Not Thinking

March 22nd, 2016 § 2 Comments

It didn’t go as I had hoped. It rarely has since he’s become a teenager. A discussion turned into a fight, and then anger and disbelief. Before it was over, I was chasing him up the stairs, yelling the stupid question, “Who do you think you’re talking to?”

The next day, I was with a trusted friend. THANK GOD for trusted friends. This friend happens to be a licensed marriage and family therapist. THANK GOD for marriage and family therapist. He hears me out and then says, “Sounds to me a lot like a thinker vs feeler thing.” Now, I have a cursory knowledge of Myers-Briggs psychological type indicator, but not much beyond what the letters represent.

Okay, what do you mean?

As my friend began to explain it to me, it was like someone calmly lighting a candle in a room darkened by hopelessness.

The gist of it went like this: A thinker – that would be me – processes the world through the mind. Things have to be explainable, reason must govern decisions. Conversely, a feeler processes reality primarily through their feelings. How one feels is a prominent, reliable source of motivation. To a thinker, a feeler sounds … frankly, a feeler sounds dumb. To a feeler, a thinker sounds narrow and overbearing. And here’s the kicker, they both believe they are right.

No, wait, here’s the real kicker: In many cases, they both have reasonable cause to believe that they are right … because, because there may not be a right. Crazy, right?

So, this friend tells me, “To a feeler, a thinker comes off like a bully — a reason bully. Your kid could feel cornered by your reasoning. He may feel dismissed. Try this: Try listening, drawing him out. Resist the temptation to offer your understanding.” Later, my friend’s wife added, “No matter how dumb it sounds to you — you have to remember, it may only sound dumb because you lack the ability to process things the way he does — try to find things in what he is saying that you can affirm.” They agreed that once he feels heard, you may find him much more open to your input.”

Seriously, it’s been like magic.


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