Doubt: Be True to Yourself

Thursday, October 04, 2012 4 Comments A+ a-


Morning, guys! Can't believe I'm awake, since I only got about 3-4 hours of sleep last night. Couldn't turn off my brain. When I finally did doze off, I woke to my alarm and still had spinning thoughts that kept me from going back to sleep. So I took a shower and am on my second cup of really strong coffee.

Yesterday one of my readers commented on an older post. I replied, and he replied again. One of the themes of our conversation was doubt. He called himself a 'doubting Thomas' - which made me smile, because it's how I refer to myself most of the time. He was talking about faith, but I find doubt creeping into many areas of my life.

So I kept thinking - why do INFJs seem to experience a lot of doubt? I tried looking it up online, but didn't find much (other than complaints about our tendency toward self-doubt). This doesn't seem to be well-explored territory. Guess I'm going to have to pull out my scythe and swing it through the jungle grasses blocking this aspect of our personality.

What do we know about our INFJness? Let's see here.  Well, we:

-are intellectually inclined.
-cherish authenticity.
-hunger for new ideas and perspectives.
-look for truth rather than facts/data.
-neither trust nor follow the majority opinion.
-know and understand things without knowing how/why.
-possess a creative, playful and mischievous inner world.
-are capable of viewing issues from multiple perspectives.
-can change our approach to fit the situation.
-have the ability to don different masks when interacting with the world.

These are but a few of our many amazing characteristics. Can you see, by reading the list above, anything that might contribute to doubt (either in ourselves or with the world)?

I can. Here's my take on it.

The INFJ is capable of deep intellectual thought. We love to think, explore, connect, build, theorize and search--and we don't really care what rules we have to break or boundaries we have to cross to accomplish this. Nor do we stop ourselves from slipping in and out of different perspectives to get a feel for what we're trying to understand. We're good secret agents and even better actors, and honestly, we have to be to survive the noise and chaos of the extravert world.

But this can be a problem. For me personally, I have many different perspectives residing within (I posted about this several weeks ago). Each one is different and has unique ideas and needs. I'm not talking multiple personalities, but multiple roles my persona can easily take on. I love science and can pull on the white coat with ease. I love the supernatural and would have no problem channeling my inner Stephen King (though I try not to). I can be completely in love with Christ and pour myself into serving my fellow man. I can inspire and lead, or inspire and follow. And so on...

Multiple perspectives...ack!!

In one of my earlier posts, I wrote about the Firefly series and how I relate in some way to every character:

Did any of you ever fall in love with the television series Firefly? I stumbled onto it a few years back and absolutely loved it. Joss Whedon is a genius...can't believe they only made one season! It's gritty and bold, and every character in it represents some facet of my personality. Mal is the strong leader in me, Zoe the loyal warrior. Inara is my seductress, Wash my smartass. Kaylee the innocent child, Shepherd the faith, and Jayne the dark, primitive force of betrayal. Simon the uptight, brilliant "fixer" and River the ultimate, desirable INFJ that everyone hunts and no one understands. I have other facets...tons of them, like a diamond...but these are pivotal and resonate with me.

The point I'm trying to make here is that the characters in Firefly didn't always get along. They had radically different viewpoints that clashed, sometimes violently. They were a team, a family, but we all know that families don't live in perfect harmony.

See where I'm going with this?

My personal experience with doubt comes from the fact that there's really no one issue that all my perspectives agree on. I can't reconcile them all. When it comes to faith, my deeply abiding love for what Christ represents is constantly challenged and debated by the scientist. When it comes to raising a family, the leader in me will often offend or embarrass my inner sensitive child. Sometimes my perspectives agree, but most of the time they each want to offer up their opinion. And because their opinions have value, I can't ignore them or brush them aside.

To offset this conflict, my brain tends to over-research subjects, asking hundreds of questions in order to get to the truth of the matter. Because whatever I accept as truth becomes truth for me. I carefully set it in place and tell the perspectives to shut the hell up (like they're going to listen...not!). God is one example. I believe He exists, simple as that. I think the universe reeks of intelligent design (if I didn't believe in God, I'd definitely think aliens seeded our planet, lol!). The scientist in me will try to argue the point, causing doubt. The gritty rebel in me wants to break all the rules and will push me in the opposite direction of this point on a continual basis, causing doubt. The core truth is still there, but it takes a beating.

So where does this leave the INFJ? Good question. This is a difficult aspect of our personality type that can cause rifts in ourselves and our relationships. Like most gifts, the multiple-perspective ability is a blessing and a curse.

For me, I honestly have to be a little selfish in order to deal with this. I have to find the pursuits that fulfill me, grab the perspectives that best support them, and ignore the others clamoring for attention. Otherwise depression will set in. My family and friends don't always understand or appreciate my approach, but I think it's vital to my mental health. If they want me to function properly, they need to allow me the freedom to be true to myself.

