Can you beat your inherent personality type?
As part of our year away, my 2 teens are working through their high school courses online, through what is called distance education. In effect, the curriculum is the same as it would be if they attended regular classes, particularly for the senior grades. One of the main benefits of this type of learning is a higher degree of family interaction and participation.
One of the classes my son is taking in grade 11 is psychology. Today, part of his course was to take a Meyers-Briggs test. He used one of the free versions available online. Understandably, he was very excited to see the results and compare them to what he believes to be true about his personality. He shared the findings with me and I could see the accuracy. I immediately wondered what the test would yield about me.
I’ve always thought these things are a bit like a horoscope. Your mind naturally finds the links between what the predictions are, versus the inherent feelings we have about ourselves. The more general the statements, the easier it is to create a meaningful connection. So I was curious to see if that was going to be the case here.
I once worked with a young woman who claimed that she could beat any of these tests. She knew how the questions were built and her mind could easily defeat whatever outcome the test would yield. I’m not sure what the point of that is, but I think about that now when I see these kind of question sets.
I was more curious to know what my honest answers would reveal about me. Particularly, since I have undergone so many changes recently. Would that have effected my personality in some way? I obviously don’t know that much about psychology because the results of my questionnaire were unbelievably consistent to what I have always been like, disturbingly so.
Early in my career, I was once called the little general. At the time I took that as a huge compliment. The person who called me that, was not trying to be mean. But years later, I didn’t look upon that proclamation with as much fondness as I once had. Now that I am older, I can see the limitations of my personality traits. The things about me, which I was once so fond of, seem to have gone out of fashion. I mean who wants to be described as being a ‘classic 50’s era father figure’?
My son had a huge laugh when he read my results. He thought the descriptions fit me to a tee, particularly the bit which explained my parenting style. The whole thing kind of made me sad. While I think I have come a long way in my personal development, I obviously have quite a distance to go. My goals and dreams for the future don’t fit this kind of assessment. Or do they? Maybe this is what my Auntie calls transferable skills.
I suppose I would better off to try to find the silver lining in this. I could just dismiss the whole thing as being as accurate as reading tea leaves. But, I know in my heart there is a fundamental part of my personality that cannot really be changed. It is the way I have always been. My husband likes to point out, these are the secrets to my success, thus far. So I need to embrace this, work with it and turn it to my advantage, once again.
The opportunity for me is to inject new information into the mix. A few years ago, I didn’t even understand the concept of empathy, let alone know how to practice it. I now have the opportunity to pause, before I let my natural tendency go wild. I can dig deep and choose to be more empathetic in a situation which demands it as the right thing to do, even though it is not my first gut response. In a way, I think this is how a proper grown up behaves. At least the kind of adult, I want to become.
OK – what am I? What is the personality type which causes me so much angst?
Funny story. As a child, I wanted to be this kind of woman, more than anything. I was the kid who wanted to be Alex P. Keaton, played by Michael J. Fox on the TV show Family Ties. At least in the area of business, I completely wanted to grow up to be like that. I even wrote in my grade 12 year book biography that my ambition was ‘to be involved in high finance’, or some such ridiculous thing.
For anyone who knows me well, particularly those who have worked with me, this will be a laugh. I can no more beat this kind personality profile than I could lose my leg and still walk. I’m even slightly embarrassed by it. Not so much the detailed description, but the little character and the overarching name. It is the grown up version of the ‘little general’ from 25 years ago. Sigh.
Now I curious to know what the test will reveal about my daughter and my husband. Are these traits being passed down into our children? Is some of this genetic? I have a bad feeling it is. It reminds me of our neighbours back home. Across the street lived a family with 3 boys. The father said they thought about trying for a girl, having a fourth child. Then they read up on the probability of an opposite gender after 3 of the same. It is a very low chance to have a girl after 3 boys in a row. He said he couldn’t take having his own personality reflected back to him a fourth time.
There are days when my strongest personality traits get thrown in my face by both my kids. I don’t feel the sting of the positive traits. In truth, I don’t even take notice of them. I take them granted, to be true. It is the ‘not so good’ traits that really irk me. Now that I am spending so much time with my teens, there are days that I need every ounce of energy I can muster to not grossly overreact to them.
That is why we have 6MB of data on our SIM cards. We can go out in the world and spend time with complete strangers and still get our work done. This is an extremely inexpensive solution which provides outside stimulation, sometimes we meet people and we ‘get out of each other’s hair’.
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