Sunday, October 28, 2007

Myers-Briggs - What Works for Me

With the exception of our youngest, who is eight, my entire household has gotten into Myers-Briggs tests and scores. There has been a lot of laughter as well as serious conversation about the tests, the scores, the parts of the score that won't come out the same when we take different tests, etc. We have looked at a lot of material online, such as the fun and informative Greek Mythology meets Myers-Briggs posts (I, II, III, and last) on Breakfast with Pandora, and the Brutally Honest Personality Test.

Today, though, my various impressions started to gel. Here's how it's shaping up.

This post discusses what works for me. A later post will discuss where the Myers-Briggs typology doesn't work so well, in my view.

1. How I behave or feel at any particular moment is my weather, while the MB typology is my climate.

So I can continue to adapt to the weather, and minimize the effects, but I have quit trying to raise cacti in my rain forest climate. I'm an INFP, and I have long been angry at my deep seated need to have everyone around me feeling good and doing OK. I have to struggle to make decisions based on what's best instead of what will please everyone. I hate buying from certain types of sales people, because my need to fulfill them impairs my judgment. I hate to tell people no. It's almost impossible to deliver bad news or criticism.

I can steer using reason, tell people no, and make tough decisions, but it's a struggle, and I have always felt I should be able to change that. No more. The Myers-Briggs map helped me separate the weather from the climate.

I've long realized these same tendencies of mine are also strengths, and I have put them to great use making a living and a family, so my big gain from the MB typology is this separation of what I can change, and what I can't.

2. I'm not alone, but it's OK if it seems like it, because I'm rare.

I have always had the impression I was some weird rain forest creature trying to run in a herd of wildebeest. INFP males are one of the two or three smallest Myers-Briggs groups. Knowing it's a group means I'm not a freak, just an unusual species. Knowing I'm a rare species (at least in our society) means I have unique abilities to offer. So I'll stop wondering why I can't run like the rest, and why the dust makes me cough when it doesn't bother most others, and I'll enjoy doing what I do.

3. The dynamics of my most important relationships are like the boundaries between climates, and the weather there has recognizable patterns.

Some of the dynamics in my relationships, particularly with my true love of nearly 28 years, have been hard for me. For instance, when she gets withdrawn (often because I'm being pushy or a dope) and I don't get signals about her feelings, I tend to fill in the worst and either fret or get angry. As an INFP I now know why I need to constantly test the waters around me, and why absence of emotional info freaks me out. Knowing what I'm doing (and why) means it doesn't have to rule me. And knowing she is a very different type helps, as well.

4. I'm a natural pollyanna.

I'm gullible and likely to believe the best about everyone. I have always thought this meant I was immature or stupid in some way - but now I see this is just another aspect of my climate. I will be hurt and taken advantage of, but I'm not going to make a complete change in my trust and positive view of people and life without doing major damage to my whole system.

5. I don't like crowds and parties for TWO reasons.

I have always had trouble with parties, and rightly assumed it was because I'm an introvert, and so parties drain my emotional batteries. This was confirmed. But I now realize that groups of people, especially when emotions are flowing more freely, are like hurricanes for me, because I am monitoring all the winds in order to help maintain balance. So in the future I'll cut myself more slack about parties and family gatherings; I might still go, but I won't feel guilty if I'd rather not.

I will post again later about shortcomings of Myers-Briggs, and their effect on me and my family.

(All artwork are original watercolors I painted in the last few years. All but one have found good homes. They are "Storm," "Singing the Catfish's Song," "Cliffs," "Virgil's
Escape" (which is a sort of self portrait), and "Carnival of Venice.")

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