A post I wrote at my other blog. A young autistic boy gave me a special gift and a memorable lesson.
One of the things I’ve learnt is our weaknesses, brokenness and realness can be used.
I used to think being broken and weak was something to be steered clear of. But I’ve found it’s often in my weakness, brokenness and realness that I connect best with people, inspire people, and help people deal with the very things I struggle or struggled with.
People appreciate empathy and compassion. They appreciate being understood. They appreciate knowing others have gone through the same things they have. I know I appreciate all these things in my struggles and it’s often through weaknesses and brokenness that we develop these things.
Just knowing you’re not alone in something is the most comforting thing.
So I’m encouraged by weakness because it can be used. We are not worthless or useless in our weakness. We don’t have to hide our weaknesses or ourselves. Be seen, share out that weakness with a caring heart that wants to lift others up; it is a beautiful thing.
And it is needed. We all have different weaknesses. Let not one person feel alone in theirs. Let not one person feel useless in theirs.
Sometimes it’s in our openness, our honesty and vulnerability – when we are weak – that we can be a strength to others.
There’s something about myself it took me a while to understand.
When I read my enneagram personality profile (number 1), I knew most of it was pretty spot on. I’m a perfectionist with high standards and morals. There was one thing I didn’t get though: this reformer and advocate stuff. What was all that about?
Detailed freak and nit-picky perfectionist is me to a T, but reformer? Me? I always thought of myself as passive, a follower, someone who doesn’t rock the boat, and the most cautious person in the world. So, the image of reformer I had in my mind didn’t match up with what I knew about myself.
But over the years I’ve come to understand this side of myself more and can see how I really am a reformer, in spirit if not in action – yet.
See, with my high standards and morals, they are most definitely for me (I’m my own worst critic and place higher standards on myself than others) but I’ve always thought others should have high moral standards too. I never impose my standards on others so that’s why I thought I wasn’t much of a reformer. But my desire is for others to have high moral standards because I believe the world would be a better place with them – if everyone treated each other with compassion and respect, for example, I can’t see anything bad there.
I’ll never impose my standards on others, but I’m ever hopeful that everyone would have the morals of looking after each other and caring for the world we live in.
See, I believe in people. And my desire to see people be all they can be, to live their dreams, and to treat each other well is something that has always been in me. I want all people to know they are worthy. I want all people to show others that they are worthy.
What the enneagram did for me was articulate something I always had in me that I didn’t fully understand. I don’t really know why I believe in people despite all the horrible things people can do, but it seems that it’s in my personality to believe in them no matter what. Because I do. Not everyone has this relentless belief in all people, especially when the evidence suggests otherwise, and I’ve sometimes felt guilty about my belief. But I still can’t help what I believe.
With this understanding, I’ve been able to embrace this part of my nature and things just seem that little bit clearer in my life. I’m becoming more intentional and active in what I believe about people and it’s given me an even bigger sense of purpose and a feeling of this is part of what I’m meant to do.
I love it when people own their personality – which can only come from understanding it and using it for good. I’m owning this reformer side of my mine.
This is just another example of how understanding personality through the tools of personality tests/profiles has helped me.
I’ll always advocate the personality test because I believe it can help people. And I believe in people!
I once heard a quote that our greatest desire is also our greatest fear.
What do yo think? Universally and personally? Do you agree?
What is your greatest fear? Have you searched inside your heart deep enough to find out?
I hear lots of people saying their greatest fear is loneliness or losing loved ones. I can see how they are huge fears, but they’ve never really resonated with me.
I’ve always thought my greatest fears were along the lines of rejection, judgment, and failure.
But If I go even deeper, I think my greatest fear is not doing what I was meant to do on this earth.
And that is my greatest desire – to do what I was made to do. No matter how scary or hard. No matter how many times I may fail.
Of course, I think there are many things we’re all meant to do, but I hope I don’t miss the key ones.
And I believe the things we’re meant to do are for others because I believe we’re here for others. Sure, there’s other things, but if we don’t do anything for others, what’s the point?
