Thursday, February 12, 2015

On Figuring Ourselves Out

Every so often someone on the internet will write a post about Myers-Briggs personality types and it always stirs up a flurry of excited discussion and I rarely participate because no matter how many different versions of the test I take (including the *real* version) it always comes out INFJ--which for the longest time I thought couldn't possibly be right since it's the rarest of all the types, like less than one percent of the population rare.  What are the odds that that could really be me?  I know, I know, probably about one percent.  

Declaring yourself to be an INFJ on the internet seems tantamount to declaring that you are indeed a special snowflake whom no one else could possibly understand or fully appreciate which is not exactly the message I want to send out.  So, I guess what I'm saying is that, while you probably can't fathom the specialness of me, let's try to talk personality typing anyway :) 

For your viewing pleasure I've also included these unrelated, slightly fuzzy pictures of Margaret.  Enjoy.

After seeing lots of recommendations, I've been reading Please Understand Me II: Temperament, Character, Intelligence by David  Keirsey to try to get a better understanding of personality types in general and it is so interesting!  For one, I've finally admitted to myself that I am indeed an INFJ which means, among other things, that I'm an idealist--which will probably surprise no one, least of all the facilitator at our marriage retreat who felt like he had to give me a special talking to about my absurdly high "idealism" score on our pre-cana questionnaire.  Also, I've decided that the reason I was voted "most serious" by my senior class probably had less to do with everyone thinking that I was grumpy--which was my biggest concern at the time--and more to do with a certain air of intense pensiveness that not too many of my classmates shared.  I think having a rarer personality type also helps explain why I often felt out of sync with everyone else growing up--or maybe that's just typical of everyone?

Really the biggest take away for me from this book is that not everyone is the same.  I know.  That's probably not a groundbreaking thought, but I figure I'm probably not the only one who could use the reminder.  Not everyone feels the same as me, not everyone experiences the same situations in the same way as me, not everyone will react to the same circumstances the way I will.  And that's okay.

Now as interesting as reading all about my own and Chris' (ESTJ) personality types was, the one thought that kept popping into my mind during all of this was, I need to figure out the children's personality types.  Okay, the thought was more, I need to figure out David's personality type because my child is crazy and makes no sense to me and I need help!  In an amazingly fortuitous coincidence this post on personality typing children  popped up in my reader with just what I needed--a new book recommendation--which I am now passing on to you.  

When it comes to parenting my difficult child (wonderful, but difficult!), thinking of him as someone with a distinctive personality type that plenty of other children also have has gone a long way toward making me feel less crazy. It has also been very helpful to recognize the differences in our specific personalities and the tension that that can cause.  

It's so easy to try to mold the kids into little versions of ourselves.  Well easy to want to anyway, it's impossible to succeed at......unless they happen to already be like us to begin with, which none of mine appear to be--I'm still holding out hopes for Margaret though :)

We tentatively typed David as an ENTP (I think the others are too young to really get a read on them yet).  For him, all the interrupting, the constant flow of ideas and the never finishing of any of the subsequent projects, the way he seems to go crazy when surrounded by other children, getting more and more energized as if he's siphoning the energy straight from me all makes more sense in the framework of his personality.  His behavior also looks a lot less like disobedience and a lot more like a little boy who needs guidance--which is probably a much more helpful viewpoint. I love that the book has pointers for parents on what works with children of each different type at the end of each section as well and the advice there has already been making our days more pleasant.  

So, read the book and figure out your kids and make your days more pleasant and in the mean time take this test and figure out your own personality type and then report back here.  Because in addition to being a special snowflake I'm also nosy.  
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