What if took the energy wasted on wishing or striving to be someone you are not and redirected it to appreciating who you are right now?
I’m inviting you to do just that, and have a series of posts planned this month designed to help.
Appreciating who you are begins with knowing who you are and understanding your natural strengths. One fantastic tool to begin this process is the learning and understanding your Myers-Briggs Type, and that’s what we’re looking at today.
According to Carl Jung, each of us has one of two innate preferences in four different categories: where we focus our attention, and how we relate to information, decisions and structure. Luckily for us, Isabel Myers and her mother, Katharine Briggs, became very interested in Jung’s theory and wanted to find a way to make it practical for the average person. They created the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, a system that allowed for all sixteen possible combinations of preferences in Jung’s categories.
The categories and their preferences are:
Extraversion (E): gains energy by focusing attention on the external world of people and things.
Introversion (I): gains energy by focusing attention on the internal world of ideas and impressions.
It is important to understand the “gains energy” potion of those statements. Introverts can enjoy focusing attention on people and things, but they cannot sustain it forever. Similarly, extraverts can love focusing their attention inward to bring forth an idea, but they would soon need to speak with someone about it.
Sensing (S): take in information through their senses and focus on the now.
iNtuition (N): take in information from patterns and the whole and focus on the future.
Thinking (T): make decisions based on logic and an objective view of cause and effect.
Feeling (F): make decisions based on values and a subjective view of how it affects people.
Judging (J): prefer to have things planned, settled, and organized.
Perceiving (P): prefer to have things flexible, spontaneous, and open.
None of these preferences are “better” than the other. In the United States, there is a very high value put on extraversion culturally. This is the opposite for Japan or Sweden, who generally value introversion. If your culture does not value your preference, it can be challenging to own and enjoy it. That is one of many reasons why I encourage you to go through the process below to understand just how awesome your particular “type” is and what you bring to the world just by your natural preferences.
Step #1: Determine Your MBTI Profile
There’s a few ways you can do this:
- Take the official assessment, available at MBTI Online for about $50 at the time this is being published. This provides you with a report, showing the scale of how far you lean in the direction of each of your preferences.
- Take a completely free, shorter, but unofficial assessment at 16 Personalities. This will give you just the letters (with no scale) and an additional category called “Turbulent or Assertive.” Feel free to ignore that for our purposes.
- Look at the pair descriptions above and for category, determine which way you lean. (Be sure to choose what you tend to naturally be like, as opposed to what you wish you were like.) Combine the four results to get your best guess at your MBTI profile.
Step #2: Learn About Your Profile
I’ve happily spent several hours lost in the world of reading about personality types while writing this article – there is a wealth of information available on each type. Further study and classification has been done based on the Myers-Briggs research, mainly by David Keirsey, which adds some nuances to the type structures a whole.
Here are some sites to check out for additional information on your type:
Myers-Briggs Foundation: http://www.myersbriggs.org/my-mbti-personality-type/mbti-basics/the-16-mbti-types.htm (sadly one of the least informative, but since they developed it, they get top billing.)
Personality Max: https://www.personalitymax.com/personality-types
Personality Page: http://www.personalitypage.com/html/portraits.html
Personality Junkie: http://personalityjunkie.com/more-type-profiles/
16 Personalities: http://www.16personalities.com/personality-types
Human Metrics: http://www.humanmetrics.com/hr/you/personalitytype.aspx
A quick search for your type may also produce some great sites dedicated solely to your type.
Step #3: Look for Ways to Use Your Strengths
Each type has powerhouse level strengths in certain areas. Often we can’t even see our own strengths because they come so naturally to us that they don’t seem remarkable. My sister, for example, has a fundamental ability (and love!) of creating organizational systems. She never thought it was a big deal, whereas I look on in amazement as she tackles organizational projects that make me feel physically ill to even contemplate.
You likely have the same type of thing happening somewhere in your life. Let your profile inform you of where you excel and other people might struggle. Look for ways this week to amplify those strengths, or apply them to different situations and see how feels to freely operate from your natural strengths.
What’s your type? What’s your favorite strength of your type? Leave a comment and let us know.
(I am an INFP. My favorite INFP strength is my ability to be in tune with someone else’s emotional needs in a conversation.)