Self-Referencing on a Bad Day

Hi Love,

I learned a new phrase for what is an old behavior for me. You called me on it several years ago.

Imagine my chagrin when you told me that I turned every conversation around to me. Up until that time, I thought I was establishing rapport. You tell me a story. I tell you a similar story of what has happened to me. You realize that you are not alone.

It began in my first family and it comes naturally to me. When my sisters and I talk, we have regular old gabfests – one story after another illustrating whatever joy, satisfaction, sorrow, or loss we are living at the time. It’s a way of bouncing ideas and sharing experience. We learn from each other and have a sense of circling the wagons.

And sometimes lifelong learning means I get some of my lessons rather late in life.

Last week I attended a class on the Enneagram which happened to be focused on my type – a Seven. Several of the video interviewees mentioned “turning the discussion back to me”. And someone asked the question, “Are Sevens narcissistic, then?”

I loved the way the teacher kindly described it. No, they are self-referencing. For sevens it’s a way of processing. We bounce what we hear against our own experience to understand how we think and feel about it.

Whew! Isn’t that better than just being a poor listener?

Until he went on to say that with maturity and self-knowledge, one can learn to do this silently while continuing to pay attention and have empathy for the other person. That resonated. I realize that I tend to process aloud.

Time for self-awareness. I may not have a choice in my instinctual behavior patterns, but I certainly have choices in my growth path.

And so, I apologize once again, dear man. I am now fully aware of the behavior and its consequences. I understand its roots. And I acknowledge that it doesn’t work in all circumstance.

I’ve been trying to hold my tongue since that day years ago because I love you and want to hear about your life. Now I understand that it is a matter of waiting until my filters are in position so that I can express my love and support in a way that works for you.

Who knew?




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