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Thread: Sense of Self

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    Senior Member Neutralpov's Avatar
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    In that case well I would say the common problem of any type is to lean too heavily or too long on the dom. function. Miss Linguist try using your relief function or reading from the book on the coping with stress for your type. I found this one to be helpful for learning about myself under stress and how you can recognize it before it gets too drawn out: http://www.amazon.com/Was-That-Reall...2485606&sr=8-1

    Jennifer did the meeting go well? :-)
    Extroverted (E) 67.74% Introverted (I) 32.26%
    Intuitive (N) 51.72% Sensing (S) 48.28%
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    Judging (J) 69.44% Perceiving (P) 30.56%

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    Let me count the ways Betty Blue's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Little Linguist View Post
    Well, maybe I should put this in the psychology section, but we'll give it a go here first.

    Although I fear I'm the only nut who has problems with this, and I feel almost bashful about posting this in an open forum, I have a little issue, and I'd like to get some ideas from you guys on how any of you overcame it or knew people who did.

    I have an unstable sense of self. There. I said it.

    My concept of who I am depends on where I am, often wildly. I assume this is not at all normal and is rather disconcerting. And when people ask me what *I* think, or what *I* want, I sit there dumbfounded like, *gulp* um...I don't know. And then people wonder wtf is wrong with you because, damn it, you should know what you want.

    This is so extreme that my personality shifts in different phases of my life depending on who I'm with. And it makes me quite uneasy. I'm also shifty in the goals I have in life, especially under acute stress.

    Has anyone had these issues, and if so, how did you/those people overcome them?

    Disclaimer: No, this is not a joke and I'm not saying this to get empathy or attention. I really wonder if this is becoming a problem and how to get over it.

    I'm actually so embarrassed that I have second-guesses over whether or not I should post this.

    I have wondered this (ish) too, i always linked it to a lack of inner conviction (it's not). Not trusting who i truely am. I blame not finishing things on it too.
    I have struggled with different aspects of my personality comming out depending on the company i am keeping but i am pretty sure thats down to adaptability/versatility and nothing to do with compromising my values or being false.
    I think the *I* thing is more to do with panic over the concrete solid form...
    p.s why did you change your type?
    "We knew he was someone who had a tragic flaw, that's where his greatness came from"

  3. #13
    Senior Member Santosha's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Little Linguist View Post
    Well, maybe I should put this in the psychology section, but we'll give it a go here first.

    Although I fear I'm the only nut who has problems with this, and I feel almost bashful about posting this in an open forum, I have a little issue, and I'd like to get some ideas from you guys on how any of you overcame it or knew people who did.

    I have an unstable sense of self. There. I said it.

    My concept of who I am depends on where I am, often wildly. I assume this is not at all normal and is rather disconcerting. And when people ask me what *I* think, or what *I* want, I sit there dumbfounded like, *gulp* um...I don't know. And then people wonder wtf is wrong with you because, damn it, you should know what you want.

    This is so extreme that my personality shifts in different phases of my life depending on who I'm with. And it makes me quite uneasy. I'm also shifty in the goals I have in life, especially under acute stress.

    Has anyone had these issues, and if so, how did you/those people overcome them?

    Disclaimer: No, this is not a joke and I'm not saying this to get empathy or attention. I really wonder if this is becoming a problem and how to get over it.

    I'm actually so embarrassed that I have second-guesses over whether or not I should post this.
    LL.. are you an E4? I find this HIGHLY related to 4's and seems to also be a defining problem for the 3 as well. I'm glad you posted this, and I will say right now that I bet you will be surprised at how many people (if they fess up) also share this struggle. I am a 4w3 and yes.. the problem your describing is very much the most difficult, ongoing inner struggle of my life. The thing is, I tend to have a rather strong and fiery personality. I can passionately argue different morals and opinions.. but those things can shift and change rappidly as soon as new information has entered. But beyond being opinionated about some things.. I have a very bad habit of creating an image (this is almost unconsciously done) and then feeling overwhelming pressure to maintain that image or live up to the ideal of that image. I tend to define myself by my achievements and circumstances in life.. by my relationships, etc. Problem is.. once a job is lost, or a relationship ends, or I change majors, or whatever.. I am back to feeling empty and confused about what really remains with in and where I fit into the world. At times, I even considered BPD, because the weak sense of self can be so parallel to it.. but no, there is a difference.. as I have never hurt myself, been suicidal, and I maintain relations for extensive periods of time. I don't feel a love then hate with people.. they often land in grey areas with me. I've been digging deeply into the defense mechanisms of the enneagram, and I have found *some* info that seems to be helfpful. Atleast it lays out a goal to overcome this obstacle of merging true self with image. 4's are more conscious than any other type of how easily images can be created and distorted.
    Man suffers only because he takes seriously what the gods made for fun - Watts

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    nee andante bechimo's Avatar
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    LL, everyone has swaths of times where they don't care enough to have a strong opinion of everything. This doesn't necessary equate to not having a sense of self where each person sits in different places on the spectrum to having opinions.

