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.”
“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)

Self-talk (7 of 30)

How do you talk to your inner child?
Do you treat him/her like you would treat someone you love?
What lies do you tell yourself?

insecurities and armor_web

Self-talk (7 of 30)

this > that > the other thing (3 of 30)

One of the things that most frustrates me about myself, and humanity at large, is our seemingly constant and often rash judgements (of situations, people, actions, ideas, beliefs). Sure, there are some things that most people will agree are bad… murder, rape, racism.  And I don’t disagree. But too many judgements are made based on ignorance, misunderstanding, a cultural norm, or excessive pride. So many people have been hurt in the name of “goodness”… But if it causes that much hurt, how good can it actually be?


When you think of the words ‘witchcraft’ or ‘wiccan’ what comes to mind?

Some people would say spells, potions, magic, evil, or Satan.  But where have you gotten these ideas from?  Do you know if they are accurate? Have you researched these things for yourself before making a judgment about them?

I use this example particularly because of my own experience.  Being raised in the Christian tradition, the primary information I had about witches, wiccans, and paganism was incredibly biased and vague. In general the sense that I got was that these practices were evil, dangerous, and from the devil. However, I recently was doing some of my own research (all the while feeling embarrassed for my curiosity, ashamed for my interest, and fearful of judgment if my husband, family, church members, or peers found out.)  But the things that I found were so incredibly different from what I expected.  Take this YouTube video for example (skip to 2:55 for the start of the list):

All this isn’t to say that I am now a practicing Wiccan or anything… it’s just showing a pretty stark example of my assumptions having been based on the views of other people/institutions.  How many of my other beliefs and assumptions have I just absorbed and integrated into my life without checking their validity?

Another example along the same vein is the practice of tarot card readings.  Have you ever participated in a tarot card reading?  Do you simply view them as erroneous attempts at “fortune telling”? Consider these quotes:

“Tarot cards do not tell the future; rather, tarot is a tool for spiritual guidance and enables the person receiving the reading to connect to his or her inner wisdom,” she told INSIDER. “Tarot readings help a person understand what he or she needs to know about a particular situation. Decks are best used as a tool of inner wisdom and guidance, as readings give a person insight to past, current and future events based on the person’s current path at the time of the reading. The cards do not necessarily reveal what will happen, but instead, allow a person to gain an understanding of a situation and determine the best course of action based on what is known and what the cards show.”  (source, emphasis added)

Tarot is a divination method. It’s like a tool for your intuition; it doesn’t just say something on its own. It just helps you reframe a problem and see it from a new perspective.” (@1:56)

“Contrary to what the uninitiated might think, the meaning of divination cards changes over time, shaped by each era’s culture and the needs of individual users.” (source)
So based on these definitions, saying that tarot cards are dangerous is about the same as saying that listening to one’s own intuition and insight is dangerous.

So What?

So, let’s take another specific example: I hate when I see my own tendency to judge and yet I never feel better when I judge myself for how judgmental I am being.  In fact, even as I write this I am making a judgement. I am saying that one way of interacting with the world and people around me is better than another way. (An open-minded, intentional, grace-filled approach toward the world is, in my opinion, inherently better than a close-minded, rash, judgmental approach.)

And yet I am open to the idea that I may be wrong in this… and I would love to have a calm respectful conversation about it with anyone who is willing.

And I guess that’s my point.  At the end of the day, I think most of this comes down to a difference in values.  Something that is not going to be easily “fixed” or reconciled.  Something that takes time, honesty, and a willingness to journey into the uncomfortable.

Perhaps more empathy can be gained by thinking about the situation in terms of personal values:  If one person’s highest values are authenticity and personal freedom they are going to deem different things and ways of being as ‘good.’  (For example, freedom of speech, regardless of its potential impact on others.)  If someone else values interpersonal harmony above all else, they will be more likely to desire restrictions to personal freedom for the sake of getting along. Others may value commitment, patriotism, sacrifice, equality, efficiency, etc. And all of these impact their views of what is right, good, and desirable.  (Another post I wrote about a similar topic of ‘what is classified as a good reason?’ can be found here.)  Not to mention that all of these things are parts of a greater system running… You don’t just come out of the womb with these values.  There are so many things at play in every situation, that have brought us to where we are in this moment.  If you really understood all of those factors (from inborn temperament to family structure to childhood experiences to past relationships (see articles/books/podcasts on systems thinking for more info)) do you think there would still be room for judgment?  Or would we all be able to give each other (and ourselves) a little more grace?

And the thing is, I don’t see what harm could possibly come from this openness to conversation.  Especially given the fact that gentleness and acceptance and a desire to dig deeper don’t mean I am/you are necessarily condoning the behavior. What they do often point to is a preservation of humanity and a desire to understand. And it’s in these spaces of love, acceptance, grace, humility, and connection that we can move toward true goodness (whatever that may be).

Some Questions to Consider

🔸 What things are you judging because you don’t understand them? Or because they threaten your way of being? Or because someone else told you they are bad/wrong?

🔸Do you find yourself using the words ‘weird’ or ‘normal’?  What can that show you about the judgments you are making?

🔸What things in your life do you tend to feel judged about? Your way of parenting? Clothing choices? Career path? Aspects of your personality?

