Self-awareness makes everything better.

Self-awareness makes everything better.

As you may know, I’m a huge geek about all things personality and was overjoyed when Susan Wise Bauer validated my obsession at the conference Will and I recently attended.

She was talking about parenting the good kids and the odd kids out, and strategies for helping all kids reach their potential. Teaching kids to self-evaluate is key, she said—especially for the kids who are struggling to find their place in the world.

I need a new perspective on life. or maybe just a nap. Yeah, probably just a nap.

Many kids—especially the kids who are a little out of step with the world, or even with their families—aren’t real self-aware. But self-awareness is a huge life skill: that’s what keeps you from having an epic meltdown about the state of your whole entire life because you’re hungry.

What those kids (and let’s be honest: some grown-ups) need is a way to think about themselves.

How do you do that? “Do every personality quiz you can,” Susan says. “Celebrate the results: That’s what type you are! Isn’t that cool?”

That’s exactly why I love personality profiles of every stripe, for my kids’ sake and for my own.

I’ve known for ages I’m an INFP, and teasing out how that affects how I feel, how I work, and how I parent has been enormously helpful to me over this past decade.

Over the past year, I’ve stretched my personality obsession, investigating the Big 5 and the enneagram.

When I first started with the enneagram, I was pretty confident I was a 9—right up to the point when I did the enneagram flashcards with Leigh Kramer, came up evenly weighted for three different types, and was thrown into indecision.

I dwell in possibility. — Emily Dickinson. A great way to sum up how #infp types think! #mbti

Typical INFP. (I dwell in possibility.)

That was last December, and I’ve had that enneagram thing simmering on the back burner since then. I was pretty sure I was a 9—I abhor conflict, excel at seeing all sides, and space out when I’m at my worst—but the flashcards confused me. Because I’m easily able to see all sides, I was having difficulty seeing which side I belonged on.

But last month I had to make a tough decision that involved, by its very nature, disappointing a lot of people. I felt absolutely broken over the disappointment I was causing. Many people make similar hiring-and-firing decisions every day, but those people aren’t INFPs, and they certainly aren’t 9s. I was sick over it.

But.

enneagram

These personality tools are all about self-awareness, and I had two huge takeaways from that experience.

1. Of course I’m a 9. Who else reacts like that under stress?

2. The way I was feeling was totally normal—for my personality type. Even while I was feeling terrible, it was enormously helpful to know that because of my personality type, I was going to feel terrible. It’s how I’m wired. And so instead of freaking out about why I was feeling drained and borderline-depressed, I could acknowledge what was going on, and why. That awareness makes it easier to move forward in a healthy manner.

I was thrilled to find out my friend Leigh was chatting all things enneagram with Tsh Oxenreider on her podcast (one of my faves), and that interview is now live. I highly recommend heading here to check it out.

And while you’re exploring personality resources, I also recommend the personality archives here on MMD, and two of my favorite books on personality, Please Understand Me II and The Enneagram Made Easy.

Indulge me by sharing your geeky personality insights in comments. Do you love personality tests, or do you take them with your kids? Have you gained huge insights into your own personality under stress, like I did? Share away in comments. 

P.S. Concrete changes I’ve made because of MBTI and enneagram insights. And my personality board on Pinterest.

P.P.S. I wrote a book about personality coming out September 19, 2017: Reading People: How Seeing the World through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything. Click here to pre-order.

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