Have you ever noticed that the more people you meet the more they fall into categories or types? I have always been fascinated by Myers Briggs personality type assessments, originally created by Isabel Briggs Myers with Katherine Cook Briggs according to Carl Jung’s sixteen personality types. I remember years ago when I first came across it that I printed off the question pages and took them on a long weekend with four couples. I thought it would be fun to do one afternoon. As I read out the questions everyone put down their answers while chatting about their responses. I was surprised and then dumbfounded by some of the answers. I began to look at my friends in a whole new way. It wasn’t entirely comfortable to know that people don’t just have different personalities, but entirely different operating systems.
This past weekend we had a young couple visiting on their way between Rome and Santorini. One evening as the guys dosed after dinner, C and I chatted about our common personality type. We were the same type so our banter was easy and interesting for each other. The next morning we got the guys to do the test. Her guy was the exact opposite from her. And mine, the same on three of the four psychological functions but that one feeling vs. thinking explains a whole lot.
Reading over the personality type descriptions was uncanny in their accuracy. I felt on one hand to be understood which is comforting but on the other hand, a bit diminished that I was so predictable! Of course sixteen personality types between seven billion people can be expressed in seven billion ways, so while we have predisposed responses to life, we do have great latitude of choice.
And the beautiful thing is we weave wonderful and constructive relationships through our commonalities as well as through our differences as was evidenced by our young couple.
While C read out the description of J’s type quietly ‘attended to tasks’, he was neatly folding socks and underwear and stacking them ready to pack to catch the ferry later that day. We had a good laugh over that. We knew that her type was to relax and be sociable. There it was. Just like the socks – a perfect match!
Some types might be more compatible over the long term and each has its strengths and weaknesses. However we need the poets and the pragmatists. We need those who break down the barriers of what is to show us what might be. We need the others to remind us to take care of business and practical matters. We need those who reflect the world as it is to us and we need more to make sure we all get on well. Being knowledgeable of your own personality type and tendencies is a handy reference – certainly for politicians, employers and marketers. While I loved reading all ‘my’ strengths, I blushed a bit at my weaknesses, feeling how on occasion, I might have sabotaged myself.
We are all beings in process and finding ways to understand and accept ourselves leads us to ways of understanding and accepting others for who they are. “But that doesn’t begin to tell us who we are at essence,” offered up my thinking partner. He went on to say that this type of categorising leads to sorting in too broad terms. Accepting this as empirical we may even become self-fulfilling ‘types’. And this, said my love, is the rub. We accept ourselves as one of a handful of types and rest in that description. We become marketing targets based on the patterns of our behaviour.
And our patterns of behaviour are often unexamined scripts we’ve adopted unconsciously through our lives. They really have nothing to do with the truth of who we are.
In reflecting on these thoughts, I feel relieved. I realise that I am neither comforted about being understood, nor diminished by being predictable because I am both and neither. And I can only sabotage myself when I act out of harmony with my own sovereign self – as I am – unique and in charge of my own relationship to the world and how I uncompromisingly offer myself to it.
These personality types illuminate personas, but at essence we are something entirely original and unfolding. I have to agree with this. Getting too comfortable in being part of a herd rather than an individual can result in an unfulfilled life and a world that has only sixteen shades of grey. We are in reality an intriguing human mosaic and isn’t that a beautiful thing?
Here are some links to find out your personality type – just for fun. And then do a meditation on who you really are!
16 Personalities https://www.16personalities.com/
Myers Briggs Foundation http://www.myersbriggs.org/my-mbti-personality-type/mbti-basics/
Have a super misó evdomáda (half week) as they say here in Greece!