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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My mother tested as an ISFP using AJ Drenth's type identifier. She seems to think that's her, and it rings true to me as well.

Did a broad search online and in the forum on ISFP, but found little info...particularly interested in the role of the inferior Te in this type.

Specifically the problem is that she has been in a rut for the past 30 years. Brief life story: she was born and lived in Europe until she was 40. Her professional career was plastic surgery. She was good at it, very innovative from what she tells me, and she worked with some of the top people in the field both in the US and Europe. She met my dad in America and then emigrated here. Due to licensing requirements, she would have had to repeat a 6-7 year plastic surgery residency here in the US in order to practice. She elected to have kids (me) instead and dropped her medical career and became a homemaker.

This decision of hers to drop medicine was probably the worst thing she ever did. She has always loved helping the helpless/downtrodden. Has a very strong sense of injustice. She's not a basket case or anything, mentally she's not ill or clinically depressed or anything. But she has been really dissatisfied overall with her life for the past 30 years.

She says she wants to do something artistic (she mentions painting, making pop-up books, singing). She loves interior design and has renovated and added sections to our house countless times (when she does she's totally engaged by this and really talented at it...better than the contractors she hires).

The problem (at long last) is that she says something is "holding her back" from doing these artistic things. She's lonely and bored, and she feels a need to express herself artistically, yet can't make the leap to just going to a painting school at the local museum (her own idea btw). She says she feels like a failure and that there's no way she'll ever get good at art because "you have to start young and work, work, work." Has uber-high expectations of herself. I told her that one reason she's not doing any of these things is because she feels she "should" do them, and she said that really resonated and was the best explanation she ever heard. Anyway, if someone can provide some illumination on this, I'm sure it has to do with her Te somehow, but don't know how to explain it...
 

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I told her that one reason she's not doing any of these things is because she feels she "should" do them, and she said that really resonated and was the best explanation she ever heard. Anyway, if someone can provide some illumination on this, I'm sure it has to do with her Te somehow, but don't know how to explain it...
I don't really get it.
 

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OK, I've been thinking... I am still not sure exactly what you are asking, but I think there are a couple things I can say.

First and foremost, the one thing she needs from you (and the sense that you think she shouldn't have given up her work suggests to me that she has shared something with you about it) is affirmation. She needs to know that raising you was the most wonderful thing she could have done for _you_. She needs to know that you truly appreciate what she did, and that she is loved and appreciated by you--that her labors were not in vain. I suspect that when she talks down, this may be something she is needing to hear. (and don't ask how I know...)

I should also add that when she does this, it is just what we are like sometimes. This sense of loss, of wondering if it was all worth it, etc. That is not just one function, but a combination, and among them, our vulnerable function--Ne. But ISFPs do not need "encouragement" by denying what we are feeling, or trying to get us to feel better. Those are big no-nos. What we need is affirmation that it is ok to feel this way, but also, that what has happened has been well. So, a simple letting her know that you are glad for her, and for all she's done, and let it go, and don't overdo it--that's what she will appreciate. Also, if you can, some non-verbal way of letting her know--hugs, or maybe flowers (or better, a live plant) that just says "I love and appreciate you", or something off-the-way, even. If she has a favorite musician or artist whose work you could buy (a framed print, perhaps)--but save those for big things--when she's really feeling down. ISFPs aren't typically big on normal "big" days (birthdays, Valentine's day, etc., but you would know what days are important to her personally, or when her mood would need a pick-up.

And now, on to something I find difficult to discuss... Ne. Specifically, _your_ Ne. In our two types, our Ne and Se tend to clash in weird ways that isn't always obvious--actually, it seldom is. There just tends to be a friction that nobody understands, especially because the friction seems to be elsewhere, but trust me, having been married over 25 years to an INTP myself, I can now say that our biggest friction comes from that Se-Ne "confusion". I guess what I'm trying to say is that when we get down--confused and frustrated, your Ne kicks in and starts to try to find solutions. For instance, maybe trying to help her solve her problems--that creates an overload in her mind. I'm just trying to say be careful with that.

That is my preface to what I'm about to say. ;-) What actually made me decide to write this post was a realization of one form of art that she my actually quite take to (I guess it was my thinking about her being a plastic surgeon). And that would be sculpting. I guess I sort of thought about this because I'm in a very similar position to her. I'm not young any more, and while I feel a desire to do _something_, I don't know what. I'm really too old (and lazy, to be honest) to try to pick up something new, like relearning the piano, or some other instrument, and singing is out (my voice is not what it used to be). I can't see myself doing painting or other forms of art/craft. It just would require too much time and all-out effort, and I can only see myself getting frustrated trying. I can imagine that your mother feels the same way. But suddenly sculpting hit me, so I thought I'd share it. I don't see it for myself, but maybe she would like it. A couple other thoughts I had, and this is one I've already started on, and that's what I would call desktop gardening--making tiny gardens in little bowls, and maybe get back into Bonsai. I do have a garden outside as well, but due to the fact we only rent, I'm somewhat limited, while tiny gardens are pure creativity. And it's very hand's on. And there's one other thing to think of--how can she be doing things "bigger" than herself. You mentioned helping others. She really ought to be doing something--we ISFPs tend to prefer something small, immediate, and with direct results--but honestly, this is for her to work out. Your task, IMO, in this, is to simply be there with her.

I don't know if all I've written helps in any way, or if I've merely confused things further, but these are my personal thoughts on the matter, looking at it from my own, current situation, which isn't really much different in some ways... Unfortunately, I'm in the middle of my own mid-life "crisis" with no solution, so I can't really say that what I have to offer is of any value for somebody further down the road than I. :-\
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I don't really get it.
I mean my mother feels she has a responsibility somehow to herself (and maybe to her husband and son as well to be a happier more fulfilled individual?) to do these artistic things, and I believe that's her inferior Te, but that's just a guess...
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
OK, I've been thinking... I am still not sure exactly what you are asking, but I think there are a couple things I can say.

First and foremost, the one thing she needs from you (and the sense that you think she shouldn't have given up her work suggests to me that she has shared something with you about it) is affirmation. She needs to know that raising you was the most wonderful thing she could have done for _you_. She needs to know that you truly appreciate what she did, and that she is loved and appreciated by you--that her labors were not in vain. I suspect that when she talks down, this may be something she is needing to hear. (and don't ask how I know...)

I should also add that when she does this, it is just what we are like sometimes. This sense of loss, of wondering if it was all worth it, etc. That is not just one function, but a combination, and among them, our vulnerable function--Ne. But ISFPs do not need "encouragement" by denying what we are feeling, or trying to get us to feel better. Those are big no-nos. What we need is affirmation that it is ok to feel this way, but also, that what has happened has been well. So, a simple letting her know that you are glad for her, and for all she's done, and let it go, and don't overdo it--that's what she will appreciate. Also, if you can, some non-verbal way of letting her know--hugs, or maybe flowers (or better, a live plant) that just says "I love and appreciate you", or something off-the-way, even. If she has a favorite musician or artist whose work you could buy (a framed print, perhaps)--but save those for big things--when she's really feeling down. ISFPs aren't typically big on normal "big" days (birthdays, Valentine's day, etc., but you would know what days are important to her personally, or when her mood would need a pick-up.