    As an example, who really cares enough to have an opinion about how long it takes paint to dry, as it relates to exact minutes or seconds per paint brand and type?

    But say someone asks you if it's okay to take a wire hanger to a todder. Do you have an opinion on this?

  5. #15
    Striving for balance Little Linguist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    I have to run to a meeting, but I ran across mention of psychologist R.D. Laing the other day. He coined an interesting phrase called "ontologically insecure" (vs ontologically secure).... a sense of self that isn't grounded in any permanent sense and constantly feels as if it were being lost.

    Anyway, I'm sure others will chime in. I struggle with the same thing -- wondering if NP increases the possibility for it, + having one's desires denied in childhood.
    Interesting, Jennifer. I had never heard of that before – would definitely have to look into this more in-depth. Thanks for pointing it out.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nicodemus View Post
    Could you give a few examples of what questions you would be unable to answer when you have lost your sense of self? Do you notice the loss or lack yourself, or does it become apparent to you only when asked something that sparks an investigation of the self?
    Here are some things my concerned husband has noticed about me (more intensively as late) that has caused him (and me) concern:

    1. Although my 'chameleon' persona helps me adapt to people and surroundings extremely quickly, it seems like *I* do not have a set of preferences or ideas myself on what to do outside my career. Making decisions, etc. within my career – perfect. Interpersonal relationships – I stink. Perfect example: I say, "Let's go somewhere when I have vacation." Husband: "You never TAKE vacation!" Me: "Well, how about this, I'll drop this and that, move that there, this then, and then I can get three weeks off for us." Husband: "FINALLY, so what do you want to do?" Me: "I don't know, what do you want to do?" Husband: "I asked you; you must have some idea; you're good at ideas." Me: "uh, uh, uh...I don't know." Frustrated husband, "Well you must have had SOME IDEA when you proposed it." And I just want to hide in the sand.

    2. My interests change more and more rapidly. Hopping from one thing to the next. "Super, duper gym for 15 euros a month!!!!! I AM SO PSYCHEDDDDDDD!!!" turns into, "Ugh, I hate the machines, they're so weird. Everything's impersonal. I have no motivation!" one to two weeks later, followed by, "I know!!!!! I can get more Wii games!!!!!!" Then do them enthusiastically for one to two weeks, and then, "Hey, I want to go back to my old gym where they have a sauna, yayyyy!" My poor husband sits there thinking, "What the eff???"

    3. When I start a project, I jump into it enthusiastically, bursting at the seams. If one thing goes not according to plan, I just am like, "Wtf this sucks, why did I get involved in this," which makes my husband want to turn into Hannibal Lecter on me.

    4. Little things such as, "What do you want to eat/drink" elicits, "I don't know....I'm not sure..."

    5. I make major decisions I subsequently regret, and rather than following through, I back out a day/week/month later.

    And a bunch of other faults I have, and my sense of self, my 'goodness' and 'badness' is completely dependent on:

    1. My success (a setback makes me feel like an utter failure, you idiot, how could you be such a moron, you can't do anything right, you suck so bad, whereas success makes me feel like you rock, you're so good at this, you were *destined* for this, you are such an awesome person, go you, yaaaaaaaaaaay)

    2. How I feel inside (good day = good person, bad day = bad person)

    3. How others perceive me (people love me = I'm lovable; people don't love me = I suck donkey balls, should crawl up under a big stone and stay there my whole life)

    ^^^ THAT is not normal. ((( But I don't know how to CHANGE IT????

