Try-This Tuesday: “Go To The Wilderness”

Don’t worry – sleeping on rocks in your sleeping bag not required!  Unless you like that kind of thing, then go for it!

Today’s task was inspired by The Power of Introverts – Susan Cain’s Ted talks youtube video that’s floating around on Facebook right now.  Every introvert in the world (1/3 to 1/2 of us) is sharing it feverishly right now in an attempt to be understood and maybe even prized in a world that places emphasis on the personality traits of extraverts.

Here’s my spiel before I turn the spotlight on you. (Are you cringing at the world spotlight?  You might be an introvert.)

A few months back I took the Myer Briggs personality test and the 4 letter acronym box that I fit in is INFJ.  A few minutes ago I took the Jung Typology Test which gives you a type formula according to Carl Jung and Isabel Briggs Myers and I got…INFJ.  (Read it if you ever wondered why on Earth I am the way I am, or why I do the things I do.)

Here’s a word of caution, though.  Don’t limit yourself to the box that this or any other personality test puts you in.  For example, my personality type is not very detail-oriented.  And if you know me, you know this is true.  I’d rather live in my head and think and talk about grandiose ideas than worry about the details.  I actually like being this way – it’s so much more fun and in my own mind, quite productive.  But, I could very well be good at keeping on top of details even if I’m not inclined to do so naturally.  What I’m saying is, I shouldn’t hide behind the “well, that’s too detail-oriented for me” veil and not try something that I could very well be good at.  So, please don’t do that.

That’s just my two bits about that.

Back to this awesome Ted Talks video where Susan Cain talks about us quirky, nose-in-our-books introverts.  If you have 20 minutes, go ahead and listen to her talk in detail about how our world (and by this, she means mostly the Western world) values the social, group-oriented nature of the extravert.  From classrooms to offices – group seating, open floor plans, and assignments are geared this way.

But here’s what’s important about taking some time to be introverted – whether you are predominantly introverted or predominantly extraverted (and of course, there is gray area here – nobody is extremely one or the other).  Great ideas are born from a place of stillness and connection to one’s Self.  Where have you heard that before?  This resonated with me like a bell in a church tower – loud and clear!  My place of stillness was forced upon me when I had my first child and became ball and chained to the armchair in her room, as I used to think of it.  I was annoyed that I couldn’t be “productive” and that I was forced to do “nothing.”  Well, that place of nothing gave birth to my most creative ideas.  When I had memorized every square inch of my little girl’s nursery from the view of her armchair, my mind had nowhere else to go but inward.  This was a place I always liked to go.  Even as a child, I ignored the calls of the other children to come play…preferring instead to play in solitude or with the characters in my book.  But you know when you feel forced to do something that you can’t actually see it for what it is?  That’s what was happening here.  When I finally allowed it to just happen, it was the best thing that could have been “forced upon me” at that time.

Even now, with my son who just turned 2, I will stay in his room after he goes to sleep, in the dark, sitting on his armchair and I will get ideas and have a-ha moments that fill me with bliss.  Did you know that most of my Tuesday tasks come to me on  Monday night while sitting in the dark?  Most of my blog posts come to me this way.  Susan Cain calls this retreating into one’s being, going “to the wilderness” which she points out is exactly what the world’s leading thinkers have done since the beginning of time (think: Buddha, Mohamed, Moses, Jesus).  There was always a cave or a forest involved, was there not?  More importantly, there was always solitude.

Today’s task, therefore, is to go to the wilderness i.e. sit in silence and solitude.  Do it for 10 minutes.  Maybe imagine you are in the actual wilderness.  Or maybe imagine nothing.  That’s it!  It’s so “simple”!  And yet, some of our most modern technology was born from computer geniuses sitting in silence!  And some of our most amazing wisdom was bestowed upon quiet and open minds.

I’d love to hear your responses to this task or Susan Cain’s video.  Happy Tuesday!

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