Was that deep enough? Haha!
So, what is your greatest fear and what is your greatest desire? Dig deep. Are they the same thing?
And once you face your greatest fear and desire, what are you going to about them?
categories, definitions and boundaries. It’s akin to my appreciation for personality tests as the categories are helpful to explain and understand observable features of people and life.
The hierarchy is based on the fact that humans have needs, and the most fundamental of these needs is represented by the first level of the hierarchy often displayed as a pyramid. There are various models of the hierarchy.
The four basic needs represented by the pyramid are:
- Physiological needs
- Love and belonging
- (Some models add esteem needs here)
Only when the lower levels are met can you concern yourself with the higher levels. For example, no matter how much you may want to contemplate your identity or the meaning of life, you may not be able to pursue this (let alone ask this) if you spend most of your time hungry and all your energy is devoted to finding food. Only when you’ve met one type of need will you be able to move on to meet the higher level need.
Thus it has been theorized that people in the West are able to dedicate resources for building universities and libraries and live a life of learning because we tend to be well fed and clothed. Our worries won’t be about not having enough to eat so we are free to worry about things like what we look like and what job we should get.
On the other hand, people living in poverty don’t have this chance to ‘find out who they are’ or search for meaning in life because they’re too busy just trying to survive.
Perhaps part of social justice is allowing all people to not only have access to clean water and nutritious food but to be able to contemplate life and the more philosophical questions.
Or perhaps, this is just a horribly ethnocentric view. Perhaps people fighting for survival also think about the big questions of life and perhaps they have better answers than those in the West. Perhaps being able to read books and ask questions all day isn’t an ideal all people should be striving for.
Either way, I know I value thinking about the big questions and being able to do so without fear of where my next meal will come from. I enjoy it and part of me feels I need to pursue it too.
The hierarchy also suggests that if these four needs aren’t met in a person, they will (if not physically suffer) mentally suffer in terms of experiencing anxiety and frustration. I know I feel this mental tension and it’s part of the drive for The Cognitive Life and all my writing, and reading and learning.
While there are criticisms of the hierarchy, I see some validity in the theory and can take what is helpful and useful while being aware of its limitations.
There are other versions of the hierarchy of needs and this is one I found relevant.
While all stages are part of me, I think I must currently predominantly be at the ‘need to know and understand’ stage while aiming for those higher levels at the pinnacle of the pyramid and continuing to assess the lower levels.
Where are you?
I believe in animal therapy.
I know how much a dog can brighten the worst day in my own life.
And this is an amazing story my friend told me about a man she knew who was a donkey owner:
This man took his pet miniature donkey to a nursing home regularly. He trusted the donkey because he knew it would never bite anyone with its calm temperament.
One day the donkey ran away from the man while he was at the nursing home. He was mortified; the donkey had never done anything like this before. He was frantically searching the building for the donkey.
And then he found the donkey down corridors and through a door into a room with an elderly man. The man was in tears, and the donkey owner thought the donkey had bitten him. But the donkey had its head resting on the elderly man’s lap and the man was just sobbing.
The man told the donkey owner that he’d been a donkey handler while overseas during a war. The man felt lonely and isolated in the nursing home ever since the war, but this donkey came to him and simply rested its head on the man’s lap and stayed there as if to comfort the man.
The man was given what he needed. He missed being with donkeys. He was comforted, and the donkey made him not feel alone anymore.
The donkey owner was gobsmacked. The donkey set off straight to this man’s room with such purpose and ran through corridors and different areas of the building to get to him.
I think it’s amazing. Animals amaze me. I know dogs can be very in tune with people’s feelings and know when people are sad.
I love animals so much, and this story just makes them love them more!
An essay I wrote why it’s okay to be an introvert. I wrote it because I felt so misunderstood as an introvert and thought there was something wrong with me and needed to change. The more I researched it, the more I learnt it’s okay to be an introvert and the world needs them.
