Tag Archives: Understanding

Own Your Personality

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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!

She Yelled and Called Me Names

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A look at the power of empathy and compassion. . .

Permission to be an introvert

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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.

MBTI and Personality Enlightenment

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Before I tell you what the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is about, let me show you why I’m fan and why I think everyone can benefit from it.

When I found out I was an ISTJ, the duty fulfiller or the inspector, I had a light-bulb moment. I used to think there was something wrong with me because I had a combination of traits that made me different to most people I knew. To name some of them: I’m an introvert, I love studying and doing assignments, I enjoy hard work and painstaking, meticulous work that other people shudder at, I love deadlines and submit everything early, and I’m an organized freak who is incredibly structured and plans everything.

Now, being the introspective, metacognitive person I am, I knew all this about myself, but I thought I shouldn’t be all these things because other people thought my traits were odd.

That was all until I discovered MBTI and that I was an ISTJ. The profile fit me to a T and it was like I was reading myself on a page. It was amazing! It showed me that there was nothing wrong with me; I just had a particular personality caused by the way I saw the world, processed information and made decisions, which is something I don’t do consciously but could now understand.

I was worried when I told a friend my life motto was, life is about things to do and getting them done, because she just laughed and told me I was a workaholic. You’d think I would have worked that out for myself but I missed that fact. The motto isn’t what I thought life should be about; it was just how I saw life. I couldn’t help it and I thought I should get a new motto. But it reassured me when I found the name of the ISTJ is duty fulfiller. That sums it up right there and from then on I was okay with my hard-working nature and my tendency to state facts rather than inspiring idealisms.

Being an ISTJ, I got all the, what I call “hard” traits; so I’m a justice over mercy type person who likes rules. It’s why I love structure and don’t have a spontaneous bone in my body. I work well with details and facts because I take in things via the five senses so I excel in those areas, but even though I adore thinking about concepts and big-picture things, I don’t work well with those things. I would get frustrated when I had to work with big-picture things and didn’t know why before I knew I was an ISTJ, and now that I know, so much frustration is avoided.

Now, that’s only the tip of the iceberg in what I learnt about myself and how it helped me practically. I’ll give one more example of how it helped, and I use this one to show how knowing your personality is valuable because you can mould and manage it when you understand it.

As I said, I got all the “hard” traits. This was something I didn’t particularly like about myself, because I knew the importance of caring about people and not just doing things the way I liked them with rules, structure and cold hard facts. I knew there were also things called feelings and intuition, and I worked to develop my softer side.

That’s one of the great things about being an ISTJ: once we see the value of something, we wholeheartedly run with it. We’re not stubborn and don’t cling to our own ways when we see the validity of something new or different. So now I can be a mercy over justice person, not because that’s what I naturally go towards, but because I’m aware of other factors that might override justice, things that have become important to me since learning about my personality.

And now I can come out as an ISFJ with my feeling trait more developed. The profile doesn’t fit me as well as the ISTJ one and I will always naturally tend towards thinking over feeling, but because I’m aware of this, I can override it and use my feeling side. So you see, without knowing I was an ISTJ, I wouldn’t know that I lacked this feeling trait or that I was a thinker, so I wouldn’t have known how to do anything about it. All I had was this vague idea that I was a hard person who wanted to care more but couldn’t bring myself to do so because I didn’t know how I worked.

Now let me qualify this by saying, there’s nothing wrong with being a justice over mercy person and if that’s the way you want to stay, go for it. There are many other traits I have that I’m perfectly fine with and even though others might look down on them, I won’t change them because I’m cool with it.

The key is that MBTI can help you accept all of your traits and you can either love them or change the ones you’re not so keen about. I’m not sure I believe you can change your underlying preferences, but I do think you can override them if you understand them and work to develop the other preferences.

I will rave about MBTI because it helped me understand how I see and do things and  I’ve benefited so much from it in so many practical ways. Have you ever had a light-bulb moment from understanding something about your personality? Maybe you’ll get one when you do the test. Here it is: MBTI

In my next post I’ll give an overview of the MBTI so you’ll have a better idea of what I mean when I talk about traits, preferences, etc.

The Value of Personality Tests

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I’m an advocate of the personality test because understanding yourself and others are always a good thing. Knowing your personality can be helpful for many reasons including:

  • You can understand why you do things, what motivates you, how you think and what you value
  • You can identify your strengths and weakness so you can develop both and especially use what your good at
  • You can work to change the things you want to improve
  • You can adapt, manage, develop and use your personality to get the most out of it
  • You can accept it and love it

I’m not about personality being a box people are put in and being something that is restricting. Personality is dynamic and the personality test is simply a tool to know yourself better. It allows you to know what you’ve got so you can work with it.

Knowing about personality also helps you to understand, appreciate and get along with people of different personality types. The first step is being aware that differences exist and the second step is understanding those differences. Conflict can be avoided by understanding how other people see things since we all think differently and value different things.

