In the last post of my discussion with my friend Debbie, a 6w7, she said that taking on someone else’s agenda wasn’t all bad because if she got positive feedback from what she did that was enough to make her feel like she was getting something out of it, too. Here’s more on that:
D: It’s usually only when there’s some level of uncertainty in the feedback that there’s an issue. Maybe someone says, “Oh, this isn’t really what I had in mind.” Then I wonder why the heck I’m doing it. If it isn’t going to give me what I want in terms of feedback, I don’t need to be doing it. Which is an entirely weird way to spend my time: based on what kind of feedback I’m going to get.
It seems as I start thinking more and more about what I want to do, it becomes more about feedback I can give myself in terms of is this accomplishing what I want to be accomplishing as far as overall goals and things that are important to me. A lot of things I’ve done in the past weren’t that important to me.
J: So then if what you accomplish and feel good about because it has meaning for you also happens to resonate with the person you’re doing the work with or for, that’s a bonus. But that person’s approval isn’t the reason for doing it.
D: Yes. That’s why those things feel much more satisfying. When what I want connects with what someone else wants. That’s great. But for a long time I just looked at what does somebody else want? And then thought I can do that. It all hinged on whether or not it was what that person or organization wanted.
J: Sounds kind of stressful.
D: It is, but I never understood the stress. I thought the anxiety I felt meant there was something wrong with me. Now I realize that’s not the case. I just have to become more aware that I can choose how involved I get with these things. And if somebody wants me to do something I don’t want to be involved in, I can just say no, thanks and not take it on. In the past, I didn’t feel like I could say no, for example, to an employer because that would generate disapproval. The approved thing to do would be to agree to do whatever it was.
J: This sounds like it’s about locating the center in yourself and not looking for it out there.
J: What do you think are some of the positive aspects or gifts a 6 brings to the party?
D: In looking back over my life, I can see situations where I can say, Wow, the reason I was able to accomplish all of this in seemingly crazy circumstances was because I’m a 6. The doing kept me focused. One example is when I went back to school to finish my BA and moved to full-time status. I got into the Roberts Fellows and then into doing a memory book that brought all the fellows back together. I was able to incorporate the book into my second major. All these layers of things were going on, but it didn’t feel incredibly stressful at the time. Everything felt like it fit together.
It was amazing to be able to do all those things and do them well. It didn’t matter what other people were thinking. So that was a positive aspect of being a 6, even though I didn’t know I was a 6 at the time.
J: I want to throw something out. The challenging piece about being sucked in to looking outside yourself for approval has a flip side, which is that 6s can be very attuned to how other people are responding.
D: That’s right. In that time period I was just talking about, I was working in the Writing Center and helping a lot of people with different things. And, yes, I always felt like I could connect with people. In fact, I didn’t need such a strong sense of approval from others. In one instance, I helped a person who was struggling with a homework assignment by giving peer feedback. I just listened to her and asked her some questions. I was really able to connect with and help her figure out what she was trying to say, so much so that her professor approached me later and asked me what on earth I did. Her paper went from a C grade to an A. This professor suggested I consider going to graduate school and becoming a teacher because she recognized something in me.
I hadn’t recognized this as being a 6 thing, but looking back, there were a lot of situations much earlier where people came to me for things and I was able to understand where they were coming from. When I’m with someone, I’m usually the one to pick up on when something’s not quite right. Or in my classes, I can often sense that something is off with a student.
J: When 6s are centered and are not looking outside themselves for approval, they have a great capacity for being perceptive and expansive. They can connect with others and pull multiple pieces of a project into a cohesive whole.
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Next time: Too Much Information? No Such Thing for a 6.