Advice: surprisingly, not everyone wants it.

One lesson I have learned the hard way is never to give advice unless I’m asked directly. Believe it or not, people just do not hunger and thirst to have the benefit of my experience or intelligence. I’m ashamed to admit that it took me a few decades of life to come to that harsh realization.

Do you know how hard it was at first to keep my mouth shut when someone close to me was sharing their problem, dilemma, or challenge? Especially when my kids were confiding in me, it was very difficult to learn to be quiet and listen, all the way, until they are through. And then to still not say anything.

It has gotten easier with practice. But it doesn’t mean I am any less eager to share my tips for life with my people. I just have to wait for the ask. Many times the ask doesn’t come and I have to be content with the role of sounding board, confidant, hugger, and space holder for my dear children, friends, and family.

Every now and then the hoped for question comes: What do you think I should do? Even then, I must tread carefully instead of charging out of the gate with my “wisdom.”

I thought you’d never ask.

Instead, I have to carefuly consider: what does the other person really want from me? Sometimes people just want you to agree with them or support their idea, and that’s OK. It’s hard to figure this out ahead of time, but it helps to know the person well. I try to use past experience and a little bit of MBTI temperament theory if I can.

Very few people ever want to hear the blunt truth about their situation, even after they’ve told you that’s what they want. I’ve blundered into that mistake with a very close friend or two. At the time, I got mad at them because I felt like we had signed up for that kind of friendship but when it came down to it, I found out we hadn’t. Unfortunately, we’ve drifted apart because of our philosophical differences.

I’m not mad at my friends anymore though. I understand that it can hurt deeply to hear someone’s contrary opinion of your situation, and that in theory it seems nice to have the kind of relationship where we can hold each other accountable, but in practice it’s just too scary and painful.

On the flip side, I’m one of the weirdos who wants to be told the truth even if it stings and makes me cry. Even if I retreat for a while into my aloneness to process the information. And that scares people too, especially tribal temperaments like those who use extraverted feeling. I understand and appreciate that.

To everyone who wants to tell me flat out what the deal is, please know that I will value your willingness to share. You can tell me anything as long as you tell me with respect and kindness. I will honor your authenticity and I promise to treat it with respect and honor. Even if I cry a little. Or a lot. I will deeply consider your words of advice, especially if we are close. And if we are close, I will come back and report my findings as authentically as I am able to.

To my children, don’t be afraid to ask me what I would do in your situation. I’ve been through a lot and done a lot of stupid things and I promise I’ll be gentle. It’s not my first rodeo – but if it is, I’ll tell you that too. I won’t expect you to follow my advice. Just let it sink in, add it to the list of ingredients that go into your decision making process. And if you don’t want to hear what I have to say, I promise to be a good listener and hugger.

I am always praying for you and thinking of you.

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

INFP: develop your extraverted intuition and soar

I get into these crazy spins in life and I don’t know why until I stop and think about it and remember yet again: I’m completely skipping over my secondary function: extraverted intuition.

It’s called a tertiary loop and I do it all the time. A tertiary loop is when you get to spinning between your dominant function, which in an INFP is introverted feeling, and your tertiary function (introverted sensing in INFP).

I become even more introverted, isolated, and sometimes even afraid of the outside world. I am living on the inside of myself, flipping rapidly and radically back and forth between introverted feeling – judging everything in light of my inner values and how I feel about those – and introverted sensing – perceiving everything according to my inner memories of pain, which causes me to withdraw even more.

When I am in a loop, I have stopped considering any possibilities and all I want to do is hide from the outside world.

The only way to solve this problem is to put one foot on the floor to stop the spinning, and then remember about my secondary function, extraverted intuition.

Every MBTI will do well to focus on his or her secondary function. I believe it is the most efficient path to a rapid increase in the quality of life no matter who you are. It is truly the path to sanity and the beginning of wholeness.

In the INFP, making use of extraverted intuition jolts an extreme introvert back into the outside world in a very pleasant way. INFP’s really are possibility thinkers when we remember that we are, and we take a lot of joy in studying our environments for options and new ideas, especially when it comes to creative endeavors.

When I look at the world around me in an extraverted way, it balances me and nourishes my soul in the best way possible. It’s the other side of me and it’s good and necessary. It can feel very uncomfortable and unwelcome at first, especially if I’ve been in a tertiary loop for some time. It’s awkward to poke your head out of your shell if you’ve not done it in a while. However, it doesn’t take long to start feeling good again. It’s worth the effort.

Whenever you hear someone saying they are both introvert and extravert, they are intuitively understanding that just beneath the surface there is a balancing, complementary force. It’s true. None of us are only introvert or only extravert. When we forget that we get into a spin. A loop.

As introverted as I am, a huge, powerful part of me is extraverted – and that is my ability to see possibilities in the world. It’s a blessing.

Do you get into tertiary loops? Or do you have a solid grasp on your secondary function?

If you’re unfamiliar with your MBTI temperament, you can take a free test and start exploring.


Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash


When you’re an INFP

When you’re an INFP, you can find tragic beauty in everything. You can cry and laugh at the same time, for the same reason. When you’re an INFP it’s hard to accept things just as they are. They could be so much better. But you don’t have the energy to change them. Unless you’re pissed off and then you can move the world. Until someone looks at you funny and you stop to wonder why. And then you’re paralyzed and you cry and hide. And you play sad music and you cry some more and then you write something beautiful. You put on your black clothes and tie flowers in your hair and color your toenails black with a sharpie. Even though you’re fifty five years old.

When you’re an INFP, your kids know you’re weird but they love you anyway because no other mom could connect with them the way you do. Except when you’re in one of those moods and you hide in your room and pretend you don’t hear it when they knock. But then they text you and you answer instantaneously because you love them, after all. You just can’t bear to have them look at you right now. So you answer all their questions digitally, diligently, and give them advice that you haven’t followed all that well but you know it is the right way to be. And you would follow it if you weren’t so emotionally fragile. You know your kids are much stronger than you.

When you’re an INFP, you love your husband because he’s perfect and because he’s broken, all at the same time. He’s your hero and he irritates the snot out of you but you would give anything for him and do anything for him. You’d give up writing for him – at least your public writing. The journal is never going to be sacrificed for any reason, except if you just don’t feel like it today because the world seems too dark to relate to but that’s when you need it most so you put on some sad music and you let the words and the worlds come tumbling out. Then you take him coffee and massage his temples and read to him and laugh together and it’s a new day.

When you’re an INFP, you keep pushing onward each day, starting over again with all your commitments and promises to yourself and others. Hope drives you to never give up, and when it seems like hope is running out you find a way to find some more because hope is the battery of the engine of your life and you know that without hope you’d have been dead a long time ago and you’re not done living, dammit, so wake up body. Blood cells flow to where they are needed, by your command, and body parts relax when you tell them to. You control the very processes of your existence. You are in your body and you know it intimately and care for it intimately. You are the master of your destiny and the captain of your soul.