Saturday, 24 September 2016

Exploring personality types

A little while back I wrote a post concerning sensitive souls - HSP - 'highly sensitive people' and came across the personality types of Jung / Myers-Briggs. Curious, this week, I plunged in and took two different tests online. I'm not sure how accurate they are but found it interesting that I got an INFJ result both times.

INFJ stands for Introvert, iNtuitive, Feeling, Judging, and represents individual's preferences in four dimensions characterising personality type, according to Jung's and Briggs Myers' theories.

Out of the 16 Myers-Briggs personality types, INFJ type is believed to be the rarest. Apparently, uncommon jewels of the personality spectrum make up less than one percent of the population.

Here are some excerpts that I've read online:

One of the things that differentiate INFJs from other introverted types is their easy and pleasant conversation style. They are known for being great verbal communicators.
To most friends and acquaintances, the INFJ type seems very sociable and extroverted. This can cause confusion when INFJs become overwhelmed and must withdraw from people. In truth, INFJs are just like other introverts in the sense that they are very selective with whom they consider real friends.

Like other intuitive introverts, INFJs sometimes struggle with external sensing perception. This means that they can become so absorbed in their inner world that they are oblivious to the physical world.


INFJs are champions of the oppressed and downtrodden.They often are found in the wake of an emergency, rescuing those who are in acute distress.INFJs may fantasize about getting revenge on those who victimise the defenceless.The concept of 'poetic justice' is appealing to the INFJ.

In their own way, INFJs are just as much "systems builders" as are INTJs; the difference lies in that most INFJ "systems" are founded on human beings and human values, rather than information and technology.

Usually, self-expression comes more easily to INFJs on paper, as they tend to have strong writing skills. Since in addition they often possess a strong personal charisma, INFJs are generally well-suited to the "inspirational" professions such as teaching (especially in higher education) and religious leadership. Psychology and counselling are other obvious choices, but overall, INFJs can be exceptionally difficult to pigeonhole by their career paths.

Writing, counselling, public service and even politics are areas where INFJs frequently find their niche.

INFJs are some of the best writers. They can fiercely write about everything and anything. And they never show anybody what they write out of fear of what people will think of them.

They struggle with loving a lot of creative things and not sure what they like the most.

With their giant imagination and visionary minds, they can have a tough time dealing with daily, practical matters. Not being able to answer the question "What's the point?" can lead to neglecting cleaning, financial responsibilities, etc. Insomnia. Splurges of hyperactive thought. An overindulgence of creativity.

INFJS can be rock solid calm, then a strange wind happens that carries a dead bird abstract construction. Then they are super sad and say lots of deep things from nowhere.

A nice piece on Wordpress HERE

Social psychologist Elaine Aron suggests that 15 to 20% of the general population will have the innate temperamental difference which she calls “High Sensitivity” (HS), or for research purposes, Sensory Processing Sensitivity (SPS).

While sensitive persons are often thoughtful, careful and empathic parents, partners and friends, when they are stressed… or if they have never learned how to cope with their unique qualities effectively, they may create tensions and difficulties for the people around them.

My thoughts...

I relate to the words above. I can ignore the phone, it doesn't matter who it is because I need to 'feel' in the mood to chat. If I'm having a lively day and living in reality, great. If not, I will pretend the outside world does not exist. That includes the doorbell. Lol. Seriously. It drives everyone crazy, but they accept it's me. Such beautiful peeps. :o) I will later catch up with them, and they know this. My daughter will nag me the most but we end up laughing about it. Aww, I love her so much.

My resilience to sensitivity has improved greatly since childhood. I say improved, perhaps it is a growth of  realising which emotion to display or not, how to mask them better. As Virgina Wolf wrote:
People draw different things from me.

Does anyone else relate to this quote?
I can usually adapt to my surroundings, to people. I may not always like it, but I hold on in there until I'm able to leave. Then I gasp a big gulp of air in relief. What I give off entirely depends on them. In some ways, it's like a mirror of energy but I'm still me, it's just that I pick up on the vibe around me. This is truer if I'm not in my usual environment. I tend to think before I speak. Observe, wait until I 'see' a person if that makes sense? I then adapt accordingly. Adapt in the sense of topics I talk about, how much I express, etc. This is often construed as being reserved. I can be more open, but I guess it depends on the company.