In the movie Never Been Kissed, Drew Barrymore plays Josie, a journalist who goes undercover as a high school student. In her disguise as a student she is able to deal with her identity issues while falling in love with a teacher. This idea of being in disguise is paralleled by the story her class reads, Shakespeare’s ‘As You Like It,’ where Rosalind was able, through her disguise, to express her love for Orlando. The teacher makes the point that there’s a freedom that comes from being in disguise.
What the teacher said resonated with me because I can relate to it. For example, when all my friends are tipsy or drunk, and I’m the only sober one, I am so much freer because I’m not worried about what anyone thinks of me; no-one’s thinking clearly, and they’ll probably forget anyway. The disguise in this case is alcohol, and I can say what I really think and be more open. I’m the definition of cool, calm and collected but in disguise I’m free to be anything I want to be.
The same kind of thing happens when I meet a stranger or am in an environment different to my normal day-to-day life. I feel I can be whoever I want to be because the stranger or the people in the new environment don’t know anything about me. That’s why sometimes I share things with a stranger that I wouldn’t normally share with anyone else, because I feel free to be me around them. They have no expectations of me, and I probably won’t ever see them again so I’m not worried about what they’ll think of me.
So while I understand this concept of freedom coming from being in disguise and wearing a mask, there’s another part of me that wonders if a disguise is really just a disguise and a mask is just a mask. What happens when you become the disguise and you start to live a lie? There’s no freedom, just a prison.
Sometimes I feel like I’m in a prison. Have I done such a good job at being the person everyone sees, that I’ve come to believe this is who I really am? How do you know who you are when the masks you wear never come off? The mask becomes real and you become the mask. Sometimes I don’t know the difference between the mask and me. It seems like the mask and I have been moulded together over the years, and they are so deeply entwined with each other that they’ve turned into something that has become who I am, leading me to question if there is even a mask at all.
Sometimes a mask gives me freedom to let my real self come out; other times it’s a prison and all I do is hide.
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a personality test based on Carl Jung’s theory of types. The test determines the preferences people have in terms of how they see the world and make decisions. These preferences are what shape a person’s interests, values, motivations, skills and needs.
There are four sets of dichotomies that are measured on a scale:
- How you’re energized- extroversion (E) or introversion (I)
- How you take in information- sensing (S) or intuition (N)
- How you make decisions and evaluations- thinking (T) or feeling (F)
- How do you structure the world- judging (J) or perceiving (P)
All eight are used but people differ in which ones they prefer to use. We might not know we prefer one trait over another but it’s the one we naturally do without even thinking about it. The trait that is preferred tends to be more dominant and highly developed than the other trait in the dichotomy.
Here’s a brief explanation of each trait:
Extroversion- Focus on the external world of action, people and things
Introversion- Focus on the internal world of reflection, thoughts and ideas
Sensing- Perceive the world through the five senses and what is present
Intuition- Perceive the world through insights and possibilities
Thinking- Objective decisions are made based on logic
Feeling- Subjective decisions are made based on values
Judging- Approach the world in a structured, planned, organized way
Perceiving- Approach the world in an open, flexible and spontaneous way
Once you know which four preferences you have, you know your personality type, which is expressed as a four letter code. There are sixteen types:
All types are equal and valid. There is no best type. They are simply different ways of seeing the world and making decisions.
Get to know and love your type but remember you are not just your personality. Personality makes up a part of you, and your MBTI type is only a part of your personality (other personality tests may show you different things about yourself). There is more to you than your type and there will be unique things about you that don’t match up with your type. No personality test will be able to describe or explain you completely, but I still see their worth for the small measure they do help you to know yourself better.
I have found the MBTI personality test to be the best because it has helped me understand myself better than any other test. You can read about that in this post: MBTI and Personality Enlightenment.
How well do you know yourself?
Once you’ve found out your personality type, go to this personality profile page and click on your four letter code. I have found these particular profiles to be the most useful but you can also type your type into Google and check out what other profiles say about you.
Leave a comment with your type and the name for your type – I’d love to know how accurate you think it is for you and if it helped at all.