Personality Types

Not too long ago it was suggested to me that I look into understanding my personality type by taking the Myer’s Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) test. It is an analytical psychology tool useful for helping us develop both better personal and professional lives. I had put it off for awhile because I was engrossed in other avenues of self discovery and self reflection. Also, having taken a variety of personality tests in the past for work I felt I knew already the basic information I would receive as a result of this test. Curiousity finally got the better of me and I took this test recently. The results were fascinating.

The MBTI is made up of 16 types of personalities, all based on a combination, or order, of acronyms for specific traits or temperaments:

Extraverted/Introverted (E/I) Mind, how we interact with other people.
Sensing/Intuition (S/N) Energy, how we see the world and process information
Thinking/Feeling (T/F) Nature, how we make decisions and cope with emotions
Judging/Perceiving (J/P) Tactics, our approach to work, planning, and decision-making.
I have taken this test multiple times on various websites offering it for free. I am an INFP. I get that response each time with only a slight shift in the percentages of my dominant traits.

The INFP is a mediator, a diplomat, a dreamer, idealist, healer. INFPs have a talent for self-expression, revealing their beauty and their secrets through metaphors and fictional characters. At their best, these qualities enable INFPs to communicate deeply with others, easily speaking in metaphors and parables, and understanding and creating symbols to share their ideas. The strength of this intuitive communication style lends itself well to creative works, and it comes as no surprise that many famous INFPs are poets, writers and actors. Understanding themselves and their place in the world is important to INFPs, and they explore these ideas by projecting themselves into their work.

Below is a description of the key strengths and weaknesses of the INFP:

INFP Strengths
Idealistic – INFPs’ friends and loved ones will come to admire and depend on them for their optimism. Their unshaken belief that all people are inherently good, perhaps simply misunderstood, lends itself to an incredibly resilient attitude in the face of hardship.

Seek and Value Harmony – People with the INFP personality type have no interest in having power over others, and don’t much care for domineering attitudes at all. They prefer a more democratic approach, and work hard to ensure that every voice and perspective is heard.

Open-Minded and Flexible – A live-and-let-live attitude comes naturally to INFPs, and they dislike being constrained by rules. INFPs give the benefit of the doubt too, and so long as their principles and ideas are not being challenged, they’ll support others’ right to do what they think is right.

Very Creative – INFPs combine their intuitive nature with their open-mindedness to allow them to see things from unconventional perspectives. Being able to connect many far-flung dots into a single theme, it’s no wonder that many INFPs are celebrated poets and authors.

Passionate and Energetic – When something captures INFPs’ imagination and speaks to their beliefs, they go all in, dedicating their time, energy, thoughts and emotions to the project. Their shyness keeps them from the podium, but they are the first to lend a helping hand where it’s needed.

Dedicated and Hard-Working – While others focusing on the challenges of the moment may give up when the going gets tough, INFPs (especially Assertive ones) have the benefit of their far-reaching vision to help them through. Knowing that what they are doing is meaningful gives people with this personality type a sense of purpose and even courage when it comes to accomplishing something they believe in.

INFP Weaknesses
Too Idealistic – INFPs often take their idealism too far, setting themselves up for disappointment as, again and again, evil things happen in the world. This is true on a personal level too, as INFPs may not just idealize their partners, but idolize them, forgetting that no one is perfect.

Too Altruistic – INFPs sometimes see themselves as selfish, but only because they want to give so much more than they are able to. This becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, as they try to push themselves to commit to a chosen cause or person, forgetting to take care of the needs of others in their lives, and especially themselves.

Impractical – When something captures INFPs’ imagination, they can neglect practical matters like day-to-day maintenance and simple pleasures. Sometimes people with the INFP personality type will take this asceticism so far as to neglect eating and drinking as they pursue their passion or cause.

Dislike Dealing With Data – INFPs are often so focused on the big picture that they forget the forest is made of individual trees. INFPs are in tune with emotions and morality, and when the facts and data contradict their ideals, it can be a real challenge for them.

