The reason I’m writing this post is because last week, I retook the Myers-Briggs Personality Test to see if I was still an I.N.F.J. (I am). I asked my boyfriend and my sister to do the same. I think there’s changed. But what I found interesting was something my boyfriend said, “Is mine a good one?”
This made me think, do we believe that some personalities are better than others?
I think some of us can get argumentative when it comes to personality. Either we think that ours is wrong, or we think someone else’s is wrong. We think values, judgements, behaviours, feelings, or quirks are wrong, undesirable, or just plain weird!
And this is normal, right? We are all different and there’s no way we could all get along perfectly. But I wanted to question why we think some personalities or traits are wrong (for ourselves or others)…
Introversion versus Extroversion
I think one of the key motivators for the personality wars comes from the Introverts versus Extroverts conversation. Many people are still coming to terms with what this actually means.
I know that in school, the only “bad” thing my teachers ever said about me was that I didn’t speak up enough in class. Being friends with mostly Extroverts meant they wanted to be out and about doing things, often in groups or crowds, but I didn’t. This made me feel on the outside of things. And yes, I was called boring a lot.
It’s only as an adult that I learned what Introversion was. Finally, there was a word that described me. Someone who prefers solitude over social, group activities. Suddenly, I didn’t feel weird or wrong or broken. Yes, I knew I had Social Anxiety, but that’s different.
*Social Anxiety means I feel unsettled and afraid of social situations to the point of panic; Introversion means I prefer not to partake in social situations for very long, and I’m more comfortable and happy alone.*
So, the conflict comes when an Introvert is told that they’re boring or anti-social or a loner because they prefer time alone. As I say, for years I’ve been called boring by family and friends for not wanting to go to social events. And for years, I believed that they were right: I am boring.
This can scar a person and it was my therapist who said one of my damaging Core Beliefs is that I am boring, and this perhaps lead to my Social Anxiety.
It’s the same with the classroom. Forcing Introverts into uncomfortable situations isn’t fair. Yes, we should all be encouraged to step out of our comfort zones and try new things. However, someone shouldn’t be condemned for simply thinking and feeling differently to their peers.
On the other side, Introverts can prejudge Extroverts, thinking that they are less intelligent for wanting to socialise and party and be in groups more often than not. Of course, this is just as unfair and silly as my previous points.
At the end of the day, Introvert or Extrovert, it does not matter. As long as we all aim to understand and respect the others, rather than prejudge, bully, or force them to be something that they’re not, then everything will be just fine.
There is no right or wrong. There is no better or worse.
If you do take the Myers-Briggs test, you will see that these things are determined by percentages. So, you’re not an Introvert or an Extrovert and that’s it. There’s a spectrum. And I think this is something we can all forget at times.
We are all on a spectrum when it comes to personality traits. We dip into and display various personality traits at different points in our lives.
So, why do we think the opposite to ourselves is “wrong” sometimes? Because of a difference in beliefs and nature. If you are naturally inclined to eat cheese, and someone else is not, it can be hard to understand why they don’t eat cheese like you do!
Speaking of beliefs…
Self-image and Self-Beliefs
I love the fact that I am an INFJ, I’m not going to lie! It’s one of the more unique personality types and it means (in a nutshell) that I am an advocate type. We enjoy coming up with new ideas, trying to help the world by changing people’s views, and we are creatively expressive and passionate.
This is so me!
But the trouble comes when we tie ourselves to a personality type and never waver. Like introverts thinking, “no, I prefer solitude and so I’ll never venture out.” This, of course, limits who we are and what we are capable of.
The same goes for believing that you are not a Morning Person. Or thinking that you’re not a reader or not a sporty person. Tying ourselves to these beliefs creates a Self-Image or Self-Belief. But this is where personal troubles can occur.
Yes, I believe we all do have personalities. I believe that we are naturally inclined to this thing or that thing which manifests in our early, formative years. As in, I’m not sure how much I believe in predetermined personalities from birth, but instead, we form them in our early childhood.
But I also believe that there is a difference between who we are, and who we think we are.
Let me explain. In my younger years, I was an athlete. I was still a writer but I was an athlete, too, and a good one at that. I believed I was amazing. I was a winner. And this belief made me a winner because I was confident in myself.
When I started to win less and less, that image of myself wavered. It grew weaker and weaker, and so I won less and less.
Did my athletic ability change? I’d say no. I trained often and I was naturally talented. But because my self-image wavered, so did my ability.
As corny as it sounds, we are what we believe we are. We can do what we truly believe we can do.
As the saying goes, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, either way you are right.”
This is because there is a real power in our Self-Image and Self-Beliefs.
We were not born with the right personality or the wrong one. We were not doomed in our early years to a shoddy personality or traits.
We are who we believe we are.
We may have a natural inclination one way or another, but that can only change, be reshaped, or grow when we believe that we can do it.
So, I’m no longer an athlete, but that may only be because I no longer believed that I was…
We all change. Our personalities shouldn’t really stay the same from childhood to old age. As I said, I wanted to test whether my personality had changed. It hadn’t but the percentages had; my place on the spectrum had shifted slightly. Plus, my partner and my sister’s personalities have changed, I think.
Being with me in a close relationship for over 4 years meant my partner had picked up a few of my traits. He is more emotionally intelligent and sensitive since meeting me. He is more organised and thoughtful since being with me, too. Due to his Extroversion, I am also encouraged to step out into social situations more, and I’m less strictly serious about life because of him, too.
We grow, we change, we experience new things and people and our values are reshaped.
There is no wrong personality or wrong traits. Every personality type has Pros and Cons, Strengths and Weaknesses.
There is no need to judge, bully, or try to change one another. We are all who we are, and that person will naturally change and grow as we live our lives.
So, can’t we meet one another with more acceptance, respect and understanding?
And if you think that your personality is wrong, then you’re wrong! We’re all on a spectrum. Even if you are dissatisfied, you shouldn’t believe that you will be one thing or another forever.
You have the power to change your beliefs and shape your Self-Image as you see fit.
Being open to change and growth is perhaps the only thing that’s “right” when it comes to who we are…
This may have seemed a bit rambly or disconnected, but I’ve been really into identity and personality lately. I think that more of us (myself included) should try to worry less about who we think we are.
For example, low self-esteem. It comes from believing that who you are and what you’re capable of is not good enough. It’s in believing that you are less capable or worthy than other people.
How sad is that?
My mom is very strict with her negative self-talk. She thinks she’s not good at things and never seems to be convinced otherwise no matter what I tell her or how much evidence I give her to the contrary! This shows the power of Self-Image and Self-Beliefs. Also, the power of a society that seems to value certain things above others.
And so, we could all do with shifting our mindsets. To be less judgy about others and ourselves. To live less fixed to one thing or another, and truly, once and for all, believe that we can be whatever we believe we can be.