    Quote Originally Posted by mmhmm View Post
    when i'm alone and don't have an audience, it almost
    seems like parts of me become almost inaccessible
    --it doesn't mean it's gone, but it just doesn't surface
    as easily when i have someone to bounce off. people
    kinda just serve as a mirror to my emotions. different
    people for different emotions.

    but at the same time i think it also has to do with my
    crazy imagination--like i can't stop imagining, so i really
    need a strong creative outlet, and through experience
    i have a vague idea of what each person's quota is on being
    that outlet. i deal with people according to the level of
    understanding i have for them. that's part of the reason
    why my behaviours are different around different people.


    i'm not uneasy with the shifting though. i like it. or else it'd
    be terribly boring to be the same 'ol mmhmm all the time.
    i'm only uneasy if i self-doubt. but for me, self-doubt is easily
    eliminated. it has to do a lot with not having a detached
    perspective as one of my core strengths. it's oh so very, very
    hard for me to relate to something from another's point of view.
    so dealing with different people based on different understandings
    really help me expand my perspectives.

    and i definitely don't think most people have an accurate first
    impression of me, the persona that i've cultivated isn't too
    expressive of the person i experience myself to be. most people
    just see parts and smidgins, and i'm the only one that gets to
    see everything put together. it has to do with how i store the
    things i understand in my head. i mean it all makes sense to
    me but it's like all in post-its you know? no form of organization
    in my head at all, so i have a difficult time articulating it out.

    my biggest issues has always been that i need be close
    (to somebody) but at the same time i need to be free.
    this is probably the most prominent internal conflict
    i have, and i actually notice it after the fact that it's
    created complications for me in interpersonal relationships.

    i just don't like relationships that are overly defined
    or confining in anyway at all. i must always feel i am
    free. my point is... somewhere in there.
    Awesome, and see, that's the GOOD way yours comes about, and it does this for me, too. But I find the *negative* aspects creeping up on me more and more and I want to nip it in the bud before I go totally whacko and they send me to the next sanitarium.

    Quote Originally Posted by entropie View Post
    I dont think that especially you have no sense of self, you rather have no sense of how you are perceived by others and by putting too much importance on the opinion of others, you become insecure. Opinions always have to be put into a context, if a 19 year old tells you something about yourself you cant take that the same way like if your husband would tell it to you. Being a self, means to just be one, there is no encrypted genetical makeup you have to find first, no its by the actions you show what person you are.

    It's a thing often misunderstood on this page and it follows a kinda religious dogma. Its that people constantly try to search for something when looking at their personality, not understanding that they are the ones which are at the same time the quest and the questing one. It's like a belief in a greater power or an inherited joke that makes people tick like they do, without understanding that the smithies of our luck is nobody than we ourselves.

    You have clearly identified your problem above, so self-awareness aint your trouble, now be a self !

    [YOUTUBE="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-cwjiC397dE"].[/YOUTUBE]
    This is a really good point. See my 'goodness' and 'badness' are not only associated with one person who is important to me. It's everyone. And if I get 23 people who say, for example, my class rocks and they enjoyed it, and one person – one single person – gives me a bad evaluation, I will think OMG What did I do? Am I bad? What could make them say that? What should I do to change it????

    Intellectually, I know I SHOULD say, "Who gives a rat's ass; that person may have been having a bad day, dislikes your face just for the hell of it, wants to throw you off track, or just hates English no matter what you do – pay attention to the 23 who LIKED it A LOT!" but I just obsess like a weirdo. And I don't know WHY! If I knew why, I could work on fixing it, but I can't fix it because I don't know where the problem is.

    Quote Originally Posted by gromit View Post
    I am a little bit like that. This is why it is important for me to take some time to re-group and do things that I love to do I guess.
    This is a major, major problem for me, Gromit. I work so hard, I never let myself regroup. And when I cancel things to give myself time, I sabotage it by taking more OTHER stuff on. I'm really a workaholic/actionist.

    Quote Originally Posted by IndyAnnaJoan View Post
    Ditto. I've always felt as though this may be a problem common to insecure Fi. But I'm not too certain of that.

    I DO know that when I spend too much time interacting with others and not enough time by myself to think and digest things, that I often have this feeling of being lost. I won't know who I am anymore or what I want or what I believe in. So, time to myself is really important to me to have a stronger sense of self.
    Maybe THIS is my problem. *ponders* I'm spending too much time out there – and not enough time in here??? Why do I run away from contemplation??? It's so strange.

    Quote Originally Posted by HeatherC View Post
    Is ESFP one where the introverted function is perceiving? I thought this was because in my cognitive function order my extroverted function (Fe) was judging and the introverted one (ni) perceiving, therefore always taking in information not making the decisions hence a lack of a introverted judging solidness (like Ti appears to me).
    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    No, ESFP is Se dominant (extroverted perceiving) and Fi aux (introverted judging).

    It's kind of the opposite for you.
    Yeah, I just kind of jump/leap into the action. When I stop one action (and even before I stop) I leap to the next bloody action until I wear myself out, crying that I need a vacation, but compulsively take on more work. I feel BAD when I'm alone not doing anything. I'm compelled to do shit, and it's really kind of disconcerting.

