Balancing a Serious Personality
Hello and welcome back to the blog!
It's feeling like Christmas: the tree is up, I've been playing Lux Venit on repeat, and I've made a batch of 40 sugar cookies that are somewhat sub-par aesthetically but above-par when it comes to taste and texture! Bravo!
So today's blog post is a little niche, but I wanted to share with you all how I try to remain balanced within my personality. I am naturally very introspective and somewhat gloomy, drawn towards heavy emotions, deep reflections, and intense relationships. And while I can definitely say that these traits have their uses, I can also attest to the fact that being naturally introspective and gloomy has harmed my life and mental health at times.
Ever since I was a small child, I've been quite serious, deep, and introspective. I have distinct memories from my early childhood, of nights spent in existential thought, attempting to comprehend what life would be without God, or without myself, or what my very own existence meant. I would spend time running through all the interactions I had that day, and reflect on how other people perceived me. This behavior carried on into adulthood to such an extent that I became a very moody teenager, mercurial and ready to cry at any moment. Sigh.
Even in the past few years, it has been a struggle for me to stay positive, enjoy the little moments, and to feel at peace. I often felt like my mind was churning out such intense thoughts that I couldn't focus on everyday life, and my relationships often reflected this intensity. Self-doubt was a typical result of this introspection, as well as the sad reality that it is difficult to enjoy life when one is so wrapped up in their own emotions.
Of course, much of this was exacerbated by the fact that I had undergone a familial trauma at the time, but nevertheless, I struggled with a heart and mind that were easily weighed down, burdened, and in pain. I had become increasingly sensitive, unhappy, and unable to "let my hair down" as they say.
Fortunately, I began to realize that my emotional indulgence had in a sense, made me weak. It had made me vulnerable to trauma, unable to cope with pain, and unwilling to see the lighter sides of life. This realization came, in part, through my relationship with my husband.
Seeing his natural zest for life, his prankish personality, and joyful disposition reminded me that life is so much more than dark emotions and intense conversations. He has gone through his fair share of difficulties, and would be a logical candidate for sadness, grief, and ongoing emotional pain. But instead of allowing his experiences to weigh down his whole life, he has chosen to find joy and live life to the fullest and enjoy freedom in the Lord.
The testimony and life of my husband inspired me to search for that as well; a balanced outlook and perspective that would allow me to remain my introspective and sensitive self, while also engaging in the joy of the Lord.
Since then, I have created some ground rules and a framework to live by, so that I might feel more balanced in everyday life and resist the natural pull of my personality into one extreme or the other. This has helped me weather trauma, conflict, and pain in a much healthier way, while still maintaining my natural introspective thoughts and reflection.
Now, I can face life with a deep perspective and appreciation, while also making time to really live in the moment, practicing mindfulness, gratitude, and simply enjoying the joys that life brings.
This framework begins of course, with protecting my heart.
I actively protect my heart by protecting my emotions. I try to avoid unnecessary drains on my emotions like sad YouTube videos, depressing movies, despairing music, or any other form of entertainment or media that will cause me to go into a deep funk.
Of course, if there is a necessary medium like current events, Scripture, or things relating to the Body of Christ, I will of course allow myself to engage, but I mostly try to save my energy and protect my heart from unnecessary drains and sadness. I do not actively seek out sadness, nor do I indulge in my mood swings.
Joy is, after all, a fruit of the Spirit, and I have learned that having a posture of gratitude and praise towards the Lord helps me weather the natural disappointments and sensitivities of life that would otherwise cause my heart to despair. I actively curate my entertainment to reflect these postures, and try to strengthen my heart and mind through my content, rather than burden them with darkness.
I've concluded that there is already so much difficulty and sadness in everyday life that I don't need to be heaping depressing music and movies onto my soul as well. It's just too much! Curating the content I consume helps me avoid despair, and prevents me from indulging in the drug of reflective sadness.
Now, I consume content that brightens my day. My perfect media day would consist of Celtic Woman music, watching The Office on TV, and then finishing out my night by watching Mrs. Hinch's Instagram stories. I of course, still do research into current events and keep a keen ear to the ground about problems within the church or the lives of people I love, but I actively avoid fictional sadness in movies, shows, music, or books. I just don't have time for that despair!
In this same vein, I've also made a shift towards lighter friendships.
