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  1. #1
    Lay the coin on my tongue SilkRoad's Avatar
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    Default Being aware of dissonance between people's words and actions

    This is something I struggle with, though a few bad or non-wonderful experiences are teaching me to look out for it more.

    I am sure that anyone can fall prey to it but this may be a particularly INFJ blind spot. For me, it is a combination of a) being a person who pretty much means what they say, most of the time; b) giving people too much credit for potential, rather than what they're actually doing here and now; c) seeing/hearing what I want to see/hear, particularly if I'm somehow emotionally invested (either with a close friendship, or romantically); d) perhaps according too much of a sacred status to words...?

    I've fallen into the trap before, in various situations. Someone runs down a certain social group...but still spends their time hanging out with them; I trust them to figure it out eventually, even if this has been the case for ages. Some guy tells me how special I am to him and how I'm the one person who has stuck by him, who he can really talk to, etc etc...but doesn't ask me out or really make that much effort to spend time with me; I think he's just hesitant and will get there eventually. Needless to say, these types of situations have let me down, big-time.

    Have you had the same problem - especially INFJs, NFs, or anyone who wants to weigh in? What have you learned? How do you avoid falling into the trap? Do you think most people are kind of like this, or do you just learn to keep more distance with the ones who behave this way?
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  2. #2
    Iron Maiden fidelia's Avatar
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    I agree with all of your reasons listed for tending to have a problem with this area. I'd also add to it people that I am reluctant to recategorize people whom I'm invested in and have deemed trustworthy in the past. Also because I don't really really get close to a lot of people, it's hard for me to face that someone is not trustworthy if they have been part of that inner circle - it's almost like I have to prove to myself that my own judgement isn't that out of kilter, prove to myself that they really do care about me and I wasn't just imagining it or understand why they are acting so uncharacteristically. I don't like being hasty and so it takes awhile to gather up the information I need before I feel I can get closure about it.

    I think what I've learned is that that kind of inconsistancy often has something to do with insecurity. Often there is a genuine desire to become close or to act with character, but there are fears that take over and make the person keep acting in contradictory and often hurtful ways. By being better able to distinguish between real confidence and the whistling in the dark kind than I once was, I am a little more careful about how close I allow someone to be if they are very insecure. It's not that I am blaming them for it, but rather than insecurity has some very serious and negative outcomes and I know that once I allow people to be close to me, I do it whole-heartedly and they have the power to do a lot of damage.

    Secondly, I have become much more proactive about choosing friends, rather than waiting for them to choose me. This has influenced both the quality of friends I have as well as the reasons for both of us getting into the friendship. I tend to spend time with whomever demands my attention most, forgetting to remember what messages that may give the other person about how close we are, or how it may make a person a bigger part of my world than they really ought to be.

    Thirdly, I am learning that when I am faced with situations where I am lonely and away from a regular support system of people, I tend to be more susceptible to getting romantically involved with people who may not be the best choice for me due to spending a lot of time together and becoming emotionally attached. They often are pursuing actively and are people who want to look out for me in some way. As time goes on, they become too central a part of my world without other people and interests to balance it out and we often don't share the foundational commonalities (attitudes towards religion, family, money etc) that would allow the relationship to continue on successfully.

  3. #3
    can't handcuff the wind Z Buck McFate's Avatar
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    This is exactly why it takes me forever to really feel close to anyone. It’s relatively easy for someone to present a certain image to others- to make a solid first impression- but not many people can cash the checks they write (so to speak) with the first impression they make. It takes a while of actually interacting with someone, and paying attention to the consistency between their words and their actions, to know how mindful they are about interpersonal dynamics. Example: just because someone may go on tangents about how much they dislike lying- they may even be able to rant about specific frustrations that I can relate well to (thus demonstrating they’ve experienced the frustration of putting up with liars)- it doesn’t mean they are honest themselves. I know when I was younger I would make the mistake of assuming that if I could relate well to someone's rant, then their ethical code must be similar to mine (or I wouldn't be able to relate so well)- but the older I get, it ceases to amaze me how much energy others can put into 'talking the talk' without really being concerned about 'walking the walk'. I think what amazes me most is crossing the path of someone who focuses so much on the 'talking' part that they seem completely oblivious to the fact that they can't control what their 'walk' reveals with yet more talking. If that made any sense.

