Always Well Within

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Do You Know Your Personality Type?

"Whatever the circumstances of your life, the understanding of type can make your perceptions clearer, your judgments sounder, and your life closer to your heart’s desire.”  – Isabel Briggs Myers. Read more to learn about your personality type and how to optimize it.

Whatever the circumstances of your life, the understanding of type can make your perceptions clearer, your judgments sounder, and your life closer to your heart’s desire.”  – Isabel Briggs Myers

I’ve finally learned how to optimize my strengths, improve on my weaknesses, and enjoy my quirks by getting to know my personality type.  But first, I suffered far too many years from “square peg-round hole syndrome.”

I initially took the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator – a highly popular personality test – on a lark in my early adult years.  But I didn’t let the results penetrate my thinking, decision-making, or life choices.

Instead, I embarked on a career as a non-profit director, a choice far better suited for an extrovert, I feel.  I constantly dodged all the extroverted demands of the work like public speaking and networking and stumbled through others like team leadership.  Although my actual skill set applied to selected elements of the work, I often felt ill-at-ease, knowing I wasn’t fully living up to the desired expectations.

I worked in this state of dissonance for many years because this career fit some of my needs even though it wasn’t ideal.  Eventually, I paid a price in the form of tension, stress, and a weakening of my self-esteem.

What a relief when circumstances changed and I began working as a freelance writer.  Finally, I felt in tune.  The opportunity to create in solitude at my own pace fed my whole being.

Personality Type:  A Doorway Into Wholeness

I hope you feel in harmony with your work, your relationships, and your entire life right now.  But if you feel ill-suited to any aspect of your life, you might consider taking the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator to understand more about your personality type.

I didn’t come to understand my personality type in one fell swoop.  For me, clarity first began to dawn when I read Quiet:  The Power of Introverts in A World That Can’t Stop Talking * a few years back.  This life-changing book affirmed my introverted nature and gave me the confidence to shape my life around my personality rather than trying to force myself into extroverted roles.  I began to accept, celebrate, and enjoy my introverted tendencies

A few years later, I learned (or re-learned) there’s even more to our personalities than introversion vs. extroversion alone. I took a facsimile of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator as part of a course in the Peaceful Progress Lounge*, a special community for introverted women solopreneurs, which I highly recommend.

As a result, I rediscovered myself as an INFJ.

The 4 Dimensions of Personality Type

Let me explain the 4 dimensions that make up your personality type according to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.  They are expressed by 4 of 8 possible letters like INFJ in my case.  This adds up to 16 different personality types.

Of course, when you take a test like this, you can fall on the far end of any spectrum or anywhere in between.  Thus, the 16 types aren’t absolute ways of being but more like 1001 possible flavors.  Still, understanding where you sit personality-wise, will give you a clear sense of who you are, what feeds you, and the work situations that will best utilize your talents rather than deplete and discourage you.

Here are the four dimensions of personality according to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator:

  • Extraversion vs. Introversion [E or I]:  How you interact with the world.  Are you more energized by being around others or by being alone?
  • Sensing vs. Intuition [S or N]:  The way you relate to and notice information. Do you think in terms of discernible facts or abstract, imaginative ideas?
  • Thinking vs. Feeling [T or F]: Your decision-making process.  Are you influenced more by empathy, compassion, and the desire for cooperation or are you more logical and objective?
  • Judging vs. Perceiving [J or P]:  How you structure information.  Are you more structured, organized, and decisive or open, flexible, and receptive to new ideas and flow?

Understanding My Personality Type

In my case, INFJ spells out:

  • Introvert
  • Intuitive
  • Feeling
  • Judging

I’ve had many “aha!” moments arise as I delved into the INFJ personality type.  While it isn’t a 100% fit, the qualities and characteristics of the INFJ feel – for the most part – accurate and affirming for me.

Words that describe natural roles for the INFJ include:

  • Counselor
  • Visionary
  • Confidant
  • Mystic
  • Protector

I know some of these sound lofty, but we can express these roles in our own unique way of being.  There’s no need to create an “epic” life unless that desire speaks to you.

Words that describe the qualities of the INFJ include:

  • Introspective
  • Sensitive
  • Empathic
  • Caring
  • Compassionate
  • Complex
  • Idealistic
  • Optimistic
  • Intuitive
  • Organized
  • Focused

I’ve been highly sensitive my entire life.  I’ve been told time and again not to be so emotional.  I dislike violent movies.  I easily pick up on other peoples’ feelings.

