Monthly Archives: August 2013

Diversity of Personality Types

Knowledge Is Power: Identifying Your Personality Type

Generally I don’t like personal labels. But there is one categorization system, the Myers-Briggs personality type test, which I have found extremely useful in better understanding not only myself, but also those with whom I interact.

According to the developers of the test, there are 16 personality types. You may already know what yours is (it would consist of four letters). The Myers-Briggs assessment is often used in corporate settings for team building and leadership development to enhance awareness of oneself and the diversity of others’ approaches to work and life.

My personality type is the INFP (Introverted, i(N)tuitive, Feeling, Perceiving). I’m going to talk a little later about what those categories mean. I’ll also provide a link at the article’s end to a site where you can easily take the test online and discover the significance behind your personal letter sequence.

Example of Myself

But first I’ll use my own type, the INFP, as an example. When I took the test seven years ago, I learned that those sharing this personality type often go into writing, counseling, and healing professions. It was affirming that my career choices to date had been a good fit for my disposition. Learning more about the INFP also gave me helpful insights into how I interact with others, process information, make decisions, and express myself.

One widely published online description says: “INFPs are quiet, creative, sensitive and perceptive souls who often strike others as shy, reserved and cool. These folks have a rare capacity for deep caring and commitment – both to the people and causes they idealize. INFPs guide their behavior by a strong inner sense of values, rather than by conventional logic and reason…

“They gravitate toward creative or human service careers which allow them to use their instinctive sense of empathy and remarkable communication skills. Strongly religious, spiritual or philosophical people, INFPs may see the purpose of their lives as an inner journey, quest or personal unfolding.”

I’d actually first taken the Myers-Briggs many years ago in a workplace setting. But I got a substantially different result than INFP because I answered the series of Yes/No questions with responses that I felt would best meet the expectations of a boss who didn’t seem to value people who were much different than her. So naturally when I read the overview of the type given, it didn’t sound very much like me.

Diversity of Personality Types

Takes All Kinds

I didn’t understand at the time that there are no “bad” personality types. You probably wouldn’t even want everyone on a team to be a similar personality type as that former boss of mine seemed to desire. As a new supervisor, she hadn’t yet had any management training and didn’t seem to understand that everyone brings something different to the table.

For example, those with the ENFP type are known for their inspiring attitudes and big-picture perspectives. They tend to be great at getting the ball rolling (they’re “starters”), but they often need others to help handle the details (“finishers”).

You could be in a romantic relationship with someone with a substantially different type (maybe only sharing a letter or two). Knowing your individual types could help you better understand how you both complement and challenge each other at times.

We all can evolve over time (working on weaknesses in certain areas), but no type is necessarily better than another. They’re just different. Even among those sharing our type, we are each unique in our own wonderful ways.

Be Authentic

If you decide to take the test online (you can easily finish in less than 10 minutes), remember to answer honestly with your dominant tendency. Don’t answer how you think you should be, but how you tend to be.

For example, when I first took the test, I responded to the statement “Deadlines seem to you to be of relative, rather than absolute importance,” with a “No” when I should have answered “Yes.”

That doesn’t mean I can’t meet deadlines. I’m just a more open-ended person, and sometimes that kind of flexibility can be strength.

Don’t obsess over a particular response on the test. Your first instinct is often the best answer, but you could double-check yourself at the end to be sure.

Carl Jung's Personality Type Test

Carl Jung, 1875-1961, featured on Swiss stamp

History of Test

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator was based on the typological theories proposed by world-renowned psychiatrist Carl Jung and first published in his 1921 book Psychological Types.

But the actual test was developed later by Katherine Cook Briggs and her daughter, Isabel Briggs Myers. Their goal was to put these types to practical use during World War II as women were entering the industrial workforce at a fast pace. Myers and Briggs wanted to help women identify which war-time jobs would best fit their personalities.

Their early survey evolved into the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which was officially published in the early 1960s. Since that time, it was become a widely accepted means of better understanding naturally occurring differences in how people perceive the world and make decisions.

Four Dimensional

Each of the 16 personality types identified by the test is referred to by four letters, representing four different dimensions:

  • E or I (extroversion/introversion)
  • S or N (sensing/intuition) – note that the second letter of intuition (N) is used to distinguish it from introversion
  • T or F (thinking/feeling)
  • J or P (judging/perceiving)

We each possess all of the dimensions in that list (it’s not purely either/or). But in each dimension, we have a dominant tendency.

