Romantics: It’s About the People for Me - The Style

The Power of Understanding Yourself: The Key to Self-Discovery, Personal Development, and Being the Best You - Dave Mitchell 2019

Romantics: It’s About the People for Me
The Style

Drink freely the wine life offers you and don’t worry how much you spill.

Marty Rubin

If your lowest score falls in the B column, then you have developed a more heightened sensitivity to emotions. Somehow, probably during your teen years, you became more aware of the feeling content within your environment. You experience emotion more deeply than many other people and this informs how you construct your delusion and how you communicate with others. I can relate, as my score in the B Column is a 20, tied for my lowest score.

I refer to the low B’s as the Romantics. Your emotional sensitivity makes you more empathetic and even sympathetic to others’ perspectives. Even if your score in this column is not your lowest score, a total below 30 indicates a sensitivity to feelings. Here are some common attributes associated with Romantics:

· Tactful and diplomatic communicator

· Willing mediator

· Prefers to minimize or avoid conflict

· Aware of the impact of actions on emotions of others

· Good at delivering both good and bad news

· Self-sacrificing, altruistic

· A good team player

· Susceptible to emotional manipulation from others (e.g., guilt)

· Influenced by the prevailing emotion(s) in their environment

· A good counselor

· Quick to praise others

Meeting the Romantic

The key to understanding your core ideology as a Romantic is that you will always be aware and influenced by the feelings of those around you and important to you. There is no dishonor in that, for sure. Romantics make the world a more thoughtful and caring place. It is a gift to be this intuitive on the nature of emotions. But, like all gifts, that sensitivity to feelings can also be a burden. For example, when Romantics sacrifices their own needs to ensure that those around them have their needs met first, it can have a very positive affect on team morale and function. But, since Romantics rarely asks for anything in return — although they would love to be appreciated for that sacrifice — there are times that they may feel that others take them for granted or take advantage of them. It is important for Romantics to learn how to reconcile their inherent willingness to help others with the possibility that others won’t always recognize or reward their efforts.

If you are a Romantic, it is also essential to understand that feeling appreciated is your most important intrinsic need. I have met several Romantics who have told me that they do not care if others appreciate them. My reaction is, “Bullshit.” It would take very, very, very self-actualized Romantics to sacrifice their own needs without any need to be appreciated, even on a small scale, for that behavior. And it is entirely okay to have that need. All people need some level of security, appreciation, excitement, and independence to feel fulfilled. For Romantics, the appreciation reward just runs a little higher, just as security is a little more important to Experts.

Another important consideration is that emotions emanate from people. While Experts are keenly aware of how processes work, Romantics focus on the human element. It would be hard for me to imagine a Romantic having a core ideology that excludes some relationship with people. If you scored under 30 in the B column, you are likely going to integrate some component of relationships into your true self.

Putting Others’ Happiness Before Your Own

Since I am a Romantic, I of course have a personal story that relates. In fact, I have so many that I find myself trying to sort out just one to share as I write this chapter. I settled on this one because it is both simple and telling. My lovely bride and I have been married for 32 years as I write this book. I knew we were destined to be together when my beloved New York Mets won their second World Series the same year we were wed. (I have not held her responsible for the fact that, as of this writing, they have not won another, but I digress.) When you pass a certain anniversary “mile marker,” you are granted automatic membership in the marriage-advice club. I am often asked what the secret to a long and happy relationship is. My answer is distinctly Romantic:

“Marry someone whose happiness is more important to you than your own, and who feels the same about you.”

I do find it somewhat defeating that most people just respond to this with a “hmm” and change the subject. It is brilliant in its simplicity, at least to my way of thinking. I realize that there is nothing pragmatic, aspirational, or even remotely profound about the statement. But, it has worked for my lovely bride and me for all these years. I am also aware that I devoted an entire chapter to internal locus of control and how your happiness is your own responsibility. (You know, the life-is-like-stew talk.) But, love is weird. Love is always the exception. So, in my opinion, if you find someone who is devoted to your happiness and to whose happiness you are devoted, marry that person. Oh, and my lovely bride is a Romantic, too. So, this advice quite likely only works if you are a Romantic who fell in love with a Romantic. That’s why I didn’t write a book about marriage. I may have just gotten lucky.

Reframing Childhood Trials

This strikes me as a good time to discuss another important component of extracting Me. Since a large part of who we are is developed in those years between birth and around 22 years of age, we should consider how both the positive and negative aspects of our youth may have contributed to our current state. We learn to think and believe in certain ways in response to our early life experiences. Although they may have been quite useful to us at, say, 14 years of age, these same ways of thinking might be self-limiting at age 34. Again, that is the value of metacognition.