And now, on to something I find difficult to discuss... Ne. Specifically, _your_ Ne. In our two types, our Ne and Se tend to clash in weird ways that isn't always obvious--actually, it seldom is. There just tends to be a friction that nobody understands, especially because the friction seems to be elsewhere, but trust me, having been married over 25 years to an INTP myself, I can now say that our biggest friction comes from that Se-Ne "confusion". I guess what I'm trying to say is that when we get down--confused and frustrated, your Ne kicks in and starts to try to find solutions. For instance, maybe trying to help her solve her problems--that creates an overload in her mind. I'm just trying to say be careful with that.

That is my preface to what I'm about to say. ;-) What actually made me decide to write this post was a realization of one form of art that she my actually quite take to (I guess it was my thinking about her being a plastic surgeon). And that would be sculpting. I guess I sort of thought about this because I'm in a very similar position to her. I'm not young any more, and while I feel a desire to do _something_, I don't know what. I'm really too old (and lazy, to be honest) to try to pick up something new, like relearning the piano, or some other instrument, and singing is out (my voice is not what it used to be). I can't see myself doing painting or other forms of art/craft. It just would require too much time and all-out effort, and I can only see myself getting frustrated trying. I can imagine that your mother feels the same way. But suddenly sculpting hit me, so I thought I'd share it. I don't see it for myself, but maybe she would like it. A couple other thoughts I had, and this is one I've already started on, and that's what I would call desktop gardening--making tiny gardens in little bowls, and maybe get back into Bonsai. I do have a garden outside as well, but due to the fact we only rent, I'm somewhat limited, while tiny gardens are pure creativity. And it's very hand's on. And there's one other thing to think of--how can she be doing things "bigger" than herself. You mentioned helping others. She really ought to be doing something--we ISFPs tend to prefer something small, immediate, and with direct results--but honestly, this is for her to work out. Your task, IMO, in this, is to simply be there with her.

I don't know if all I've written helps in any way, or if I've merely confused things further, but these are my personal thoughts on the matter, looking at it from my own, current situation, which isn't really much different in some ways... Unfortunately, I'm in the middle of my own mid-life "crisis" with no solution, so I can't really say that what I have to offer is of any value for somebody further down the road than I. :-\
Thank you so much for your terrific post ferroequinologist...Exactly the kind of information I was looking for, and extremely helpful. Thank you! :happy: I feel so lucky to have had an ISFP married to an INTP write this post, and so well...

I will definitely start doing the things you mentioned...I had similar thoughts anyway. Sculpting is a possibility, I will casually insert that into a conversation sometime to gauge interest. I read online that an ISFP under stress manifests "aggressive criticism" "judgments of incompetence" and "precipitous action." My mother definitely goes through all 3 of them, and it's very often directed against herself but also me and my dad. She can also be quite impulsive and suddenly leave the house if she gets into an argument with us. She also occasionally gets into these moods where she just wants to "f*cking leave" (escape her life as it is now) and have some kind of adventure. She laments the relative lack of culture, community and beautiful art/architecture in the United States compared to Italy and other places in Europe. (She's not Italian tho) She has a tendency to obsessively clean and organize everything. It seems to really grate on her heavily if things are not properly organized or even a little bit dirty (dust on a table, a few drops of water on the counter). I also read that ISFPs in the throes of their inferior Te can exhibit this kind of behavior.

Do you have any other suggestions as to things she could do that would be "bigger than herself?" I.e. actually doable without going back to school or getting some kind of certification? She lives in a major city in the northeast btw (if you have any specific ideas related to a certain city, maybe we can pm). She talks fondly of her experiences in the past helping the underprivileged in India (kind of like Doctors w/o Borders). And she still fantasizes regularly about going overseas once my father is retired and helping the sick and needy in third world countries like in Africa or elsewhere.

Anyway, thanks again so much for your input...very enlightening. I'm going to pass on your post to my father, because he's perplexed about this situation as well. He's ISTJ btw.
 

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I mean my mother feels she has a responsibility somehow to herself (and maybe to her husband and son as well to be a happier more fulfilled individual?) to do these artistic things, and I believe that's her inferior Te, but that's just a guess...
Okay I am not a mom I don't know.. but I will try to give some thoughts.

The problem (at long last) is that she says something is "holding her back" from doing these artistic things. She's lonely and bored, and she feels a need to express herself artistically, yet can't make the leap to just going to a painting school at the local museum (her own idea btw). She says she feels like a failure and that there's no way she'll ever get good at art because "you have to start young and work, work, work." Has uber-high expectations of herself. I told her that one reason she's not doing any of these things is because she feels she "should" do them, and she said that really resonated and was the best explanation she ever heard. Anyway, if someone can provide some illumination on this, I'm sure it has to do with her Te somehow, but don't know how to explain it...
So she makes art because "she's lonely and bored" and "feels a need to express herself artistically," but then you say she does all these because she feels the responsibility to do so to make her family happy... It seems kinda odd to me.

Maybe the way the art workshops teach does not fit her. It can be frustrating. When I was at college, which was an art school, I didn't learn well from most classes, and there were only one or two teachers that helped me in a constructive way.

But art itself is hard, but can also be easy. It's true that you need to put a lot of work into it, but it's fun if you love doing it. The key is to find the medium and type of art you enjoy doing. It's not uncommon for beginners to complain about it. Art classes actually don't turn you into a master. Most of them just open you up to different things and topics and they are just the starting point for yourself. I did a lot of drawings and that's the major reason why I improved. The school didn't make me suddenly become 10 times better.

And, I don't what it is but I don't think it's Te...
 
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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
Okay I am not a mom I don't know.. but I will try to give some thoughts.

So she makes art because "she's lonely and bored" and "feels a need to express herself artistically," but then you say she does all these because she feels the responsibility to do so to make her family happy... It seems kinda odd to me.

Maybe the way the art workshops teach does not fit her. It can be frustrating. When I was at college, which was an art school, I didn't learn well from most classes, and there were only one or two teachers that helped me in a constructive way.

But art itself is hard, but can also be easy. It's true that you need to put a lot of work into it, but it's fun if you love doing it. The key is to find the medium and type of art you enjoy doing. It's not uncommon for beginners to complain about it. Art classes actually don't turn you into a master. Most of them just open you up to different things and topics and they are just the starting point for yourself. I did a lot of drawings and that's the major reason why I improved. The school didn't make me suddenly become 10 times better.

And, I don't what it is but I don't think it's Te...

All true uncertain...thanks for your input...