For example, I tend to be an introvert, even though I can be extroverted at times. It’s not a mutually exclusive classification. Although I enjoy being around people and engaging in social situations, that’s not how I recharge my battery. I need some alone time.

According to the last test I took, I’m about 60 percent introverted/40 percent extroverted. On the intuition/sensing scale, I’m closer to 50/50.

Myers-Briggs Test for Personality Type

E or I

People who prefer extroversion draw energy from being active in the external world of action and people. However, those who lean toward introversion prefer to reflect before taking action. Introverts are thought-oriented, with their focus directed inwardly toward concepts and ideas. Extroverts, on the other hand, are action-oriented, directing more energy outward toward people and objects.

Introverts seek depth of knowledge and influence, while extroverts look for breadth. The former prefer more substantial interaction on a limited basis. But extroverts like more frequent contact that doesn’t have to be “deep.”

S or N

Sensing (S) and intuition (N) relate to our information-gathering tendencies. Those who have a tendency toward sensing are more likely to prefer relying on information that they can perceive through the five senses (that which is tangible and concrete). These people don’t trust intuitive hunches (which seemingly come out of nowhere) quite as much.

Those who lean toward intuition tend to be more comfortable with information that is abstract or theoretical and seems to fit into a bigger pattern. They find meaning in the theory and principles underlying data.

T or F

Thinking and feeling relate to our decision-making tendencies, based on the information we receive from our information-gathering functions (sensing or intuition). Those who have a thinking preference tend to make decisions from a more detached viewpoint, determining what seems reasonable, logical, and best fits into a system of rules.

However, those who rely on feeling in their decision-making process tend to empathize with the people involved in situations, determining what will achieve the greatest balance and harmony. They can be more sensitive to the feelings of others. People with a thinking tendency, however, tend to be more concerned with providing truthful, direct feedback than being tactful.

It’s important to note that people with a thinking tendency don’t necessarily make better decisions or provide better analysis than feeling types. Likewise, those who are stronger feelers don’t necessarily have superior emotional responses than thinking types.

J or P

People also have a preference for either judging or perceiving when relating to the outside world and approaching life. Do you prefer a more structured lifestyle (judging) or are you more flexible and adaptable (perceiving)?

For judgers, everything has a place, and they like a plan to follow. They crave order. Perceivers, however, tend to be a little messier. I was once told by a past Reiki student, who is certified to administer the Myers-Briggs test, that you can sometimes tell whether people are judging or perceiving by the backseat of their cars (how much stuff is strewn back there).

Do note that perceiving types can be quite capable of effective organization with some focus. Again, these categories are just tendencies. They’re not absolute. Both judging and perceiving are within each of us.

People with a dominant judging function tend to like matters settled. But perceivers often hold out for a little more information, waiting for the right moment to make their decision or move. Sometimes they can wait too long. On the other hand, judgers might jump the gun in their rush to take care of business before allowing themselves time to enjoy play.

Being a judging type doesn’t necessarily mean you’re more “judgmental” in a negative sense. But those with a judging preference may not be as comfortable with shades of gray as perceiving types.

Myers-Briggs Personality Types

Recognizing Types

By considering the four categories above, you may be able to identify your type without even taking the test. But I suggest taking it online to be sure. Then you can read about your particular combination of letters (i.e. ENTJ) on several online resources (Wikipedia, etc.) for a variety of perspectives.

Sometimes I can guess what someone’s type is once I’ve gotten to know him/her to a degree. For example, my friend Anthony has never taken the test as far as I know, but I can tell without a doubt that he is a classic ESFP.

Anthony is a tremendous extravert (E). On any given Saturday, he’s got at least two or three social engagements lined up – perhaps starting with an art exhibit opening before heading to a dance performance and ending up at someone’s house party. He seems to know everyone and get invited to everything. He thrives on it!

I can tell he’s a sensing type (S) because of his keen attention to environmental details. He could remember two days later what you were wearing at a dinner party. When he tells a story about a personal experience, he’ll provide the names of who was there, who they were with, how he knows them, etc., along the way to getting to his main point. He depends on his intuition to a significant degree, but the sensing tendency surely dominates.