Do you agree/disagree? More importantly, are you being true to yourself today?? :-)

The morning has waned...gotta run...

Love you guys,
M.


4 comments

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Jared
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October 4, 2012 at 2:21 PM delete

You know, I often wondered if I had MPD, but your explanation puts my mind at ease! I love the analogy of how there are multiple parts of us and how they fight each other within. Sometimes the big Jared has to silence the little rebellious Jared as well. Good stuff!

All my parts agree with your article and there is no tension within ;)

... And wash my smartass?? HAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Too funny.

I've always saw my heart multifaceted and yes, they sometimes don't get along (ie: "I am a christian. "Yeah Jared, I get that, but how do you really know God is there? Do you honestly believe all this science is false? Are you so black and white in your thinking that you can't see that what they say is often quite credible?")

Grrr...

I'm watching WWII in color on Netflix and from my perspective all I see is a bunch of hot heads trying to make their country bigger. Last night I was feeling elite because I thought I was much smarter than they were. I thought that I would never do that; I would choose peace and keep my land small but rich in love. And then I read your post here and I'm realizing there is a WWII going on in my heart and I am, at present, in a war with myself. The parts of my heart have a tendency to hold their ground and fight to the death with the intent of "making their country bigger". The doubt comes from all the back and forth inward debating(and from doubt comes depression as my major need to understand remains unmet).

Thanks for posting this, you have given me a lot to chew on.

Jared

P.S. I have the science/intuitive battle going on inside as well, especially over the existence of the supernatural. Please check the video below, it has calmed both my parts because it gives credible answers to both. Have a look: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WNbdUEqDB-k

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Colin Machan
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October 4, 2012 at 2:52 PM delete

Meridian, I was sitting here ticking off your list of characteristics. Wow, awesome. Guess my embracing of my INFJ-ness has never been more true today... and I always like to call myself a 'seeker after truth'.

I also struggle with doubt. But once I get hold of the truth - and it can be hard-fought, the result of many hours of pondering, of struggling with details, wrestling with facts - the result is this truth becomes precious to me.

Keep posting. We are kindred spirits here. :)

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Meridian
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October 5, 2012 at 8:57 AM delete

Hey there - your writing style is so much fun to read! I love the WWII description. That's a terrific analogy for our internal struggles. "Making their country bigger." Good stuff, dude.

The bible study I'm in now causes me to question things exactly the way you wrote above. My scientist is hard to debate, especially when physics are so measurable. I'll read a Scripture verse and immediately the scientist argues how impossible that would be. I know you can't measure or quantify God--that's why they call it faith--but part of me can't help but wonder why the Bible has so much history and allegory and not more scientific basis. If God is the ultimate scientist, why all the romance? Not to impugn romance, I just long for more measurable details. He turned water into wine? Fantastic...but explain the molecular process that occurred in order to do it. My inquiring mind wants to know :-)

And there seems to be a general acceptance of Scripture without question. We were discussing Noah and the ark, and one lady says, "The ark was built on a 6:1 ratio, and did you know that shipbuilders still use that ratio today because it's the best?" Everyone in the class oohed and aahed. Not me...I went home and my inner scientist Googled it up! Turns out, the only people who claim that the 6:1 ratio is "the best" are apologetic Christians. Not one scientific or nautical site I went to (and I went to many) claimed this ratio to be the most seaworthy. Ratios are determined by the function of the vessel. Longboats and kayaks obviously aren't 6:1 and can't be. My conclusion? That God had Noah build the the ark according to dimensions that would best serve the purpose for carrying animals and people. It was an incredible effort. But people today are smart and use whatever dimensions necessary for the vessel they are building. I don't think 6:1 is overall "the best", but it served Noah's purpose.

But the students in the class just accepted what this lady said as truth. C'mon, people - can't you think for yourselves? Seriously!?! And there's no chance I could bring this topic up with anyone, because they get nervous when I question things :-)

That YouTube video was fascinating. I'm intrigued by the woman's empathetic/intuitive ability after her NDE. Thanks for sharing. I definitely believe in the supernatural, regardless of what science says, because I've experienced it firsthand (dreams coming true, intuiting things before they happen, etc.). There's way too much "coincidence" in this world that science can't explain, and I love it. As an INFJ, I make connections and pull things together in ways that others would find odd (or perhaps entertaining!).

Glad to have given you stuff to "chew on" - especially since you inspired this post. Writing it was illuminating for me as well, so thanks to you!

Have a great day,
M.

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Meridian
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October 5, 2012 at 9:03 AM delete

Hi, Colin, sooooo glad to hear from you!! I really like your comparison...pondering, struggling, wrestling. I get such a great picture in my head reading those words. And you're absolutely right that truth is precious. To be without truth is a terrible thing for the INFJ. We need it as solid footing to stand on while our imaginations reach out to the world around us.

Aww, you're so sweet. We are kindred for certain.

Take care and be good, my friend ;-)

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