Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Thinking vs. Doing

It's hard to believe I haven't posted on this blog in 8 months! Well, actually, no, it's not hard to believe. I have a tendency to begin things with a lot of gung-ho enthusiasm but then lose interest or not carry them through. I spend a great deal more time thinking than doing. There is an old song by the Indigo Girls that I like (from their Nomads Indians Saints CD of 1990) called "Hammer and Nail." The refrain is:

Gotta get out of bed get a hammer and a nail
Learn how to use my hands, not just my head
I think myself into jail
Now I know a refuge never grows
From a chin in a hand in a thoughtful pose
Gotta tend the earth if you want a rose.

Gosh this is me. I often think myself into my own prison of inactivity!

I do value this thinking side, as it is one of my greatest strengths. However, I have realized that I "think too much." In Jungian theory, we all have four psychological functions: Thinking, Sensing, Feeling, and Intuition. We all have these functions. We just have them in different proportions, you might say. Each of us has a superior function, which we prefer and which is best developed in us, a secondary function, which we are aware of and use in support of our superior function, a tertiary function, which is only slightly less developed but not terribly conscious, and an inferior function, which is poorly developed and so unconscious that we might deny its existence in ourselves.

For me, the Thinking function tends to overpower everything else. I've taken the Myers-Briggs personality type test-- years ago I took the full-blown, written test, and then since then I've taken various online tests at different times. I always come out as a "rational," with a high level of the "N." The other functions have come out differently at different times in my life. I think this is due to the fact that I have struggled with depression for most of my life. I know I'm basically an extrovert, because I am energized by interacting with other people, rather than drained. But depression is very subtle and insidious. It shades responses, disrupts thought patterns, and, in my opinion, masks one's true personality.

I am relatively free of depression these days (yes, thank you, it's wonderful!) due to effective medication and long-term therapy. One of the things I've learned in therapy is that I tend to bury and subjugate my emotions. I suppose this means that my Feeling function is "inferior." A long time ago, in a Jungian study group I was in, we learned that a way to strengthen an inferior function was to focus on developing the tertiary function, which is a little easier to get at.

I am not completely sure which function goes where and how to classify everything, but I do realize where I need some balance. I have existed in my mind to the detriment of being "in the world." I have discounted simple sensual experiences, like cooking my own food, making the house look better, pursuing physical activity, and just DOING things. So I have been trying to change this. I am cooking more, and trying to pay more attention to what I eat. I attempt to get outside, and take the dogs for a walk. I started learning to play the guitar. I know that I have a long way to go, and some of it entails changing habits and doing things I don't particularly "want" to do. I do not want to turn this into a list of things I "should" do. (The word "should" is not allowed in therapy, and for good reason.) A list of tasks is just work, and feels like a burden, and I need to find the joy in doing things for their own sake, and learn to appreciate how doing them makes me feel.

But writing about doing things, and actually doing them, are two different things, so I will stop here, and go and DO SOMETHING!