In The View from Here, I wrote that, as a result of their constant vigilance, 6s don’t do as much screening out as the other types do. The following piece is a journal writing exercise completed by a Type 6 for a group I facilitated. The subject was self-observation, and she chose “notice” as her prompt for flow-writing.
Noticing What I Notice
I can’t help but notice things. That’s just what I do. I don’t deliberately notice this, but ignore that. I just notice things—everything. I see patterns. I see behaviors. I notice all the stupid inconsequential things in life, it seems. Although I know that some of the things I notice truly don’t matter, I notice them anyway. It’s more than just noticing, however. I notice something, then I study it, label it, and file it away in its appropriate folder, so that when I need it, I can readily find it.
So what is all this noticing about? I surely don’t lavish the same amount of attention on noticing what I’m doing—it’s only others. So I notice everything others are doing, but not myself. Well, isn’t that about the most useless piece of time wasting there is? Why will I notice you, but not me? What don’t I want to see in myself? Do I see that I am the same, or do I not see my flaws? Can’t face my flaws? Or maybe I don’t have the flaws that I am noticing? Maybe I think I notice everything, but really I just notice what I want to notice. Because I also know that there is a whole lot that I don’t notice, that I don’t see, that I am willing to ignore—things that go right by me.
What is all this attention to things that usually don’t matter really about? I guess it’s that focusing on others rather than on myself is a whole lot easier. The next time I catch myself noticing what someone else is doing, I am going to recall this writing, and at that moment, I will remember to remind myself that this probably does not need to be filed away. This will be a gentle reminder to myself that I am being too busy noticing others, and it’s time to turn my attention inward.
This diffused attention can create a fair amount of mental clutter, which the writer alludes to. 6s are extremely attentive to reactions from other people and threats or even just changes in their environments, which makes it difficult for them to turn their attention inward. Even their defense mechanism—projection—is aimed out there!
But when they can relax (crazy concept, I know) and soften their attention to the outer world, they can then tune in to their inner world—to themselves—with some compassion, acceptance, and humor.
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Things have been going so well that he’s taking an anxiety break to keep centered.