I know that there are quite a few people who scoff at personality testing such as the Meyer Briggs test. Their argument often has to do with the fact that it limits them and does not fully explain the nuances that make them individuals. I don’t disagree with this. Personality testing couldn’t possibly tell you everything about yourself because we are all unique. But having this rough outline of how you may tend to react to a situation or knowing more about why you decide things the way you do is helpful! I use my Meyer Briggs type as a rough estimate of why I make the decisions I do. Knowing my type has only helped me to grow.
My type tends to downplays strengths. Before being tested for the first time I would’ve had a really hard time telling you what my strengths and weaknesses were because I minimize my own accomplishments- sometimes taking self-sacrifice too far. I didn’t have good self awareness and that caused problems. Once I took the test I discovered that my type, ISFJ, tends to be practical, loyal, and patient. But we can tend to be humble to a fault, sensitive, private, and slow to change.
Knowing these tendencies has helped me to focus on my weaknesses and change them. I struggle with openness in relationships and can be sensitive to criticism. I have been working on my vulnerability and I now know that my own thoughts and feelings have worth. This wasn’t always the case. It’s been a journey because my natural inclination is to live only for others. This is not sustainable and I have had to learn to care for myself so that I have to capacity left to care for others. Often times, this means recognizing my limits and saying no when I am starting to get spread thin. Showing vulnerability is much harder because I want others to always feel heard and loved and I have, sometimes crippling, self doubt. It is tempting for me to think that my feelings don’t have as much weight as others and I can be tempted to think that when I am sharing my own thoughts and feelings that I am being selfish. This is not the case. Sharing your thoughts and feelings is a healthy part of any relationship.
There is one main strength I have recognized in myself since working on the weaknesses of my personality. While I was writing this piece, I took a quick break and checked my email. The most perfect quote was in an email from Verily, the online lifestyle magazine, “Nothing is more powerful than allowing yourself to truly be affected by things.” Amelia Olson. I am affected by things because of my sensitivity and emotions. This is a powerful part of who I am not a weakness. To be affected is to care and think of others. My emotions allow me to have empathy for others. Once I accepted this I stopped being ashamed of my emotion. Most people think of tears and emotion as a weakness but my emotions and tears are my strength.
I do not allow knowing my type to hold me in that narrow box. But by knowing the box I come from I am able to more efficiently grow. I am able to work on my weaknesses. If you don’t know your personality type, take the test! Here’s a really great site. If you do know it, go back and read about your strengths and weaknesses. Maybe you can find something to work on. One last thing is that by knowing the types of your friends you can serve them and love them even more fully.