    So basically I pulled the radical plug. I said, "Okay, fuck it, you all, I don't give a shit if I lose my job(s), I'm taking three weeks off (sort of, still got two projects on my plate, but better than five billion) and so THERE." I hope it will give me the time to get my rear in gear and get my ducks in a row.

    Quote Originally Posted by HeatherC View Post
    In that case well I would say the common problem of any type is to lean too heavily or too long on the dom. function. Miss Linguist try using your relief function or reading from the book on the coping with stress for your type. I found this one to be helpful for learning about myself under stress and how you can recognize it before it gets too drawn out: http://www.amazon.com/Was-That-Reall...2485606&sr=8-1

    Jennifer did the meeting go well? :-)
    Good advice. I'll check it out, thanks.

    Quote Originally Posted by GemPOPGem View Post
    I have wondered this (ish) too, i always linked it to a lack of inner conviction (it's not). Not trusting who i truely am. I blame not finishing things on it too.
    I have struggled with different aspects of my personality comming out depending on the company i am keeping but i am pretty sure thats down to adaptability/versatility and nothing to do with compromising my values or being false.
    I think the *I* thing is more to do with panic over the concrete solid form...
    p.s why did you change your type?
    I don't think Ne is my dominant function. I'm way too get out there and get all active and shit without using the good brain God gave you. Besides, I think I'm more concrete than pie-in-the-sky abstract genius girl. Yeah, I know, I'm being stereotypical. But you know what I mean. I hope.
    If you are interested in language, words, linguistics, or foreign languages, check out my blog and read, post, and/or share.

  6. #16
    Striving for balance Little Linguist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Huxley3112 View Post
    LL.. are you an E4? I find this HIGHLY related to 4's and seems to also be a defining problem for the 3 as well. I'm glad you posted this, and I will say right now that I bet you will be surprised at how many people (if they fess up) also share this struggle. I am a 4w3 and yes.. the problem your describing is very much the most difficult, ongoing inner struggle of my life. The thing is, I tend to have a rather strong and fiery personality. I can passionately argue different morals and opinions.. but those things can shift and change rappidly as soon as new information has entered. But beyond being opinionated about some things.. I have a very bad habit of creating an image (this is almost unconsciously done) and then feeling overwhelming pressure to maintain that image or live up to the ideal of that image. I tend to define myself by my achievements and circumstances in life.. by my relationships, etc. Problem is.. once a job is lost, or a relationship ends, or I change majors, or whatever.. I am back to feeling empty and confused about what really remains with in and where I fit into the world. At times, I even considered BPD, because the weak sense of self can be so parallel to it.. but no, there is a difference.. as I have never hurt myself, been suicidal, and I maintain relations for extensive periods of time. I don't feel a love then hate with people.. they often land in grey areas with me. I've been digging deeply into the defense mechanisms of the enneagram, and I have found *some* info that seems to be helfpful. Atleast it lays out a goal to overcome this obstacle of merging true self with image. 4's are more conscious than any other type of how easily images can be created and distorted.
    OMG You and me, too!!! I was soooo worried about that. I thought, "OMG has all this work put me over the edge? Have I lost it??? Am I going all BPD on everyone here???" I envy people who can simply be like a rock, like my husband. I think, "OMG why can't I be like that??? What's wrong with me?"

    I will check out your ideas and consider them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jenaphor View Post
    LL, everyone has swaths of times where they don't care enough to have a strong opinion of everything. This doesn't necessary equate to not having a sense of self where each person sits in different places on the spectrum to having opinions.

    As an example, who really cares enough to have an opinion about how long it takes paint to dry, as it relates to exact minutes or seconds per paint brand and type?

    But say someone asks you if it's okay to take a wire hanger to a todder. Do you have an opinion on this?
    That's true, and thank you for putting things into perspective. But I'm rather concerned about the fact that I am quite flippant about things I shouldn't be. Or my body (physiologically and psychologically) is completely extreme: I'll go from eating organic, exercising daily, etc. to becoming active somewhere else and completely eating sugary things, not giving a crap, etc. In a given semester and the subsequent break (3 months each) I lose/gain anywhere up to 7 kilos. That's over 15 pounds???? Just one example of how flippant I can be in things that matter. And it's so extreme. Not to mention binges/starving modes, and heaven knows what other crazy things I do.
    If you are interested in language, words, linguistics, or foreign languages, check out my blog and read, post, and/or share.