My mother has not yet started to take any art classes, she's over 72 y/o btw, but still highly active. She's going to be going strong probably for many more years.

I don't think the problem is art itself or it's difficulty for her, I think her problem is a deeper motivational one. And that's what I'm trying to understand using my newfound typology toolkit...There's something really blocking her from just being her natural ISFP self and approaching this with more openness and a sense of play (or maybe that's not the hallmark of an ISFP and they take art super seriously idk). She's so serious about the whole thing. And it has such a heaviness to it. I don't understand why she doesn't just enroll in the school for a few sessions and sees what comes out. Is it fear? Are her expectations so enormously high for herself that she doesn't want to see herself fail? Is she afraid she's going to realize that she made a big mistake not embracing art 30 years ago and that terrifies her? Just spitballing here, but really I don't know.

The reality is I should have done this a long time ago, but it only recently occurred to me to start asking other ISFPs for input. It seems like the only thing I can do is what ferro said, and that is to just tell her that I appreciate everything she's done for me and that she has accomplished a lot in her life and should be proud of herself and I'm proud of her. And I try to find solutions to her problems, but that tactic has been ineffective like ferro said it would, and probably counter-productive. I think right now, I appear too judgmental to her because I just want her to feel fulfilled, and I know she's not. Inside, I am frustrated and maybe a little disappointed that she hasn't just moved on with her life instead of sitting at home and feeling sorry for herself. So I am going to have to change my mindset on this, but I think I'll be able to do it because I'm convinced it's the right...and logical thing to do...:percsmile1:
 

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Do you have any other suggestions as to things she could do that would be "bigger than herself?" I.e. actually doable without going back to school or getting some kind of certification? She lives in a major city in the northeast btw (if you have any specific ideas related to a certain city, maybe we can pm). She talks fondly of her experiences in the past helping the underprivileged in India (kind of like Doctors w/o Borders). And she still fantasizes regularly about going overseas once my father is retired and helping the sick and needy in third world countries like in Africa or elsewhere.

Anyway, thanks again so much for your input...very enlightening. I'm going to pass on your post to my father, because he's perplexed about this situation as well. He's ISTJ btw.
If you live in a large city, there should be plenty of opportunities to help people--but I suppose it depends on what she's willing to do. For my own part, the idea of working at a soup kitchen doesn't appeal. What I prefer to do is help on an individual basis. And I tend to do it a fair amount. Our city, though, is full of beggars who are professional, so it can be difficult, but I never do it small. I buy groceries for people, or have helped them in other material ways--never money. When I was in the States, I knew a couple transients, and helped in what some people would call dumb ways--gave them things to make their camp more comfortable, blankets, lumber, etc. I found that some people prefer that kind of life--and I can certainly see the appeal of it, so I had no desire to "help" them escape. The guys I knew both worked as much as they needed and could. They weren't afraid of work or hard labor, even. They just didn't want to be tied down. One of them, I suspect, had mental issues, but man was he intelligent! But I'm a guy. I don't think you'd want your mom doing that. I'm just giving you an idea of the sort of thing that she could be thinking of. To me, it has to be personal--I have to know that it is more than just a handout--it is a person, and we are equals, and I try to let them know that we are equals. I don't know how better to put it. It's harder where I live now, but honestly, "charity" is just the sort of situation where one feels like either a benefactor a beneficiary. I don't like that feeling, because I don't like someone feeling "worse" than me. I can't really explain it... This may be one reason your mom preferred going to other countries--where it is a bit more remote, and the need is really real. On the other hand, there is this: A Honest Disagreement about the Future | Please Understand Me

But that's neither here nor there... it just happened to come through my news feed yesterday, and it's in my mind, because what this lady is saying is something I've been saying for decades now. Helping has to be something real, and not something that degrades. I say all this to help spur your own thinking. I don't have any specific ideas, but I am sure that these are things that she's gone over in her own mind.

I read online that an ISFP under stress manifests "aggressive criticism" "judgments of incompetence" and "precipitous action." My mother definitely goes through all 3 of them, and it's very often directed against herself but also me and my dad. She can also be quite impulsive and suddenly leave the house if she gets into an argument with us. She also occasionally gets into these moods where she just wants to "f*cking leave" (escape her life as it is now) and have some kind of adventure.


I don't know where you got this (esp. the bolded points above), but you nailed us. :-( This is our inferior Te at play, or better, the grip of our inferior. Does she ever get to go on a vacation? Does she get regular time to wind down? Or is she always around people, working with people, etc.? If the latter, she really needs something to give her time to wind down. We may seem social and outgoing, and people persons, but we are still introverts. Fi tends to absorb all kind of external stress besides our own, but the only outlet we have is a non-verbal Se. Take that away, and you get these inferior episodes above.

I'm going to share something from my own life. Back in 2010-12, I began to unwind completely. I had long lived, at that point, nearly 20 years utilizing my inferior functions for work, family and life, and underutilizing my strengths. I felt split from who I was, and on the border of a breakdown (I had almost had one a couple years earlier, and hadn't really come back out of it). I no longer knew who I was, what I wanted, what I needed or where I was headed. This was how I discovered MBTI, in fact. My wife pointed me to it, and it was an eye-opener--especially the ideas of those grip episodes. I realized that while I didn't need to change _everything_ in my life, I needed to slow down, learn to walk away from stress, (the irony is that in the grip, we can do the worst thing possible--be aggressive, and not let go of something, but keep pursuing it to death) and to learn to allow my Fi and Se to operate more freely. Honestly, I can't say that now, three years later, that I've really gotten much better, but now I am aware of when things are going south, what I need to do. I'm still kind of like your mother in that I don't have any specific activities or past times. They vary, and honestly, I'm not that good at anything I do. It kind of can be frustrating, so I end up doing nothing. Honestly, the best thing I've found is traveling--visiting those cities, or spending a week in the mountains just walking around--or even going on walks in the nearby parks. I also spend more time listening to music with headphones. I haven't worn headphones for twenty years, because I felt guilty cutting my family off like that. I no longer feel guilty. I bought nice cans (over the ear), and wear them when I need to escape. That is probably the single biggest thing I've done. Oh, and I bought a desktop fountain. I love it. It lights up, and the gurgling water sounds wonderful when I'm working at my desk. ;-)

She laments the relative lack of culture, community and beautiful art/architecture in the United States compared to Italy and other places in Europe. (She's not Italian tho) She has a tendency to obsessively clean and organize everything. It seems to really grate on her heavily if things are not properly organized or even a little bit dirty (dust on a table, a few drops of water on the counter). I also read that ISFPs in the throes of their inferior Te can exhibit this kind of behavior.
I hate to say it, but she's right about US culture and architecture. It's ugly and boring. ;-) Though Some places are more interesting--but all that steel and glass--gets boring after a while. IMO, small town America, and the forests, mountains, lakes and rivers are much more enticing. It's weird, but in the States, I love the wilderness and hate the cities. In Europe, while the forests and mountains _are_ inviting, I find the cities to be fascinating and worthy of exploring. City life in Europe is vastly different from city life in the US. I see her point and raise it. I couldn't stand living in the city or even suburbs in the US. Give me the wilderness--or at least the countryside. I doubt a move is plausible for you folks, but hey... ;-)
 

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All true uncertain...thanks for your input...

