Know thyself

Learning about Myers-Briggs personality types has helped me in so many ways, but for a long time I thought it was no better than a horoscope. Almost every online quiz I’ve ever taken told me I was an INTJ, and some aspects of it seemed to fit me, but some were way off. So even though I’ve known about Myers-Briggs for a long time, I didn’t give much weight to it until four years ago.

Finding out that I was an INTP was earth shattering. I should have taken the official MBTI, but I discovered it on my own when, after yet another online quiz told me I was an INTJ, I happened to read some short descriptions of the other types. The description for INTP seemed to match me better, so I read some more detailed profiles of INTPs (this is my favorite one). I realized that I was reading all about myself, down to the tiny little quirks and strange habits that I thought nobody else shared or even knew about. Even things that I thought were beyond the domain of personality, like my lack of interest in pop culture and my propensity to burst out laughing at inopportune moments because I remember something funny from two weeks ago, were apparently hallmarks of my personality type.

I had always thought I was weird, because I had never met another person like me. Now I knew for the first time that I was not weird; I was a perfectly normal INTP! My Myers-Briggs type accurately explained, or at least described, almost everything about me. This revolutionized my life. It changed everything from my self-esteem to the way I interacted with the world.

By knowing that I was in fact completely normal, I no longer felt like I had to conform to social expectations of personality—which is a good thing, because studies have shown that in American culture, the most favored personality type for women is ESFJ, my exact opposite. Reading more in-depth about INTPs taught me about how I could grow as a person in a way that was in line with my personality. I felt free to pursue my full potential as an INTP instead of focusing my energy on pursuing the ESFJ skills and interests that I was pressured to adopt. I can grow a lot more in the natural direction of my type than if I tried to go against the grain.

Knowing about Myers-Briggs also helps me to better understand others. After learning about each of the personality types, cognitive functions, and their traits (and using my iNtuition and Perception), I am able to figure out someone’s type quite easily, and this really helps my interactions and relationships. I am able to have more empathy for those with personalities that clash with mine, or who have values or opinions that I don’t understand or agree with, because I can see when they are influenced by their Myers-Briggs type. When I don’t understand why someone is behaving or thinking a certain way, knowing their type can help me determine whether they truly are being irrational or unreasonable, or whether their behavior is logical in accordance with their type.

Myers-Briggs is a great help in my marriage, by helping me and my husband to understand each other better and get to the root of many of our differences. When conflicts arise, it helps to know whether they are due to personality type differences, background and values differences, or whether one of us is being illogical. And as a parent, I am always mindful of my type’s natural strengths and weaknesses, so I know what I need to work on and how I can use my INTP-ness to be the best mom I can be. As my daughter grows up, I will be mindful of her Myers-Briggs type so I can better meet her needs and help her grow into her full potential. I hope it also helps her to understand her parents better.

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