  7. #17
    Senior Member Nicodemus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Little Linguist View Post
    Here are some things my concerned husband has noticed about me (more intensively as late) that has caused him (and me) concern:

    1. Although my 'chameleon' persona helps me adapt to people and surroundings extremely quickly, it seems like *I* do not have a set of preferences or ideas myself on what to do outside my career. Making decisions, etc. within my career – perfect. Interpersonal relationships – I stink. Perfect example: I say, "Let's go somewhere when I have vacation." Husband: "You never TAKE vacation!" Me: "Well, how about this, I'll drop this and that, move that there, this then, and then I can get three weeks off for us." Husband: "FINALLY, so what do you want to do?" Me: "I don't know, what do you want to do?" Husband: "I asked you; you must have some idea; you're good at ideas." Me: "uh, uh, uh...I don't know." Frustrated husband, "Well you must have had SOME IDEA when you proposed it." And I just want to hide in the sand.

    2. My interests change more and more rapidly. Hopping from one thing to the next. "Super, duper gym for 15 euros a month!!!!! I AM SO PSYCHEDDDDDDD!!!" turns into, "Ugh, I hate the machines, they're so weird. Everything's impersonal. I have no motivation!" one to two weeks later, followed by, "I know!!!!! I can get more Wii games!!!!!!" Then do them enthusiastically for one to two weeks, and then, "Hey, I want to go back to my old gym where they have a sauna, yayyyy!" My poor husband sits there thinking, "What the eff???"

    3. When I start a project, I jump into it enthusiastically, bursting at the seams. If one thing goes not according to plan, I just am like, "Wtf this sucks, why did I get involved in this," which makes my husband want to turn into Hannibal Lecter on me.

    4. Little things such as, "What do you want to eat/drink" elicits, "I don't know....I'm not sure..."

    5. I make major decisions I subsequently regret, and rather than following through, I back out a day/week/month later.

    And a bunch of other faults I have, and my sense of self, my 'goodness' and 'badness' is completely dependent on:

    1. My success (a setback makes me feel like an utter failure, you idiot, how could you be such a moron, you can't do anything right, you suck so bad, whereas success makes me feel like you rock, you're so good at this, you were *destined* for this, you are such an awesome person, go you, yaaaaaaaaaaay)

    2. How I feel inside (good day = good person, bad day = bad person)

    3. How others perceive me (people love me = I'm lovable; people don't love me = I suck donkey balls, should crawl up under a big stone and stay there my whole life)

    ^^^ THAT is not normal. ((( But I don't know how to CHANGE IT????
    To me that looks like perfectly normal ESFP behavior, probably even EP in general. It seems to pose a problem to you because you also view it through the eyes of your IxTJ husband, who apparently has little understanding of your fickle nature.

  8. #18
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    Man is forever struggling to fully understand himself and his heart is restless in that search, so you're not alone in this LL.

  9. #19
    nee andante bechimo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Little Linguist View Post
    That's true, and thank you for putting things into perspective. But I'm rather concerned about the fact that I am quite flippant about things I shouldn't be. Or my body (physiologically and psychologically) is completely extreme: I'll go from eating organic, exercising daily, etc. to becoming active somewhere else and completely eating sugary things, not giving a crap, etc. In a given semester and the subsequent break (3 months each) I lose/gain anywhere up to 7 kilos. That's over 15 pounds???? Just one example of how flippant I can be in things that matter. And it's so extreme. Not to mention binges/starving modes, and heaven knows what other crazy things I do.
    You're welcome.

    As a thought, consider it from a J perspective. Where do you want to go with each issue? In keeping your eyes and mind focused on the end-goal, it's less difficult to say no to self. And the times where you can't hold true to end-goal, as long as it's not all the time, it's okay to forgive yourself for being human hence imperfect as it relates to self-discipline.

  10. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Little Linguist View Post
    This is a major, major problem for me, Gromit. I work so hard, I never let myself regroup. And when I cancel things to give myself time, I sabotage it by taking more OTHER stuff on. I'm really a workaholic/actionist.
    I usually end up doing gromit stuff a little bit almost every day, I will even cancel plans if I'm feeling overwhelmed... sometimes I'll end up doing something else in that time, but it ends up being something I WANT instead of something I feel like I'm supposed to be doing.

    I was reading this book for awhile about artistic process, and they suggest setting aside 2 hrs each week and taking yourself on an Artist's Date (can be whatever you like, walk on the beach, go to art supply store, take pictures of flowers, etc), but that you have to block off that time to yourself only and commit to it. It says things will come up, other things will seem more important, and you just have to learn to say No I need this for ME. Or whatever.
    Your kisses, sweeter than honey. But guess what, so is my money.

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