My mother has not yet started to take any art classes, she's over 72 y/o btw, but still highly active. She's going to be going strong probably for many more years.

I don't think the problem is art itself or it's difficulty for her, I think her problem is a deeper motivational one. And that's what I'm trying to understand using my newfound typology toolkit...There's something really blocking her from just being her natural ISFP self and approaching this with more openness and a sense of play (or maybe that's not the hallmark of an ISFP and they take art super seriously idk). She's so serious about the whole thing. And it has such a heaviness to it. I don't understand why she doesn't just enroll in the school for a few sessions and sees what comes out. Is it fear? Are her expectations so enormously high for herself that she doesn't want to see herself fail? Is she afraid she's going to realize that she made a big mistake not embracing art 30 years ago and that terrifies her? Just spitballing here, but really I don't know.

The reality is I should have done this a long time ago, but it only recently occurred to me to start asking other ISFPs for input. It seems like the only thing I can do is what ferro said, and that is to just tell her that I appreciate everything she's done for me and that she has accomplished a lot in her life and should be proud of herself and I'm proud of her. And I try to find solutions to her problems, but that tactic has been ineffective like ferro said it would, and probably counter-productive. I think right now, I appear too judgmental to her because I just want her to feel fulfilled, and I know she's not. Inside, I am frustrated and maybe a little disappointed that she hasn't just moved on with her life instead of sitting at home and feeling sorry for herself. So I am going to have to change my mindset on this, but I think I'll be able to do it because I'm convinced it's the right...and logical thing to do...:percsmile1:
She doesn't typically feel sorry for herself--and I truly doubt she is doing it now. What she is doing is exhausting or venting things that have to go. It's hard for us, because we don't have Fe abilities--and our Fi expressed through our inferior functions is particularly harsh sounding. If you think your Fe expressions are harsh, ours are worse. ;-) For you, this is difficult because your own weak Fe. You feel motivated to do _something_, so your Ne kicks in, gets empowered by your Ti, and expresses through inferior Fe--all of which make a bad combination for actually _helping_. Sounds harsh, but I've been on the receiving end. I know my wife _wants_ to help, and is _trying_ to help, but the result is always the opposite of what she wanted. When we were younger, she was actually much better at simply listening, and allowing me to feel how I feel. She also did little, weird things that really helped. Of course, having four children, getting older, etc. these things fall by the way side. I also grew up, IMO, so I didn't really need these things--but I also don't need her "helping" me when I feel down. :) Your situation is a bit different, but I think my suggestions in my first point are valid for you.

But I really wanted to address the "motivation" factor... I'm quite her junior (about 20 years), but I also face this problem. At this age, much of your life is behind you. You've spent your entire adulthood pushing your own desires and needs aside for others--family, work, or whatnot--and suddenly you realize there's no energy left for you. Life went by, and all your mental energy that you could have expended on developing artistic skills is all spent. You have nothing left in the well. And yes, it would take a massive, and dramatic/disruptive change in your life to maybe reignite that--but it is a huge gamble, and the loss on the other end is just unthinkable...

If I could, I would be talking with your dad about taking her on a European tour--visit her home, maybe, or other cities (avoid Rome, however, it's so expensive and people get ripped off so badly--but there is Florence, Vienna, Naples, Rhodes and many other beautiful Italian cities besides Rome), or maybe take a Mediterranean cruise (or the Adriatic, or Aegean seas), where you get to drop in on cities around the basin. The key would be to surprise her somehow--maybe plan a vacation, and then, at the last second, let her know what you're actually doing, or just surprise her completely. Planning isn't our forte, you know, and planning a vacation is a big downer. My wife eventually learned this, and now typically plans our vacations with only minor input from me. She kind of needs to plan out all the details--and enjoys it, but when we get there, I have the right to blow them up with my own ideas as we go. Actually, I try to keep to her plans as much as I can, but we try to be flexible to let me just pick up and go somewhere while we're there--sort of the best of both worlds. She also doesn't like being tied down to schedules too much, so it works well. ;-)

I think, though, that your father might struggle with these things. I hate to say it, but while he is also Te-Fi, he is more needing of routine and schedule, and keeping things under control. I am sure that this difference, while good for your mom, is also a minor chaffing point with her. She needs to know she has some freedom to choose and be flexible. IMO, if you haven't discussed this before with your father, you might want to consider it--in relation to her expressing herself, for sure.

But honestly--and I conclude with this point, as it's the most important, IMO--I think that much of what she says is just her just venting. What she needs is acceptance for these needs to vent, and to feel free to unload, without trying to encourage her out of it, or trying to "solve" the problems she seems to be saying need solving. The key is for indirect responses, and acceptance. I think that you, partially, at least, can relate to that. :)

And I'm not sure how this will come across... I don't like writing quickly, but I've got things to do today. Sorry for the rapid-fire response.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
If you live in a large city, there should be plenty of opportunities to help people--but I suppose it depends on what she's willing to do. For my own part, the idea of working at a soup kitchen doesn't appeal. What I prefer to do is help on an individual basis. And I tend to do it a fair amount. Our city, though, is full of beggars who are professional, so it can be difficult, but I never do it small. I buy groceries for people, or have helped them in other material ways--never money. When I was in the States, I knew a couple transients, and helped in what some people would call dumb ways--gave them things to make their camp more comfortable, blankets, lumber, etc. I found that some people prefer that kind of life--and I can certainly see the appeal of it, so I had no desire to "help" them escape. The guys I knew both worked as much as they needed and could. They weren't afraid of work or hard labor, even. They just didn't want to be tied down. One of them, I suspect, had mental issues, but man was he intelligent! But I'm a guy. I don't think you'd want your mom doing that. I'm just giving you an idea of the sort of thing that she could be thinking of. To me, it has to be personal--I have to know that it is more than just a handout--it is a person, and we are equals, and I try to let them know that we are equals. I don't know how better to put it. It's harder where I live now, but honestly, "charity" is just the sort of situation where one feels like either a benefactor a beneficiary. I don't like that feeling, because I don't like someone feeling "worse" than me. I can't really explain it... This may be one reason your mom preferred going to other countries--where it is a bit more remote, and the need is really real. On the other hand, there is this: A Honest Disagreement about the Future | Please Understand Me[/url]

But that's neither here nor there... it just happened to come through my news feed yesterday, and it's in my mind, because what this lady is saying is something I've been saying for decades now. Helping has to be something real, and not something that degrades. I say all this to help spur your own thinking. I don't have any specific ideas, but I am sure that these are things that she's gone over in her own mind.
What you said here is almost identical to what she talks about. She does like to give to charity, like in Haiti. Sometimes she'll also give cash to people who really would benefit from it like the mailman, breaks on rent for tenants (She owns some property), extra bonuses for people who clean houses and so on. Third-world countries seem to need it much more than people here in the US, so she's drawn to go there.