Learning about my personality type has helped me to further accept and honor my sensitivity.  I need to ground myself so I’m not buffeted about by other peoples’ energies.  At the same time, I appreciate my sensitivity and want to put it to positive use for myself and others.

Every personality type has its quirks too.  The INFJ can be stubborn and obsessive about detail (yes) and have a mercurial temperament (yes.)  Each type has an “inferior function,” which – for the INFJ – is extroverted sensing   That means I tend to have a rich inner life, but am less tuned into the sensations and experience of the immediate physical world.  No wonder why it’s so hard for me to stick to any sort of physical routine.

Here’s an empowering tip:  You can find greater wholeness by strengthening your inferior function.  For example, I’m attempting to build my extroverted sensing by spending more time in nature.

There’s so much more to know about an INFJ or your own personality type among the 16 possibilities.  These are just a few ways that personality type has helped me to feel well in my own skin and find relationships and work situations that nourish instead of deplete me.

How to Find Out More About Your Personality Type

I know it might seem odd that you could spend a good chunk of your life not fully understanding yourself and your needs.  I think it’s because often we’re trying to live up to external expectations and aren’t necessarily encouraged to check in with our true self.  Using a tool like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator can be an eye-opening experience that leads to greater self-knowledge and deeper self-acceptance.

If you’re curious, find out more about your own personality type.  You can take the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator from a certified practitioner, the free Jung Typology Test, or read about the different personality types to get a feel for which one fits you best.

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator isn’t the only personality test available to you, but it’s one of the most popular ones and goes beyond career preferences alone to explore how you function in relationship to information, decision making, the world, and relationships.

Sources and Resources

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Do you know your personality type according to the Myers-Briggs system?  Has it helped you find deeper self acceptance?  I would love to hear.

P. S. I’m taking a week off to nurture myself like a good INFJ.  You’ll see my next post on Sunday, April 5th.

Thank you for reading!  I so appreciate your presence.  I’d love it if you could take a moment to share this article on social media and spread the goodness. Thank you!  With love, Sandra

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37 Comments

  1. This is a great post. It is so factual. Anybody who seeks a career she will enjoy and excel in, should first undertake the difficult task of clearly determining her personality type. Then she uses the personality type as a guide to pick a career that is in line with her passion and focus on doing what she enjoys. This is where she will be the best. Once again, thanks for this super article.

    • Thank you, Ayi! I think personality test can be very help in helping us set a career direction that will be more fulfilling for us. Thanks for your thoughts.

  2. Again a very thought provoking post Sandra….I have been an INFJ most of my life with a few changes due to my work life, but always close to INFJ. I love exploring this more and it makes so much more sense now. I will heed your words and work on my inferior functioning….

    • Interesting, Donna! I veered from INFJ in my work years too, plus they say it can be easily misread as one of the other similar types. I wonder if INFJ’s are attracted to my blog in particular because clearly my personality type determines so much of my style.

      BTW, there’s a primary and secondary function in addition to the inferior function so all of these can be supported. With Spring here, I’m feeling the need to move more.

  3. All right, Sandra, this post made me laugh. Because everytime I’ve taken the Myers-Briggs test, I’ve come out as something different! I’m right on the border for ALL of the traits. Does that mean I’m divergent? 😉

  4. Karen Lane

    Thanks for sharing this, Sandra. I always test as an INFP, and am still learning how to interface authentically and healthily with the world. The book by Susan Cain looks very interesting.

    • You’re welcome, Karen. I appreciate the way you are learning to be in the world with authenticity and a healthy outlook. I know it takes time to step into our self and accept who we truly are! Thanks for adding your thoughts.

  5. I’m definitely an introvert (an INTJ), but I have been SLOWLY pushing myself to try more extroverted-type activities. I’ve discovered I’m better at a lot of things than I would have expected.

    One big one is that I’m much better at talking to people I don’t know than I ever expected I would be. I think they like that I’m a good listener.

    • How nice, Christy! I’m glad you’re finding it beneficial to push the envelop a bit! I like your emphasis on “slowly.” That makes it so much easier. May you have continued success and enjoyment.

  6. It’s funny, for most of my life I have hated personality tests. I found them to be insulting and too defining. I didn’t want to be marginalized by a test, or have it influence my self perception. However, I recently had to take a personality test for a job application process and I loved it. It was such a simple test, but I found that it articulated things about me that were definitely true, but I hadn’t been able to define before. Since then I’ve learned more about my personality, and it’s been so helpful with learning how to manage my life. Giving me permission to behave according to the reality of my person.

