I’m not here! (12 of 30)

(aka Why You May Not Be Finding Your Personality Type)

Sometimes when talking about personality typologies, I have heard the response “I don’t connect with any of the types.” Or another similar response of, “I see myself in many of the descriptions.”

As I have been thinking about it, I have realized that there are a few different reasons as to why these responses come about:

1. Incomplete (or inaccurate) information

There are a LOT of online tests and quizzes, websites, articles, books, and podcasts about personality typology. It is very easy to go online, take a random quiz that “tells you your type,” read the description, think that it doesn’t describe you at all, and declare the system stupid. The problem is, most of these systems were not designed to be reduced down to ten multiple choice questions analyzed by a computer.  Psychologists have spent decades writing books upon books about these topics and so if you are relying on a 5 minute quiz, it’s very possible that it will (a) not give you an accurate result or (b) describe the type in a quick, shallow way that feels oversimplified.  None of us like being reduced down to a number or combination of letters.  I know I even resist tests that seem to categorize based solely upon external behavior.  And rightly so! We are so much more complex than that!  My husband and I can both agree to go to an event, for example, and it be for entirely different motivations. Our behavior may look the same, but the complexity of our decision isn’t necessarily outwardly reflected.

So, what to do in this situation? 

Do More Research. I suggest, if you are really serious about determining your type, that you look for some resources that are less pop psychology and more academic.  I’m not saying you have to go read the original writings of Carl Jung, but maybe find someone who has. Find a book/site/podcast that specializes in the system you are looking into.  Better yet, find a few.  Compare and contrast the ways they describe the types and take note of the depth of their analysis. (Note: be prepared… you will actually have to READ, not just take a quiz.)

Look for Subtypes. For example, some people who study the Enneagram (a typology system) have different ways of looking at subtypes. One may focus on your wings (the types adjacent to yours) and the other may focus on instinctual variants.  Is one more accurate, nuanced, detailed? Is one more helpful? More beneficial to your understanding of yourself and others?  Or even, is there a way you can synthesize the information and learn from both? I can’t give you the answers… That’s something you’ll have to decide for yourself.

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2. Blindness

Not physical blindness, but a blindness to your own ways of operating, your internal mechanisms, your wiring.  Some of the typology systems deal with things you may have never thought about before (your way of taking in information, for example. See the perceiving functions in Myers-Briggs) or emotions you may be avoiding or repressing.  We all repress, to some degree or another, certain thoughts or feelings.  Subconsciously we may deny our loneliness, shame, anger, neediness, etc. because they are not enjoyable feelings.  This can make it very hard to fully identify with a type if it is describing struggles you deal with but don’t consciously recognize.  If you aren’t connecting with any specific type in a system, consider that it may be your understanding of yourself that it causing the disconnect. Thankfully, this is one that doesn’t require a library full of psychology textbooks…

So, what to do in this situation?

Pay Attention. Start to cultivate self-awareness.  Watch how you interact with the world and pay attention to what is going on behind the curtain.  Try meditation or journaling. It can be quite difficult to see your subconscious motivations, to be self-aware of your triggers, emotions, thoughts, etc. We pick up so many habits and automatic ways of functioning from childhood that often times we really have to dig into ourselves to see them.  Plus it can be really intimidating to get in touch with these parts of yourself! And so my next suggestion…

Find a Counselor or Therapist. Seeing a mental health professional can be incredibly helpful for unearthing the deeper parts of yourself.  It can provide you with a safe space to explore and a guide to come alongside you through the process.  Sometimes having someone else there can bring a lot of clarity and point out things you may have never seen (or acknowledged) about yourself before.  You may even be able to do this with a spouse or close friend, just make sure it’s a safe and honest place.  And at the end of the day, it is you who has to see (and accept) what is going on inside of yourself. Again, we all do things for different reasons.  Other people can guess at what is going on in your mind and heart, but only you can truly discover and know that.

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3. Type Transcendence

If you are having trouble identifying with a type in a system, and have already fully and honestly considered #1 and #2, there is a possibility that you have transcended type!  I believe that one of the primary aims of systems (like the Enneagram in particular (yes, I know I am bringing it up a lot… it’s the one I am currently deep diving into so it is on my mind!)) is to identify areas of growth in order to work towards developing balance.  Theoretically, with real and sustained personal development, one would successfully transcend type.  I personally haven’t known anyone who is at this place, just given the fact that it would take immense amounts of courage, self-awareness, persistence, and time to achieve this state, but I definitely won’t deny the possibility!

So, what to do in this situation?

If this is you, honestly I am surprised you are on this little blog of mine! You probably have read quite a bit about personal development and therefore know a lot about yourself and humans in general.  In this case, maybe you should consider starting your own blog/website/podcast/book.  You could share the things that have been beneficial to your journey and come alongside others (myself included) as we try to work towards a whole, balanced, and healthy self.

There is one final reason I have been able to think of for why you may not identify with a certain type in a personality typology system…

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4. It may not be a useful system.

All personality psychology up to this point is theory.  And sometimes theories are wrong. It is entirely possible that you can’t find yourself in the system because the system is an outdated or incomplete way of looking at humanity. Because in reality, of course all of these systems are going to be incomplete. Humans are incredibly complex. However, I would recommend using this reason as a last resort.  Before you write off an entire system, make sure you fully understand the nuances (NOT the pop psychology version), make sure you have taken an honest look inside of yourself to see if you are overlooking or suppressing anything that may be linked to the disconnection, and understand that growth, balance, and transcending type can be a marker of a healthy person.