I can tell he’s a feeler (F) because he is very sensitive to others’ feelings when expressing his opinions and making decisions. And I know he’s a perceiver (P) because there is limited adherence to a strict schedule. If he’s supposed to come over at 7 p.m., it might be 8 p.m. before he finally arrives. I can also sometimes tell that he delays making decisions on social commitments until he’s aware of all the possibilities.

performer personality type

The Performer

ESFPs like Anthony are often referred to as “The Performer,” which fits my friend perfectly because he has an extensive background in theater, comedy, and dance.

Here’s some of what has to say about this type: “For the ESFP, the entire world is a stage. They love to be the center of attention and perform for people. They’re constantly putting on a show for others to entertain them and make them happy. They enjoy stimulating other people’s senses, and are extremely good at it. They would love nothing more than for life to be a continual party, in which they play the role of the fun-loving host….

“ESFPs love people, and everybody loves an ESFP. One of their greatest gifts is their general acceptance of everyone. They are upbeat and enthusiastic, and genuinely like almost everybody.”

Short Descriptions

While Anthony is undoubtedly a  “Performer,” the one-word labels that are attached to the various types can be limiting. For example, not every ESFP would necessarily have any professional performing experience. Still, those short titles can be helpful in jogging your memory about deeper insights included in the longer descriptions of the 16 types.

These personality types include the:

  • ESFJ (The Provider)
  • ISFJ (The Protector)
  • ESTJ (The Supervisor)
  • ISTJ (The Inspector)
  • ISFP (The Artist)
  • ESFP (The Performer)
  • ESTP (The Promoter)
  • ISTP (The Crafter)
  • ENFP (The Inspirer)
  • ENFJ (The Teacher)
  • INFP (The Healer)
  • INFJ (The Counselor)
  • INTP (The Architect)
  • ENTP (The Inventor)
  • ENTJ (The General)
  • INTJ (The Mastermind)

These types and their short/long descriptions should not be perceived as limiting in any way. Instead, they serve as a means of helping you identify your dominant tendencies – as well as identifying areas with room for improvement.

You are not limited to any particular career as those type labels might suggest. There can be a lot of cross-over among personality types for the potential to excel at certain careers (teaching, healing arts, performing, leading organizations, etc.). For example, unlike Anthony, a lot of well-known performers are actually introverts when they’re out of the spotlight.

The goal of the test is not to pigeonhole yourself, but rather to gain deeper understanding of how you tend to fit into the world. The descriptions of these 16 types aren’t going to be one-size-fits-all. Just draw from them what seems meaningful to you.

You can take a slightly condensed version of the test online for free on the HumanMetrics Website. If you would like to have it professionally administered in a more comprehensive way, you can search the the Myers-Briggs Practitioner Network to find a tester in your area.

If you find after taking the test that you’re close to 50/50 on one of the four dimensions, you might read about another type that you’re close to for an expanded perspective (for example, a mix of ENTJ and ESTJ). While I’m an INFP, my score isn’t too far from ISFP (my artistic side). It’s sort of like being on the cusp of another astrological sign. You could learn from both descriptions to see which parts fit best.

Copyright, 2013, Wellspring Reiki & Hypnotherapy

woman crying - process of forgiveness

Process of Forgiveness

I have come to realize that forgiveness often needs to be a process of repetitive intention.

Occasionally someone we might have considered forgiven from long ago can slip into our consciousness. And if we dwell long enough on that past situation, it can reawaken old feelings.

Getting into those emotional states accesses our subconscious mind, the reservoir for our memories, feelings, and habits/reactions. Our subconscious has trouble differentiating between what’s past, present or future, so an old hurtful situation can seem as fresh as five minutes ago if we give it enough energy. You could get as angry, sad or fearful right now as you were 20 years earlier.

Therefore, as soon as you catch yourself thinking about someone you’ve forgiven in the past, remember that you’ve already let it go. Hand the situation over to your Higher Power again to help with your healing.

Say to yourself: “I’ve let it go. I choose forgiveness. God, please help me continue to heal from that situation and fully understand the lessons I needed to learn from it.”

