How many times have you been talking to a friend about someone you’ve just met, or have known for a while and said…”I just don’t understand her. She’s a little weird don’t you think?” Or perhaps you’re so angry with your partner for not knowing what it takes to make you happy although you’ve told them time and time again?
I’ve long been interested in the differences in us….how four children from the same family can be so dramatically different and in turn so misunderstood. We’ve all known, or perhaps been, the black sheep of the family and can see how much of a strain it can be on kids who think and feel differently than the rest of their peers. I grew up (and my Mum has admitted to this too) feeling like I was from another planet. How could I be related and/or connected with all these people around me? I didn’t seem to think or feel the same. My instructors at school didn’t really understand me either. I was pretty much labelled a “weird little kid”.
For the past few years I’ve had an interest in the Myers Briggs type sorter and also the Enneagram. These two tests have really helped me to understand myself a little better as well as helping me to recognise why the social aspect of being a musician is so daunting to me. Musicians with type ENFP find this kind of work less harrowing as meeting new people and experiencing new situations is their life-blood! But for me, as an INFJ throwing me into a room of a ton of people I don’t know (unless I’m on stage) makes me feel completely awkward and uncomfortable. I’m perfectly willing to make a spectacle of myself on stage….and if the show goes well…happy to socialise afterward if I feel a good vibe in the room. It’s all about feeling for me though and one person with a negative vibe can make me feel trapped and ready to run!
The enneagram for me is a much better personality sorter. Unlike the MBTI, it makes allowances for changes in sense and situation. Each of the types have a wing or wings and and types they will lean to in places of health or stress. I’m a type 4 with a 3 wing, but thought until recently that I was a 2…as that is where I lean to in times of stress. The enneagram is particularly good for counselling as you can clearly see by characteristics where a person is in their life and what they need to work on to become centered and healthy.
The personality is a highly complex thing, and I don’t expect we’ll ever really understand ourselves or one another completely; but take a test….do some research and learn to respect yourself and others for who and what you are…different and changeable; complex and unique; and in a word, special. In turn I’ve met lots of people in the last few years that use personality type sorters as an excuse for their erratic or unhealthy behaviour. I don’t believe this is what it’s all about! A snapshot of your life is not who you are meant to be for the rest of the time you’re here. We’re meant to be working towards a healthy space and just because we’re prone to sadness doesn’t mean we should accept that as our lot. As we age, we’re learning and evolving mentally and through knowing more about ourselves I believe we can move into a space of emotional comfort and understanding for humankind.
Don’t forget to share your types and stories as you wish. I’m very interested in hearing about you and if the Enneagram and MBTI have helped you to understand yourself or those around you. Is it all just bollocks? What do you think?