And a final note, while it is completely okay and understandable to not find a certain system beneficial for you, remember that other people may be growing and developing because of it.  And isn’t that what this is all about?

(Actually, you may find yourself wondering, what are typology systems about?  Check out this post for my view on the subject. Thanks for stopping by!)

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I’m not here! (12 of 30)

How to Deepen Conversations about Personality Type (11 of 30)

Recently, I have found that the more I dive into and learn about personality typology systems (Myers-Briggs, Enneagram, etc.), the more I tend to get frustrated when I find myself in conversations that are using them simply as a means for surface-level identification and differentiation.

Conversations like these:

“I’m a ENTP, what are you?”
“I’m an INFJ.” 
“Oh, cool.”
“Yep…”
“What about your Enneagram type?”
“I’m a four.”
“Sweet. I’m a seven.”
“Nice. Good to know.”

[end of conversation]

I find myself wanting to scream, “We aren’t using these in the way they were intended to be used!” But then I remind myself that I am part of the conversation too.  I am not letting on that I have been digging into cognitive functions stacks and instinctual variants, listening to podcasts and reading books. I am not asking questions that further the conversation or bring depth or to it.  Plus, I have to remember that not everyone has the time or desire to dig into the depths of personality psychology like I do.  Some people are content identifying their type and moving on, and that’s okay.  And some people would love to deep dive, but don’t know there is more depth to it or even if they do, they may not know where to start.  Because it honestly can all be incredibly overwhelming and convoluted, especially at the beginning.

And so today I have been brainstorming ways that I can engage more deeply when a conversation about personality type comes up.  I have come up with five questions that could help further the conversation:

Questions to Deepen Personality Type Conversations

  1. What do you feel like your type says about who you are?
  2. How do you feel your type impacts the way you interact with the world and the people around you?
  3. Has knowing your type helped you to see things about yourself that you hadn’t been aware of before? Can you think of any examples (and would you be willing to share them)?
  4. Has knowing your type helped you to plan steps in your personal development or identify ways you wish to grow?
  5. Are there ways you feel like you don’t fit with the stereotypes of your specific type? Parts that may not resonate with you?  Is there another type that you have mis-typed as in the past or tend to identify with?

And ideally asking these questions (or similar ones) would help to deepen the conversation, opening more doors for getting to know one another, more avenues for sharing and conversation.

For example, I am an INFJ. As an INFJ, my highest leverage point of growth (according to Personality Hacker, a site I am semi-obsessed with) would be developing my Extroverted Feeling (or Harmony as they have nicknamed it). So if someone asked me question 4, I could respond with something like:

“Through understanding more about my type (and myself) I have realized that I am not very great at having healthy boundaries with people.  I tend to go for quick and easy fixes to avoid conflict, instead of pressing into real solutions in order to find true harmony. I have been getting to dig deeper into my psyche to find where that originates, and through self-awareness I am working to establish more sustainable boundaries and a more healthy relationship with conflict.  What about you? Do you find you’re able to engage in conflict? Are there any specific ways you hope to grow or traits you wish to develop?”

Ideally, this could either continue our conversation about type if they have a knowledge of the system beyond the pop psychology aspect, or, equally compelling, it could launch us into a more general (yet still deep) conversation about life, struggles, ambitions, and growth.


So, what about you? Do you have answers to any of the questions above? Do you think they would be helpful for deepening a conversation about personality type? Are there any more you would add to the list or any strategies you have found for deepening conversation?  Let me know in the comments below!

How to Deepen Conversations about Personality Type (11 of 30)

Do you feel put in a box by Myers Briggs/Enneagram?

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Do you feel put in a box by Myers Briggs/Enneagram?

Letter I Wish I Could Send // Memory

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A letter to my first kiss, my first “real boyfriend.”  // Part of a series I just started about letters I wish I could send. // It’s interesting to see, as I have been writing these, how sometimes I just jump right in… And sometimes I feel the need for small talk at the beginning.  This was one where I was going to just go straight into some memories, but that felt too sudden, too random…

 

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Letter I Wish I Could Send // Memory

Letter I Wish I Could Send // (mature content)

(I feel like this one should include a disclaimer/trigger warning… There’s definite swearing and if you have had a traumatic sexual experience that you are still working through, maybe skip to another post.)

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What is fascinating about this process of writing (and moreso, sharing) these letters, is that I can’t help but wonder if I am overreacting.  If I am being exhibitionistic. If I am oversharing. My aim is to be authentic and real.  To let you know that you are not alone. To share my process of, well, processing. Of healing. Of dealing with my emotions. Maybe the internet doesn’t need more of this.  But the internet doesn’t really need more cat videos either, and those keep popping up so…

 

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Letter I Wish I Could Send // (mature content)

Letter I Wish I Could Send // Lies

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So, if you saw my post yesterday, you know that I’m working on a new series of posts containing letters I wish I could send to various people in my life.  I’m processing, venting, expressing, lamenting, reminiscing, and in general, just trying to identify some of the things I wish I could express but feel like I can’t or don’t know how.  So far a lot of them are focused on working through things from my past.  Do you have any things/activities/etc. that have been helpful for you to work through past hurts?  Or to help get closure?

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Letter I Wish I Could Send // Lies

Letters I Wish I Could Send

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And thus begins a new series comprised of:

Letters I wish I could send

to people from all aspects of my life.  People from the past, the present, and who knows, maybe even the future.  People who I love, who have hurt me, who I miss.  I’m going to do my best to not get too into specifics… I don’t want to slander anyone, or hurt anyone.  Just process and vent and maybe connect to some of you readers who can relate to these letters I wish, for one reason or another, that I could send.

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Letters I Wish I Could Send