Friday, December 26, 2008

from the archives: personality tests

This is not necessarily one of my favourite posts, but it is the one which started it all! I had just discovered that I, like all the best people, Honoria and Sandra included, am an INFJ. (I've realised recently that the difference between Nicole's blog and mine is perfectly summed up by S and N - she with her lovely, insightful practical wisdom and me with my endless theorising!)

Yes, I admit it, I'm a sucker for personality tests. I love the way you can spend 10 minutes absorbed in the fascinating topic of yourself, and at the end of it - for only $2.00, people! (actually, I'm too much of a skinflint, I stick to the free ones) - you receive a complete personality profile, tastefully presented with graphs, comparisons to your Facebook friends, and even suggestions for improvement ("perhaps if you opened yourself up to new experiences...")

This week, I've discovered that I'm an INFJ - thus gaining a defining sense of self in only 4 letters - on the impressively named Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. According to Wikipedia, which is, as we all know, the source of all truth, only 1.5% of the general population belong to my type - so I now know that I am rare and unusual (the thesaurus gives the synonym "wierd"). A website on the Kiersey types describes me as having "an unusually rich inner life" (ooh, I like that - great how you can pick and choose) and have an "intricately woven, mysterious" personality which will "sometimes puzzle even" me (yep, agree with that!)

I have discovered that INFJs love personality tests from the fact that I've already met two equally obsessed INFJ friends on Facebook. I now know why my best friends see me as an "extrovert", while a colleague described me (in print) as a "shy girl from Blackburn" (I've never quite forgiven him). I have also learned why I carefully write a pro and con list, then make a life-changing decision based purely on what "feels" right e.g. on whether I've eaten too much chocolate that day, yet another thing INFJs are apparently prone to.

So how much more do I really know about myself now that I've taken the test? Well, I've realised just how self-absorbed I can be, from the amount of websites I've looked at. And I've been reminded how well that little idol, that statue of myself, is firmly seated on the throne in my heart, from the way I am ceaselessly fascinated by my own personality. I have been reminded that I, like all of us, am "fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalm 139:14).

In a sense, I've learned nothing that I didn't already know. I've been reminded that God has given me particular strengths so I can help others; that I have a propensity for certain weaknesses; and that I have put myself, not God, firmly at the centre of my life. In other words, I need God's grace as much as ever.



TruthMatters said...

Loved this post.

I have a slightly different take on personality and temperment tests. I find that we benefit from them, not by discovering who we are or focusing on ourselves, but because of a desire to better understand others so that we can more lovingly minister to them.

When we know someone's temperment or personality type, it should make a world of difference as to how we inter-relate.

When we know that someone has difficulty with criticism, we can take a more sensitive approach. When we know that someone welcomes criticism, we can cut to the chase quickly and not irritate them with a bunch of uneccesary words.
When we know that someone thinks more abstractly, we can accomodate that without getting frustrated.

In my career, I have seen this (the knowledge of each others "type") transform the relationships within an office. People say, "No wonder you act that way", "No wonder you think that way". Now, I won't get my feelings hurt, because I understand you better and won't take it personally. It's just the way you are and has nothing to do with me."

In fact, things that would have caused conflict, we all are now able to laugh at because of a greater understanding of how differently we are all wired.

This is the true benefit of such tests, it should humble us and help us to love others, if we can get the focus of the fascination with ourselves.

Of course, some temperment types find that easier than others. :-)

God Bless you,

Jean said...

Thanks, Dianna.