My entire life I have always known I was a little “different”.
Not bad different. Just different, different. Other than my mom I have never really known anybody like me.
I love to learn about everything, but only when I am learning in my own way and teaching myself. I am currently in the process of teaching myself French, ASL and piano and despite having ZERO experience with any of these subjects….for some reason, I think I am the best teacher for me.
I have always had very few friends and I’m completely okay with it because I am introvert who loves being alone. Small talk is a lesson in torture for me..only slightly less tortuous than making phone calls of any kind.
I am socially awkward, I feel like I live in the wrong time period, and I am an over-thinking, obsessive-compulsive list maker.
I have psychic dreams and premonitions on a regular basis.
I am empathetic to a crippling degree and I love to dwell on deep issues like the meaning of life and where the first speck of anything that ever created anything came from.
And despite what the previous paragraphs would suggest, I really don’t like talking about myself. At all. I don’t like attention. I don’t like being in the spotlight, and I would much rather listen than be the one listened to.
In the big scheme of things, I would say I am a bit of an odd duck and I am totally okay with that, but I can’t say that others have always understood me or that I have felt like I have ever “fit in” anywhere. I would say my life has been 44 years of me floating around basically observing the world and the way other people live a bit as though I were a puzzle piece that got put in the wrong box .
History of the MBTI
Then one day while online, I came across something called the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). The MBTI is a questionnaire/ personality “test” that, upon completion, will tell you which of 16 four-letter personality categories you fall into.
I am going to be honest and admit that upon first hearing about this test, I assumed Myers and Briggs were two male psychiatrists of the present day who were from some very important institution somewhere.
Shame on me for such assumptions!
My research into the history of this test told me that these 16 personality types were actually categorized in the mid 1900’s by 2 women with a strong interest in human behavior: a teacher, Katherine Briggs, and her daughter, a writer, Isabel Myers.
Yay for mid twentieth century girl power!
Briggs and Myers were fascinated by the 8 personality types categorized by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung and in addition to expanding on his theories and turning the 8 personality types into 16, they also created a test, the MBTI, to help people identify which one of the personality type categories they fall into.
Briggs and Myers believed strongly that the world could be a better place if we all understood ourselves, and each other, a little bit better and that was the motivation behind the creation of this test.
This questionnaire/test is still around today, in both an official form as well as in other non-official variations and it continues to gain in popularity.
Taking the Test
You can take one of the many versions of the test on-line through various websites that can be found by Googling “MBTI Test”, and upon completion of the test, you will usually receive a report of some kind to explain your type to you in some detail. Or you can find a certified official MBTI test giver near you who will give you the test and then counsel you in regard to the results and how to potentially use what you have learned when making personal and career choices.
According to geteverwise.com, 2,500 colleges and 200 federal agencies use some form of the Myers Briggs Type Indicator for recruiting and hiring. In addition, Wikipedia states that approximately 50 million people have taken a version of this test since its creation.
I will not get into the specifics of how the test works and what the letters in the formula types indicate because there is a lot of Ni/Ne kind of talk, and I will be honest with you, I get a little lost in all the details , (which I later found is a common trait of my type). All of it is a little over my head and I suspect that if I try to write about it, I will get a lot of people telling me how wrong I am about what I am writing. So I am just going to stick to the very basics and let the people who really are into the details, and who truly understand how it works, do the explaining.
If you happen to be a “details” kind of person, here is a great link for you to read that explains it a thousand times better than I ever could.
Nobody is more fascinated with the inner workings of their own mind more than I am – so I was really excited to take this test.
There are lots of websites out there that offer various versions of the test. The website MBTIonline.com offers an official version of the test for $49.95, which I have not tried myself but I suspect gives you a very detailed, quality report. There are also a few websites that offer an unofficial, free version of the test and I chose HumanMetrics.com to take mine.
If answering a long list of questions for twenty minutes doesn’t interest you, you can get a basic idea of your personality type by clicking on and answering the basic questions in the image below. Keep in mind, however, that the longer questionnaires will give you a more accurate result.
