Once upon a time, I took a “build your own theology” class at the local UU church. It was a disaster. Everyone was super duper nice and supportive, but I felt so misunderstood and out of place that it really turned me off from spiritual searching for a while. Instead of making things clearer, that class confused the hell out of me and made me doubt my own sense of meaning and spirituality.
Every person in the class, and every reading I was assigned, presented spirituality as a series of “peak experiences.” They talked about feeling one with the universe, being emotionally connected, of fully experiencing the present moment.
I didn’t get it at all, and I thought it was my fault. Ever since then I’ve assumed that I have to be more like those people. I’ve tried to be “in the moment” and in touch with my feelings, and I’ve become madder and more stuck than I’ve ever been.
I am not a feeler. I’m not a “present moment” kind of person. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It doesn’t mean I can’t be deep or spiritual or one with the universe and my fellow humans. All it means is that my ways of doing that will look different from the most common ways.
If you’re familiar with Myers-Briggs personality typing, I’m an INTJ. It’s a less common type, a bit rare in women and seemingly quite rare in spiritual and self-improvement circles. Most people in general (and therefore most people in churches and spiritual movements) are Sensing and/or Feeling types, while I’m an iNtuiting and Thinking type.
That class and everyone in it was about either Sensing or Feeling. Yes, I have feelings and yes, I enjoy sensory pleasure, for for most people feeling and the senses are the entire point of life. If you’re a Senser (which, like, 70% of humanity is), your health and happiness kind of depends on a steady flow of interesting sensations and satistying in-the-moment activities. If you’re a Feeler (something like 75% of women are Feelers), you can’t thrive without emotional connections, and learning how to keep those healthy is vital for you and the people around you.
With so many Feelers and Sensers in the world, it makes sense that so much spiritual advice is about finding what feeds your senses and connects you emotionally. I get it. But it doesn’t work for me at all.
Next I should talk about what makes me such a frickin’ special snowflake, but I’m pretty sure that’s another several paragraphs so I’ll save it for part 2. For now, the most important bit is this: I’ve always felt a bit out of step with the crowd and I’m now sure that a)this is not my imagination and b)there’s nothing wrong with that. I don’t need to be more like everyone else, I just need to be a better me.
Featured image thing from personality-central.com through Google images. Please don’t sue me for being too lazy to make my own word meme.