    So yeah, it may seem cynical, but I’m really pretty sensitive to the consistency between someone’s words and actions. There’s value in knowing what someone *wants* to be (what they’re words reveal), but I don’t really trust anyone’s words until I feel like I know who they *are* (the kind of stuff consistency reveals).
    Reality is a collective hunch. -Lily Tomlin

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  4. #4
    Senior Member BAJ's Avatar
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    Possibilities:

    1.) He believes that, but feels you are too good for him, out of his league, or has a problem. Maybe he's a eunuch spiritual of physically. Maybe he took a vow of chastity.

    2.) He believes that, but thinks of you like a sister or is secretly gay.

    3.) He believes that, but is emotional unavailable for a relationship due to some pressure such as work, addiction, or various things that tie up his soul, and make him unavailable.

    4.) He believes that, but really thinks you are unattractive or not his "style" of romantic interest.

    I'm sure there could be many things. Recommendation...ask him out? Explain the situation to him and see if he wants to date?


    Quote Originally Posted by Z Buck McFate View Post
    So yeah, it may seem cynical, but I’m really pretty sensitive to the consistency between someone’s words and actions. There’s value in knowing what someone *wants* to be (what they’re words reveal), but I don’t really trust anyone’s words until I feel like I know who they *are* (the kind of stuff consistency reveals).
    Oooh! I like this one.

  5. #5
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    I think this is my biggest issue in all my relationships ever.

    Is it me? or is it them?

    I believe, as we are building a relationship (friendship or romance), that we are writing a contract between each other, negotiating the terms of our relationship.
    Wants and needs are expressed and boundaries are established.
    I take people's wants, needs and concerns to heart. I also listen and watch their interactions with others. I read between the lines, and a picture emerges.

    Now here is the problem. Did I just create an ideal, or has the other person sold me an ideal?
    Have I done the same to them?

    The accusation is always the same.. "You are not who you said you are". I make that claim, and so does the other.

    I think the problem is not one of dissonance at all. Everyone has a gap between who they are and they project.
    Most people have a different opinion of who they feel they are Vs how others perceive them.

    I feel the real problem is the concept of "Perfection"
    The perfection we expect from ourselves and others.
    Expecting perfection means we can only really have one way to go.. Down.

    We all do it. We all lie about who we are or deny certain behaviors. So, when someone cocks up, why am I so unforgiving? Why are you?
    Why don't we forgive ourselves and each other?

  6. #6
    Analytical Dreamer Coriolis's Avatar
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    "Dissonance between people's words and actions"

    Isn't this the definition of hypocrisy?
    I've been called a criminal, a terrorist, and a threat to the known universe. But everything you were told is a lie. The truth is, they've taken our freedom, our home, and our future. The time has come for all humanity to take a stand...

  7. #7
    Senior Member BAJ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis View Post
    "Dissonance between people's words and actions"

    Isn't this the definition of hypocrisy?
    Could be...but just because you think someone is wonderful, supportive, or whatever else does not preclude that you want to date them romantically. Again, that could be because of issues he has. Maybe his penis was damaged in a horrible accident. Maybe he just lacking self-confidence. We don't know.

    I still wonder what would happen if the person in question were asked out.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis View Post
    "Dissonance between people's words and actions"

    Isn't this the definition of hypocrisy?
    Of course!! It just depends where you are standing on how you are going to justify it.. Some people call it "consistency", but really? You can be consistent in your inconsistency. So consistency is not the whole story.
    Self awareness is. Oh.. and not expecting everyone and yourself to be perfect.