The reason I ask about this, is she has no friends aside from those in Europe and family she speaks with on Skype. So she never goes out or participates in society except to buy things or maybe do pilates :). So, I'm trying to think of ways she could become a little more social and involved. I don't think anything is good enough for her because she used to be a "great plastic surgeon" and now doing anything less "substantial" entails...I don't know, a loss of pride, a failure somehow???


I don't know where you got this (esp. the bolded points above), but you nailed us. :-( This is our inferior Te at play, or better, the grip of our inferior. Does she ever get to go on a vacation? Does she get regular time to wind down? Or is she always around people, working with people, etc.? If the latter, she really needs something to give her time to wind down. We may seem social and outgoing, and people persons, but we are still introverts. Fi tends to absorb all kind of external stress besides our own, but the only outlet we have is a non-verbal Se. Take that away, and you get these inferior episodes above.

I'm going to share something from my own life. Back in 2010-12, I began to unwind completely. I had long lived, at that point, nearly 20 years utilizing my inferior functions for work, family and life, and underutilizing my strengths. I felt split from who I was, and on the border of a breakdown (I had almost had one a couple years earlier, and hadn't really come back out of it). I no longer knew who I was, what I wanted, what I needed or where I was headed. This was how I discovered MBTI, in fact. My wife pointed me to it, and it was an eye-opener--especially the ideas of those grip episodes. I realized that while I didn't need to change _everything_ in my life, I needed to slow down, learn to walk away from stress, (the irony is that in the grip, we can do the worst thing possible--be aggressive, and not let go of something, but keep pursuing it to death) and to learn to allow my Fi and Se to operate more freely.
I'm glad MBTI helped you. I hope maybe it can do the same for her, but I'm not going to force it on her, that would never work (how I wish I could though :)).Her problem is one of too little engagement and involvement in society, not too much... She's bored and feels like she's outside the flow of life and missing out. I get that you used your inferior functions for a long time (maybe too long?) and that seemed to provoke some kind of a crisis for you, but she hasn't really participated in society at all for over 30 years now...That's why I think anything that gets her out there would be extremely beneficial.

Honestly, I can't say that now, three years later, that I've really gotten much better, but now I am aware of when things are going south, what I need to do. I'm still kind of like your mother in that I don't have any specific activities or past times. They vary, and honestly, I'm not that good at anything I do. It kind of can be frustrating, so I end up doing nothing. Honestly, the best thing I've found is traveling--visiting those cities, or spending a week in the mountains just walking around--or even going on walks in the nearby parks. I also spend more time listening to music with headphones. I haven't worn headphones for twenty years, because I felt guilty cutting my family off like that. I no longer feel guilty. I bought nice cans (over the ear), and wear them when I need to escape. That is probably the single biggest thing I've done. Oh, and I bought a desktop fountain. I love it. It lights up, and the gurgling water sounds wonderful when I'm working at my desk. ;-)
That bolded phrase really resonated. I think that's what is going on inside her head. Here's a hypothesis, and feel free to toss it in the trash if I'm wrong: I bet you're actually better at art than you think are, but your standards for what qualifies as excellence are very high. Given the fact that Fi is the dominant, you're probably quite good at distinguishing great art from mediocre art. Fi is apparently excellent at distinguishing between tastes, colors, shapes, in a word, sensibility, and so when you try and actually produce art of your own, your art may strike you (quite strongly) more than others as being quite far removed from greatness, and that may be highly unpleasant/discouraging vs. for someone like me who doesn't really understand what constitutes great art, if I made a crappy painting, I don't think I would be very affected.

Don't think she likes wearing headphones. She likes to put music on full blast on speakers and sing along with it. Opera and classical music are her favorites. She's stopped doing this though because it bothers both my dad and me.

She does really enjoy hiking in the mountains in her home country in Europe. It was her favorite activity. She often will bemoan the fact that she can't find great scenery like that where we live.

She installed a fountain in the garden and likes to listen to it gurgle in the summer...also likes taking care of her orchids and other plants, she has quite a few. She treats them like people, talking to them, being affectionate, and so on...

I hate to say it, but she's right about US culture and architecture. It's ugly and boring. ;-) Though Some places are more interesting--but all that steel and glass--gets boring after a while. IMO, small town America, and the forests, mountains, lakes and rivers are much more enticing. It's weird, but in the States, I love the wilderness and hate the cities. In Europe, while the forests and mountains _are_ inviting, I find the cities to be fascinating and worthy of exploring. City life in Europe is vastly different from city life in the US. I see her point and raise it. I couldn't stand living in the city or even suburbs in the US. Give me the wilderness--or at least the countryside. I doubt a move is plausible for you folks, but hey... ;-)
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Lots of similarities here again. She too loves the wilderness of America, but she's not willing to live there because it's too far removed from the attractions of a city, and it's too isolated. Her dream is to buy a farm 2 km away from a city in Italy, like Sorrento and then spend part of each day helping out on the farm and the rest of the time painting, reading, going into the city and talking with people and admiring the architecture and the sea. She cites proximity to her family as another bonus as well as the warm weather. According to her that's the perfect living situation. Too expensive unfortunately...

She doesn't typically feel sorry for herself--and I truly doubt she is doing it now. What she is doing is exhausting or venting things that have to go. It's hard for us, because we don't have Fe abilities--and our Fi expressed through our inferior functions is particularly harsh sounding. If you think your Fe expressions are harsh, ours are worse. ;-) For you, this is difficult because your own weak Fe. You feel motivated to do _something_, so your Ne kicks in, gets empowered by your Ti, and expresses through inferior Fe--all of which make a bad combination for actually _helping_. Sounds harsh, but I've been on the receiving end. I know my wife _wants_ to help, and is _trying_ to help, but the result is always the opposite of what she wanted. When we were younger, she was actually much better at simply listening, and allowing me to feel how I feel. She also did little, weird things that really helped. Of course, having four children, getting older, etc. these things fall by the way side. I also grew up, IMO, so I didn't really need these things--but I also don't need her "helping" me when I feel down. :) Your situation is a bit different, but I think my suggestions in my first point are valid for you.
Yup, you nailed it with this again...every time I try to help, it backfires. I tried your suggestion today though of just letting her vent and validating her observations about the beauty of Italy and it seemed to work well...She seemed grateful for it afterwards...I hesitate to use this metaphor for my own mother, but it seemed like the effect of what I did was similar to a good petting for a cat. :)

But I really wanted to address the "motivation" factor... I'm quite her junior (about 20 years), but I also face this problem. At this age, much of your life is behind you. You've spent your entire adulthood pushing your own desires and needs aside for others--family, work, or whatnot--and suddenly you realize there's no energy left for you. Life went by, and all your mental energy that you could have expended on developing artistic skills is all spent. You have nothing left in the well. And yes, it would take a massive, and dramatic/disruptive change in your life to maybe reignite that--but it is a huge gamble, and the loss on the other end is just unthinkable...
What do you mean by the bolded phrase? I don't get it. Why not just start painting or sculpting and seeing if it's fun?