Moving On

One person I occasionally have negative thoughts about is a toxic boss I once worked for at a nonprofit organization in North Carolina. If I dwell on some of her slimier behavior (and there was more than enough), I could start feeling really indignant. Fourteen years later, I could possibly even feel an urge to fire off an unconstructively critical email.

Of course, I wouldn’t really do that. After a second of satisfaction, I’d immediately regret it. Ultimately, that action would be far more harmful to me than her. She’s surely moved on with her life, having scarcely thought of me since. Why shouldn’t I set myself free?

So whenever I think about her (which is rarely these days), I reflect on how she was actually a blessing in disguise for me, because she finally motivated me to get out of my comfort zone and build a life in a new city (and ultimately a new career). Her toxicity was a kick in the pants at a time when I really needed one.

The experience also taught me how to better deal with cold, emotionally disconnected personality types, not to mention trusting my feelings more than someone’s words when I sense dishonesty. In short, I learned how to spot a fake snake.

Lessons Learned

live and learn editFocusing on what I gained from that relationship – a better understanding of how to deal with difficult people – creates an entirely different feeling than anger (one of almost gratitude). I’ve even sent her a nice note in the years since: “Was just thinking about you. I hope life is treating you well. I learned a lot from working with you.”

Part of what I learned was the importance of forgiveness and letting go of the past. By forgiving that former boss I’m not saying it was okay the way she treated me and other people in the office. That is her own karma.

Instead, I’m setting myself free. Letting go of that resentment means that she no longer exerts any control over my life.

Therefore, that forgiveness is really more for me than her. It’s a gift to myself. I like to open that present every day.

Rinse and Repeat

Over time, as you repeatedly forgive people from the past who might pop into your head, you’ll find yourself thinking about them less and less (the mental and emotional muscles associated with them learn to relax).

The energetic cords connecting you to them could also fray like rope and finally separate. At times you find yourself thinking about someone you’d like to release, try asking Archangel Michael to cut the cord with his mighty sword. He is always available to call upon for assistance and support. Imagine him carrying off that severed energy cord up into heavenly light, freeing you from the past.

There are, of course, numerous times when we have to forgive people who maintain a presence in our lives (romantic partners, family, friends, or colleagues). The process of repetitive intention in forgiving them works the same.

Forgiving Our Families

For example, I can point to a close friend (whom I’ll call Audrey) and share her story of learning to forgive her father through the years. A minister who was more focused on his congregation than this family, her father didn’t value the qualities that made Audrey special: her artistic abilities, adventuresome spirit, and keen intuition, just to name a view.

“It was very hurtful to realize that he didn’t want to know me,” remembered Audrey, now in her early 50s. “One of the primary people in your life repeatedly making you feel invisible is about one of the worst things ever. But he didn’t realize that he was doing that, and he didn’t how to do anything else.”

“What finally helped me forgive my Dad was imagining him as a tiny child and recognizing what his life had probably been like growing up,” explained Audrey, noting that her father had been raised by a hired nanny and only seen his parents when on his best behavior. “He never got that sense of closeness and total caring.”

She added: “Realizing that made me feel overwhelmingly sad for him because I recognized how he got so disconnected from people. Now I remember to forgive him all the time because I understand where the deficiency comes from. I’m so grateful I don’t have that same disconnect.”

forgiveness graphic

Root Causes

During the course of working with hypnotherapy clients through the years, I’ve encountered clients who suffered a lot of physical and emotional abuse from their families and others during their formative years.

I often employ regression therapy techniques that enable clients’ subconscious minds to find the past experiences that are closely associated with the root causes of problems they would like to solve (not feeling worthy, confident, capable of trusting, able to speak up for themselves, etc.).

Some memories that surface reflect relationship problems that might be easier to forgive than others. One woman remembered being four years old and winning a child beauty pageant. At the time, instead of praising her, her mother disparaged her by saying, “You didn’t deserve to win!” (a lack of approval that remaining an ongoing issue). A much more extreme example was a woman who recalled the time, at age 6, when her mother dismissed her claims of sexual abuse by a relative as lying.

Those situations were ones that neither client had thought much of in years – but that had made deep imprints on their minds, continuing to affect their lives in seriously limiting ways well into adulthood.

