As I’ve said a number of times I’m an INFP personality, complete with both its strengths and weaknesses. Equally complete are my areas of interests and list of things that bore the tar out of me. I want to know what makes people tick. I could care less about molecules, and gasoline engines as long as other people will continue to care about them and keep their benefits coming my way.
Last night on CSI Ray Langston (Lawrence Fishborne’s character) introduced me to a new way of thinking about people. He was talking about research Eric Fromm introduced to the world. I know only what was presented on the program but it caught my attention because it seemed to express in words what I’ve noticed in life. It always helps when someone puts words to an observation that was to this point fuzzy. Those words said some people take meaning from things that remind them of events and people, while others take meaning from the experiences of life itself.
I’ve never needed to own a lot of things and have wondered at why other people do. I’ve even been annoyed with the clutter they create. Yet family members as well as friends need to have things to feel complete. When my youngest son and I suggest that this or that can be discarded or given away we meet substantial resistance. Collections of aging birthday cards and old movie tickets are high on my list for a dump run. Knickknacks are dust collectors, and spare lawnmower parts and other things we might need someday frustrate me and the fact they annoy me annoys my family members. Now I have some understanding of the resistance I’m facing. I don’t need to have things to hold on to past experiences and people I love or have loved but my family and friends do. So and so died ten years ago and we saw that movie together so the ticket stub maintains the connection for them. While for me the memory remains vivid in my mind and the ticket stub is meaningless garbage that needs to disappear.
I love it when a feeling takes on understandable form. Even more, I love it when I get a new insight into why people act and think the way they do. Perhaps this will let me negotiate tangible results mid way between their needs and mine. At the very least it helps me understand them, even though I’m unable to embrace their feelings.