Updated: May 6, 2021
If you are going to support another human being through any kind of emotional charged human experience, one of the top 10 things you have to know about them is their personality type. Being a Care Partner to someone who is living with a chronic or life threatening disease is a two way emotionally charged, life altering, human experience that demands you to look at the world around you differently and more importantly how you see the person in front of you. Let’s talk about personality types...Everyone I have met so far has one, which is good news because our personality is how we experience the world around us, how we connect with each other and how we need to be supported... Personality Types: • Extrovert vs. Introvert • Doer vs. Thinker • Head vs. Heart • Planner vs. Live in the Moment It doesn’t seem too complicated, but holy cow, once we are mindful of each other’s personality types and the affect they have on the way we each take in the world around us, we can support in a way that is comfortable and familiar specifically to that person, not in a way that is comfortable and easy for us. Extrovert and Introvert seem to be the biggest culprits when it comes to connection and support. Extrovert is defined as; outgoing people who like interactions and conversations with others, and being with others gives them energy . Extroverts call this FRIENDLY :). Introverts look at Extroverts and find them to be slightly aggressive and basically SCARY! The first time I heard I was scary, I thought whoa...no way! I was even offended on some levels, because seriously I am just being me, I'm being nice and friendly. When I got over my knee jerk reaction and got curious, one giant part of life made sense. I pride myself in being able to connect with anyone anytime, and 95% of the time this is true, but there was always this thing that prevented me from having a true connection. It turns out it was me... I am scary. Today I find humor in that, but it took a while to be conscious of how I was showing up to people and the reactions I was getting. The impact I'm having on others and the ability to be real to myself that other 5% meant I could meet others where they are at. Introvert is defined as quiet, reserved and thoughtful or what I, as an extrovert, would simply call shy. They use alone time to recharge. Now I know they are fundamentally different from extroverts, and if we support each other like we would support ourselves, I can see how we are getting into big trouble!! Look at this comparison... Extrovert Introvert • Needs time with others to explore thoughts and feelings
Vs. Needs time alone to think and feel • Benefits from collaboration
Vs. Benefits from preparation time • Will seek approval and opinion of others
Vs. Will tend to self-assess • Spending time with others re-energizes
Vs. People suck the life out of you • Process externally: connection trumps control
Vs. Process internally: Control trumps connection Here is the biggest gift I can give all of you... Introverts... When you get stressed or upset you retreat and become quiet because you need time and space to process... Extroverts... When we see this retreat, our instinct is to go and help, listen, give advice and most likely a hug.... cause this is what we need when we are upset... we need someone to be present, to listen and to give a hug or two... The very last thing Introverts want to happen is any of that...they want to be left alone...any more is poking the bear... Here is the perfect example of how it works at my house in Care Partner land... We have clearly determined that I am an Extrovert. Jeff is an Introvert... Every morning Jeff gets up he wretches...(like dry heaves), he as been doing it for about 5ish years, and I can tell you that I never really get used to it... At first when it started happening it would be a race for the bucket, towel and juice and I would stand in front of him and stroke his head and ask him persistently how I could help, and almost pleading to let me help him somehow. (Side note: No one teaches you how to watch someone suffer, when something like this happens, you reach a whole new level of feeling vulnerable, helpless and freaked out!!) Now put yourself in Jeff's shoes... he is an introvert, he is hurling his face off, his stomach hurts and his wife is standing in his face poking the bear... What would your reaction be if you were me and what would it have been look like for Jeff? For me the reaction to the love and support I was trying to give looked a lot like a lack of gratitude and any regard for what what i was going through...I just wanted to help...PLEASE TELL ME WHAT TO DO!!! This reaction for me sparked a whole chain of events that set the tone and attitude for the whole rest of the day. It was testy, heavy and exhausting...I had to ask myself how many days am I going to be able to do this, before I am not able to do it anymore? Answer: Longer than we should have had to...my EGO got in the way... From Jeff’s perspective, he was just trying to survive this new scared thing that was happening to him, he needed some space and time to feel it out, to wrap his head around it and to find his way to deal with it. Now ask yourself...Was I supporting Jeff in a way that was comfortable and familiar to him, or what I supporting him in a way that was comfortable and familiar to me? How we support matters. Today, I make sure his bucket, juice and towel are all set up for him when he gets up in the morning because that is the support he needs. This makes me feel like I'm doing something to help, and for my peace of mind, he always knows where I am if he needs help... Care Partnering...vs....Caregiving
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