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I ask a patient recently, "How kind are you to yourself?"

The patient grimaced. "I'm not."

I give my patient an assignment.

"Set a timer once a day for five minutes. During that five minutes you are to be as kind or kinder to yourself as you have ever been to anyone else in your whole life."

This morning I thought, well, I am not following my own advice. It is a bit hypocritical to be telling other people to be kind to themselves and not do it myself. Ah, I thought, but my kitchen timer is broken. EXCUSE! 'Course, my phone has a timer too. Rats.

Kindness to oneself. Some of the very competent, high adverse childhood experience people, are terrible at this assignment. They are used to being in high adrenaline, fix everything, crisis mode: but they don't know how to stop or relax or rest.

Dr. Jung thought that we have preferences in dealing with the world. I have people that say "I don't believe in that Myers-Briggs stuff." It is a tool. I find it useful to be able to count and do long division, those are tools too. I have a lot of tools and the Myers-Briggs ideas are a tool.

So people are not introverted or extroverted, thinking or feeling, they are both. However, most people have a preference. My preference is mild in introversion and high in thinking, high in intuition.

Dr. Jung thought that people tended to develop either thinking or feeling and either sensing or intuition, a primary pair. So by adulthood, most people have a strong pair that they work from, a weak area and then a really weak and undeveloped area. The task of midlife is to develop the two weak areas. When this is happening, the good areas slip and frankly stop working. So for a while it can feel like nothing is working, as the weak areas develop.

This would be a life long process for all of us.

I started improving my sensing during my mid twenties, through bicycling, jitterbug dancing and martial arts. I did not want to deal with the feeling crap. Doctoring was a great choice for "controlling" feeling. My mother's death in 2000 forced me to deal: by 2002 my body started shutting me down. I went to a psychiatrist who laughed and said, "Aren't you perfectly on track." Individuation, mid-life crisis, whatever you want to call it. I was angry that he laughed, even though I actually agreed that it was funny. My thinking was slowed while I worked to deal with the feelings. I had a lot of stuffed feelings. It's not very fun work, but worthwhile. Our society celebrates stuffing most feelings, though more so for men than women. I have had a woman friend say, "Your feelings are too intense." I thought, well, they are too intense for you, but I have to live with them.

We admire intense feelings in some people but we admire them most posthumously. It is much easier to deal with intense feelings in the dead who can't argue that we have it wrong. "Wasn't it amazing that s/he stayed true to him/herself even though everyone said they were completely whacked, round the bend and should be on medication, really."

I asked the psychiatrist years ago what happens if a person refuses to develop. He grimaced. "It's not pretty to watch if people fight it until they are 70 or 80." Personal continuous quality improvement, right? Be careful in there....