Personality tests are a helpful tool
I think everyone, regardless of age, should do a personality test. And not the Facebook ones asking which Disney princess you resemble most. I’m talking specifically of based on Myers-Briggs. There are two I’ve done and recommend: 16 Personalities and Personality Hacker. Both are free, online tests that can be completed within minutes.
The result is four letters, based on the Myers-Briggs personality inventory, that identify you as one of 16 distinct personality types. To some it may seem ridiculous to reduce a person to a single category, but you will be amazed by its accuracy. Personality tests aren’t intended to fully define us, but they can help to explain our behaviours and attitudes. They can sometimes predict our attitudes towards certain people and situations. We have much to learn about ourselves and I am convinced these tests can be an invaluable start to self-awareness.
It seems ironic to label the indefinable but I found freedom and encouragement in four simple letters, INFJ.
For many of us, we behave and react without understanding the reasons for our habits and quirks. We just do. We speak, we act, we live without thinking about the why. We have strengths we take for granted and weaknesses to which we’re oblivious. People in your life could probably help you identify some of them (especially the annoying habits) but there’s power in knowing them for yourself.
Thanks to personality testing I have become aware of gifts which I took for granted and ones I didn’t fully understand or utilize. They were things I naturally did but couldn’t have identified. I just did them, not realizing they were special or unique. With age, I realized that not everyone thinks, feels or behaves the same as me, and how my strengths complement those of other people.
I felt weird and out of place, like I was missing something or wasn’t normal.
Reading about my personality type made me feel less crazy. Male INFJs are incredibly rare, so it’s understandable that I felt odd. I’m unique and that’s okay. Few people will understand me, many will try to change me but I can be confident in my personality, knowing I’ve been created this way for a reason.
We weren’t meant to be the same. Even within the 16 personality types there will be variations that affect how certain traits are expressed in every individual. Our past failures and hurts, along with our fears and ambitions, will change what we show to others. But the true personality lies underneath.
There are limits to personality tests.
How you answer the questions will affect the result. You must be sure to answer with your natural response and not how you wish you were. We tend to overthink questions and attach conditions, like “what if” or “it depends”. I suggest answering quickly with your gut reaction. The only wrong answers are wishful ones.
Sometimes we can feel bound by the test results, as if those four letters restrict what we can do or who we can be. They aren’t meant to limit us though. We should allow the personality test to inform our behaviour and bring understanding to our feelings. Read the results carefully; keep what resonates and discard what doesn’t fit. Don’t remove it simply because you don’t like it, but it’s possible that some statements don’t ring true for you, and that’s okay.
It should give you freedom from guilt, but not from responsibility.
I am more inclined to logic and reasoning over emotion. It’s good for me to be aware of this because it highlights an area of potential conflict with people who are emotionally driven, like my wife. Thanks to personality tests I’m now aware of this, which is incredibly helpful. I know I have a tendency to overlook feelings but it doesn’t give me permission to dismiss hers.
Though my natural response is to choose logic over emotions, it doesn’t give me permission to be an insensitive jerk.
There are times when traits switch from strength to weakness and back again. Identifying the strengths allows you to embrace them and maximize their use for the benefit of you and others. Understanding the weaknesses prepares you for the times they will be exposed. Self-awareness is one of the most valuable attributes to gain. We are all inclined to think, do, and respond, in certain manners and there is power and freedom in discerning why.
I was uniquely created in a way that allows me to do some things well, which consequently means I do others poorly. Personality tests, specifically Myers-Briggs, brought awareness of both. It allowed me to confront and challenge, but most importantly, accept them. For much our lives we’re told to fit in–dress the same, act the same, speak the same, pursue the same–when really we should be embracing what sets us apart.
We are so different yet we remain oblivious to our own greatest means of contributing to our world.
I believe the solution lies in getting to know ourselves. Not until we know our gifts can they be fully utilized or appreciated. It’s a lifelong process that will empower us to focus our energy on areas that energize us; giving time, service and attention to benefit others. As we walk forward in our gifts and embrace our strengths we shall find deeper satisfaction in our lives, a greater sense of purpose and direction, and freedom from others’ expectations.