Weekends are not much different from weekdays at the lake. The one exception is that there are more people around. Lots of families are out this weekend to enjoy the new swimming pool in our little neighbourhood that opens tomorrow. I hope to do that later in the week when there are fewer people around.
I just watched a TED Talk with psychologist Brian Little. There were a number of things that caught my attention. Dr, Little talked about the fact the there are ways in which we are like most other people. Those he refers to as our biogenetic nature. There are also ways that we are like some other people. Those he calls our sociogenetic nature. And there are ways in which we are like no other person. Those he refers to as our idiogenetic nature, a term I think that might be uniquely his. His basic premise is that we can be categorized with others on certain dimensions and we may be hard wired ( my term not his) to act in a particular way in a particular situation, but there is one other variable that allows us to move away from our usual MO and that is our “core project.” In other words if we need to change the usual introversion to extraversion to protect our family then we will. If we need to become disagreeable when we are normally agreeable then we can. .. for a purpose. If we are normally open to new experience but our core project requires us to be safe then we may become guarded. So we do what we need to do to further our core project even if it is out of character. Cool.
DR. Little warns us thought that protracted out-of-character-ness can be harmful. If we push our introverted self into extraversion for too long we can snap back like an elastic band and cause ourselves some difficulty, but generally speaking what he is saying is that we are not merely a collection of traits. With that caveat in mind it is still nice to know that we need not worry about exhibiting this trait or that trait because we now know we can get over ourselves and BE what we need to be when required.
What difference does this make? For me, for example … the penultimate balanced extravert/introvert personality type … I see now the significance of the balance for me. I need the balance between being out there and being in here. I think most people do and that they manage themselves to find their own point of balance or fulcrum on the continuum. I also think most people generally understand when they are off balance and need to make corrections. Each of us has a range on the continuum … not just a point. Movement within the range has been limited to a more introverted, even isolated position of late for me personally. I have a core project that makes it necessary to behave differently than I may have in the past. AND that’s okay. I will heed Dr Little’s warning about protractedly wandering out of character and make the adjustments I need to keep sane and healthy. Dr. Little has helped me understand that stepping out of character is a choice we make to achieve an end, a worthy core project and our ability to do that is part of who we are as a person … our idiogenetic nature … or should I say MY idiogenetic nature. I also know that it is what many women my age do so that it is also in my sociogenetic nature. And it is a choice for me.
Dr Little sites five dimensions of personality that I found interesting maybe because their first letters spell something … OCEAN. Open to experience, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism. He talked about degrees of each but I wonder if he has considered the developmental nature of these dimensions. I know for example that I have become more introverted than extraverted over the past three years. It could be a function of age or situation. I also feel that I have become less open to new experience and more conscientious. I have become less agreeable on many fronts and possibly more neurotic. I was beginning to feel confused when the next TED Talk video started. In it Philosopher, Julian Baggini explained that we are a collection of experiences, a process and not a permanent truth. He used the metaphor of a waterfall that appears the same but is constantly changing.
Combining the ideas presented by the psychologist and the philosopher gave me comfort. I hope it will also give you comfort. You are the sum of your experiences which are changing constantly and you choose how to behave based on your core project. RELAX, RELATE, RELEASE and ENJOY. Become the waterfall. I certainly will later in the week when my core project will be to experience the new pool.