"I don't know any parent who says, 'Yeah, I really…
Going Overboard: Confessions of an NF
Can you relate to this sentence? I sometimes have the tendency to go overboard and I don’t even own a boat! In my case, it happens quite often. My first child going out into the real world was cause for me to be inspired to go BIG for his fifth birthday party! I would invite his entire kindergarten class and make it a party that no one would EVER forget!
First, the theme popped into my head: Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory! What could be more fun than a candy themed party! It all started with the golden ticket invites I placed inside the candy bars, creating the Wonka Vator came next which materialized once I scoured the town for a giant refrigerator box. We rigged it up with a forest full of Christmas tree lights plugged into an outlet controlled by the wall switch. Then all we needed were some mad scientist sound effects, some artistic touches and voila! The WonkaVator was blinking and buzzing!
Our upper balcony became the source for a brown butcher paper chocolate waterfall, complete with radio static sound effect as a young adventurer trekked through its watery plunge. I became quite obsessed with wrapping giant boxes in colored paper then decorating them to look like candy bars and lifesaver rolls. Balloons wrapped in cellophane became candy as well. Everything would be eye-popping big to these little five-year-olds and I couldn’t wait. The best part by far, however, was the lickable wallpaper! Once again the colored butcher paper played an important role as I plastered it up the stair wall. Then I created fruit shapes out of fruit roll-ups and stuck it to the paper with corn syrup. Each party-goer would have their own fruit to lick right off the wall! I had no idea that this activity alone would occupy these little firecrackers for a huge chunk of time. This was a fantastic surprise since I had 28 of these little firecrackers to entertain!
When the Moms dropped their kids off, they looked at me with a combination of admiration, disbelief, and suspicion, asking me, “Where do you find the time”? I was surprised to feel a bit of embarrassment wash over me as I realized I had gone just a smidge overboard! I realize that my son would have been really happy with just the undecorated refrigerator box to play in, but that would have been way too easy!
In this case, I was overjoyed with the outcome of my laboring, but there have been other times when I have been very let down when my efforts went unappreciated. My family was coming to visit and I wanted us to be to do something together beyond the typical family game or movie. My Mom and Dad were getting older and finding things we all could enjoy together was becoming a challenge. I got the idea of playing croquet, but I didn’t have a croquet set, and for all my family to participate, I would need several sets. I had to make numerous phone calls, which led to numerous conversations, then of course, once I found them, I had to drive hither and yon to pick them up.
In addition to the activity, I had to make the food and I am never one to cater or pick up some take out. I had recently made an amazing chicken recipe that had morel mushrooms in the sauce. I remembered that my Mom and Dad used to gather morels in the forest where they first met back in Ohio. I wanted to surprise them and make this very special delicacy. If you aren’t familiar with morels 2 ounces can cost up to $50!
My parents arrived right on time, but the rest of my family were running very late. When they called to say they may not even come, I was livid! I unleashed my frustrations to my poor parents who tried as best they could to figure out why I was getting so upset. Then to make matters worse, neither of them were very hungry so they only ate a tiny bit of the expensive meal I had spent hours on and my Mom stated, “I love morels!!! But my favorite way to have them is the way I used to make them with butter, rolled in corn flake crumbs!”
This experience along with countless others has taught me to stop and take a breath when I start to consider some grandiose plan. I ask myself, “Is this really for the people who are coming, or is it more for you?” Intuitive feelers crave feedback, so going overboard can be a way to get positive feedback from others. This is why it can fail miserably when the positive feedback desired does not occur. I realize that it is unfair to expect something in return for my efforts. No one asked me to get the croquet sets or make a fancy meal. My Mom would have been happier with butter and corn flakes! It is important for the intuitive feeler to check their motives. If they are doing the act because they truly want to and would still be happy even if the feedback was simply a polite thank you, then there won’t be any disappointment after the fact.
Another reason why Intuitive Feelers can go overboard is because they are trying to create meaning. Once again, if they are relying upon others to get this meaning, they may wind up feeling empty and short-changed after the smoke has cleared. Many times just the awareness of the fact that this tendency exists, can help an Intuitive feeler make the right choices.
12. Little 6-year-old Renee was having all kinds of anxiety issues! In addition to having trouble sleeping at night, she was having anxiety attacks about going to her piano and ballet lessons. Her fear would turn into full-blown panic and her parents were at their wits end!
I soon discovered that Renee’s Mom’s type was introverted sensing feeling and judging. She had loved ballet and piano as a child and assumed her daughter would love them too. The solitary activity of practicing piano and then performing for one teacher was a wonderful outlet for her, but not for her daughter. Renee was an extroverted NT who needed to show the world how competent she was! Since she didn’t like piano, she didn’t practice and her lack of mastery at her lesson made her nervous and anxious! It was the same for ballet. Renee needed to let her actual voice be heard! I suggested theater and was surprised to hear that Renee loved theater. Because Renee was only six, her Mother was planning all her activities through the lens of a cautious, sensing introvert. Renee, being intuitive, needed to exercise her imagination by playing the part of an imaginary character in an imaginary story. Her extroverted side needed to be on stage.
Her Mother was also frustrated when Renee wouldn’t listen to her when she asked her to clean her room. “How did you ask her?” I probed. “I told her it would make Mommy happy if she did it and that other kids kept their rooms clean.” These two reasons would motivate and SJ (Sensor Judger) but not an Intuitive thinker (NT). SJ’s want to please and SJ’s want to conform. NT’s do not! They beat to their own drum and will not respond to an emotional plea. In order for an NT to climb on board, the activity or request needs to make logical sense to them. If the Mom would say something like, “You are a natural born leader and leaders need to be organized in order to be the boss! Have you ever seen a boss with a messy office?”
Since an NT more than any other type needs to feel competent and save face, it is important to parent them from their strengths rather than focusing on the weakness you want to change.
When Renee is having a fit, instead of telling her to calm down and quit overreacting, say something like, “Renee you are normally so calm and mature! I am surprised to see you so upset!”
Renee’s Mom was also frustrated with the lack of physical affection Renee displayed. She had always dreamed of having a daughter with whom she could have a close relationship. Renee is not purposely being cold to her parents, she is just not wired for displays of affection.
Keeping the house in order is a huge priority for an SJ Mom. However, for an NT who doesn’t even notice their surroundings, it is not! Instead, Renee is constantly brimming with grand plans she dreams up out of thin air, using unrelated objects and leaving a tornado in her wake of creative enthusiasm. It is important that Renee’s Mom doesn’t value the clean house over letting Renee explore her creativity