If I could, I would be talking with your dad about taking her on a European tour--visit her home, maybe, or other cities (avoid Rome, however, it's so expensive and people get ripped off so badly--but there is Florence, Vienna, Naples, Rhodes and many other beautiful Italian cities besides Rome), or maybe take a Mediterranean cruise (or the Adriatic, or Aegean seas), where you get to drop in on cities around the basin. The key would be to surprise her somehow--maybe plan a vacation, and then, at the last second, let her know what you're actually doing, or just surprise her completely. Planning isn't our forte, you know, and planning a vacation is a big downer. My wife eventually learned this, and now typically plans our vacations with only minor input from me. She kind of needs to plan out all the details--and enjoys it, but when we get there, I have the right to blow them up with my own ideas as we go. Actually, I try to keep to her plans as much as I can, but we try to be flexible to let me just pick up and go somewhere while we're there--sort of the best of both worlds. She also doesn't like being tied down to schedules too much, so it works well. ;-)

I think, though, that your father might struggle with these things. I hate to say it, but while he is also Te-Fi, he is more needing of routine and schedule, and keeping things under control. I am sure that this difference, while good for your mom, is also a minor chaffing point with her. She needs to know she has some freedom to choose and be flexible. IMO, if you haven't discussed this before with your father, you might want to consider it--in relation to her expressing herself, for sure.
Some similarities here...They're going to take a trip to Italy quite soon. Major difference though between you and my mother is that she loves planning out her trips...looking in advance at all the beautiful hotels and places she wants to visit. Even if she doesn't end up staying in the most expensive places, she loves to fantasize about it during the planning process. She organizes everything to a T. Detailed schedules/itineraries, seems like Te manifesting here but maybe for her this is actually a form of art. You are right that my dad likes to have things to do and know what's next. My mother likes to plan these trips in advance, but once she's there, she loves to just window shop for hours, sit around on terraces and people-watch and have discussions with random people.

But honestly--and I conclude with this point, as it's the most important, IMO--I think that much of what she says is just her just venting. What she needs is acceptance for these needs to vent, and to feel free to unload, without trying to encourage her out of it, or trying to "solve" the problems she seems to be saying need solving. The key is for indirect responses, and acceptance. I think that you, partially, at least, can relate to that. :)

And I'm not sure how this will come across... I don't like writing quickly, but I've got things to do today. Sorry for the rapid-fire response.
Thank you so much for this very thoughtful reply...I'm taking it all in...I've shared this with my father as well...he hasn't had a chance to read through it all yet.

One other thing I'm curious about is my mother loves to counsel and give advice to her close friends and family relatives. Never strangers. It's like she can't stop herself. constant! This is a really big pet peeve of mine, so when she starts in, I want to block my ears, which offends her, but when it's the same advice that I've already heard hundreds of times, it can get very aggravating.

Anyway, ISFPs I read are naturals for counseling others...don't know if this is something you enjoy doing either?
 

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The reason I ask about this, is she has no friends aside from those in Europe and family she speaks with on Skype. So she never goes out or participates in society except to buy things or maybe do pilates :). So, I'm trying to think of ways she could become a little more social and involved. I don't think anything is good enough for her because she used to be a "great plastic surgeon" and now doing anything less "substantial" entails...I don't know, a loss of pride, a failure somehow???
Substantial or concrete? It's a tough call, though. There may be some of what you say, however. Hard to say without actually knowing her.


I'm glad MBTI helped you. I hope maybe it can do the same for her, but I'm not going to force it on her, that would never work (how I wish I could though :)).Her problem is one of too little engagement and involvement in society, not too much... She's bored and feels like she's outside the flow of life and missing out. I get that you used your inferior functions for a long time (maybe too long?) and that seemed to provoke some kind of a crisis for you, but she hasn't really participated in society at all for over 30 years now...That's why I think anything that gets her out there would be extremely beneficial.
I don't know if MBTI has helped, per se, but it has given me a framework to understand some things that have eluded me, or that I flat out missed. As to lack of social engagement. Her problem isn't so much that, I would guess as it is too much engagement of her inferior functions. That was my problem--not too much social engagement, but too much inferior function usage, especially at the expense of my Fi and Se (in particular, Se, because Fi is always active, even when I don't realize it--informing my Te, etc...) Social engagement may be a good thing or a bad thing. It's not so much a matter of too much or too little, but too much of the wrong kind. I'm less social than many people--but it doesn't bother me at all. :)



That bolded phrase really resonated. I think that's what is going on inside her head. Here's a hypothesis, and feel free to toss it in the trash if I'm wrong: I bet you're actually better at art than you think are, but your standards for what qualifies as excellence are very high. Given the fact that Fi is the dominant, you're probably quite good at distinguishing great art from mediocre art. Fi is apparently excellent at distinguishing between tastes, colors, shapes, in a word, sensibility, and so when you try and actually produce art of your own, your art may strike you (quite strongly) more than others as being quite far removed from greatness, and that may be highly unpleasant/discouraging vs. for someone like me who doesn't really understand what constitutes great art, if I made a crappy painting, I don't think I would be very affected.
I don't think I'm good at art or anything like that at all--I am a terrible drawer, can't paint one whit--never have, in fact. I'm ok at graphic design, but nothing I do is particularly inspired or inspiring. It's quite mundane. But yeah, if I made a crappy painting, I would be very much affected by how badly it turned out. I'm well past the stage in life where I am up to spending hours and hours working from nothing to skill. Besides, ISFPs don't really do well at "perfecting" skills. We work from something within--a passion, if you will (though I hate using that word--a drive of some sort is more like it) that compels us to do something. Sometimes, for myself, it is something mundane, and it isn't necessarily artsy. The other day, I got quite compelled to see how much I could use Ubuntu to replace my Mac OS, both on the desktop and in a tablet. I'm using VirtualBox to do my playing, and I got so compelled at some point, that I didn't want to eat, sleep or even have to talk to anybody, and would just shush them and send them away. This happens when I'm creating too... and I couldn't tell you what triggers it. It just takes me. This is ok for things I know and understand, but it's really difficult to even imagine myself doing something new, like learning to play the piano or guitar. (although piano isn't new to me. I'm just waaay out of practice, and took lessons for only a couple years as a kid) There are perfectionist tendencies that drive us--so maybe there is something to that. But I suspect there's more... and that will be coming here...


