Monday, November 23, 2015

Myers-Briggs for the Newbie

Surely, if you've been around social media at all in the past couple of years, you've heard of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (or MBTI for short). It was developed around 100 years ago by mother/daughter team, Katharine Cook Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers, who piggy-backed on work done by psychologist Carl Jung.

You may have seen internet memes that show what different types do in certain situations, or memes showing which character from a movie or book is what type and that sort of thing.

I'm sure everyone has seen tests going around online such as this one here, that allow you to answer a number of questions and gives you a result with four letters (like ENFP, INTJ, ISFP, ENTP, etc), and a summary of what that means.

What's My Type?

YEARS ago, my husband and I took one such test, and read the results for fun. I don't think I put too much stock into it at that time, and quickly forgot about it.

In recent years, people like Megan Tietz (now of the Sorta Awesome Podcast) and other bloggers have written enthusiastically about this personality typing system, and hearing about it piqued my interest. I took the test again, and got another result and read another assessment, and dismissed it as not being very accurate.

Well, I kept hearing about it, and really wanted to know. I took the test again, and read the assessment, and began this ridiculous process of questioning. Is this really me? Is that how I actually behave? Listen to this, dear...does this sound like me? Oh, yes, I'm definitely this! I? No, I act more like this type, so I must be that. Yes, this one fits much better. Wait...

How I FINALLY figured out my type-

Sometimes, it's as easy as taking a test, and getting a result. For whatever reason, it wasn't as cut and dried as that for me. My results from tests would vary, and so I began reading the different type descriptions. This helped me, but also confused me a bit, too! (Not all type descriptions are created equal!)

I kept hearing about the cognitive functions (thanks, Megan!) I decided to look into it and learn more about them. It turns out, that these eight functions are WAY more revealing and in depth than the surface four letter "code" for each type. And guess what? Those four letter codes don't amount to very much! On the surface, two types may seem like they are pretty close, but when you look into the cognitive functions, you'll see that they operate very differently. They may not even share a single cognitive function!

What are the Cognitive Functions?

The cognitive functions are extraverted thinking (Te for short), introverted thinking (Ti), extraverted feeling (Fe), introverted feeling (Fi), extraverted sensing (Se), introverted sensing (Si), extraverted intuition (Ne), and introverted intuition (Ni). Whew! You can read about these functions here, and various other places online. (Try searching Google for the specific function you are interested in learning about).

Something to keep in mind as you test and try to discover your own type is to not focus on questions like, "am I a feeler, or a thinker?" Listen: everyone is a feeler. Everyone is a thinker. What is important, is what kind of feeler or thinker you are. You might be an introverted feeler, which is so different than being an extraverted feeler. Also important, is your preference for these functions, meaning, which of these functions are you more at ease with or more developed in your mind? If you can figure out which of these functions you use most, you will be well on your way to learning your actual type, and how best to use that knowledge.

How it's helped me

Once I finally figured out my type, I looked into what type my husband might be. Like me, he took the tests (reluctantly at times), and got a couple different results. Outwardly, he didn't seem to fit the descriptions of the common behavior of that particular type. Once I began reading about how his type functions cognitively, I started to understand. I was able to understand (and make peace with) something that has been a challenge in our marriage for the longest time. I realized my husband doesn't need fixing (as I long believed) but that he was wired to think and behave a certain way. And this way was just foreign to me. Not wrong.

I've learned a lot about myself, too! I learned that I'm an INFP (not INTP, as I expressed before), and finding a group (or three) on Facebook of fellow INFPs helped me to realize that some of the struggles in my life are not unique to me! I'm also not wrong and in need of fixing! (Of course, we all remain in need of spiritual growth, but that's not really what I'm talking about here).

Learning about the cognitive functions (not just mine) has helped me to realize that we all value different things. And in this valuing, we are not better, or more mature, or more spiritual, or anything than anyone else. God uses each of these eight cognitive functions (each of the 16 types primarily use four of these functions in different orders of preference) to bring glory to Him and to do the work that He would have His people accomplish in the earth. (And of course, God is not bound by cognitive functions or Myers-Briggs or anything else mankind can use to explain how He made us!)

What type are YOU?

Do you know your Myers-Briggs type? That four letter code, though not necessary to know, can be very helpful to you in your daily life. It can also help you understand better where others are coming from. If you know your type, did you have any trouble figuring it out? How has it helped you in your day-to-day life?

My Favorite MBTI Resources: 

Personality Hacker (be sure to check out their podcasts!)
Personality Junkie (they do a great job of breaking down the cognitive functions).   
16Personalities (for a good overview) 

This post has been shared at the following blogs:
Thank Goodness it's Monday at Nourishing Joy
Teaching What is Good 
A Little R & R 
I Choose Joy