  9. #9
    violaine
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    I have this problem as well. Actually, I would say this is one of my biggest recurring issues in life. I do see things that aren't obvious but I suspect when I have warm feelings for someone, or I'm interested in getting to know that person in some way, that I am not as rigorous in filtering them. Instead, I'm in information gathering mode and very open to the person as they represent themselves. I think it falls under the umbrella of idealism. I was also raised in a pretty secure environment where I could afford to take people at their word.

    Having had a little experience with it now, I have started to accept that a lot of people are playing a game that I'm not playing. (It's completely obvious with some people and the way they play it is totally off-putting to me but that's another story.) As fidelia said, I think it often stems from insecurity and wanting to appear impressive. What I find lately is that people talk in terms of how they want to be but not how they are. Realizing this has made it easier to not take things through the heart.

    I have a particularly difficult time with things that have been unsaid that end up being very out of character. This has been an issue in two of my intimate relationships when it was something very large scale. They both ended due to having the kind of realizations that hit like a truck. My part in those were that I never assumed anything bad, I just filled any blanks in with trust. :/

    I don't have any preventative fix for it but to take my Father's advice, which is to always keep a little of yourself for yourself. Actually, what he says is to never give anyone 100% of yourself. However, I can't apply this advice because I think it would change who I am. It's the antithesis of how I think genuine intimacy is forged. And that's what I want, so I have to take risks that way. :/

    I can say I feel terribly naive when I take someone at their word and it turns out they are mostly talk. But I have also realized that almost everyone has issues of some sort. And a lot of people, maybe the vast majority, do not work on themselves. Acknowledging that helps me to be less disappointed with things that affect me personally. (I have scaled things back to where I only concern myself with things that affect me personally.)

  10. #10
    can't handcuff the wind Z Buck McFate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coriolis View Post
    "Dissonance between people's words and actions"

    Isn't this the definition of hypocrisy?
    I generally reserve the term ‘hypocrisy’ for someone who does themselves what they throw stones at others for doing. I could be wrong, but I think SilkRoad is describing something broader. Like the example she gave of the guy who was (inadvertently or not) sending signals that he was interested, but then not acting on it- that’s not really hypocrisy.

    [and back to the op] I was going to avoid diving into INFJ theories (to avoid excluding others) but this thread is moving slowly, so here goes. If someone tells me they care about me, then I tend to expect them to adhere to conduct which demonstrates their care; when they do something which seems like a rather blatant contradiction, I can get paralyzed with an almost immediate implosion of possibilities for why it’s happening. I’m guessing this is what SilkRoad was referring to in the op, with ‘INFJ blind spot’. BAJ mentioned possibilities above, but a large part of the problem (for INFJs, I think) is that SO MANY possibilities like that surface that it’s hard to clamp down and say “quit leading me on!” the way other types might be able to. We get so lost in the possibilities of the reasons for others’ behaviors that we sometimes can’t even see the obvious.

    I’ve always been slow to get to know people, even compared to other INFJs- which is really saying something. It’s because I’m incredibly sensitive to contradictory signals like this, it sets off too many silent alarms in my head. If it isn’t available for me to raise concerns with someone about contradictory signals I get from them (because, say, they get offended easily or get all worked up about it)- then I avoid them. Not many people are so sensitive to inconsistency like that, and- like Violaine said- not many people are interested (or see much point in) working on themselves in that way. I also usually just try not to take it personally and just move on.

    Quote Originally Posted by BAJ View Post
    Oooh! I like this one.
    True colors always have a way of finding their way to the surface. Always.

    Quote Originally Posted by BAJ View Post
    Maybe his penis was damaged in a horrible accident.
    Implosion of possibilities aside, I think it’s safe to assume this is probably what happened.

    Really though, I think BAJ did have a good point with wondering what would happen if the guy were asked out (at least, according to the way the situation is described in the op). I do think this is another INFJ pitfall- not being willing to be the one who takes a chance. (I’m speaking from experience here.) It's like we try bend over backwards and sideways to understand what's going on in someone else's head, and we can get stuck in needing the situation to feel 'safe' before getting proactive and going after something/someone ourselves.
    Reality is a collective hunch. -Lily Tomlin

    5w4 sx/sp Johari / Nohari

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