Episode 43: Know Where You Learned Structure

Good morning everyone, and welcome to Sparkle School, where together, we access our innate, iNtuitive wisdom as unique, self-valuing, and deeply Feeling women … and share who we are becoming in a safe, sensitive community.

Today, we continue exploring the J and P preferences in our 16 personalities codes. As you know, by now, we each have either a J or a P as the fourth letter in our code, and it indicates our preference when it comes to how we organize our life. J’s are most comfortable when things are ‘planned’, and P’s when things are ‘open-ended’. A J is likely to say, ‘wrap it up’, and a P is likely to say, ‘something will turn up.’ J’s like to ‘get the show on the road,’ and P’s like to ‘wait and see.’ A strong J says the word ‘deadline’ with an exclamation point after it, and a strong P responds with, ‘what deadline?’––with emphasis on the question mark. With those thoughts in mind, let’s explore how J and P preferences might show up in a family setting.

Here’s a true story about a woman who looked, to many, to be the perfect wife and mother in a family of five. For many years, she kept everything on schedule, planned and completed all kinds of events, redecorated the family home several times, made sure everyone got to school on time, kept their home in perfect order, volunteered for PTA assignments, and drove her kids around for various activities as many moms do. She was on top of her game, but after years of juggling, she began to feel tired, and depleted. She couldn’t understand what was happening, but she kept having a sneaking suspicion that she was somehow ‘doing it all wrong’.

It was very important to her that her kid’s homework be completed, and handed in on time...so she dove in to help make that happen. She had a growing suspicion that she was ‘doing too much’, but she just couldn’t help herself. If Johnny’s science project needed to be just a bit more ‘perfect’ she made sure that it was. If Jenny’s attempts to make sandwiches weren’t up to snuff, this mom would take over and complete the job. As her children got a bit older, she began to feel physically sick, and a deep sadness seeped into her. She was doing so much to keep everything just ‘perfect’ in her family that she was simply wearing out, both physically and emotionally, and she still couldn’t understand why all of this was happening. She worried, because there was one thing she seemed absolutely unable to do, and that was motivate her children and husband to care about ‘getting things done right’ as much as she did.

As the years played out, this ‘perfect family’ began to crack open, until it suffered the pain and chaos of a divorce. Everyone was impacted in huge ways, and the woman’s idea of the perfect family was shattered forever. To their credit, she and her husband continued for several decades following the divorce to try to understand what had happened. They sought professional help , and one counselor took the whole family through a process of learning about personality preferences. Lo and behold, it came to light that the mom in the family had a strong J preference....well, duh!!...AND... She was the ONLY J in the family! The dad, and all three kids had pretty strong preferences for the P approach to organizing life in the family, which of course, was to allow pretty much everything to progress organically, in a very open-ended way.

Once the family understood this, they all began to see what a crazy situation they had lived with for many years, with mom feeling ‘in charge’ of order for the family, and basing her idea of order on her personal J-type need for, neatness, timeliness, and measurable ‘results’. The dad, a strong P, pretty much avoided the pressure of this so-called ‘perfection’ by staying away on business as much as possible, and the three children, found ways to tolerate living in an environment that was not at all natural to them. In the end, it was the break in the family that allowed them all, the freedom to relax, explore, break some rules, and generally be more authentically, who they really were... The three P kids, the P dad, and even that one J mom.

Let’s move on to our journal prompts to explore how J and P preferences might have impacted us in our families of origin.

Download Your Journal Prompts!

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