Take Things Personally – INFPs often take challenges and criticisms personally, rather than as inspiration to reassess their positions. Avoiding conflict as much as possible, INFPs will put a great deal of time and energy into trying to align their principles and the criticisms into a middle ground that satisfies everybody.

Difficult to Get to Know – INFPs are private, reserved and self-conscious. This makes them notoriously difficult to really get to know, and their need for these qualities contributes to the guilt they often feel for not giving more of themselves to those they care about.

Conclusion
Few personality types are as poetic and kind-hearted as INFPs. Their altruism and vivid imagination allow INFPs to overcome many challenging obstacles, more often than not brightening the lives of those around them. INFPs’ creativity is invaluable in many areas, including their own personal growth.

Yet INFPs can be easily tripped up in areas where idealism and altruism are more of a liability than an asset. Whether it is finding (or keeping) a partner, making friends, reaching dazzling heights on the career ladder or planning for the future, INFPs need to put in a conscious effort to develop their weaker traits and additional skills.

Some Famous INFPs
William Shakespeare
J.R.R. Tolkien
Johnny Depp

Some Fictional INFPs (yeah I don’t know how they know either but I’ve always admired these characters)
Froddo Baggins & Arwen from Lord of the Rings
Anne of Green Gables
Fox Mulder from X-Files
Sybil from Downton Abbey
Emma Swan from Once Upon a Time

Source: My profile on 16personalities.com

There are a variety of websites offering a free test and their own perspective on what the strengths and weaknesses of each personality type are but they are all basically of the same nature. I find the characteristics described of the INFP to fit me almost perfectly point for point. There are a few areas where I can see that my own personal quirks overshadow what might be otherwise completely accurate but the parallels are undeniable. It gives me so much more understanding into myself and a good introspect into my current and past relationships and friendships. I have always felt as though no one understands me, and rightly so, with only 4% of the population having this particular personality type. As an INFP its inherent to feel misunderstood. To give and receive understanding, compassion, and connection to others and desperately craving for it in return while at the same time never being able to open up enough, to get out of our own heads enough, to receive it.

I have much self development to do now that I have a better understanding of me and feel some level of excitement for the possibilities of a greater me and where this can potentially take me (inherent INFP there). At the same time it feels lonely in the knowledge that my inner world is indeed vast and magical but incredibly hard to share. It’s in turns filled with sunlit fields of daisies and young girls twirling in pretty dresses filled with laughter and goodness, pure beauty and joy, while on the other side of the spectrum lies a dark desolate storm filled sky filled with deep thoughts and wonder as a scene of good and evil plays out before the eyes. Do you know what I mean? Are you picking up what I’m laying down? Are you feeling me? Of course you aren’t. But I’ll keep describing things in my own non-sensical colorful metaphor filled way and follow up each explanation with, “does that make sense?” I’ll forever struggle feeling as though no one understands me.

Few personality types are as poetic and kind-hearted as INFPs. Their altruism and vivid imagination allow INFPs to overcome many challenging obstacles, more often than not brightening the lives of those around them. INFPs’ creativity is invaluable in many areas, including their own personal growth.

Yet INFPs can be easily tripped up in areas where idealism and altruism are more of a liability than an asset. Whether it is finding (or keeping) a partner, making friends, reaching dazzling heights on the career ladder or planning for the future, INFPs need to put in a conscious effort to develop their weaker traits and additional skills.

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I’d like to thank those few persistent people in my life who have stubbornly stuck it out beside me. It can’t be easy. Know that I truly love and cherish my many relationships, even if you’ve not all been able to break through my crazy and impenetrable walls. I encourage you each to learn your own personality type and what it means to you. The more I learn the more I try and figure out the types of all my friends and loved ones. It’s fun trying to figure everyone out. If you take this test, or already know your personality type, please feel free to post it in comments so we can compare!

Some sites to check out are:
www.16personalities.com (free test) (my source for the information above)
www.humanmetrics.com (free test)
www.my-personality-test.com (free test)
www.myersbriggs.org (official: if you want pay and have a professional analyst assigned to you)

*Image source: http://www.invincibleinfp.com

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