    Great post. Thanks for sharing.

    -Tara

    • Hi Tara,

      I completely appreciate how you have felt about personality tests in the past. I haven’t taken any of the tests except the Myers-Briggs so I don’t know how I would feel about them myself. I’m glad the situation shifted for you and you found the process of taking your first personality test enriching. It feels like embracing our true self is an important element of your message. Thanks for sharing your experience with us!

  7. I am an INFJ too! I have made this test some weeks ago but haven’t really thought about how the results might affect my decisions until I’ve read your blog. For me the intuitive and the feeling part are most important because I have gotten the clearest results in these categories. In general I am very ambitious and dedicated and I am comfortable with a lot of extroverted activities but sometimes I feel like I have to take a break and recharge my energy and I always though that this was a flaw but maybe this is simply who I am and it’s totally okay. Thanks for making me realize this!

    • How wonderful, Sunita! INFJ’s can sometimes be mistaken with introverts because they are comfortable with and good with people. You sound very in tune with yourself to know that sometimes you need to take a break and recharge your energy! It’s absolutely not a flaw and I’m so happy you’re coming to know this. Thanks for sharing your process with us. Be well!

  8. I am an ISFJ and I am proud about it. The test did somehow described me.

  9. Such a great post, Sandra! As you know, this is one of my favorite topics. 🙂

    I still remember the huge “aha!” moment I experienced the first time I took the MBTI. It was eye opening. Everything had fallen into place and made sense.

    I’m an INFP and almost 100% introverted, but I do attract and get along really well with a lot of INFJs whether they are friends or colleagues.

    Another very good resource to add to your collection of links is an article by Sarah Kathleen Peck that was published on the Accidental Creative blog: http://www.accidentalcreative.com/teams/people-factor/

    And one of the amazing people who know a lot about the introvert-extrovert continuum of personality types is Laurie Foley, whom I had the honor to interview on this topic a while ago.
    http://peacefultriumphs.com/introvert-vs-extrovert-laurie-foley/

    • Thanks you, Cigdem! Your encouragement took me so much further into understanding my own personality type, needs, and preferences. I’m so grateful for you. I know what you mean about the huge “aha” moment. It’s amazing they don’t explain this to us in school at an early age. Thanks for the additional resources. I’ll check them out and add them to the list. Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us.

  10. Here’s mine: ENFJ
    Extravert(33%) iNtuitive(12%) Feeling(25%) Judging(11%)

    🙂

    • Wow, Peggy – that’s precise. I’m not surprised you’re an extrovert. You have such a beautiful, let’s go for it energy!

  11. Guess who else is an INFJ, Sandra, Oh Virgo Twin of Mine? 😉

    No wonder I always feel a resonance with your writing and style. 😉

    I took the BIG (countless pages) paper and pencil test back in grad school. (1993) When I’ve retaken via the Internet, the results have stayed the same.

    I remember that on the original test I border-lined on being an “E” and an “P”, but for the “N” and “F”, I was all in. 🙂

    I’m bookmarking this page. I can’t wait to return to check out all of your resources.

    • Dear Michele,
      Isn’t that interesting! We do have a few things in common, my friend. 🙂 I would have thought of you as an extrovert so I’m not surprised you were on the borderline there. Isn’t it helpful to get to know ourselves this way! Enjoy the resources!

  12. Great post! What I liked best was how I immediately felt connected to you as a writer. It was more like talking to a friend than reading advise. It probably helps that I’m an INFP so in how we navigate the world, our experiences have been similar.

    It’s been a while since I looked at Myers Briggs perhaps it’s time for a second look? Also have you ever worked with the enneagram? I’ve always found it to be a fascinating and eerily accurate personality test.

    • Thank you, Jess! Your kind words mean so much to me. Yes, maybe being an INFP creates an invisible connections since we relate to the world in similar ways.

      No, I haven’t spent time with the Enneagram. That seems like another fascinating system. Thanks for suggesting it!

  13. Sandra a truly fascinating post! I know your article will help so many whom read it. The “aha’s” are indeed priceless, when you discover your type and make adjustments to accept and accommodate aspects of your personality.

    I love the topic of personality types and it has been tremendously helpful both personally and in my coaching work. Although I’ve used several type identification tools, MBTI and the Enneagram continue to be my favourite.

    • I’m honored to hear your praise given that you know your stuff! Thank you, Liz! Yes, those “aha’s” are wonderful, aren’t they!

      Thanks for telling us about the Enneagram. I’m sure it would be interesting to explore since it’s one of your top two. I feel these tools can really help us.