Growing up, I always saw the beauty in things and appreciated what an incredible world we live in. When I hit my teens it was like that wonderous world became lost to me. I discovered hatred and conflict, mostly through secondary schooling. It was a dreadful time where I felt confused by the actions of other children around me. None seemed balanced or truly happy. I didn't understand why they weren't 'nice'. I endured the systematic teaching of a non-sensitive environment for three years until one day I walked out of school vowing never to return to that ugly place. I never did. This changed the path of my adult life forever. From eighteen to my twenty's I found independence exhilarating and unpressured, attending many courses on subjects that interested me. I had always loved learning and the calm adult environment suited me better.  Life became that wonderous place again, of course, there were personal ups and downs, but in general, I fitted in. I blossomed and grew. Inside still lived that sensitive soul, but I could choose my surroundings and luckily, then, there was the freedom to do so. Art became, always was, my soul's release. It allowed me time to vent using a creative expression . I felt free. In my experience, other creatives tend to be 'different' too, more sensitive, less judging, and generally converse on deeper levels.
I really feel, as I've mentioned before in another post, that there should be more options for sensitive children in education. I have three children and the eldest thrived in mainstream schooling with no problems, which was great, but there were areas with my middle child, and sensitivity issues, like my own, with my youngest. I've battled with 'the system' shrugging off those looks of disapproval when I take my children's emotions into account. I've been called 'too soft' even given snotty remarks about my son's hair being too long, yes really, but I remain strong in their defence because of my own experiences. I still need to recuperate in solitude, at times, from the still ongoing fight. Thankfully, great family, friends, art and writing get me through. Phew! :o)

I believe strongly in education but the delivery needs to be re-evaluated for the minority. Since I was a teenager to now, I'm nearly fifty, why is there not a different form of schooling in place? Why is it so difficult to get heard? We're still fighting battles that shouldn't exist.
I've often daydreamt a world where beautiful schools cherish the gentle souls of children. Play and creativity being vastly important structures, along with knowing the self, and appreciating others. Not in a textbook format, but through actively playing out. Is that the hippy side of my mother influencing me? :o) Idealistic perhaps, but we need diversity in a material world. Need something other than drive toward the profit, future 'paid' job, and importantly, I believe this structure of teaching can co-exist with the system in place.
I drifted off course, I think...Okay, back on track. All of this is possibly a part of INFJ thinking. I don't know. It's interesting to me to ponder as I idly write...humanity and reality blending with dreams of a better, more understanding world. Somewhere everyone has a place.

Hemmingway said to express what pains you. Write from that truth. This has been so difficult for me, still is. I'm so used to hiding the 'inner-self' away from the world and pain lays even deeper within. When I write, I do tap into those depths, but it is not easy to express that emotion on the page without editing the scenes to be calmer, focused, more rational. I think that's why I subconsciously write in omniscient. It's a detachment. The reader can't get too close. My thoughts run deep but no-one would know, and that has been an interesting development in my writing, sharing words and my secret world, something I would never have done before. In a story I've outlined, Shining Sword, I think I'll be tapping into more of my fears and hopes while exploring the story and characters. It is a follow-on to Awake in Purple Dreams where a young woman called Brooke uses art to channel hope to children. It really resonates with what I've written above, and I guess, is where certain elements of this story stem from. A tale of a world in conflict with underlying manipulations, none are good for the development or purpose of creating a happy, nurturing community.  These are areas of grey in my reality of this amazing world at present.

The quote below reminds me of the main characters in my writing:

The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.
Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.
But man is not made for defeat. A man can be destroyed but not defeated.
~ Hemingway

There are some beautiful quotes of damaged people that become strong and remain kind. They have lived through the darkness and carry the scars. Yet these scars shine once the soul grows and can be worn with pride. A marking of strength, of overcoming the worse of battle. Mental or physical, or both. I write my characters from these places in different ways. I feel their fears and hopes. I really want them to grow, to be humbled by life and have a new appreciation for the wonder of it all. To realise that we are all so very important in a much bigger picture that we know nothing about. For me, this is where the magic is, in the transformation, going beyond the set boundaries, which are often too marginalised and definitely not for all.

So, does any of this portray the thoughts of INFJ? Or at least some depths of the traits? I don't know. Are labels even necessary? Sadly, I believe in the current system of our world, yes, they are. Initially, it can 'free' the sensitive from the system to a certain extent. They can be accepted for who they are at last and not  have to be pushed into being a certain way. I would even go so far as to say they should be exempt from certain participation if it does not suit their well-being. After all, isn't that what humanity is all about? Understanding, caring, compassionate, and nurturing? Helping people grow?

I care, have always cared, and need to express this with art or writing. Working in the charity sector also gave me a sense of  having 'more' to offer. Helping others in small ways goes a long way. Seeing someone's eyes light up when they have accomplished a tiny thing makes me smile and lifts my heart. That feeling which you've helped put there - blows you away.
Sensitivity is not weakness, it's a bravery like no other. To remain, at the core, kind, really is being a true warrior in this world.

Love and light,

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