24 November 2009


There is a chart in I hate you--Don't Leave Me that defines Personality as a series of intersecting lines. Each line represents a personality trait, and where it is intersecting is where the individual lies on that trait's continuum. I couldn't find an image, so I replicated it in Google Docs (Have I told you that I'm obsessed with Google? I am.):

According to the above chart, this person is a compulsive dieter, who is afraid of commitment, and a little selfish, but otherwise fairly balanced. Did you see that?
I like this because it presents the traits as a continuum. I also like the control it conveys to people. If they want to change a certain trait, they can with work, by making conscious choices in the direction they choose. It is easy to understand that everyone is unique. It is also easy to see that people would react differently in similar situations.

20 November 2009

Human Needs

Manfred Max-Neef and a few others defined the Fundamental human needs, not as a hierarchy, but rather as an interconnected system of needs which are complementary and seeking to be satisfied at the same time. He offers a matrix which breaks down the Fundamental human needs into how they are displayed with in oneself (being), one's possessions (having), one's behaviors (doing) and one's surroundings (interacting). (I tried to insert it, but it wouldn't fit right.)

Henry Murray elaborated on this view of needs. He said that one's individual personality determines how strongly they desire each of the basic human needs. A few of his needs are listed in the below chart with the behaviors people take to meet their needs.

Domain Need for... Representative behavior
Ambition Achievement Overcoming obstacles

Recognition Describing accomplishments

Exhibition Attempting to shock or thrill others
Inanimate objects Acquisition Obtaining things

Order Making things neat and orderly

Retention Hoarding things

Construction Building something
Defense of status Infavoidance Concealing a handicap or a failing

Defendance Giving an explanation or excuse

Counteraction Retaliating for something
Human power Dominance Directing others' behavior

Deference Cooperating with or obeying someone

Autonomy Standing up to authority

Contrariance Being oppositional

Aggression Attacking or belittling others

Abasement Apologizing or confessing

Blame avoidance Stifling blameworthy impulses
Affection between people Affiliation Spending time with others

Rejection Snubbing others

Nurturance Taking case of someone

Succorance Being helped by another

Play Seeking diversion through others
Exchange of information Cognizance Asking questions of others

Exposition Delivering information to others

I think this is so interesting to me because I like how they tied the need into a behavior. That's what I'm usually most interested in. What is it exactly that motivates two people to react to identical situations in differing ways? These charts don't explain that per se, but they do offer some more insight. People have differing degrees of each of the needs, so their initial reflex is to meet the need they hold in highest regard. That's why people in a similar situation react differently: not only have they had different experiences which give different perspectives, they also gave different their goals prioritized differently, so they are searching for different results.
People are complex. This social thing is hard!

18 November 2009

Red + Blue = _______

*Disclaimer: There is no real point to this post. If you don't like Psychology, you probably won't want to read this.

Relationships are funny. They are constantly evolving and adapting because the people involved are. I was looking for an image that
would appropriately portray the area involved in a relationship, and this is the best I could find. There is Person Red and Person Blue, and they each exist independent of the other. A relationship is like the line between the two of them, blending to become Purple (it's not actually purple in this picture, but it should be). Based on experience, perceptions and personality differences, they each contribute to the relationship. They can maintain that Purple relationship while each also maintaining a unique identity, and role in the world. Some relationships have more overlap than others, I.E. they may or may not have the same friends, work, hobbies, religion, etc. And this is where is get's tricky: These two people can each have an independent relationship with a third Yellow person, and end up with an Orange relationship, and a Green relationship- which can be completely different from the Purple relationship Red and Blue share with each other. Make sense?

I think many people think that if they are witnessing a volatile relationship, they want to avoid those two people so as not to find themselves in a equally volatile relationship. This is not necessarily the case. Lets say the above Purple relationship was abusive. It is possible that Red and Blue bring out the worst in each other, and that their Orange and Green relationships with Yellow are healthy and not abusive. Obviously someone in an abusive relationship is a warning flag, but you know what I mean, right? It could be the case that those two personalities cannot mix in a productive and healthy way.

