My Myers-Briggs personality type is INFJ, which is labeled as “the counselor.” For those Star Wars fans, that means I have the same personality as Obi-Wan Kenobi. For years, I thought I was an ENFJ (“the teacher”), but as I became more vulnerable, I realized that I am often mistaken for an extrovert because I appear so outgoing and am so genuinely interested in people. On the contrary, I am a true introvert, who can only be emotionally intimate and fulfilled with a chosen few from among my long-term friends, family, or obvious “soul mates.” This apparent paradox is a necessary escape valve for me, providing both the time to rebuild my depleted resources and a filter to prevent the emotional overload to which I am so susceptible as an inherent “giver.” It is perhaps the most confusing aspect of my character to others, and hence often misunderstood, particularly by those who have little experience with this rare type of personality.
I share this with you in the spirit of vulnerability. Over the past 5 years, my comfort level with being vulnerable has exponentially grown, and it has been very helpful in building relationships and teams, as vulnerability-based trust is the foundation for each. How does one become comfortable with vulnerability?
There is one thing we all can do, the one thing over which we have control. Frankly, it’s really the only thing that matters and everything else flows from it. It’s very hard to do, however it’s very worth doing. To do it, we must examine the state of our heart.
Humans are designed for relationships with one another. However, we all bring baggage, emotional scars, and difficult experiences to the table that hinder healthy relationship forming. This friction makes it hard to learn how to love each other in a healthy way. There is not a lot we can do about the state of someone else’s heart, but we can take responsibility for our own. Where do we begin?
If we genuinely want to improve our relationships, we must be willing to face the truth about our inner life and own what’s ours to address. That requires being vulnerable and honest with ourselves first. We need someone with whom we can trust and open up. We need to form a habit of spending time with them. We need to start each and every day with a routine of transforming the state of our heart. That someone is God, and that routine is answering these questions before you do anything else.
In a quiet, comfortable space and in a calm, peaceful state of mind, pray this prayer: “Search me, God, and know my heart; put me to the test and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there is any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.“
Questions to reflect upon and answer:
- What am I grateful for today?
- What do I look forward to today and/or what am I excited about?
- How can I move 1% forward today with something purposeful?
- Who will I go out of my way to thank and serve today?
This simple routine takes only 5-15 minutes each day and over time will transform your mind and heart. It’s the one thing we all can do to learn how to love ourselves and each other in a healthy way.