Don't think she likes wearing headphones. She likes to put music on full blast on speakers and sing along with it. Opera and classical music are her favorites. She's stopped doing this though because it bothers both my dad and me.
Been there, done that, do that. ;-)

She does really enjoy hiking in the mountains in her home country in Europe. It was her favorite activity. She often will bemoan the fact that she can't find great scenery like that where we live.

She installed a fountain in the garden and likes to listen to it gurgle in the summer...also likes taking care of her orchids and other plants, she has quite a few. She treats them like people, talking to them, being affectionate, and so on...
Ah. It's a good thing she has this, then...


Lots of similarities here again. She too loves the wilderness of America, but she's not willing to live there because it's too far removed from the attractions of a city, and it's too isolated. Her dream is to buy a farm 2 km away from a city in Italy, like Sorrento and then spend part of each day helping out on the farm and the rest of the time painting, reading, going into the city and talking with people and admiring the architecture and the sea. She cites proximity to her family as another bonus as well as the warm weather. According to her that's the perfect living situation. Too expensive unfortunately...
Too disruptive, too...



Life went by, and all your mental energy that you could have expended on developing artistic skills is all spent. You have nothing left in the well. And yes, it would take a massive, and dramatic/disruptive change in your life to maybe reignite that--but it is a huge gamble, and the loss on the other end is just unthinkable...
What do you mean by the bolded phrase? I don't get it. Why not just start painting or sculpting and seeing if it's fun?
And now we come to it... That bold part is not just about taking up sculpting or painting... It's the entire life change--remember that move to Sorento? That's what I'm talking about. Deep down, she feels a need for something drastic, like that move--but it is honestly unthinkable. Myself, there are times when I would just love to toss it all, buy a boat or camper, and just drift for a while--toss it all and go. Or maybe a change of career, or something dumb like that. But honestly, I don't see it being for the best, long-term, and so I realize I have to do the little things instead--but that can feel confining as well--like a compromise, or something. And this is where you and your dad are most important. This is because you two, for better or worse, are probably the main reason she would never make this sort of change. So this is where you "petting the cat", making her feel comfortable in her feelings, letting her know they don't scare or bother you, and giving her some leeway--lots of leeway--in her feelings and even letting her, for instance, turn up the music--that sort of thing. An ISFP needs to feel a sense of freedom to be his or herself. When others are continuously shutting us down, invalidating our feelings, making us feel like we need to change or improve or do something different--well, that just builds a cage around us. We are nice people, and may bend over backwards for others (this involves our Te telling us it is for the better), but there needs to be some give and take. We need air to breathe. We need to know we are ok, we are not "weird" because we have these needs. She's 72, which means she has a long life of giving and giving. ISFPs, unlike ISFJs, love to give, and receive nothing in return (ISFJs need to feel appreciated and get confirmation of that--plus they tend to be more overt in wanting in return). But honestly, over time, if there is no balance, it does wear us down. But on the other hand, if, after a long period of time, you suddenly start trying to change that balance, it will be awkward and she won't know how to respond, and she will certainly struggle with being on the receiving end of the giving balance. I really don't have a solution for that, as I haven't yet figured it out for myself. These are the times I most want to just leave--and avoid the bother for other people, in fact...



Some similarities here...They're going to take a trip to Italy quite soon. Major difference though between you and my mother is that she loves planning out her trips...looking in advance at all the beautiful hotels and places she wants to visit. Even if she doesn't end up staying in the most expensive places, she loves to fantasize about it during the planning process. She organizes everything to a T. Detailed schedules/itineraries, seems like Te manifesting here but maybe for her this is actually a form of art. You are right that my dad likes to have things to do and know what's next. My mother likes to plan these trips in advance, but once she's there, she loves to just window shop for hours, sit around on terraces and people-watch and have discussions with random people.
That is the inferior Te. My problem, I think, is that I have had to organize far too many business and family trips in my life--trust me, flying international with a family of five or six is a huge headache! --especially after 9/11. :-( But yeah, her planning is also a form of art--I do remember those days--but I'm burnt out. And another thing... How to say it. Planning and doing are two different things. ;-) as you said. ;-)



One other thing I'm curious about is my mother loves to counsel and give advice to her close friends and family relatives. Never strangers. It's like she can't stop herself. constant! This is a really big pet peeve of mine, so when she starts in, I want to block my ears, which offends her, but when it's the same advice that I've already heard hundreds of times, it can get very aggravating.

Anyway, ISFPs I read are naturals for counseling others...don't know if this is something you enjoy doing either?
I don't know. I hate giving advice or certainly calling it advice. On the other hand, I got burnt many times as a young person--being blamed for my advice, especially after they ignored it. But I don't like the idea of telling others what to do, or being tied down to one concept. I offer my perspective. Oh, that's not entirely true. For instance, when we got our dish washer years ago, I paid attention for the first several cycles to how the dishes washed, and then I laid down the law with my kids on how to load it, and would bug them if they didn't (make them handwash things afterwards, really). But, you know, if my wife put something wrong, I'd just move it, and not bother telling her. (She isn't very aware of her physical environment, and I long ago learned to just overlook her little foible) ;-) So, I may be willing to "teach" things where they are process-oriented, or... well, Te-related or Se-related. But when it comes to other things, I learned to keep my mouth shut. But, on the other hand, I'm not a mother. I think mothers tend to this more than other people--it's part of their role in life, I guess. My INTP wife can do this too. My mom is just like this too. She thinks she's a fountain of wisdom, and this world would be a much better place if only everybody listened to her. Personally, I think of advice-giving as an ISFJ speciality--but that's because of the few ISFJs I've known. ;-) And they are also incessant, and repeat the same things. I only repeat (to my kids) if it seems they are repeating the same "offenses" (that dishwasher thing). Oh, one other problem I have. Once I start talking, I have a hard time ending it--I want to stop, I can sense the kids want me to stop--but I can't. I don't now how to conclude what I started--frustrating to me as well as the kids. :) So, maybe there is something to that--but I don't view that as advice-giving, more like "laying down the law". Small confession, though. I asked my daughters about it recently, if I was overly harsh or wishy-washy--and they said wishy-washy. So I guess my "laying down the law" isn't as harsh to them as it sounds to me... (another reason I don't like giving advice--it feels so harsh)....

And the more I write on this last point, the more I realize that I don't really know how I come across to others, so I'll shut up on this point, and concede it to you. :-D
 

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let her know she is an ISFP , may be she could reevaluate her life .
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I don't know if MBTI has helped, per se, but it has given me a framework to understand some things that have eluded me, or that I flat out missed. As to lack of social engagement. Her problem isn't so much that, I would guess as it is too much engagement of her inferior functions. That was my problem--not too much social engagement, but too much inferior function usage, especially at the expense of my Fi and Se (in particular, Se, because Fi is always active, even when I don't realize it--informing my Te, etc...) Social engagement may be a good thing or a bad thing. It's not so much a matter of too much or too little, but too much of the wrong kind. I'm less social than many people--but it doesn't bother me at all. :)
Yeah good point. She definitely doesn't engage her Se enough. Chores around the house really don't count. But she obsessively organizes/reorganizes/cleans everything...way too much Te engagement.