  14. Dave Parry

    Wow, so many INFJs in one place!

  15. Hi Sandra,

    Because of your post, I now realize better that a personality test can be useful as an input for how we can best live our life. Recently, I have actually been suggested something with similar function by my friend. The difference is it isn’t a test, but a predictor tool of one’s personality named numerology. You have probably heard or tried it. This tool uses our date of birth as the base of its result, like zodiac system. At first, I never knew that such predicting tools exist. Yet since my friend recommended one of them, I have started being open and willing to see their results. In fact, when initially witnessing the result of numerology, I was astonished as it fits me more accurately than what my zodiac tells.

    That makes me more convinced that those tools have some truth inside them. Their creators must have thought really hard to generate effective systems. However, one thing still on my logic is: if the predictions of those tools are indeed correct, what should I do next? I didn’t find the answer, hence this is the reason why I just forgot the results every time my friend asked me to use such tools; I didn’t take them into account in my life.

    Nonetheless, having read this article, seeing that you write it interestingly, I think I have changed my mind. It makes sense when you express that the result of a personality test can give us the confidence to shape our life around our personality, rather than trying to force ourselves into doing what doesn’t fit our personality. Besides, these results can also become an objective second opinion about what field of work we better choose, instead of us only living up to other people’s expectation. Thus from now onward, I will appreciate the value of these tools. I also hope that the Myers-Briggs test will truly serve you excellently in becoming more authentic self and expanding your career toward the right direction. Glad to know you!

    • Hello Yukie,

      I can understand why people have doubts or are even skeptical about a test like this. But it doesn’t hurt to try it (if you try the free version) and then they can decide for themselves. Your results with numerology seem quite amazing! I think it takes systematic work to put what we’ve learned from a test into practice just like any other positive change for ourselves.

      Thanks so much for sharing your uncertainties, your experience, and your conclusions. Wishing you the best as well.

      • Hi Sandra,

        It is well-expressed when you say it doesn’t hurt to try such a test. So true, it is up to the person to let the test be just an entertainment or take advantage of it. I believe that you recommend the latter, as it can give us good chance to positively change ourselves.

        I look forward to your next helpful article. Thanks for replying!

  16. I am also an INFJ. Perhaps that is why so much of what you say resonates with me. I went to a Myers Briggs workshop about 20 years ago and it completely changed the way I saw myself. Before the workshop I was highly critical of my quiet introverted ways. Suddenly I realized that who I was could be celebrated. It also helped me to be more accepting of those who had very different personality types.

    • Isn’t that interesting, Sharon! I’m happy you found out about your personality type early and celebrate it. I think you’ve made an important point too > that understanding personality type can help us be more accepting to others.

      This does seem to be the INFJ gathering spot :), but of course all are welcome!

  17. Hi Sandra,

    Well I never, I am an INFJ like you! Apparently it’s the rarest type and only 1% of the population is INFJ so I am delighted to find I know another one. I felt a bit lonely when I first found that out.

    I agree this type of test can help us learn so much about ourselves. But I’m struggling with it all at the moment as my psychological studies (informal reading and seeing a shrink!) seem to say we have no personality. That labels like “introvert”, “organised” or “sensitive” serve to keep us stuck in our boxes when really we are all capable of being or doing whatever we want. I really can’t get my head round all that yet but just wanted to throw it out there.

    Like you though I’ve spent a lot of time trying not to be introverted so going to parties, doing public speaking etc and although I can be quite good in those areas it does wear me out. After too much social time I need some quiet time alone! And a rest 🙂

    • Well I never also! I would image you as an extravert as you often go to conferences, public affairs, and on wild adventures. It’s true that introverts can be dynamic public speakers. They might just want to disappear after the talk and we certainly need to know when we’ve reached our limit so we can get some quiet and rejuvenate.

      And, you found not just 1 INFJ but several in the comments here! We could form a club. 🙂

      I don’t know what to say about your psychological studies. There are always new ideas and I think it’s good not to box ourselves in too much. I’m sure there’s some truth to the fact that our mind is more flexible than we think and our potential much bigger than we ever imagined.

      I just know from my own experience that I feel much better when I honor my introverted qualities and all the pushing to be something different just made me uptight. And when I look at people, they are all so different, so how could there not be personalities? Let’s let that one brew for awhile and see what emerges.

      Thanks for sharing your personal and well-researched thoughts.

  18. You always write about such fascinating stuff Sandra. Another goodie here. 🙂

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