I spent about 20 minutes or so answering the questions. The test itself is pretty easy and basic. There are no right or wrong answers. You simply give the response that feels the most correct to you. However, if you are an over-thinking poor decision maker like me, you may find it really isn’t as simple as it seems and that you are getting stuck on some questions that seem like they have more than one possible answer. But other than that it went really well. I finished the test and before I knew it, I had my Myers-Briggs Personality Type:
Four little letters that really kind of changed my life.
As soon as I read the accompanying report of my personality type, I felt like for the first time in my life…I made sense.
This was me. It described me to a “T”. As I have heard many people describe the results of this test: it was freakishly accurate. All of the reports on my type that I read on various MBTI related websites were accurate. They confirmed the fact that I am a writer. They confirmed my particular style of writing which is very conversational. They confirmed my formal way of speaking and love of languages and all of the things that I mentioned at the beginning of this post……..even my love of “quality” items and not wanting to appear snobby about it. They confirmed my way of interacting socially and how I handle fear, stress and sadness. It was all me.
I am a very suspicious person by nature so as I read the various reports, I tried to imagine them as applying to everybody else in my family to see if they were those “general” type reports that would apply to anybody who read them. But no. I doubted that anybody in my family, or even that I knew, would think these reports applied to them.
I wasn’t too sure what I was going to do with all of this information – probably nothing – but it was fun to read. And I read it over and over gain … a little bit in awe. I read it to my kids, my husband, my sister…anybody who would listen. “Here is why I am the way I am….I am an INFJ!”
In actuality, being an INFJ is a category I fall into, not a reason for my personality being the way it is….but again…details, schmeetails. However you want to look at it, I felt like I had solved a great riddle.
For the first time in my life I felt like I belonged to something. I belonged in this group of people – INFJ’s – who according to sources I found, happen to be the rarest of the personality types, making up about 1-3% of the world’s population.
No wonder it was so hard to find somebody like me!
If I was in a room of 100 people, chances are fair that I might be the only one like me. But if I was in a group of a thousand there would probably be at least 10 other people like me! Of course we would all be too socially awkward to ever hook up and discover our wonderful connection but that’s okay because we’d probably all prefer it that way.
(INFJ’s like to feel connected without doing any actual connecting. )
Having Fun With the Results
I have had so much fun going to different websites and researching my personality type further. One of my favorite things to do at the end of the day is to go to Pinterest and read all the INFJ related memes. After a lifetime of feeling misunderstood it is so great to go there and see countless pins that make me say “Yes! That is SO me!” The MBTI personality types have a great presence on social media overall, and it is really easy to see the pride that people take in their own type and in finding and sharing the various facts and humorous traits that come with being that type.
The MBTI gives you permission to brag on yourself a bit without seeming like you are bragging because ALL the types have things to brag on themselves about! It’s fun to be able to laugh at yourself and acknowledge parts that you may or may not have even realized existed before.
Public Responses to the MBTI
Of course, the MBTI has plenty of nay-sayers who say that there is no science to back it up and that it hasn’t been studied enough to be proven truly accurate.
There seems to be some on-going back and forth in the psychological community as to whether or not the MBTI is worthy of being taken seriously, or whether it should be used by companies to hire people. I suppose that is to be expected though. There is more than one way to look at it. CPP.com has posted a good article that addresses some of the more common complaints about the MBTI.
People in general, however, seem to like the MBTI and find the results to be pretty spot on.
If you set aside the matters of whether or not the test should be “taken seriously” or used by companies to hire people…or whether it can alter the course of your life forever…. it seems that people are still really interested in the MBTI for their own simpler, more personal reasons. They want to try to connect with themselves and their family a little better. They want to see what “tribe” they belong to and connect with others in that tribe. Those are the reasons why I took the MBTI and why I recommend it to other people.
There are forums out there dedicated just to the MBTI, where people get together and swap stories and funny memes about their types, and ask questions and compare notes. It is a fun way to connect with yourself and with others and because it is not a “diagnostic” test in any way, you can decide for yourself whether you want to take it seriously or not. What you do with it is entirely up to you.
MBTI From a Parenting Perspective
The MBTI has helped me connect not only to myself, but also to my kids.
