Exploring Human Differences
" A secret that can transform your marriage? You've got to be kidding," we can hear you say, and we can understand your skepticism. But there really is a secret and it does work. Let us tell you how we stumbled on to it.
Jim: Not long before I began to go out with Tyra, I had come across C.G. Jung's book Psychological Types, and then some of his other writings. It wasn't as if I could really understand everything he was saying. Far from it. But every once in a while I would get a flash of insight that illuminated my own experience, and I began to understand why some of my past relationships had not worked out as I had hoped. That kept me going. One day the admittedly strange thought came to me, "What would happen, instead of going on a normal date with Tyra, we would go for a walk and I would try to explain to her some of the things that I was picking up from reading Jung?"
Tyra: On our first date, instead of going to the movies, Jim invited me to go for a walk in the nearby bird sanctuary. Before I knew it, he was telling me about what Jung called the anima and the animus, and the roles they play in people falling in love. What a date! Well, I thought Jim was nice, but I had never heard these things before, and didn't know what to make of them.
Jim: This went on for a little while. I enjoyed telling Tyra the things I had been learning, and she was a little puzzled, but a good listener, nonetheless. But while the insights were genuine, they were rather theoretical and intellectual, and would probably have not done us a great deal of good. Then one night Tyra had a dream.
Tyra: I dreamed I was on the second floor of a two-story house. I was looking out of a window into a room on the first floor of the building next door. Inside that room was a girl I had known from college. She was standing in front of an easel painting a picture. Then I zoomed into the picture and paid close attention to all the details. She had painted the top half of a circle, and inside that semi-circle were six men dressed in medieval clothes with large frilly collars. As I looked closer, I noticed that I could see only one side of each man's face, each man had blue eyes, and all of them were looking at the section of the arc closest to them. And then a strange thing happened. As I continued looking at the men, it was as if they became alive, and I was startled by the intensity of those blue eyes!
Jim: I sat listening to Tyra's dream with the attitude we usually have when someone tells us a dream. It might be interesting, or bizarre, but certainly not relevant to daily life. But when she reached the part about the six men standing in a semi-circle I had an insight which was going to change our lives. I had read some seemingly obscure footnotes in Jung that referred to groups of male figures that appear in women's dreams, and represented what he called their animus, or undeveloped masculine side. I hadn't paid much attention. It had seemed much too esoteric, but in that instant I realized that Jung had not been talking about some theory, but a living reality.
Tyra: Jim was politely listening to my dream, and all of a sudden he sat bolt upright, and with excitement in his voice said, "Tell me the dream again!" And so I did, and as I told him, he began to relate my dream to the animus he had been telling me about. But this time it was real! It wasn't a theory, it was my animus - those men with the brilliant blue eyes - and with that dream we both became caught up in a brand new adventure of exploring J ung's psychology and what it meant for us personally.
This adventure has gone on ever since, and what we learned allowed us to get married and stay happily married for the last 25 years. What Jung has to say can transform your marriage, as well.
Who was C.G. Jung?
C.G. Jung (1875-1961) was one of the pioneers, together with Freud and Adler, of the psychoanalytic movement that revolutionized psychology at the beginning of this century. Jung was trained as a psychiatrist, and then became one of Freud's leading disciples. Later he broke with Freud because he thought Freud's theories were too narrow, and underwent a voyage deep into his unconscious which set the foundations for his own psychology. The first major work he wrote when he emerged from this inner transformation was his book on psychological types. Starting with Jung's efforts, the words introversion and extraversion have entered into common usage, and literally millions of people in the United States and around the world have become introduced to his typology through psychological type tests, but often the deeper meaning of Jung's typology remains hidden. For Jung his typology was a way of approaching his whole psychology, and what he called the process of individuation by which we strive for psychological wholeness. We are going to explore his psychological types as a gateway to his psychology as a whole because it can be a powerful tool in transforming our marriages.
Jim: Tyra has blue eyes. If one morning I woke up and began to berate her for having blue eyes instead of brown eyes, and proclaimed how disappointed I was because I had always wanted to marry someone with brown eyes, she would be dumbfounded, and the rest of the world along with her. I would be urged to consult an optometrist, or better, a psychiatrist, but it is amazing how easy it is for us to act in a similar way when it comes to psychological traits, especially in someone we love.
We are used to physical differences like eye, skin or hair color, or height and facial features, and even blood types. But we don't usually extend this awareness to psychological features. This is what Jung began to do when he discovered introversion and extraversion. He had been having his own problems with Freud, and it occurred to him that part of their difficulties might lie in their different personalities, and so he wrote an essay describing introversion and extraversion.
Introversion and Extraversion
Each of us has a certain amount of psychological energy, but we use it in different ways. Some people spend it on the people and things around them. Their energy naturally flows out to these people and things. They are what Jung calls extraverts. But there is another whole group of people whose energy naturally flows inwardly. They are the introverts. Jung saw that both these attitudes were entirely normal. In fact, he suspected that we were born either introverted or extraverted, just like we are born with blue eyes or brown eyes. It wasn't as if he imagined that someone would be completely extraverted, or completely introverted. Rather, he felt that although each of us had both these attitudes, one of them usually predominated.
Tyra: On television you see a lot of extraverted people because they have an easy time of being in front of the camera, projecting their feelings out and talking to people. For the past several years I have been filming people for the videos we create, and it is a great pleasure to capture them, and later, in the privacy of my little video room, edit the footage down. But to be in front of the camera makes me freeze because I'm an introvert.