But, there is more to understanding ourselves than just taking inventory on how we think. Sometimes we need to redefine our own history. Sometimes, challenging or even tragic life events that occurred when we were young can provide the foundation for greater strength as we age. This is why it’s so important to redefine adversity into a mechanism for strength.

I am convinced that my pronounced emotional sensitivity has its origins in just such adversity. Growing up in a household that concealed the secret of addiction and the related toxic elements, I honed my awareness of others’ states of mind. My mother’s relationship with alcohol struck me as a severe allergy; it only took a few drinks for her demeanor to dramatically change. There was no question in my mind that adding alcohol to her brain chemistry created a volatile reaction. Her behavior became erratic, then contentious and, eventually, violent with the transition from tranquility to volatility occurring with dizzying speed. I learned to recognize each behavioral cue early and do my best to delay the inevitable spot within her toxic targeting. Eventually, I was able to glean her psychological status within a few seconds of walking into the house. My mother — indirectly and in a manner that she would have not preferred, to be sure — provided me with a doctoral level ability of deciphering another’s emotional state.

The few who know the details of my youth are quick to say supportive things. “You are so fortunate to have not been affected by that environment,” they will say. But that’s not true. I was. I am quite convinced that my deep sensitivity to the emotional elements around me are the direct result of my experiences growing up. As an adult, I use this sensitivity to counsel others; to try to spread joy; to be a better husband, father, and person. Although my youth may have seemed difficult, I feel strongly that those trials contributed significantly to my best attributes.

My point for you is, don’t discount the value of your tribulations. We are quick to draw a direct line between adversity and vulnerability, but there also close relationship between our pain and our gifts. By reframing our most difficult experiences from painful memories to valuable moments of growth, we not only free ourselves from the ghosts of our past — we provide a reason to celebrate our strengths. It is my belief that all people share this part of humanity and certainly none more than Romantics.

A Romantic Is a Wine’s Sweetness

If Experts are analogous to acidity in wine, then Romantics would be the sweetness. Sugar is essential to the fermentation process, for without it there would be no wine. In fact, the brix — the measurement of sugar in the grape — is one of the most essential measurements for determining when to harvest. Sugar literally starts the winemaking process. It is consumed by yeast during fermentation and the result is the alcohol content of the wine. And the alcohol content — well, let’s just say that’s when the party starts! I mean, every wine drinker I know would be telling a white lie if they didn’t admit that part of the attraction of the beverage was the influence of the alcohol. The same can be said about Romantics. If you want to have a great party, invite plenty of Romantics. Just as the sugar in a grape, Romantics will kick things off and make sure that everyone has a good time.

When selecting a wine that reflects the Romantic style in my tasting seminars, I focus on two iconic characteristics: the influence of sugar and the approachability of the wine. Romantics are easy to be around and integral to good times. Living in Walla Walla, Washington, where the summer days are long, sunny, and hot, and the season lasts for half the year, we love our Rosés.

Please indulge me while I engage in a personal crusade on behalf of the value of drinking Rosé. Many of us started our personal wine journeys with the infamous White Zinfandel — the gateway drug to a lifetime of wine-fueled good times. White Zinfandel is very sweet and lacks complexity. Think of it as that super nice friend that is a pleasure to be around — but whose conversation is always very superficial. They don’t challenge you and, after a short amount of time, may be kind of boring. That is not representative of Rosé, nor is it reflective of the Romantic style. Rosé wines run the gamut from dry to sweet, simple to complex. They are not even the same color. Some Rosé wines are nearly white, others have an orange hue, and many fall in all shades of pink.

There are few things so fun, so enchanting, and so relaxing as enjoying a well made Rosé while sitting outside on a beautiful day with friends while people watching. Rosé is laughter’s elixir. So, insofar as Rosé is an essential element of celebration of friends, fun, and frolic, it is perfect as a reflection of the Romantic style.

As you think about yourself relative to your score in the B column, you are considering the degree to which you can quickly and accurately gauge the emotional status of those around you. If your score is below 18, you have an incredible capacity for this. In fact, this ability may very well be the cornerstone of your core ideology. Go back and read the explanation of “dynamic patterns” in Chapter 5, which introduces style. Keep in mind, if your score is below 18, that sensitivity to emotion may have some challenges, too. Being extremely sensitive to emotion can make you even more vulnerable to manipulation, feelings of guilt, or being overwhelmed by prevailing emotions in your environment. If your score is below 30, emotional sensitivity has at least some impact on how you navigate your world. If your score is above 30, others’ feelings have a lesser impact on you. That can be an important realization as you construct your core ideology, too. There are many situations that require the ability to ignore how others will feel about something to accomplish what is necessary.

Spend a little time reflecting on what your Romantic column score might mean relative to your core ideology and document these thoughts on the Extracting Me Worksheet.