My mother tells a story about a woman with a toddler. After any errant behavior, the young mother would take the child’s hand and say to the affected audience: “We’re working on this.”
Welcome to all of us.
Thanks to some podcast binging, recent reads, and the Myers-Briggs membership purchased for my professional development, I have become obsessed with identifying not just my Myers-Briggs personality (ENFP) but my Tendency, my Enneagram type, my functional preference, and why I can never seem to let go of the one thing I want but do not have.
Here’s what I’ve learned: I am a handful, please send my husband presents.
You wouldn’t think I’d enjoy being labeled. My tendency, after all, (and after taking the quiz twice—the second time very thoughtfully) is Rebel. I don’t react well to expectations of any kind, even from myself. However, my Enneagram type is 4, and 4’s believe we are super unique and misunderstood, so it only took about one insight into my soul to realize these labels offer not just whom you are but how with that knowledge you can better handle life.
You see, the truth is this: we are all a handful. So much goes into the making of us and what we bring the world. Identifying our approach to life can help us communicate with our opposites, collaborate better, fight more productively, and—you know—behave.
My latest podcast binge is Happier by Gretchen Rubin. In each episode, she offers some new way to know yourself, whether you prefer mornings or night, abundance or simplicity, overbuying or underbuying, baby steps or the entire goal at once, etc. The idea is that when you know yourself, you take care of yourself. Prefer simplicity? You’ll probably be happier if you clean out that closet. Night person? Maybe don’t seek employment at Good Morning America.
Of course, accurate personality labeling can be difficult when you figure in things like nurture. Case in point: I test “rebel”, but I rarely let myself behave that way. I meet outer and inner expectations all day every day that I don’t want to meet. And, though I crave alone time and definitely recharge with a good book, a chick flick, or my journal, I test extrovert every time partly because of my personal mission statement to “embrace the possibility in every human connection.” These discrepancies have become the point for me. It’s good to know thyself, is what I’m saying, but it’s even better to adjust.
This is what I’m finding: personality tests and similar labels were not created to separate us but to help us understand each other and connect. With that understanding, we can move around less defensively, without expecting everyone to intuitively treat us as we want to be treated. And when our own unique personalities interfere with smooth, connected relationships, there’s an apology for that…
We’re working on this.
It works for toddlers learning manners, and it works for the rest of us learning what exactly we’re about and how to be that, but gently, in our interactions with others. Be yourself, take care of each other—that’s the gist. Apologize when needed.
P.S. The picture in this post is my son’s entrance to middle school this year. Let’s all take a moment for that receiving line of awesome and pass it on.