I don't think I'm good at art or anything like that at all--I am a terrible drawer, can't paint one whit--never have, in fact. I'm ok at graphic design, but nothing I do is particularly inspired or inspiring. It's quite mundane. But yeah, if I made a crappy painting, I would be very much affected by how badly it turned out. I'm well past the stage in life where I am up to spending hours and hours working from nothing to skill. Besides, ISFPs don't really do well at "perfecting" skills. We work from something within--a passion, if you will (though I hate using that word--a drive of some sort is more like it) that compels us to do something. Sometimes, for myself, it is something mundane, and it isn't necessarily artsy. The other day, I got quite compelled to see how much I could use Ubuntu to replace my Mac OS, both on the desktop and in a tablet. I'm using VirtualBox to do my playing, and I got so compelled at some point, that I didn't want to eat, sleep or even have to talk to anybody, and would just shush them and send them away. This happens when I'm creating too... and I couldn't tell you what triggers it. It just takes me. This is ok for things I know and understand, but it's really difficult to even imagine myself doing something new, like learning to play the piano or guitar. (although piano isn't new to me. I'm just waaay out of practice, and took lessons for only a couple years as a kid) There are perfectionist tendencies that drive us--so maybe there is something to that. But I suspect there's more... and that will be coming here...
Yup...she gets like this too. Now that you mention it...she has never been one to try and perfect/refine a skill. She just gets swept up in a project, whether it be making pop-up books, designing a new addition to the house or renovating a room...That's very useful that you mentioned your experience, because thinking about it, I know now that she would never enjoy sculpting or painting just for the sake of it. It would probably ebb and flow depending on her "passion" as you put it...


And now we come to it... That bold part is not just about taking up sculpting or painting... It's the entire life change--remember that move to Sorento? That's what I'm talking about. Deep down, she feels a need for something drastic, like that move--but it is honestly unthinkable. Myself, there are times when I would just love to toss it all, buy a boat or camper, and just drift for a while--toss it all and go. Or maybe a change of career, or something dumb like that. But honestly, I don't see it being for the best, long-term, and so I realize I have to do the little things instead--but that can feel confining as well--like a compromise, or something. And this is where you and your dad are most important. This is because you two, for better or worse, are probably the main reason she would never make this sort of change. So this is where you "petting the cat", making her feel comfortable in her feelings, letting her know they don't scare or bother you, and giving her some leeway--lots of leeway--in her feelings and even letting her, for instance, turn up the music--that sort of thing. An ISFP needs to feel a sense of freedom to be his or herself. When others are continuously shutting us down, invalidating our feelings, making us feel like we need to change or improve or do something different--well, that just builds a cage around us. We are nice people, and may bend over backwards for others (this involves our Te telling us it is for the better), but there needs to be some give and take. We need air to breathe. We need to know we are ok, we are not "weird" because we have these needs. She's 72, which means she has a long life of giving and giving. ISFPs, unlike ISFJs, love to give, and receive nothing in return (ISFJs need to feel appreciated and get confirmation of that--plus they tend to be more overt in wanting in return). But honestly, over time, if there is no balance, it does wear us down. But on the other hand, if, after a long period of time, you suddenly start trying to change that balance, it will be awkward and she won't know how to respond, and she will certainly struggle with being on the receiving end of the giving balance. I really don't have a solution for that, as I haven't yet figured it out for myself. These are the times I most want to just leave--and avoid the bother for other people, in fact...
Ok...so I will ease into this new mode of operation around her. I will try not to overdo it. I do think the cage metaphor is good one...I too wonder what will happen if that cage disappears. My father has read this post too, and that was one of his concerns. He thought having us to blame for her sorrows has been a stabilizing crutch for her to fall back on. Take the crutch away, and he thinks depression may be a concern...I don't agree though. Ultimately, I think if we work on breaking that cage down, she will feel more free and at home in the world and maybe she won't have a reason to use Te as much...


That is the inferior Te. My problem, I think, is that I have had to organize far too many business and family trips in my life--trust me, flying international with a family of five or six is a huge headache! --especially after 9/11. :-( But yeah, her planning is also a form of art--I do remember those days--but I'm burnt out. And another thing... How to say it. Planning and doing are two different things. ;-) as you said. ;-)
Good to know, and I believe you!


I don't know. I hate giving advice or certainly calling it advice. On the other hand, I got burnt many times as a young person--being blamed for my advice, especially after they ignored it. But I don't like the idea of telling others what to do, or being tied down to one concept. I offer my perspective. Oh, that's not entirely true. For instance, when we got our dish washer years ago, I paid attention for the first several cycles to how the dishes washed, and then I laid down the law with my kids on how to load it, and would bug them if they didn't (make them handwash things afterwards, really). But, you know, if my wife put something wrong, I'd just move it, and not bother telling her. (She isn't very aware of her physical environment, and I long ago learned to just overlook her little foible) ;-) So, I may be willing to "teach" things where they are process-oriented, or... well, Te-related or Se-related. But when it comes to other things, I learned to keep my mouth shut. But, on the other hand, I'm not a mother. I think mothers tend to this more than other people--it's part of their role in life, I guess. My INTP wife can do this too. My mom is just like this too. She thinks she's a fountain of wisdom, and this world would be a much better place if only everybody listened to her. Personally, I think of advice-giving as an ISFJ speciality--but that's because of the few ISFJs I've known. ;-) And they are also incessant, and repeat the same things. I only repeat (to my kids) if it seems they are repeating the same "offenses" (that dishwasher thing). Oh, one other problem I have. Once I start talking, I have a hard time ending it--I want to stop, I can sense the kids want me to stop--but I can't. I don't now how to conclude what I started--frustrating to me as well as the kids. :) So, maybe there is something to that--but I don't view that as advice-giving, more like "laying down the law". Small confession, though. I asked my daughters about it recently, if I was overly harsh or wishy-washy--and they said wishy-washy. So I guess my "laying down the law" isn't as harsh to them as it sounds to me... (another reason I don't like giving advice--it feels so harsh)....

And the more I write on this last point, the more I realize that I don't really know how I come across to others, so I'll shut up on this point, and concede it to you. :-D
Yup...she loves to teach process-related things as well, and I can't ever recall her being frustrated/angry if we didn't get it right away the first time... but she hates to remind and nag both of us to do certain things, especially if it involves her inferior which craves super-organization and cleanliness of environment. Fathers have a soft spot for their daughters...or so I hear. So I'm not surprised about the "wishy-washy" bit.

Thank you again so much for your thoughts...very enlightening...highly useful. :) I had the general framework, but I didn't have a good idea of the major components until you started posting...so really I'm very grateful to you.
 
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