Sigh...those online Myers-Briggs tests. I've had fun reading the results over the years. In case you're wondering, I'm an INFP. For a long time I've treated my personality test results like just this fun thing to do. It's interesting. Sounds a lot like me. I wonder if I know anyone else like me or what others would get. Then after that point, it has no more impact on my life.
However, while I was going through severe depression several months ago, I kept being drawn back to my test results over and over again. I had a feeling something important was there, and I was missing it.
So I decided to dig deeper, and as a result I discovered that my Myers-Briggs type was more than just some fun categorization. It turned out to be the gateway to a universe of learning about myself.
So if you're curious, here are the steps I took to get the maximum benefit from my Myers-Briggs type:
Take the test on 16 personalities.com. I found out that this test doesn't measure personality traits in the way that is typical for a Myers-Briggs test. Instead it correlates more with the Big 5 personality traits, and the results are given in Myers-Briggs style. This is my favorite online test because the results run on a continuum. For example, my husband and I are both INFP, but I score around 80% introverted and he's a little over 50%. So although we're the same personality type, we're not going to be the same due to our different trait scores. This design also fixes the problem of getting the X due to scoring equally on a trait. (INTx for example. Someone caught between INTP or INTJ)
Get a copy of Please Understand Me II. I found this book a little difficult to read because of the repetition and complex language. But with some slow reading, this book can shed a lot of light on things, especially if you have an X in your type. Like, when I took the test in the book, my results were INxP. So where did I go next?
First I read the INFP profile, since that was the personality type I got on my 16 personalities test, and it's the one I feel is the most like me.
In each profile there is a chart containing the traits of each personality group under the categories of language, intellect, interests, self-image, value, orientation, and social role. With the INFP profile, I identified with almost everything. INFP is my core.
But what about being INTP? I read the profile for the INTP, and some of it did sound like me. I love playing with and designing systems for computers or organizing information (I work in IT). I'm also bit obsessed with efficiency.
Still I had a difficult time reconciling my NF traits with my NT traits. Until I got to the chart at the end of the chapter. On the chart for rationals, I identified with their interest in science, technology, and systems. At the same time I identified fully with the NF/Idealist interests of humanities, morale, and personnel.
Then I had the realization that my NT interests were being “filtered” through my way of seeing life as an INFP.
For example, I like minimalism. I like the efficiency. Having very little clutter means I can clean the house quickly. But for me, one of the main draws of minimalism is how the removal of extra things creates a better picture of who I am–a function of my need to find identity. Plus, I'm into to making the most of what I already have because I care about the environment. I think for some personality types, these benefits would be an afterthought. For me, they were the main benefit along with efficiency.
As an INFP with NT traits, I enjoy learning about myself and others in an efficient and strategic way. Plus, I like organizing the information that I come across.
Getting the results of INxP was actually a good thing. It made it possible for me to piece together a more customized profile for myself. I'm not into putting myself into a category. I'm more about creating a body of knowledge about myself.
Go to Truity and read recommended websites and books for your personality type. Reading books that touched on aspects of my personality has had a major impact on the way I see myself, and how I deal with the special challenges that come along with my personality type.
If you're an Introvert, check out IntrovertDear.com. This site touches on life issues that are common to others with your personality type that you may not be aware of. I didn't realize that I could be a Highly Sensitive Person until I read articles about being highly sensitive from other INFPs.
Take the Enneagram. The Enneagram, although not matching up perfectly with Myer-Briggs, gives a very detailed view of personality types. My favorite thing about the Enneagram is how it shows levels of development. It's like seeing what you could be like at your worst and what you could be like at your best. I identify with Type 4, The Individualist.
Take the VIA skills test. Speaking of being your best, I'm a huge fan of this test. After going through all of these previous items, the VIA skills test ties everything that I've learned about myself together. The strengths that come in the top 5 are the ones you're best with. Mine are Love of Learning, Creativity, Judgment, Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence, and Perspective. Sounds like an INFP/INTP, doesn't it? Plus, I've found that my strengths can have a practical impact by downloading the free strengths tool kit at michellemcquaid.com.
Keep notes. I've discovered so much information doing this, I needed to have a special place to keep track of what I read, what affected me, and my thoughts about everything. If I was reading a Kindle book, I would copy & paste my highlights and write notes about them in Workflowy. If reading a physical book, I would write down thoughts and passages in a journal.
Follow leads that arouse your curiosity. Doing this helped me to discover amazing things about myself.
Learning that I was INFP lead to me learning that I was an HSP. Learning that I was an HSP lead to me learning that I have “gifted traits.” Finding out that I have “gifted traits” made me more aware of also having multipotential.
Learning that I'm an HSP helped me to adjust my environment, cutting my anxiety down so much that now I only have "I can't face the day!" anxiety when I break one of the HSP rules. Not enough sleep, consuming caffeine, being overly stimulated, etc…
Learning about “gifted-traits” has helped me come to terms with my social challenges and the feelings of otherness that comes with being emotionally reactive and a knowledge addict.
And discovering multipotentiality has helped me to regain control over my daily schedule and handle my worries about all of the ideas and projects that pop into my mind at a crazy rate. I've learned that I can handle all of those ideas in a practical way and make many of them into reality without hurting myself.
One thing you learn about yourself will branch into another. Follow the paths that you discover.
And I just realized that the above rhymed. Total accident.
I also learned a lot by focusing on learning how to communicate with others who are different from me instead of finding others who are like me. I used to be obsessed with finding reflections of myself in others. I still am a little bit. But the true wonder of Myers-Briggs is being able to understand those who are different from me a little more. Once I see where they are coming from, I'm better able to walk in their shoes for moment, and I'm no longer as limited by who I am.
Besides, what's the fun in focusing only on your specific type when there are so many others to learn about? For me, the idea of figuring out how to interface with different people is fascinating. It's like learning a whole new language.