I just like Jung so much, and I realize he’s overlooked because his theory is about middle age which few college students are. Reading his chapter and tons of “heck yeah” flow through my brain. It’s nuts that the most popular manifestation of his theory is applied to cementing temperament (the MBTI), when individuation is about embracing the shadow of our persona. Alas. But it has brought me to how Groundhog Day applies to living with Autism, weight maintenance, and personality disorders.
I first thought of it relative to parenting a child with Autism. The child nearly appears to be stuck. Gains come slowly, at least in the areas you want to see. His capacity to acquire things out of reach is coming along nicely, of course. He’s always looking for new ways other than the English language to get me to do something for him. His capacity to miss me when I shower is robust. But it can feel like I’m in this teensy weensy town in Pennsylvania and this winter is never going to end. So I went back to school. And I’m learning new things about the body and mind every day, and even though he is hardly changed, what I see in him changes everyday. Thankfully, with the ABA parent training, I’m having the opportunity to focus on his domain of development. Little plug here for Rethinkfirst.com, ABA at roughly the price of piano lessons.
Then I began to see how Groundhog Day applies to weight maintenance. You suffer through months of restricting your diet and making your fat cry to get to goal only to learn that you will regain all the weight and more unless you “Keep doing what you did.” Everyday that bum will ask for change. Every day Ned Ryerson will pitch you. Everyday Rita will only remember your egocentrism as your defining characteristic. Everyday you eat 2,000 calories and walk 7,000 steps (I’m 5’8″). And maybe, if it wasn’t too boring, we could do it again sometime. Going to school has helped this, but I think shifting my personality is the bigger part. It occurred to me as I was reading Jung that the reason 95% of people regain weight is that maintenance takes different skills from weight loss, different personality traits. Losing weight is about making a change, maintenance is about staying the same. Maybe Introverts can make the changes, but they aren’t so good at enduring the monotony. I’d guess people who have the native happiness to succeed at maintenance either don’t become obese, or they don’t mind being obese.
Much as it’s bugged me to read that extroverts are happier, I’m not going to improve by being defensive. Of course, you can be extroverted and also have a personality disorder. Personality disorders are inflexible and pervasive maladaptions in how we view ourselves and life in general. In the Groundhog day analogy, you are the town. And you think they way you are works for you. Disney raised you to hold on to your dreams and be true to your heart. So why does life suck so much? Usually when I hear the song “It’s Time” (by Imagine Dragons) I regard it with the ironic pity of a professed 12 stepper. But the other day I realized I have ways about myself I refuse to change. I’m still not sure if I should change them. But I can try to change something.
And maybe the thing is what my personality professor keeps saying, some people expect life to go smooth, and they are perpetually disappointed. I think Jung provides much more hope for personality disorders because he says we need to diversity, and step outside of the Pandora’s box of who we think we are. Perhaps when we do, hope can get free with us.