Myers Briggs: Testing Your Personality

I first took the Myers Briggs personality test about 7 years ago. 

I was going through some large life-transitions at the time, including a divorce, new home, and new job. I felt a huge sense of freedom in my life but it was mingled with insecurities. I had high highs and low lows. 

I began meditating for the first time as I strived for a sense of purpose and direction. Like many people in uncertain times, I dove into personal development work. I read books, I listened to podcasts, I watched videos. I devoured anything and everything that could help me better understand who I was and what I wanted. 

The Myers Briggs test was just one of the many things I stumbled across during my journey. 

For anyone who doesn’t know what the Myers Briggs test is, it’s a personality test which groups a person into 16 potential personality types based on a series of questions. Your type is meant to provide an insightful look into your psychological preferences as a person. i.e. how you perceive the world and how you make decisions. 

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For anyone who has ever felt miss-understood, it can be incredibly liberating to read that little summary at the end of your test results and know that you are, in fact, just like millions of other people in the world. You are unique, of course, but you have patterns of emotion and behaviour which can be summised in a way that helps everything make more sense. 

You might read your results and think things like, “ohhh, that’s why I do that”. You might consider past relationships with an ex or colleagues and realise that they just didn’t understand you the way this wonderful little test does. 

Isn’t it funny how a sense of acceptance or fitting in seems to be a large driver in taking these sorts of tests? We all want to share our results with others so that they can finally understand us and appreciate the intricacies of our personality. We want to share our strengths and make light of our weaknesses. We want our friends, colleagues or partners to read our results and say “that’s uncanny. It’s exactly you.” Deep down, we might interpret it as “you’re perfect just the way you are.” We feel good. We feel heard. We feel understood.

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There are many benefits to doing personality tests. You can feel better understood but you can also begin to interpret your behaviour in more logical ways. You might understand why you make certain decisions, what type of career is best suited to you or how to get along better with other types of personalities. All of these are incredibly useful tools to help you navigate life. 

The Myers Briggs has not only become popular in the personal development world, but it’s also hugely popular in the corporate world. Thousands of organisations have jumped on the bandwagon and pushed employees or potential employees to take the Myers Briggs as a part of their HR processes. 

The problem with this is we fail to accept the whole person as a beautifully complex individual. Yes, we might have answered a question one way in the safety of our home on a day where we felt confident but we might act very differently when the circumstance arises and we are having a shit day. We might be stronger, more capable than we give ourselves credit. We might be quieter, less opinionated than we think. The way we interpret ourselves is a huge factor in how we answer the questions and therefore what results we get. This could be different on different days or in different phases of our life. 

We also have to consider that the test was created by Katherine Briggs and daughter Isabel Briggs Myers who had no formal training in psychology. They based the test on ideas by Carl Jung whose theories on personality were based on his own experiences rather than scientific research. It was in the 1940s that his ideas were first published and at that time in history, psychology was not yet linked to scientific data so much as guess-work. There were no controlled experiments like there are today. 

The sceptic in me wants to hate the whole idea. It wants me to yell about the deceptive way the test was conceived. It wants me to yell about the injustice of trying to pigeon-hole a human being into one type of personality and then consider it a done deal.

But then the test did tell me I’d have that sort of reaction…

It told me I’d fight for idealism.

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And on reflection, I don’t want to diminish the amount or work and intellect that went into the making of the Myers Briggs test, I am merely stating that we should consider these factors. We shouldn’t accept that a quick assessment is a replacement for truly understanding another human being. 

7 years later, I find myself having a conversation with my sister-in-law about the test. 

After listening to the podcast, “Understanding Your Child’s Personality for Ease in Parenting with Sandra Etherington” (The Balanced Parent Podcast), my sister-in-law is using the test as a way to better understand her own parenting along with her children’s different personality types. 

I really respect this. For anyone who has 3 children, I can imagine juggling 5 potential personality types under one roof is a huge challenge. To have a better understanding of how each of these personalities work, can only help to improve the family dynamic and the individual. It’s an amazing way to help your children thrive in a confusing world. I loved that she was doing this. 

A couple days after speaking with her, a friend at work mentioned the Myers Briggs to me, “have you taken it?” I laughed. Up until a few days before, I hadn’t thought much about it since first taking the test 7 years ago (I love when the world is telling you something). 

So, I listened to the podcast my sister-in-law listened to. I read my friend’s results and marvelled at the accuracy. I re-took the test myself. 

7 years on and I’m still an Advocate. INFJ; someone who sees helping others as their purpose in life.  I’m introverted, communicating through emotional honesty. I’ve got lots of strengths and lots of weaknesses. I am human. 

Everyone who has read my summary, has told me it’s exactly me. For the most part, I agree. 

And maybe it’s this feeling of accuracy that makes me ultimately appreciate the Myers Briggs. 

Whatever it is, I think there’s a lot benefits to trying it. No, I don’t think people should be summed up by just one personality test. No, I don’t think we should hire or judge people based on their test results. No, I don’t think we can say that this is all there is to another human being. 

But in my own experience, I think we do tend to have certain types of behaviour and personality and it’s so useful to be able to understand that better. Whether it’s through meditation, journaling, counselling, or a personality test, I think the more awareness we have about ourselves, the greater potential we have for a happier and healthier life. So why not test your personality?

If you haven’t tried it and want to, check out this quick, free version of the Myers Briggs. Share it with your friends and family. See if you can improve your relationships with others and yourself. 

Published by feelosophywithalex

I’m a Holistic Wellness Coach helping young women to commit to their own wellbeing so that they can live a passionate and purposeful life that they love.

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