A few weeks ago, I had a head to head with Moo on the naughty step that lasted 20 minutes. I looked at her and could see that this was just not working. I’ve never read a parenting book in my life (very type 4 of me) but realised that I had run out of ideas and I just don’t believe in the authoritarian ways of parenting that don’t respect the individuality of the child. So I hit Amazon and came across a parenting book called The Child Whisperer. The reviews were outstanding and the book was stupidly expensive for a book but I bought it anyway because I was desperate. I thought it was a parenting book. I was wrong.
The Child Whisperer is a book written by a woman called Carol Tuttle. Basically, she has been in the self help industry for decades and over the last eleven years has developed a system called Energy Profiling. The idea is that everything on the planet is made up of four elements: oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen and carbon. Each of these elements have an energy. We are all made up of the four energies but that we lead with a dominant one, followed by a secondary that tempers the dominant. The other two are in the background to be drawn on when needed.
I have always been fascinated by people and what makes them tick. I’ve done the Meyers-Briggs, I’ve read all sorts of articles. I am not alone. Human beings have been trying to suss out personality and what makes us tick since the times of the Ancient Greeks. Here was yet another way of understanding. What has captured me about this is that the last thing you look at is your personality as it is the most malleable of the five components. We are so easily influenced by our parents, our peers and our environment that we can hide parts of ourselves that we feel don’t fit. This system does not set out to tell you who you are but to support you in discovering your true self. This intrigued me.
The Child Whisperer is designed to help you decide which energy type your child is and parent according to that. So I started reading it, thinking it would help me parent Moo. I ended up spending two weeks doing a lot of soul searching and thinking about my past. I ended up parenting myself.
I read through the book, I watched so many videos online. I did the Energy Profiling course. I did the Beauty Profiling course. I followed the Carol Blog. I became obsessed. My husband said it was like I was having an affair with this woman. I found everything out that I could and I still resisted accepting my type. Type 4, the more serious child, screamed at me but it’s all about structure. The very word makes my skin crawl. Seriously, I have a physical reaction to it. And that can not be normal. So I thought back. To figure out your type, you take in so many bits of information. It shows in your face, the way you move, how you process things, it even shows in how you doodle.
The thing is I know who I am. I wasn’t looking for someone to tell me who I am. What I find so fascinating is that this goes deeper than that. It looks at what drives you, what makes you tick, what is your movement through life. I have always had a sense of being misunderstood or not fitting in. Everyone who knows me would say that I am very outgoing, an extrovert, that I make an impression. The fact is that a lot of that behaviour is learnt and it is a self defence mechanism. When you are loud and chatty, people don’t ask questions. After all when you talk so much, you are very open, right? Wrong.
Someone who knew me when I was younger once said, “The thing about you, Brittie, is that when I think of you, I think of you being outgoing and chatty. But when I stop and think about it, I don’t actually know a lot about you.”
Oscar Wilde wrote this line in An Ideal Husband: “a typical politician, he talks more and says less than any man I’ve ever met”. That line has always resonated with me because I identify with it.
I am actually a very private person. I don’t express my feelings to any old person. I have to trust the person I am sharing them with implicitly and I have major issues with trust and vulnerability. Years of counselling still haven’t managed to help me with that. So I can count the number of people I truly trust on one hand. That’s quite sad.
A type 4 movement is still, reflective. A type 1 is a social energy, a type 2 is a sensitive energy, a type 3 is an active/reactive energy (a doer) and a type 4 is an intellectual energy. I think a lot, A LOT. Every decision I’ve ever made has been analysed and logically thought out. I have a very one track mind. If I am doing something, I focus on that. Don’t interrupt me when I am focused, it’s guaranteed to make me snap. So for example, I have many interests but I only ever focus on one at a time. While I have been studying this, I haven’t picked up my crochet in two weeks. I love crochet but this has been my focus.
In trying to fit into my crazy, mad arse, extremely loveable family, dominated by Type 1 and 3 energies, I think I suppressed elements of my nature that did not fit in. Structure is seen as boring, as not fun, so I’ve become conditioned to be very structure averse. And as a child I was very shy. I was called boring. I was told to smile, to lighten up, to not be so serious. As for my smile, I have been told on countless occasions that if I don’t smile, I am very intimidating. Lovely. My friends who are reading this are probably going “What?!?!”. The fact is that I’ve overdeveloped the type 1 element of my nature to cope with the anxiety I feel walking into a room full of strangers. It has never left me. I just learned how to hide it.
There are so many things that this course and information have helped me with but the greatest is this, I am not boring. I did not realise how important this was to me. I am just a Type 4 and there are millions of us. There are millions of people who think like I do, who have very strong opinions and are very bold in their thought processes. There are millions who have a perfecting eye, who can look at a big picture and see where improvements can be made. There are millions who feel really deeply but who have difficulty expressing those feelings, who find crowds of people intimidating and who obsess about things if they don’t understand them or get to the root of them. There are so many other things that I have in common with these other millions. We are all completely different, all completely unique but have these commonalities. I am not alone.
A few years ago, I was having counselling at Shooting Star CHASE. After a lot of sessions, I suddenly had one where I spent the whole time in tears but being really, really quiet. The counsellor asked me why I was crying. “Because this is the real me and I haven’t been here in so, so long and it feels so lovely to be in this space and I’m scared that I won’t be able to maintain it.” She asked me how I felt. “Extremely vulnerable.” As soon as I left the hospice, all my defence mechanisms rocketed into place and I haven’t been able to get back to that space. How strange is that? I struggle to find a way back into my own psyche. The very defence mechanisms that I subconsciously built to protect myself have actually blocked me out too. How screwed up is that?
So I’ve started living more true to my nature. It’s affected my wardrobe. I looked through all the clothes I had and culled the ones that I never wear for one reason or another. It started to make sense. It has helped in my understanding of my husband and my daughter. I now realise that Mr G does things because he is a completely different type to me and can not, will not and never will be able to see things the way I see them because he does not have the same energy as me. It also explains why his leg will suddenly flick out while watching telly or when he gets tired. As a fiery, determined type 3, he needs to move but doesn’t always move enough.
I’ve started being tidier. I’ve started being more structured with my day and how I approach things. Most of all, I finally understand why I need time alone to decompress, why I walk away from confrontation, why I struggle to go to the gym! And I’ve realised that it’s ok if I don’t talk to people, I’m not boring. I just have a more introverted energy. I’m managing my critical eye better, choosing when to share my views rather than doing it all the time. The hardest part is breaking down those defences, to keep my mouth shut when I am around people if I don’t have anything to say. I don’t need to fill the silence. I don’t need to make people laugh. I don’t need to be so in your face. It’s really, really hard to let the real me out but I am getting there.