5 days ago
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Connections (the first in a series about relationship...)
Recently, a friend reminded me of another song that was a favorite of mine when I was young: The Rainbow Connection. I haven't listened to that song for many years, and hearing it again brought back the sense of self that I discovered at eight years old. Connections. Relationships. That is how my view of the world is ordered. It is where I find meaning. And where I understand my self, my strengths, my weaknesses.
Now that I have learned so much about personality theory, I see how this way of being is a function of my personality type. As an INFJ, my dominant thinking process is Ni (introverted intuiting). Ni is the process that searches for connections and relationships, then uses that information to predict, enlighten, or transform (it is a future-oriented way of thinking). I find meaning and purpose in this structure or vision. Everything is interconnected, and once I can define the qualities of a connection I can intuit the future and understand the present. My Fe (the decision making process) uses the intuited info, passes it through the lens of extroverted feeling (considering others and the group, how can I best facilitate harmony and connection…) and I make a decision on which to act.
So, what is relationship? Listening to the Rainbow Connection reminded me of a common problem between people.
Rainbows are visions, but only illusions,
And rainbows have nothing to hide.
Relationships are illusions. They aren't tangible. We can't touch them. And the only way we know they exist is when a behavior causes a ripple. Everything and everyone that feels that ripple can be certain that they share a connection with the person that generated the ripple. So, a relationship can only be known with certainty when there is change. But what is the relationship? The definition or quality of a relationship can only be defined by the two who are connected. No one on the outside can precisely describe it. And even the participants' definitions can differ greatly from each other. So what is the truth of this connection if it can only be defined inaccurately by each side? The truth is different for each party (and many of those differences can be explained by personality theory). "Relationship" therefore, is an illusion.
So we've been told and some choose to believe it
I know they're wrong, wait and see.
Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection,
The lovers, the dreamers and me.
I'd love to know what Kermit "knows" that gives him the confidence that there is a truth where there is a connection. I used to think I knew (my Ni in action!). But that was before I learned that there are ways of thinking that my brain would never have generated on its own. I was egotistical (in the sense that all children are egotistical until they develop enough abstract thought to see others as separate from themselves.)
Now I see how every relationship in my world (in the form that I believe it to be) exists only in my mind. But there are truly connections. That can't be disputed. I feel those ripples every day. And others around me tell me that they feel the ripples that I generate. Is it enough to believe that a relationship is what I believe it is? No, because that's only half the truth. How does the other person define our connection? And when they describe the connection, are they using words that hold different meanings in their way of thinking than in mine? When I hear their description I still have to decipher the meaning using my knowledge of their way of thinking, their personality type, their values and priorities. Ack!! This is hard work! No wonder there is so much confusion and disagreement between people.
How important is it to understand how someone else defines my connection to them? As long as it gives them meaning and pleasure (I'd like to not be the source of unhappiness!), maybe our connection can exist without further definition.
But, I think, when a connection starts to grow or change, it is important for both parties to understand the other's definition. Because if the change holds different significance, or alters each person's definition in a different way, then there will be confusion. So then what protects the connection? Should it be protected?
I am an Idealist-- one of Kermit's dreamers. I want to find that there is a universal "rainbow" connection. I think that our shared human desire to have connections or relationships is the universal truth. But everything else-- what the relationship means, how it is protected, the priority or significance that it is given-- are all illusion, created by each individual. And the best way to avoid confusion and pain is to share our thoughts, agree on a definition that works for both, and continually revise it together. In other words, we need to work together consciously to create and define a relationship that will be what both desire.
(Don't tell my fellow Idealists, but to quote Vernon Dursley from Harry Potter: "There's no such thing as magic!" Nothing just happens unless we make it happen. But it sure is wonderful when what we create feels like magic!)