Monday, July 20, 2009

Me (and YOU) ... as an Onion

Many years ago, I was offered the opportunity to research the impression that my clients had of me (as an Individual) through a device known as a “Social Style Profile.” The intent was to provide us (the Brokers and Agents in the financial planning Firm) with insights that would equip us, to better relate to our Clients. I sent a lengthy questionnaire to the six people, who I felt knew me best, and awaited the “profile” results. What ... a ... disaster! I was not disappointed … I was (quite literally) devastated. It took me weeks of agonized reflection to overcome the impact.)

The person that my closest and most intimate acquaintances saw me to be was a JERK. They did not arrive at this "definition." They thought that the Me that they saw was pretty terrific. They were impressed with that image of Me. But that defined Person was all that I detested. I was appalled! And very hurt. This marked the beginning point in my journey of Self discovery and Self realization. I subsequently gained, over the span of much time, a disjointed and jumbled accumulation, of test results and data, that provided more frustration than resolution.

To the rescue; Dr. Edwin O. Timmons of L.S.U. (Louisiana State University.) Now settle back a bit and consider, with me, what Dr. Timmons had to offer. He illustrated this conflict between the ME that I suspected myself to be, and the ME known to others… as an ONION.

That’s right, your garden variety vegetable (or whatever an onion is.) It was his idea that if we were to chart a description of our natural Creator-given traits, and connected the points on that chart with a line, we would have our true inner selves represented, by what he called “our inner Zig-Zag.” (Pretty high-tech stuff, Eh?) Bear with us now, it gets better (I promise.) [smile]

Let’s suppose that when we first make some expression of our little “Zig-Zag” our expression is met (probably by Mommy) with some form of rejection or reproof ... “No!, No! ... mustn’t do that!” We, for the first time in our fledgling experience, modify our behavior to gain acceptance and/or approval. This “layer of behavior” Dr. Timmons referred to as an “Onionskin” of behavior, put in place to protect our ever-sensitive, and fragile, inner Self's “Zig-Zag” of Temperament and Personality.

Over the years of our lives, we develop (through countless Experiences ... with innumerable Persons .... in myriad Circumstances) an infinite number of these layers of behaviors that insulate our inner-selves from any chance of hurt to ourselves, or offense to others, to whom we feel responsible. So what my Friends recognized as ME (in their responses to that Social Style Profile questionnaire) was the carefully accumulated “Onion,” of outer behavior, that I, with the best of intent, had painstakingly surrounded my fragile Self with. This is what they perceived from without.

What the Meyers-Briggs temperament evaluation brought to my awareness was that, previously unidentified, Zig-Zag. The results explained the conflicts that had so-troubled me for so long. This test validated and reinforced the results of the previously taken "16PF" [personality factors] test; grapho-analysis [handwriting analysis] and many other self-examination systems (I have, over the years, accumulated a file of prodigious girth filled with these instruments of evaluation and measurement.) I could then begin the liberating (for me … confusing and bothersome for others) exercise of peeling away my layers of uncomfortable and binding Onionskins. I was free to elect my choice of behavioral “skins” for re-employment (as I deemed appropriate for the purposes of honest presentation of myself ... in forms suitable for the each of my life's settings.)

Think not that this was all accomplished overnight (or over many nights) for, in truth, the finding of the key tools and contributors in my pilgrimage of self-discovery has spanned decades (you are, now, having it all served up on a 'virtual tray’. [smile]) But, my Friend, do not be so silly as to expect a fast-track to painless and/or easy Self-establishment. It is, however, a most rewarding journey for those desiring the option. For, through the loss of Career, the loss of Marriage, the loss of church Affiliation, estrangement from my Children (I just told you that it would not be painless didn’t I?) there evolved the life that I now breath, and touch, and taste … hear and ingest into my spirit ... with every moment of life. And it is GENUINE. My outer “Zigging” is in complete harmony with my inner “Zig” and the same holds true for my “Zag.” My “onionskins” of behavior are translucent and merely magnify the Me at the core. My life is the ME as I am created to BE ... and I am fully accountable for the living of that identity.

I share all of this in the genuine hope that my experience will serve that Individual for whom Life has encouraged me to post it. Whoever You are ... and in whatever circumstance You find yourself ... I send my most tender Love ... and offer all that I am for your encouragement and sustenance. You are welcome through "comment" (at the bottom of this page) or by Email. I am, lovingly, your willing Servant ... and Friend.

IMAGES: Through the gracious courtesy of


Hank F said...

Interesting that I would choose today to search the web for mention of Dr. Timmons, the most memorable person in my 50 some years of life. I remember the onion as clearly as if it were yesterday. Thank you for helping me re-live that.

Hank Foshee

John-Michael said...

My Dear Friend ... how marvelous to realize a kinship with Someone whose life benefited from the "lesson of the onion." I am so gladdened to benefit from your gracious reaching out. You, my Friend, have genuinely made my day!!

Thank you, so much, Dear Hank.

Lovingly ...

Suldog said...

I've always thought of myself as more of a watermelon, John-Michael. The sweet part is what people like and they spit out the seeds. But the seeds are the part that grow in to new watermelons, while the other stuff, sooner or later, becomes sh*t.

Huh! I started off just making a joke, but that sounds almost inspired! Amazing things happen to me here, my friend ;-)

John-Michael said...

You just reminded me of those wonderful summer-times, when we would sit on the car-port, and enjoy relief from the miserable heat ... with watermelon. Seeds everywhere!! Spitting them for distance, accuracy, aggravation of each other (how they do stick on humidity-moistened arms, necks, and [if you are REALLY quick AND accurate] faces!! [grin]) Yep!! Those were some simple, easy, and delightfully refreshing times.

I thank you, Jim, my Darlin' SulDog Friend, for the stirring of old Family memories.

Lovin' Ya ...

Donnetta Lee said...

Much to ponder over here, JM. I will have to reread. I've never thought about being an onion. Or a watermelon (Suldog) either. Have to give it some thought and report back. Nice to see you today. Good thoughts. D

John-Michael said...

As painful (and it REALLY was!!) as the awareness of who my Friends perceived me to be .... (Extrovert [when my Soul cried out for solitude] ... Overpowering and Forceful with my perceptions [when I knew a level of empathic sensitivity that borders on painful] ... and on, and on) ... that experience demanded that I seek an understanding of my true Temperament and Personality (though I did not have an awareness of those terms at the time.) I just knew that I wanted to be known and accepted (and, hopefully loved) for the Being that I felt myself to be at my inner core.

Defining my Self (1st for myself, and then my World) became my quest. And I can promise You, My Dear Donnetta Lee, that the quest was worth every one of the many dollars, and hours, invested in its fulfillment.

Thank You, Dear Lady, for investing a bit of your Self in sharing, and considering, my reflections. I am complimented, and grateful!

Lovingly ...

nitebyrd said...

Peeling an onion to discover the sweet, savory and sharpness within, will always bring a few tears. I still think it's worth them.

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