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2010-02-25 digital edition

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2010-02-25 / Church

Focus on the Family with Dr. James Dobson

The Strong, Silent Type Usually Does Not Change

Question: My boyfriend doesn’t talk to me very much. He’s just a very quiet and shy person. Will he always be this way? I just wish he’d tell me what he’s thinking and feeling.

Dr. Dobson: Your question reminds me of the twelve-year-old boy who had never spoken a word. His parents and siblings thought he couldn’t talk because they’d never heard his voice. Then one day the boy’s mother placed some soup in front of him, and he ate a spoonful. Then he pushed the bowl away and said, “This is slop, and I won’t eat any more of it!”

The family was ecstatic. He’d actually spoken a complete sentence. They all jumped around gleefully, and his father said, “Why haven’t you ever talked to us before?”

The boy replied, “Because up until now everything has been OK.”

Maybe your boyfriend will surprise you one day with a flurry of words, but I doubt it. Shyness and an introverted personality result primarily from an inborn temperament that tends to be very persistent throughout life. Research shows that approximately 15 percent of children are genetically programmed to be somewhat introverted like your friend and that most of them will always be that way. It appears that some people just seem to be born “noisy,” and others prefer to keep their thoughts to themselves. Your boyfriend may be one of the latter.

If you choose to marry him, I hope you’ll do so with your eyes wide open. You’re probably not going to change him. Many women fall in love with the strong, silent type and then resent their men for the rest of their lives because they won’t talk to them. It is a very common source of frustration among women. But that’s the way it is.

Question: I’m in my early 20s and trying to figure out a career path and general direction for my life. What do you suggest for a person like me? How can I get my rocket to lift off the pad?

Dr. Dobson: First, you need information. You might begin by going to an occupational psychologist or another knowledgeable counselor who can assess your skills and interests. There are excellent psychometric tests available today that will acquaint you with your own abilities. Computers will analyze your responses and correlate them with those of people who are successful and contented in given professions. You might be surprised at what you can learn about yourself from an occupational inventory.

Second, you should begin an energetic exploration of eight or ten occupations that you might find exciting. Visit people who are working in those fields, and ask them for advice and counsel. Attack this problem like a private investigator who is determined to unravel a mystery. Leave no stone unturned.

Third, when you’ve identified the area of greatest interest, commit to it. Beyond that point there’s no looking back. Even if there might be a more attractive goal out there somewhere, there comes a point where you have to get on with life. Take your best shot and stay with it until you have a more secure and certain alternative to chase.

Finally, remember that the Lord is mindful of your decision too. What you do with your life is important to Him because He cares about you. Lean heavily on prayer and godly counsel as you zero in on a choice. There is no other way to make any decision that is of critical significance. The psalmist wrote, “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.” (Psalm 137:1, NIV)

Those words offer incredible meaning for you and your peers at this stage in life. Whatever you try to accomplish will be useless if you do it in your own strength. That may sound very oldfashioned, but I promise you it is true.

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