The point (I know: I said in the disclaimer that there wasn't really a point...I lied. I'm sorry.), I guess, is that relationships are complex, and are all unique. We cannot base our relationship expectations on the relationships of other people because our relationships are hugely influenced by our unique personalities.

16 November 2009

Maslow's Needs

I love this hierarchy. When I first saw it, I was amazed by how true it is. Before you can reach Self-actualization at the top of the pyramid, you have to establish the lower levels. I sincerely doubt people who are starving are worried about others respecting them. They are more concerned with basic survival than social interactions, which would allow the Robin Hood type stealing-of-food-to-feed-the-family behaviors from an otherwise moral person. We are each at different levels of our development, and they probably fluctuate a little in your day-to-day. Not necessarily that one would be demoted in levels, but simply that priorities may be given to meeting the lower needs, before returning all attention to the proper level's needs.

I'll use myself as an example of this process. I used to be concerned with things in the Esteem category, but for whatever reason I have been struggling with my Love/belonging level lately. It's funny how easy it is to shake your world and make you re-evaluate your psychological standing. I remember not too long ago that I was very much concerned with eating--I felt like I was always hungry; and when clean bathrooms were seldom available, that was in the forefront of my mind all day. Now I have all my Physiological needs met, and I feel Safe in my employment, health, home, etc. So the next level is Love/belonging. It's interesting how we subconsciously know we need something before we even realize what it is. I have been craving spending time with my kids lately. I've gone to my sister's place hoping to see them because I know they love me. It took me a little while to realize that I just needed to remember that I have people who love me. Next I will (hopefully) strive to improve my relationships with others. I will seek others whom I can hold in high esteem, and try to live my life to be held in high esteem by others. That will hopefully give me the confidence to seek Self-actualization.
I try to remember this model when I meet others. I try to remember that you cannot expect higher level interactions with people who are struggling with the lower level needs. I try to be patient with those on lower levels, while expecting them to progress upwards just as I hope those on higher levels are patient with me. ...but sometimes I forget. And then my expectations are unmet and I'm disappointed. Other times I think people are on a lower level and they get mad at me for treating them differently than they expected. (This is leading into a topic for another blog entry, so I'll leave it for tomorrow...Relationships!)
Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs also helped me understand things like eating disorders a little better. People who feel they have no control of their higher levels, use food (and other physiological needs) as something they can control. It gives a sense of power in their daily lives. Like, maybe if they changed the way they ate, it would somehow provide a sense of safety or belonging. I never really understood it, but now I do. I'm sure I've done it a time or two--like when I eat Ice cream because I'm sad (or happy, or celebrating, or mad, or upset, or...).

Point: Don't try to expect complex interactions with people struggling to meet their basic physiological needs. Help them do that if you can, and then, eventually, they will have a stable foundation so they can help you meet your needs.

11 November 2009


I don't think there is anything better than reading to my kids.
When ever I go to my sister's place around bedtime, I get to read a bedtime story (or 2 or 3).
Last night it was Miss Suzy and Puss in Boots and the truck book. (Today I went over for lunch and we read Brown Bear. A few nights ago it was I Am Not Going to Get Up Today! I love them all.) And it was fun because I usually just have the two little ones, but last night two of the older boys joined us. I was laying on the couch, with the two little ones sprawled over me, and one boy on the couch across the room listening. Then as I was reading the pre-teen sat on the floor with his head on my shoulder. It was so nice. It was comfortable and safe, knowing they all love me, and knowing that they also knew I love them.
Reading is such a simple joy to me. I love books that are written far below where my college professors expect me to read. Reading so my mind is free to enjoy the story, instead of trying to figure out what wordy writers are trying to express. I know it is important to do the hard studying and learning too, (I'm currently reading I Hate you--Don't Leave Me, and next will be Stop Walking on Eggshells) but I like the easy books I can relax with (I am also reading the Austin Family Chronicles).