My mother was an extravert who loved to be in groups of people. She belonged to the local bridge club, and one day when I was coming home from school my heart sank when I saw lots of cars parked in front of our house. Today was my mother's day for entertaining the club at our house. I stopped on the hill, and tried to figure out the best way to escape to my room without being noticed. I felt going in the back door was too risky. There would undoubtedly be someone there. If I went in the front door I could immediately rush up the stairs. So that's what I did, but unfortunately my mother spied me in mid-dash and called me back downstairs. "Say 'hello' to everyone, dear." My worst nightmare. I came back downstairs, said, "Hello," and then dashed back upstairs, my heart pounding.
As you mull over your own degree of introversion or extraversion, one test is to consider your comfort level when you meet strangers. As a rule of thumb, extraverts have less trouble going over to a stranger and introducing themselves, and striking up a conversation. For introverts this is much harder, and usually leaves them feeling worn out from the effort. They can do it, but the price is higher.
The following stories come from people who have attended our workshops or friends. We include them to try to give you a better picture of what it feels like to be an introvert or an extravert.
Man: I am an introvert and I have been an insurance salesman for quite a few years. Can you imagine what that is like? Most of the time I dealt with existing customers, so it was pretty easy. But once in a while things got tight, very dry, no sales, so my manager would say, "O.K., go out knocking on doors." And I can remember knocking on a door and really praying that nobody would be home.
Man: I am an extravert. Imagine a university campus, 2,000 acres on the coast in California, trees all around, the beach not too far away, and evening after evening, especially in the winter when it was kind of rainy, I would get so bored studying by myself that I would literally walk the entire campus trying to find some little knot of people to do something with. The stillness, the beautiful oak trees, were lost on me because I just had to have a crowd around me.
Woman: I am an Introvert. I am an elementary teacher and I am on stage for seven and a half hours a day. It is total performance. Now that I understand the difference between introversion and extraversion, it makes sense to me why I go home totally exhausted every single day. I can do the extraverted stuff, but it takes a lot out of me.
Man: I am very definitely much more introverted than extraverted. I can remember going through some old pictures where I appeared as a young person in the group. There is something very interesting in these pictures. I am always on the end, always on the periphery of the group. I never gravitate to the center.
You begin to get the. picture. Most of us have little difficulty deciding whether the people closest to us are more introverted or extraverted, but sometimes we have trouble deciding about ourselves. Why is that since we know ourselves better than anyone else? The answer is not hard to come by if we remember that we have both introversion and extraversion, and depending on what aspect of ourselves we look at, we can appear either introverted or extraverted. What we are after here is which attitude predominates. If you are having trouble deciding, think of yourself in your late teens or early twenties. What attitude predominated then? As we grow older we tend to become more balanced, and so it is sometimes more difficult to decide.
One other point. Even though the words introversion and extraversion became popularized through Jung's work, these terms are often used today in a different way. Extraverts are looked at as the normal, outgoing, and sociable people in our society, while introverts are shy, fearful, even morbidly inward-looking, and as undeveloped extraverts who need to learn how to become more outgoing. This is not what Jung meant. We repeat, not. Both attitudes are normal, and indeed, each of us needs both of these attitudes if we are to reach our own full development.
Let's look at some more stories in order to sharpen our focus about introversion and extraversion.
Man: My interest is me rather than externals. What is going on in here is what is important to me. I'm me. There is only one of me. It's also a matter of intensity of focus - focusing in depth inward - the whole world in my backyard rather than spreading myself thin. It's also a question of how much data I can process, too. I find there is just so much going on out there that I quickly get overwhelmed and have to come in and think about things. I need my quiet. I need my privacy. I need my time. A new situation I find threatening: interviews, shopping, it goes on and on. I hate to ask people for favors. The merchandise isn't quite right and you have to return it, or you've lost your way. Well, I really hate to ask for directions. I would rather just keep driving. I feel comfortable when I know the people from before, and will talk to just a few.
Woman: At work I am the one who usually takes the initiative in a conversation because I don't feel self-conscious because all that can happen is I will do it wrong and I'll just learn. It's not a big deal. If I make a fool out of myself, that's OK. It's just for a moment. I don't have problems making friends. It's very easy to meet people. I'm not shy.
Woman: I'm more introverted because I am
like a cat. I like to curl up in a corner and read a book. I can visit with people only
for a while, and then I have to go away. I like being alone. When I meet new people I tend
to be shy for a day or so until I get to know them and see if I like them and they like
me. When I am in crowds I just keep to myself, and if there are a few people I know, then
I'll talk to them, but other than that, I won't go up to people and say "Hi."
Woman: I like to do things around other people. I like to teach other people how to do things; I like to involve other people in my life, and I like to be out there in the front. I like to be the center of attention. I am a performer, and I like to be watched. I like to be looked at rather than have me took at other people.
Are you Introverted or Extraverted?
Now it is your turn. Which predominates in you, introversion or extraversion? Try the following quiz. It contains no hidden or trick questions, but is simply an aid to help you decide.
Introversion - Extraversion Quiz
If possible do these exercises with your spouse.
1. Decide whether you are more introverted or extraverted.
2. Come up with at least one story that illustrates your decision.
3. Decide whether your spouse is more introverted or extraverted. Come up with a story that illustrates that decision.
4. Do you agree with each other? If not, you have discovered an important point to discuss.
5. Typological knowledge Is not a theory, but a way of seeing. You will only learn how to see if you practice. Try to decide whether the people around you are more introverted or extraverted. What about your children, or parents, or coworkers?
Now it is your turn to contribute to this discussion. Send us your questions and comments: firstname.lastname@example.org