Thursday, January 27, 2011

Random Thoughts Volume XVI

I was well into an afternoon nap last Saturday when I was awakened by a little girl with a big smile. It was my granddaughter, Chloe, who had arrived at my home for an overnight visit. There would be no more rest for Paw Paw. For the next 24 hours I would transform back and forth from a 59 year old Paw Paw to a six year old child. The Paw Paw part is easy for me. I look the part and I enjoy the role. I like holding Chloe in my lap while we watch movies. This week we watched "Alpha and Omega". I'm also very good at preparing cereal, especially Lucky Charms, and telling stories. When I have to be a six year old it gets a little tougher. My tired mind has a difficult time keeping up with Chloe's imagination. My aching body has a difficult time sitting on the floor and playing make believe. Sunday morning I woke up tired because most of Saturday night I was clinging to the edge of my bed. Chloe was next to me the entire night. Meanwhile my wife enjoyed 3/4th of the bed all to herself. All of this, even the difficult parts, are a joy for me. My granddaughter has been a true blessing in my life and I would not trade anything for the time I have with her.

Yesterday I was learning something new and until it finally clicked for me I was very frustrated. It drives me crazy when I don't know how to do something. When I am comfortable with what I am doing I generally enjoy it. I have what some people call a "gut personality". There are also "head personalities" and "heart personalities". People with gut personalities tend to react, and often overreact, from their gut. This means they usually react strongly to whatever the situation is. In my case, depending on what is happening, I may get very angry or even hostile, while at times I am "surprised by joy" or overwhelmed by the beauty of a moment. Whenever I react negatively to something, later, after I have thought it out, I will usually be more reasonable and accepting. The calmness that many of you think radiates from my being is the result of many years of effort on my part to be calm. When I was learning a new skill I was angry with myself for not immediately catching on to what someone was trying to teach me. Later in the day when I was calmer it all clicked for me and then I actually enjoyed doing it.

As I indicated above, I am a "gut type" personality. People like me tend to react before they think. After reacting...or overreacting....they will process their response in their heads and usually re-think their response and adjust as needed. Now I will briefly describe "head type" personalities. You have probably guessed that these types of people tend to think before they act. The danger for them is over thinking and never acting. An additional danger relates to fear. Most fear originates in our minds. "Head type" personalities tend to be fearful types because they can't get out of their heads.

"Gut" types tend to react first, think later, and "head" types tend to think first, act later. We also have "heart" types. "Heart" types are not necessarily the most loving people. Heart types are people who are very concerned with how they are perceived by other people. Do other people think I am caring and kind? Do other people see me as successful? Do other people think I'm special? Of course, all of us want to be seen in a positive light by others but "heart" types are more concerned about it than gut types or head types.

Of course within these three types of personalities are many variations and nuances. Human personality is very complex. Similar personalities will have subtle differences. One important thing to remember is this. We are not our personalities. Our personalities are really defense mechanisms we have unknowingly created as our way to protect ourselves from life. Our childhoods, good or bad, have been the biggest influence on the personality that we have. A big part of the spiritual journey is to get past our personality, or outer shell, to find our true self. Many spiritual writers, especially Thomas Merton, speak of the true self and the false self. The false self is what most of us present to the world around us and it's what most other people see when they look at us. Our true self is who we really are. It may take our an entire lifetime to peel the onion of who we appear to be in order to discover who we really are.

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