Modern life loves to pigeon hole us, doesn’t it? We’re white or not, male or female, we tick a box to indicate our age range, we are this job or that job, married or not, kids or not. It’s all annoying and it puts us in uncomfortable little boxes that we sit in uneasily. We spend our lives in these boxes and yet constantly talk about and think about getting out of them without actually moving. After all, it’s comfortable in a box. When we are forced out of it, when we are fired from our job or our relationship breaks down, the loss of that part of our identity can hit us harder than the actual event. This uneasy relationship between our need for stability and identity and our desire to be free continues for most of our lives. We are never really free of it.
Myer-Briggs can feel like just another box. They use it at work and at school, in fact I first encountered it in high school when they got hundreds of seniors into one big room and had us take the test. They use it to say that you should be good at this, bad at that, and that there’s a prescribed life that you should be living. This is a bad way of using the system.
It isn’t about rules, it isn’t about being one thing or another. It isn’t even really about personality although lots of people seem to think otherwise. It’s about explaining how your mind functions. It’s not perfect and it’s not a complete system, but it fits with what I see around me, and with what I see in my own mind, and I find it helpful. That’s pretty good for an ‘untested’ and ‘unproven’ non-scientific system, right?
I’m not going to go into the intricacies of the system, but basically it describes how you interact with the world, how you learn, how you make decisions and gives you tips on how to improve all of those processes based on what type of processes they are. It can explain a lot as well. When I learned about the system, and took the test, it explained why I saw the world so differently. In the Myer-Briggs system, I’m an INTJ. That means I’m a rare type, especially for a woman, and that I function differently and need different things. It also means that I can change the way I interact with the world and be more comfortable doing so. It means that I can accept who and what I am, that I am not weird or broken or acting wrongly, I’m just different. To a lot of people, myself included, just realising that is an incredible gift.
That’s what we’re all looking for, isn’t it? Validation for how we see the world, how we interact with it. A lot of us go through school feeling strange, feeling like a freak, and feeling like we’re wrong in some way. And when something comes along that tells us that we’re just fine, that the pigeon hole the world has set up for us is the thing that’s wrong, it feels amazing. Because that is truly what the system is about. It’s not about pigeon holing anyone. It’s about working out how the pigeon holes out in the world are wrong for us. Or maybe they’re right for us, stereotypes do exist for a reason sometimes, but I think that if anyone feels completely ‘right’ in the world they probably aren’t reading blogs on how to improve themselves.
There are a lot of sites that go into more details on this system. I love Personality Hacker and Personality Café and there are a number of tests to try and find out what type you’re most likely to be. The tests themselves have issues of course, it’s really difficult to self-diagnose because we all want to see ourselves in a certain way. But I think with a bit of honesty, self-knowledge and a close study of the system, anyone can probably work out what type they’re most likely to be.
Try it. I’m not saying it’s perfect. I’m not even saying that it’ll work for you. I’m just saying that it’s been immensely helpful for me and hoping that it will give you some new insights, some new confidence, as well.