There are many places in the physical world that I have never visited. However, I have been to many places in my inner world and I have walked on quite a few paths of my inner landscape.
The ups and downs of my retirement have given me much to consider. One of the things my retirement solitude has done is confirm, with little doubt, the best and the worst aspects of my personality.
Way back in the early 1980′s, while I was working for a church, I took a nine month course on spiritual direction. Part of the course was taking the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator test for the first time. It revealed that I was an INFP which is also called the Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Perceiver type. It is too much to explain it all here but if you want to know more about INFP’s and the Myers-Briggs in general, you can find information at www.personalityperfect.com/16-personality-types.
After some years of studying the Myers-Briggs I was introduced to another system called the Enneagram. Today there are various tests one can take to identify which of nine types you might be. When I was first introduced to the Enneagram it was more of a self assessment in the sense that one needed to recognize and own their own behavior, good and bad, to identify your type. Because different personalities can have similar traits and behavior it is relatively easy to mistype yourself. I was a person who did this. For many years I thought I was a different kind of person than I really am.
When you look in the mirror there are three people looking back at you. There is the person you think you are. There is the person other people think you are and there is the person you really are.
I now realize that I am a Type Four on the Enneagram. Early on I suspected this but was led astray because I wanted to be a different kind of person than I really am. Don’t we all think this way at one point or another in our lives?
One way to nail down your own personality type is to own the negative aspects of your personality. We often think we have all the best aspects of every personality type. It also helps to look at the characteristics of the types on either side of the type you think you are. For example, I am a Type Four. I also have some of the characteristics of a Type Three and a Type Five.
Here are some of my best traits….
Individualistic, Perceptive, Expressive, Creative, Warm, Supportive, Refined, Compassionate, Gentle, and Witty.
Here are some of my worst traits. It hurts me to admit to these.
Temperamental, Withdrawn, Self-absorbed, Envious, Emotionally needy, Easily hurt, Snobbish, Depressed, Critical, and Self-indulgent.
Unfortunately, I can be all of these things. My type is sometimes called the “Tragic Romantic” and that I surely can be at times.
Of course, even our personality traits are not who we really are. Our true selves, our essence, is who we really are. Our personalities are only a way to cope with the world around us and to get attention.
If you would like to learn more about the Enneagram this is a good place to start is www.enneagraminstitute.com.
I have learned a lot about myself and others from studying the Myers-Briggs and the Enneagram. If you are interested in this type of stuff, I urge you to check them out.
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