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I have a belief that I need to keep talking about myself and now I scare people - help me.

heart to heart The questioner's philosophy
I am an INFJ (Introverted Intuitive Feeling Judging) - an Apollonian according to Keirsey - and my philosophy in life is self-actualization through meaningful interpretations of the relationships and events that unfold around me and within me. I follow those spiritual voices that arise within me but follow no church, as I follow the 'left-hand' path.
The questioner's hopes and aspirations
My hopes are to achieve spiritual enlightenment through the purification of mind and body. I hope for peaceful and loving relationships and to free myself from the bounds of my own making.
I recently got myself into a pickle and I would like advice on the topic of honesty. Basically, I am spiritual first, knowledge second, physical third in how I relate to the world. In all my interactions I try and bring the truth of the situation to the forefront and connect to other people through my intuitions and feelings. I believe that my life force is a living demonstration, whose experiences (both good and bad, positive and negative) are worth sharing and talking about to help others along their own journey. I hide nothing - I guess I have a poor sense of boundaries in that I make my most intimate self public for anyone that is interested.

The problem I ran into was that because of my honesty, another person became extremely uncomfortable around me, and I was forced to change my life plans/dreams so as not to cause a serious problem within a larger social organism that is now set against me due to the image portrayed of me. I was judged according to a story based on the emotional perception of this other person and not on the huge amount of evidence which indicates who I really am. I certainly didn't help by using ambiguously charged poetic language, but all my words were misinterpreted and turned against me.

So my question is; how do I know what to tell about myself when my whole goal in life is to grow and seek spiritual flight and help others do the same? For me the greatest triumphs have come after terrible events (break-ups) or because I have terminated negative habits (drugs), negative self-ideas (poor body image). These events are the things that make me the most excited, and the progress I have made from reflecting upon them and bringing them into the light of consciousness.

How can I talk about myself to people if I cannot know which facts about my life they may judge and fear or hate? I don't make small talk well, and so I'm extremely sensitive now about how to open up to people. I am gregarious and want to make friends, but it seems I scare people.

Wallace's reply
I want to kick off this week's discussion by saying that I felt similar to you when I was a teenager. In those days I did not make small talk well and talked in a serious intellectual way most of the time. Didn't they know? Life was a serious business! During those years I also felt that other people were remote from me - it was as if an invisible glass screen came between me and them.

Then I had a huge shock. I had a mental breakdown and had to take a year off my university course studying architecture. When I went back to university a year later I was a changed person. I had loosened my rigid adherence to a fixed set of beliefs I held about myself. The glass screen had disappeared and I felt able to connect with people more - heart to heart. I was able to empathize and as a result started, at the age of 25, to have my first girlfriend. I am going to draw on those experiences to answer your question.

Life is primarily about having FUN. It's about lying in the long grass with the woman you love and seeing shapes in the clouds. It's about walking through the woods with your dog and smelling the rain coming in over the mountain. It's about lying on the couch on a Sunday afternoon, after working hard all morning in the garden, feeling a deep relaxation take over and falling fast asleep. It's about going out to an evening of Eagle's music and, as the music fills the room, enjoying memories of wonderful times driving down the Californian Pacific Highway with the woman you love.

If you can't empathize with others, say inappropriate things, are overly serious in your conversation and scare people as a result, then you need to get out of your head and into your heart. You say, "In all my interactions I try and bring the truth of the situation to the forefront and connect to other people through my intuitions and feelings," but do you? I have a strong sense from your statements about your philosophy, hopes and aspirations and from the question itself, that you relate to the world in a very head orientated, rigid, belief driven manner.

What do I mean by this? For example you say, "I believe that my life force is a living demonstration, whose experiences (both good and bad, positive and negative) are worth sharing and talking about to help others along their own journey. I hide nothing - I guess I have a poor sense of boundaries in that I make my most intimate self public for anyone that is interested." This is one of the beliefs I am talking about.

It is best if you wear your beliefs lightly and always hold them open to question, change and modification in the light of evidence that in any particular instance this belief may not apply. Do you do this? Let's look at the second part of this statement, because the two parts are interconnected. Why do you have a poor sense of boundaries? You do so because you are operating in a rigid way out of the belief that you need to share your life experiences. Adhering to this belief in a rigid manner is what is making you insensitive to others - as a result you are unaware of their discomfort at the direction you are taking the conversation and persist with your tirade and mistakenly call it "Truth"!

Truth lies beyond belief - all belief. It is God given and unique to any particular circumstance. It is a moving target and can only be perceived in the moment by direct and intimate connection to inner guidance. The "Left Hand Path" to which you refer in your philosophy is a path free of dogma, but do you follow the left hand path as you claim? Your whole life is made up of dogma in the form of rigid beliefs which you hold dear. It may not be the dogma of an established creed or religion, but it is your own private prison cell. The ego is made up of such dogma - you need to learn to use the mind to empty itself of its self created prison bars through insight and understanding. It is then that the sensitivity to empathize with others will emerge. Then through that empathy and sensitivity you will have the skill you crave - to always know the appropriate thing to say. To this end I trust this reply and others you may receive on the Forum will be helpful.

Further Help and Resources
I strongly recommend Peter Shepherd's course - Emotional Intelligence (often given the acronym EQ, the emotional-intelligence equivalent of IQ). This course encompasses social intelligence and emphasizes the affect of emotions on our ability to view situations objectively and thus to understand ourselves and other people. It is about the ability to sense, understand, and effectively apply the power of emotions, appropriately channeled, as a source of energy, creativity and influence. Balancing and integrating the head and heart, channeled through the left and right brain, is the mission of personal growth work in the domain of emotional intelligence. You will find it available free of charge on the Trans4mind website here.

To the reader:
I want to invite you to help this young man. He hopes for peaceful and loving relationships and to free himself from the bonds of his own making. He is confused as to what is and is not intuition because he is operating out of a rigid set of beliefs that unwittingly are determining his responses to life. As a result he is having problems empathizing with others. I was the same when I was younger. Have any of you similar stories to tell? Hearing your stories would help him feel kinship with Cultivate Life! readers and not alone with his problems? Did any of you improve your ability to relate to others heart to heart and if so how? This young man needs your love and support. Can we all pull together to assist him? Please add your views to the forum, he knows Cultivate Life! readers may be making contributions there...

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