I gave the test to three of my 5 kids and I have to say….it has enhanced my relationship with them. My kids are 13, 10 and 8 and they are all very smart and I gave them the test about a year ago just to see what it would say about them. My 13-year-old took the same version I took, and my 10 and 8-year-old took the same test but I re-worded the questions in a way that they would be able to relate to and understand. The results would never stand up in an “official” capacity of course, and their personalities are still developing, but I still found the results to ring very true to who they are at this point in their lives.
(I have since discovered that there is an online MBTI test available specifically for children that is being offered for free for the time being. If you are interested in that, you can find it at www.personalitypage.com. An adult version of the test can be found at that website as well, but they do charge a fee for it.)
I feel kind of like I got the blueprints for each of my kids….not perfect….but pretty close and its been a lot of fun for all of us.
Don’t get me wrong. We certainly don’t live our lives by the MBTI, but I just feel like I understand them a little better now and it has made me a bit more aware and thoughtful of my reactions to their behaviors and how I interact with them overall.
MBTI and The Bigger Picture
Getting involved with the MBTI has also changed the way I view the world and society.
We live in a world where, let’s be honest, a lot of us believe that our own way is the “right way.” Our beliefs are the “right” beliefs. We spend so much time trying to convince people that “we know best” and we sometimes put down and ridicule people who would be so ridiculous as to believe that any way other than ours is correct. But what I really understand now, is that we are all different. We all think differently and react differently and process differently. A big reason why we believe the things we believe is simply because that is how we are wired and no amount of debating or arguing is likely to change it.
Debating and arguing and name calling never solve anything. But understanding that the world is full of different personality types and learning about each type, and having a good idea who the audience is that you are trying to convey a message to….this can help you decide how to make your point in such a way that it might actually hit the target.
It’s interesting because I believe in patterns and numbers and statistics, in general life and in nature.
I believe that there is something that I couldn’t begin to explain, that keeps life progressing in a predictable, orderly way. I think one of the reasons I love this test so much is because it makes me feel as though my own personality type is a necessary, intended part of our human evolution and experience.
Whether you believe in the MBTI or not, its hard to deny that there are a lot of different types of personalities in the world, and I have really come to wonder if each one of these personality types evolved over time, in the numbers that they did, because that is the successful formula to a well-functioning civilization. Not that our world is well-functioning, but maybe that is only because we haven’t learned to respect and appreciate our differences because we are too busy trying to make us all the same.
Maybe nature or God, whatever your beliefs, has spread throughout the world just the right ratio of personalities that we need….the right number of introverts vs. extroverts, thinkers vs. doers, artists vs. scientists, writers vs. mathematicians, pessimists vs. optimists, serious people vs. silly people, happy vs. melancholy, nice vs. jerk, quiet people vs. loud people, etc, to make our society amazing. Maybe we are supposed to just let everybody do their thing and be who they are and learn to work together so everything can flow the way it is supposed to.
Maybe we need to stop trying to change people into being more like “us”, and just let people be who they were born to be. God and nature have been around a lot longer than our 80 years on this planet. Maybe we should trust that they know what they are doing and that we are all here for a reason. Maybe I am a sensitive, introverted, over thinker who loves to teach people, and help and motivate them because that is my job in this world….my place….my contribution. Maybe the world needs me and my type. Maybe the world needs ALL of our types to function at its very best.
Look at me. There I go…..thinking deeply and analyzing possibilities and going off on what I hope is a thought-provoking, inspirational tangent in written form. How INFJ of me. 🙂
I encourage all of you to complete a questionnaire that will tell you your Myers-Briggs personality type.
Again, keep in mind that this is not a scientific or a diagnostic test and I can’t guarantee you will have the same positive experience that I have had with it, but I definitely think its worth 20 minutes of your time to find your type and give your report a read and see what you think.
It’s just a fun way to see yourself, and those close to you, in a new light. As an anxiety blogger, I really hope that those of you reading this who are prone to anxiety will go to MBTIonline.com, HumanMetrics.com, or to whichever MBTI related website you find on Google that has a version you would prefer trying, and complete the questionnaire then come back and let me know what your results are. I believe that anxiety disorders are very personality driven, and just for fun, I would love to see if there are any personality types that seem to be more prevalent among us than others. 🙂
I am pretty new to writing about Myers-Briggs so if you have any information you think would be relevant to this post, or any corrections, please let me know and I will be sure to update accordingly.