I used to gravitate towards very attached and codependent relationships that were incredibly intense, emotional, and involved. We would pour our hearts out to each other, tell all our secrets, and indulge in the syrup of emotional intimacy. But, as you can imagine, these relationships often lacked boundaries and had an excess of manipulation and unhealthiness.
It took me a long time to realize this, but not every conversation needs to be intensely serious or emotional. It's OKAY to talk about hairstyles and schedules. It's okay to talk about vacations, and it's okay to swap recipes. It doesn't need to be THAT deep all the time. Save your energy!
Now, I surround myself with pragmatic friends who are down to earth and ready to point out the reality that life is great. I have a few silly and chatty friends ready to laugh at the bright side of life, and friends who challenge my dark views. My husband helps me laugh when I'm feeling down for "no reason" (this is a thing when you're a sensitive person), and ultimately, he helps me laugh at the absurdity of life instead of cry.
Finally, the last part of my "Operation-Balanced-Personality" Framework is to try to remain more grounded in reality. I do this by actively getting out of my heart and head by focusing on my BODY! Yes! Workouts, creating things, doing chores, and moving around all help me feel more grounded.
This, as you can guess, is not my natural state.
Even as a baby, my grandma could set me on the kitchen counter, no booster seat or anything, while she did her baking and cooking, and I wouldn't move an inch: I would just sit there, eyes wide open, observing and taking everything in. I didn't learn to walk for a long time because I preferred to be carried (much more efficient and cuddly in my opinion!)
I didn't even learn to swim or ride a bike until Grade 2 when I was deeply impacted by our Christian School's chosen theme for the year which was all about "getting out of the boat and taking a step of faith." My Grade 2 mind decided that Jesus walked on water so I should be able to swim in it.
But miraculous intervention aside, I honestly don't know how long it would have taken me to learn how to swim because I have just never cared for the bodily side of life: working out, sports, or trying new things. I am a total heart and mind human; give me a coffee chat with a friend ANY day over a water skiing experience. I just don't like to move!
But I've learned that movement, though it is counterintuitive, is actually quite good for my heart and mind. It engages my senses, removes me from deep thought, and forces me to engage in reality.
So with my activities and hobbies, I like to focus on things that aren't that deep: activities that produce something creative, allow me to express my artistry, and activities that allow me to let loose and have some fun.
You might have seen this in the sense that I usually do some sort of tutorial in every single one of my VLOG's! I sew, bake, and cook with you because I sew, bake, and cook in my everyday life to feel more productive and grounded. Sewing, painting, cleaning, volunteering, and landscaping all help me use my body and get out of my head. Cleaning a dish, folding laundry, or watching silly videos helps me remember that life doesn't have to be so intense all the time.
Really, in all these areas, entertainment, relationships, and activities, I ultimately try to pursue a joyful heart of gratitude. Joyfully living in the moment, and actively giving thanks to the Lord for the blessings in life.
Yes, my introspective and reflective moments still happen, and no, I don't think they are a bad thing. But more importantly, I've learned to bring my emotional world back into balance by reminding myself of all of the beauties of life, in entertainment, hobbies, relationships, and more. God is good, and I can have the joy of the Lord today!
So in total, my framework to remain balanced in my personality covers these three areas:
Actively protecting my heart from depressing, gloomy, and sad media/entertainment
Surrounding myself with people who have a different life philosophy than me, and people who I can establish healthy relationships with
Doing activities and hobbies that engage my body and force me to live in reality instead of in my head or heart
Life is a constant search for balance, especially if you have a personality that tends to migrate towards an extreme. It can be incredibly difficult to find balance when you are growing up, especially when you are trying to find your identity, and we often do ourselves no favors by indulging in highly emotional activities.
While there are many of us on this earth who would benefit from MORE introspection, deeper conversations, and a bi-weekly check-in on their morality, I think that many of us can also find ourselves on the despairing and emotional side of life, in need of balance.
So, if you relate with me and the more serious side of life, I encourage you to join with me in exploring the lighter side of things occasionally. Especially in this Christmas holiday time, it's tempting to feel overwhelmed, or perhaps grief-stricken about the various losses in our lives. I hope you can join with me in remembering that no matter how dark life can feel, there is always joy to be had.
Wishing you all the best.