Get to know and love your personality but remember you are more than your personality, and personality tests will only reveal a part of your personality. Different tests may show you different things about yourself but there will be unique things about you that don’t match the personality profiles. No personality test will be able to describe or explain you completely but their worth comes from the amount they do explain.

Here’s a selection for you to try:

I know not everyone is a fan of personality test but they’ve been very valuable in my life. What do you think of the personality test and which ones do think are most accurate?

Stay tuned for a post about MBTI – the best personality test I’ve found that has helped me so much.

Thinking About Shyness

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I was a painfully shy kid. One of the earliest examples I can give comes from a kinder experience. We were rehearsing for a Christmas play for the first time and I was allocated to the red group. There was a frog, fairy, yellow and red group. I, of course, wanted to be a fairy being the girly-girl I am but plain, boring red it was for me; at least it was better than yellow, which is my least favourite colour.

The second time we rehearsed the play, my teacher asked me if I was in the red or yellow group. I didn’t say anything because of my shyness; I rarely spoke up to people who weren’t my family. I knew full well that I was in the red group and that I wanted to be in the red group, but I feigned that I didn’t remember and the teacher put me in the yellow group. I wasn’t very happy about this but this just shows the level of shyness I had as a kid. I didn’t speak up when I knew the answer to a question, and I didn’t even speak up when it would mean I’d get something I wanted.

It’s a common symptom of not speaking up: not getting what you want. When I ask people what they want, it frustrates me when they’re all polite and won’t say what they really want. If I ask what you want, I really want to know what you want. But I can’t blame them when I still fall into silence at times and don’t let people know what I really want.

I’m a lot better at speaking up for myself as an adult, and I think part of the reason is because I know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of a person who won’t speak up. You feel for the person but at the same time you almost want to shake them to make them speak up; you want them to speak up for their own good. Seriously, so much self-torture can be avoided if you just speak up.

If it matters to you, speak up. If someone is asking because they care about you, they will want to know your answer and do what they can to help you get what you want.

Perhaps the best example of my shyness as a kid comes from my visits to the milk bar down the street with my dad. Tony, the milk bar owner was a friendly guy and he’d say hello to us. Dad would always tell me to say hello to him but I never did; I was too shy to open my mouth. It would always frustrate my dad and one day he was so angry about it that he said I couldn’t have the packet of jelly beans he’d bought me at the milk bar until I said the word hello.

Now, any normal kid would just say hello but not me. I went to bed that night stressing over how I would get those jelly beans. I resolved that the next morning I’d say hello by simply saying it to dad when I saw him as though it wasn’t a calculated plan but a simple greeting.

So the next morning I put my plan into action except it didn’t work. I couldn’t bring myself to say the word hello and I ended up yelling “Hi.” I made up for my lack of hello by yelling hi to each family member and finishing with a, “Hi everyone!” They must have all thought I was nuts. I did!

Eventually, dad just told me to say hello and he’d give me the jelly beans, and so I grudgingly said hello and got my prize.

Now when I think back on this, I wonder why I was so shy. Was it actually shyness? Because I knew in my head there was nothing wrong with saying hello or speaking up in general. What I hated, though, was what my family would think of me if I spoke up. I don’t get it. They thought poorly of me when I didn’t speak up and I knew they’d think better of me if I did speak up; so why did I never speak up? What was my problem?

I’m still not sure to this day, and there are occasions even now when I won’t speak up for fear of what people will think of me. And in these types of situations, I’m never worried what the person receiving my words will think; it’s the people watching me, expecting me to say something, that has me worried. I didn’t care what Tony thought; I cared what my dad thought. But what am I afraid of? That they’ll think I’m a well-spoken person? That I’m normal and speak just like anyone else does? It doesn’t make sense, does it?

One of the areas I struggled in besides saying hello and good-bye to people was being served at a restaurant. If I sat with my family, I would always feel so uncomfortable when the waiter asked for our orders and gave us our food and drinks. I could never say, “Thank-you.” Mum would tell me it’s polite to say thank-you and expect me to say it. I rarely did and the times I did, it was so very awkward and I wanted to crawl in a hole and never come out.

Now why was that so hard for me to do for years? I’m very conscious of it even now when I go to a restaurant. I always say thank-you now and can do it with friends easily, but when I’m with family, it still feels awkward. It’s like all I can think about is what my family is thinking of me. They’re probably not even giving it a second thought since who makes a point of noticing when someone says thank-you to a waiter? But for me, I am incredibly conscious of it.

This is one area I don’t quite understand about myself. It doesn’t seem logical at all. I’d love to know an explanation for my strange thoughts and behaviour. All I can work out is that it has something to do with the expectation. If my family didn’t expect me to say hello, good-bye and thank-you, maybe I would have just done it because there was nothing attached to it, no pressure.

I’m not sure if this fully explains it, though, because usually I live up to expectations. Usually I’m so busy trying to find out what’s expected of me so I know how to behave and if I get no cues, I feel lost. So why then did I not live up to expectations in the case of hello’s, good-byes and thank-you’s? Why did I struggle with it so much?