🔸Where are the spaces that you feel the least amount of judgment?  Are you cultivating those spaces in your own life and with the people around you?  


this > that > the other thing (3 of 30)

It was just an adjective.

Simple sounds
muffled amongst the layers of meaning
that wrap overlap and veil
Meant to convey
they confuse refusing to be as simple as they seem
Because we’ve imbued them all
Convoluted them all
And if they’re not in a dictionary yet, just you wait
And the words on the screen broken down
are just pixels perceived by your eyes
Any meaning perceived
all lies behind
where the lines are converted to sounds
wrapped around and around with meaning
A mean thing
created by the creatures determined to drown out the actual sounds and
Perhaps the magic of music is found
in the substance of sound without meaning,
sound just being

If I could only just be.

And feel

(The wind of the word
a i r
and the Teeth
(Are you feeling your Tongue Touch the Tip of your Teeth
and your breath breath breath)
the swish and the swash of the grass and
the buzz of the bugs
and the squish and the squash of the marsh
and the gal-lop gal-lop gal-lop)

When did sounds become words
and words become meaning
and meaning become so abstract
that I can’t even grasp what it is to mean.

It was just an adjective.

Referential Existence

Words are so remarkably frustrating. They never fully encapsulate what I am trying to convey… the swirl of thoughts and logical strands, the elegant images and buzz of emotions tingling in my veins… they never flow out of my mouth, instead they tumble and crash like the waves on a beach trying to reach the dunes but failing because their shoes have been tied together and so they fall on their face and are dragged back to the sea of confused meaninglessness by the moon, which doesn’t even make any sense because the moon is so far away so how can its influence reach us.  These things, these letters and words are so limiting so constraining so endless so infinite so definable so utterly incomprehensible…

I took a poetry class in my final year of college.  I sat in a desk,
watching our professor try to pull the strands
just enough to let the light come through the impressions painted with pens,
just enough to get a glimpse of the supple curves and delicate skin,
without shedding the fullness of the harsh light that would shatter the seduction.
Just enough to convince us that we are not alone in our aloneness,
that others, too, are thwarted in their attempted sharing of the solitary oneness of self,
looking to the tilted mirrors of those around them, disappointed.1
Yes, and2
That others, too, recognize words as an elegy to what they signify,3
wavering between being and loss, awash in an incommunicable sea of existing.
That others, too, have sensed the strangeness of holding an unusable, yet somehow beautiful, broken tile of memory 4 in hand with a gentle wondering of what to do
that others, too, feel themselves at the center of a powerful and baffled will,5
Yes, and that others, too, are desperately avoiding erasure6
Aware of oblivion’s inevitability7
And the feeling or fact that
what has been done will be done again
and that there is nothing new under the sun8
And that originality is a myth
And that why is ultimately unanswerable

And so,

Vladimir:             What do we do now?
Estragon:             Wait.
Vladimir:             Yes, but while waiting.9


1 Hass, Robert. “The Apple Trees at Olema.” The Apple Trees at Olema. Harper Collins, 2010.
2 Rankine, Claudia. Citizen: An American Lyric. Graywolf Press, 2014.
3 Hass, Robert. “Meditation at Lagunitas.” The Apple Trees at Olema. Harper Collins, 2010.
4 Hass, Robert. “Novella.” The Apple Trees at Olema. Harper Collins, 2010.
5 Hass, Robert. “Misery and Splendor.” The Apple Trees at Olema. Harper Collins, 2010.
6 See footnote 2.
7 Reference to John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars
8 Ecclesiastes 1:9
9 Beckett, Samuel. Waiting for Godot. Grove Press, 1954.

Referential Existence

Systems Thinking // effects of effects

The innumerous nodes of the system shift infinitely, are shifting. In spite of their untangleable entanglement we, perhaps unconsciously, persevere in our belief, our obsession with one directional cause and effect. But the cause of the causes of effects were (a/e)ffected by other causes in the same way infinitely unless there was one first cause, which isn’t that the big mystery, so please no more reductions of the irreducible and solutions to the insolvable. We and me and you.
Let’s revel in the complexity, our understanding complete in its incompleteness.
But I preach

To her
Because she has an undying obsession with answers. Trust me, we know. We tried.
Dying that is. That year. that year is the one that haunts, that demands, that is eternally unentangled. Because him and him and her and them make too many trails to follow; they loop and swerve and intertwine like necklaces thrown in a bag and left for years because that was all an act and the curtain was drawn and the scene changed and now even if she wanted to separate them she couldn’t.
But she does want to separate those chains of days, to complete the autopsy, for what died was her hope and perhaps the black box of her heart could hint at the happenings causing the crash. She may not be able to reconstruct but perhaps she could aid someone else’s avoidance.

But time disperses all nodes which feels more like the continual ripping of stitches rather than the healing of wounds. And she awakes again from the dream of a memory of an idea, who was once flesh. But her reinvigorated desire to detangle is thwarted by the dispersion.
And so platitudes fill her, pumped by the society obsessed with succintness. Forgive and forget to keep calm and carry the dark days tucked away where nobody can see them because they’re over now, over your head, that is. Today is a new day, because we say so even though all the days are the same spinning spherical ballet connected only by the thin strand of memory and the untangleable web of effects of effects of effects of effects of effects…


Systems Thinking // effects of effects