I was talking to a classmate at school (shocking, I know--It almost never happens) about books. He was rolling his eyes because he actually loved some Zombie books a friend made him read, and his wife who loved the Twilight books. I embarrassingly said that I was reading a book called "I Hate You..." and joked about how angry people must think I am. The other girl sharing the table with us pointed out that she doesn't read for pleasure anymore--too many textbooks. It's funny how differently people react to the same situation. We were all assigned an overload of books, and yet some of us stop reading for pleasure, some seek easy books add to their collegiate literature, while others make time for books they are embarrassed about, but find they enjoy, and then there's me. I read the mindless books while neglecting the textbooks. I guess as long as people are reading I am happy. Whether it is the text books, the girly books, the zombie books, children's books...As long as you are reading.
I loved reading as a child. In Elementry school years I'd stay up past midnight, reading books just for fun. I'd read so much that my mom learned the way to make me do my chores: hide my books. But then I got into Junior High and High School where reading was for reports, and I stopped. I didn't like reading when I had to look for deeper meanings, or to write reports, because I thought there was a right answer, and I always found the wrong one. I don't have the memory for all that. So I just stopped reading. For over 10 years I avoided books. I wasnt until my sister almost forced me to read the first book in a series, just for fun, that I remembered the pleasure in it.
I think that might be why I love reading with my kids--because it starts a good habit at an early age. And it's a great way to keep those mental synapses forming and connecting. And it is just for fun. There are no reports, no right or wrong answers, no pop quizzes. We read to be close to each other. We read to learn about social interactions. We read to read. I hope my kids learn to be happy and have fun, and not dread reading. I hope their teachers keep it as a fun activity that the kids get to do, instead of something they have to do.
I have an assignment for one of my classes to write a story...and as much as I enjoy reading stories, I have a hard time writing stories... I've been wanting to do Liz's recommendation of NaNoWriMo but I've missed it this month. Mostly because this year has seemed to fly by, so we were a week into November before I even realized it, but also because I have nothing to write about...I guess this is moving into a topic for anothe blog, and this one is long enough.
Why do you read? What's your favorite book?

05 November 2009

Things that always make me feel better:

The beach
Ice cream
Reading a good book
A good hug
Throwing keys in the grass
Discovering new places
Spending relaxing, drama-free time with friends
Kisses on the forehead
Salsa dancing
Ice cream
Watching a good comedy
Hearing gossip about myself*
Getting flowers
Service projects
Watching someone purposely drool mouthfuls** of water
Pretty much anything Brazilian
Someone telling me I'm gorgeous
High heels
Curling up in my bed
Ice cream
Teaching my kids**** new tricks*****
Helping others who really appreciate it
Meeting new people
Getting dressed up
Road trips
Ice cream******

*Did you know that I was engaged? It was quite an exciting surprise for me, too.
**yes, that is mouthfuls, plural.
I love that the spell check options for churrasco are Churchwoman, Churchgoer, churchgoing, and Churriguera)
****My kids=my nieces and nephews. I claim them.
*****I am kinda a horrible person here--but it is so entertaining for me! Last week my 2 year old nephew wanted a piece of the candy I was eating, so I taught him to give butterfly kisses, and then gave him a treat for doing the new trick. I'll still quiz him on his new trick, and then give him a treat. When the oldest were little, I taught them to fetch. Seriously. We didn't have a dog, but for whatever reason we had a little chew toy, and I taught the kids to get down on all fours and bring it to me in their mouths. Hilarious. ...I taught them that their noses say "beep" and mine says "honk"...When I touch their chins they have to chew...to raise their hands over their heads and yell "bonsai!"...the "5 Little Monkeys Swinging in a Tree" song, complete with hand gestures...thumb mic-ing...They know where each others' dimples are...How to do-si-do and do arm turns...The list goes on.

******Did I already mention this one? I guess that just goes to show how much I like it.