sense of humour, however I did request that he confirm my diagnosis by reporting that he saw no sign of any ectoplasm.

When your hobbies and passions are visual- painting, reading and writing-  then vision disturbances are a nuisance at the very least and potentially rather distressing.  I try audio books, TED talks and random pod casts if I must spend some time with my eyes closed and I favour pedantic ones in case you are wondering.

Speaking of pedantics and obsessions and my interests in general, having recently worked my way to a conclusion regarding my personal colouring after some inadequate conclusions, I have also revisited my Myers Briggs category.

The Myers Briggs types are not in any way hard science but they have more validity than horoscopes.  It is easy to misunderstand or misuse them though and that leads to both confusion and to some people dismissing them as total bunk.  There is some difference between soft science and pseudoscience and absolute nonsense is a whole category of it's own as well. My goal is always to weed out pseudoscience and nonsense but soft sciences have a place.  Many aspects of the human experience are difficult to measure.

The Myers Briggs types do not describe personality though they might contribute to an understanding of personality.  They describe cognitive processes and I would argue that how we think is definitely going to influence a great deal about who we are, but so do our genetics and our environment.

I have always tested as INFJ and it seemed like a very good fit but it is quite true that we can make errors in self assessment and thus mistype ourselves.  Even when taking well designed tests, self-reported behaviours may or may not be accurate.  The test must be taken with a very clear perspective on how one actually does think as opposed to how one believes one should think and some confusion can arise if behaviours are influenced by social pressure or feelings of "I ought to" and thus are not the way one truly wishes to behave.  The less typical one's type the more social pressure might be felt to behave differently and not true to that type.

It is now my hypothesis that this is what happened to me.  INFJ and INTJ can appear quite similar and do have some common cognitive processes.  INFJ is a less common type in the overall population, perhaps the least common type of all.  INTJ is not as uncommon but is largely made up of males.  The INTJ female is less common than any type and does not fit with feminine norms as dictated by our culture. I ruled it out for myself initially without even considering it, influenced by stereotypes I think and that reminds me of how I was also put off the Dressing Your Truth type 3 category initially.  While I have concerns about Carol Tuttle's qualifications as a therapist I remember reading or hearing her tell someone to look at the category you are afraid of, the one you think you really don't want to be or can't be.  

 I was raised by a wonderful mother who is a type that is highly associated with feminine norms so I internalised many of her values and her messages about what it means to be a good female. This is not a bad thing and probably makes me a more rounded person, but in mistaking how I believed I should think for how I actually do think, I selected responses on the MBTI tests which contributed to an INFJ result.

Since I've not considered making this blog one that examines MBTI in detail I don't, at the moment, think it's worth writing about everything I considered and how I came to recognise my error.  I will remind anyone who is wondering, that MBTI is not a personality test and everyone is still an individual with their own unique genetics and experiences making up who they are.

The use of MBTI is in better understanding your own style of thinking and that of others, in order to facilitate understanding and communication.  For me, it's very helpful because I so often feel like an alien.  Knowing that there is a reason I find it harder to fit in and so often feel like I am faking it which is exhausting, and that I may be different but not broken is as helpful as understanding that those who are not like me are also not broken seems like it should be intuitive and in many ways it is, but I always like evidence and reasons to support intuition.  If I understand how you think I can better understand what you think and better understanding is among my very core values.

Can I be certain I am INTJ or INFJ or anything else? Not with 100% accuracy, no.  I am more certain about what I saw in my living room that day being caused by an ocular migraine. However, my confidence in having moved from a quite likely MBTI result to a result that is the most likely is nearly as high as my confidence that there was no ectoplasm.