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Attending to the Turbo Lover: Ramping Down Work Stress with Values-directed Activity

Friday May 3, 2019

Speaking of work stress, I recently posted about the way I update this website when things are stressful, because this is one of my interests. It energizes me in its own way, and I need that kind of energy. I wanted to follow that up by giving examples of some other values-related (and you can say “interests”-related as the two words are very similar in meaning) activities that I use to rebound.

I find that too much work stress and just too much work, no matter how much my job is related to my own interests, will leave me with a dry, empty feeling. As a young INTJ I didn’t know what this meant, and I don’t really recall sensing it before others would point out that I seemed “down.”

Yesterday you may have noticed that my Youtube Music links section practically exploded with new links as I found good tunes to celebrate the completion of a big project for a client. That was a lot of fun and I think I’m a new Judas Priest fan, after listening to Turbo Lover about 50 times in a row. The monolithic, dominant voice quality of the chorus just kills me. “Turbo Lover.” What a funny concept. But there’s something applicable to INTJs here, and I will speak to that in a bit.

At the end of the day, I walked into the house thinking, “I was going to program that new ham radio,” a gadget I had bought off of AliExpress. But without much reflection, I decided, “Oh well, I’ll do it tomorrow.” This is one regret: Even just putting a little work toward something you value, or a personal interest, can feel like a great reward at the end of the day. I was tired, sure, but this would have been hobby-energy, and that can bring its own sense of rejuvenation.

I also had a nagging feeling—you know that feeling you sometimes get from your intuition, that something’s not right and you just can’t enjoy the situation no matter how hard you try? Well, I had just left the house to go on a long walk and talk to some friends on the radio when I felt that. So I turned on my phone’s voice recorder and talked it out. I kept going back to my mind’s eye for more imagery, which I interpreted as metaphor. Mostly what came back was a sort of icky, dark feeling. Shortly thereafter, my intuition figured it out and tipped me off that I was unsettled because I had no plan for the following day. As soon as I addressed that and developed an idea of preparing for the next day as soon as I got home, I was able to enjoy the walk again. That nagging gut feeling disappeared.

Today, after completing some more big steps at work, I walked into the house feeling really dry, worn out, and empty. And just kind of down. I thought, I’m probably not giving my own sense of value and my interests enough of a share of this day. So I went and found the USB cable for the new radio, installed the software interface, programmed in the local channels, and got on the air. It felt great, and that empty feeling completely vanished, leaving me feeling still a bit tired from work, but also fulfilled and upbeat.

Sometimes you have to force in the things that rejuvenate you, even if you feel too tired to do “optional” stuff. When you give a lot of work energy, the answer is not necessarily only physical rest. Focusing on new interests and personal pursuits is a fantastic way of reconnecting with a sense of being alive, and during these times you may find that your mind lets you come around and plan the next steps for a work project you’ve been putting off, or another long-term goal.

In which we learn a lesson from a Judas Priest song

In a metaphorical way, this “personal interests” side wants to be your Turbo Lover. There’s this really effeminate “more play, less work” side to all of us INTJs which needs clear and frequent attention.

In the absence of that kind of child-like attention to your interests and values, you might find that this effeminate spectre pops up quite randomly and forces you into an “I don’t wanna do anything” mood; you start to feel symptoms resembling those of a neglected love interest.

Under these conditions you may find yourself increasingly and inexplicably craving the effeminate in life (literally or metaphorically) and slip into a defenseless state. What you might have prevented by a little bit of productive “me-time” and some gentle attention to your well-being turns into a craving for activities that make you feel worthless inside, and it can be a reckless and selfish craving at that.

You won’t hear me, But you’ll feel me
Without warning, something’s dawning, listen.
Then within your senses,
You’ll know you’re defenseless
How your heart beats, when you run for cover
You can’t retreat – I spy like no other.
—Judas Priest, Turbo Lover

If you want more control over your life, don’t run from the Turbo Lover. She is different from your inner hard-worker, your wise and mature masculine side. She’s young, vibrant, she wants you to feel that kind of energy. And she is still an important part of you. She needs your attention, and she will reward you for it with a deep sense of self-connection, foundation, and identity.

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