Time to Heal

Bringing such memories to the surface in hypnotic regressions isn’t scary because the clients aren’t really reliving the situations. Instead, they’re viewing past traumas from an adult perspective. And as adults, they have an opportunity to give their inner child (the subconscious mind) the love, approval, understanding, forgiveness and help they have always deserved.

They also frequently gain insights into their parents and others that can make it easier to forgive those people (if they’re ready). Or at least be willing.

willing signPerhaps a situation is still too fresh to fully let go of and forgive. If so, you could try easing into the process with this helpful affirmation from spiritual author Louise Hay: “I don’t have to know how to forgive. I just have to be willing to forgive. The Universe will take care of the how.”

Just the intention of forgiving begins the healing.

Yourself Included

Sometimes we have to remember to forgive ourselves as well others. We’ve all made mistakes in our past. There are times when we all could have treated other people better – when we could have made better decisions.

Instead of mentally beating yourself up again, remember to think: “I am human being and therefore a beautiful creation of God. All of God’s children deserve forgiveness. So I forgive myself right now!”

But getting to that place of mentally forgiving ourselves can take some time. I recently made a stupid mistake that, while not huge in the grand scheme of things, haunted me for an entire day. What happened is that while feeling tired and distracted, I didn’t keep a close enough eye on my wallet at the gym. Normally extremely vigilant about keeping track of all my possessions in that environment, I suffered a momentary lapse (even though I used a lock).

Either someone with lightning-fast speed snatched the wallet from my open locker when I stepped four feet away to glance in the mirror for a few seconds. Or the wallet fell under the locker-room bench before I began my workout, and someone decided to keep it rather than turn it in to Lost & Found once they realized it had $260 in cash inside. I almost never carry cash, but I’d needed to make a deposit.

Coming to Terms

Over the course of the rest of the day, I went through the various stages of dealing with the $260 loss in accelerated fashion (denial, anger, depression, bargaining, and acceptance).

Even though I felt so stupid about having lowered my guard, what helped me reach acceptance was the gratitude of knowing that I had not been physically harmed in this robbery; that I could attract the energy of that money back to myself (manifest more); and that I had not lost my integrity (something the thief was willing to sacrifice but could not take away from me).

HourglassI was also grateful for enhanced perspective on this topic of forgiveness. It’s easy to advise someone: “Oh, you made a mistake. That’s okay. Just pick yourself up, carry on, and don’t look back.”

But what if people make much bigger mistakes? For example, taking an investment risk that costs them a huge chuck of their retirement savings, or causing a motor vehicle accident that leads to a lifetime of pain or decreased mobility for someone involved. Letting go of regrets and forgiving themselves could take significantly longer for those people.

Entitled to Your Feelings

What we have to remember is that it’s perfectly okay to experience emotions like disappointment, sadness and anger when we’ve made mistakes or when others have hurt us or let us down. Expressing our feelings is much healthier than shoving them deep down inside. As human beings, we are entitled to the full range of emotion.

But at a certain point (sooner rather than later) we have to move into acceptance of a situation (whether someone left us, fired us, cheated us, or whether we messed things up ourselves). We have to be willing to forgive. And remember to reinforce that forgiveness as necessary.

As noted before, reflecting too long on negative interactions from our past can put us into the emotional state of reliving the experience. What’s more, we can inadvertently enter the energetic vibration of attracting more of the same experience. And who wants that?

Accentuate the Positive

In addition to remembering to forgive when negative thoughts of the past surface, it could also be helpful to remind yourself of the lesson learned (something that can continue to serve your life well today rather than being fear-based or limiting in some way). Focus on the positive lesson instead of allowing negative feelings to fester.

If we’re forgiving ourselves, we have to give ourselves permission to let go of the guilt. Ultimately, guilt is such a wasted emotion. It doesn’t solve anything or make anyone feel better.

Another important reason to remember to forgive as often as needed is to help prevent resentment from digging deep roots into your cellular memory. Did you know that long-standing resentment is widely considered a major cause of cancer? The anger that keeps eating at someone can lead to tumors, which literally eat away healthy issue. And nobody wants that!

Give yourself and others a present instead: The gift of forgiveness. That’s what we all deserve and will ultimately receive. Why wait any longer?

Copyright, 2013, Wellspring Reiki & Hypnotherapy