Friday, August 16, 2019

Introverts, Extroverts and Pretty Wings


Coincidentally, shortly after posting an article about ending relationships gracefully, "Pretty Wings", a beautiful song by the artist Maxwell, played continuously on the radio. Seeing this occurrence as an example of synchronicity, I pondered on the song's meaning. As I reflected, ideas about chemistry, relationship incompatibility and Carl Jung’s theory of psychological types came to my consciousness. Why? Let’s go on a journey….

Chemistry and Personality

Chemistry was my least favorite subject in high school, contrary to mathematics, of which I excelled. The Periodic Table of Elements, a tabular display of chemical elements organized by categories, made sense to me, in theory.  I understand water, H20, is made up of 2 hydrogen atoms and one oxygen. I conceptually understand helium is lighter than air which explains why “hot air” balloons are possible. I can see with my own eyes how water boils and freezes at different temperatures. What made chemistry a difficult subject for me is no one could explain ‘why’ elements possessed specific characteristics.

Chemistry requires acceptance of things as they are. In labs, the chemistry experiments illustrated how elements reacted with each other according to their own innate characteristics. I got that-but why? Needless to say, I pursued a mathematical field where I could see and understand the why of things. One plus one equals two, always. Yay!

To my chagrin, chemistry is a major part of my adult life. Why? Because our personal relationships are chemical reactions.  What determines whether or not people are compatible rest in how their “characteristics” or “energies” relate to each other. Yes, it is possible to learn how to relate to personalities of whom we are not naturally compatible. In my previous post, Compassionate Disagreements, we discuss tools we can use to interact with people of whom we share differing ideas. The process is challenging. 



Carl Jung, Myers-Briggs, and Personality Types

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, inspired by Carl Jung, is a popular personality tool. Carl Jung proposed each of us has innate preferences in how we use energy. 
        
Extroverts tend to be outgoing, talkative and social.  In contrast, introverts tend to need alone time, are quiet, and need time to process information.

Per Jung, "Each person seems to be energized more by either the external world (extraversion) or the internal world (introversion)".

Energy Type
Energized by
Communication Style
Extroverts
Being with others
Abrupt. Tell it Like it Is. Direct
Introverts
Being alone
Cautious. Reflective. Indirect. 

Chances are you interact with both introverts and extroverts on a regular basis. What the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and the Enneagram, another popular personality type assessor, assist us with is becoming aware of our own “personality chemistries” so we can understand how we relate to ourselves and others. For an example, if you have a meeting with people who display extroverted characteristics, then you may expect them to use direct language and be very expressive.  If you  meet with people who display introverted characteristics, then you may expect them to be quiet and reserved.  As social chemists, we know there is no right or wrong way to use energy.  Like natural resources, we all have something to offer the world.

The Four Temperament Theory

The Four Temperament Theory proposes there are four personality types: sanguine, choleric, melancholic, and phlegmatic. The Greek physician Hippocrates (460-370 BC) associated the temperament theory as a part of humorisma system which believed body fluids affect human personality traits and behaviors. Like the Enneagram and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, the Four Temperament Theory is a mechanism used to help us understand human behavior. 

(The Four Temperaments. Picture courtesy of Wikipedia)

Oil and Water Don’t Mix

Like periodic elements, not all personalities go well together. To make water, we need 2 hydrogen atoms, not three. The old saying, Oil and Water do not mix is a proverb to explain incompatibility. This is not meant to be taken personally; it is what it is. 

My interest in this topic is from my personal life. I am concerned by friends and loved ones who endlessly mourn and dwell over the ending of unfruitful relationships. Instead of looking for a peaceful lake, they rather focus on a hurricane. I believe they miss an opportunity of seeing how experiences teach us about ourselves and help us grow and mature to become who we are meant to be. Endings give birth to new beginning, as illustrated in "Pretty Wings".




Pretty Wings, Freedom, and Maxwell

"Pretty Wings" is a song from the perspective of a person who initiated the end of a relationship. 

                  “Time will bring the real end of our trial
                   One day they'll be no remnants
                  No trace, no residual feelings within ya
                  One day you won't remember me”

Maxwell further states the memory of his partner will make him smile, but he knows the relationship will not last forever. Their personalities are not compatible. He will always love his partner, and he hopes his partner feels the same. 

              "Your face will be the reason I smile
                But I will not see what I cannot have forever
                I'll always love ya, I hope you feel the same”

What does he mean, “I will always love ya”? I mean, if he loves his partner so much, then why is he letting the relationship go?  Well, it goes back to the meaning of love. Love can be defined as caring for the spiritual development of another person. It is possible to love a person but not have the capacity to coexist in a healthy relationship. 

Well, what happened?

“Oh you played me dirty, your game was so bad
You toyed with my affliction”

During the course of a relationship, both parties probably did or said things they would like to change. I believe relationships end gradually, and often do not occur at the same time for each party. One person wants to end, while the other person wants to keep going. This “peek-a-boo” cycle goes on a few iterations until finally…..

Had to fill out my prescription
Found the remedy, I had to set you free
Away from me
To see clearly the way that love can be
When you are not with me”

Maxwell, initiated the end of the relationship after coming to grips with reality-their personalities were not compatible. He has empathy for his former love and hopes she finds a person who can give her the love she deserves. A love which he does not have the capacity to give their relationship. It is possible for a person's 'all' to not be enough to sustain a union. 

A beautiful lyric is “Away from me to see clearly the way that love can be when you are not with me”.

Further, Maxwell wishes her well....

“If I can't have you, let love set you free
To fly your pretty wings around
Pretty wings, your pretty wings
Your pretty wings, pretty wings around”

In songs and stories,'wings' are often a symbol of freedom and beauty. Birds and butterflies use their wings to fly around. Another popular song is "Wind Beneath My Wings".

The lyric,“let love set you free”, is motivation to end toxic relationships. Your energy is better served cultivating relationships with those whom you share compatible traits and exhibit mutual respect.

Next, we hear more relationship details,

“I came wrong you were right
Transformed your love into like
Baby believe me; I'm sorry I told you lies
I turned day into night
Sleep till I die a thousand times
I should've showed you
Better nights, better times
Better days, I miss you more and more”

Return to Yourself

Music can serve as medicine to assist in emotional recovery after a breakup. During the mourning process, it is okay to listen to sad love songs because they may help you get in touch with hidden emotions. If the songs make you cry, that is good because it means you are getting in touch with your feelings. The grief process is an important stage. Take as much time as you need. Though, eventually time will come for you to return to yourself. The world needs your gifts, blessings and for you “to fly your pretty wings around” and be a productive member of society.

                                                                 
Maxwell - Pretty Wings (Official Video)

What do you think?


References:
Pretty Wings Lyrics courtesy of LyricFind


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