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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

I would have been a dictator, but sexism

"No, I really do not want to talk to you." The Servant, Carol L. Douglas.
When I was younger, career opportunities for my Myers-Briggs personality type, ENTJ, just didn’t exist for women. “Yours is the least common type,” I was told. “And you share it with Adolph Hitler, Napoleon Bonaparte, Alexander Hamilton, Margaret Thatcher.” And, more recently, Donald Trump.

I don’t have the patience to be a genocidal murderer or even a world leader. I’d be more interested in running a cult, but, except for the wonderfully weird Madame Blavatsky that is a male-only career path, so I became an artist, the next best thing.

This has been on my mind because my church is doing a program on discerning one’s calling. Part of that involved taking the Myers-Briggs, which I respectfully sat out. I’ve taken it enough times to know that my personality, while dictatorial, ruthless, rational and insensitive, is also set in stone.

I’ve mentioned that to people who only know my public persona. “Oh, there must be some mistake,” they say. My family, who know me best, just laugh bitterly.

My son has also been Myers-Briggsed extensively. He is just like me except that he’s an introvert. I have exactly ten times as many friends as he does on Facebook, which isn’t that surprising since he uses an alias and fake picture. The puzzling part is that he likes people a lot more than I do.

Shouldn’t an extrovert like her fellow man? I often don’t. That same judging thing, the belief that people could live orderly lives if they only cleaned their rooms, often gets in the way of sympathy. This is why, I’m sure, I was turned down for the job of Savior. The answer to “WWJD” is probably not “mow them down with gunfire if they don’t straighten up.”

"OK, I'll talk if you won't be an idiot." Married, by Carol L. Douglas
“I never think about other people’s business if I can help it, and then only if they are determined to confide in me,” said my current favorite fictional heroine, Dame Beatrice Adela Lestrange Bradley. Dame Beatrice is, ironically, a psychiatrist. I’m sure she, like me, is also a disallusioned ENTJ.

On Sunday, our pastor—who also has Myers-Briggs on the brain—made a joke about the J component of the Myers-Briggs. That J-P preference, by the way, describes how you live your outer life. Are you structured and decided (judging) or adaptive (perceiving)?

“Ordnung! Order!” I shouted, but in a quiet, orderly way. This was church, after all. He didn't hear me. Later, Naomi and Kimberly and I talked about it. Order, we agreed, is necessary for beauty, and beauty is paramount for artists. So screw all that touchy-feely stuff. We're going for a high polish.

I have four kids, so you can bet your life that there were times my house wasn’t orderly. “But you still wanted it,” noted Kimberly. That was a great insight about the “J” personality. - You don’t actually have to succeed at obsession-compulsion to feel the impulse.

Still, my incontinent, elderly, senile Jack Russell terrier knows that if he goes out every two hours to pee, he gets a treat when he comes in. So he does, and the floors remain clean. There’s not a lot of difference between that and training myself to be alert and ready to work at 9 AM in my studio.

Js. We’re so misunderstood.


3 comments:

Sandy said...

I'm an ENTJ too. Haha! Explains a lot about our friendship. I don't interpret perceivers as necessarily adaptive. Hank's a perceiver and I'm far more adaptive than he is. That perceivers gather information does not necessarily mean they adapt to it. 😉 There are degrees within each quadrant. I'm a very strong extrovert and intuitive. I think the intuitive thing is a strong contributor to our artistic sense. Surprisingly I think artists are often extroverts. My preconception on that was the cliche about the artist living the solitary life and hence must be an introvert; but we draw energy from everything around us, including people, and that fits the extrovert description. My scores on thinking and judging are much closer to the middle, so I think that mitigates some of the strongest tendencies of those two traits/decision-making processes. But you're right about order, and I don't suffer fools well. I'm not a hand-holder either. I think I've done Myers Briggs four times, two of them the in-depth test with all the percentages for each quadrant. Self awareness is helped along by the test, but so is living in your body for 66 years. Btw, any assessment of Trump is negated by his narcissistic personality disorder.

Carol Douglas said...

Character is fluid, of course, but certain elements remain the same.

What I've really been thinking about is the concept of Absolute Truth. I hold to it and wonder if it's a J trait. But I know a lot of people who believe it also who are P-types. (They can't help it.)

I think the M-B has things to offer, particularly to young people trying to figure themselves out. However, it's predictive, not proscriptive. As my friend Helen said, she was a gang-banger and now she works with the mentally ill. That's a God-given miracle, and we all have the potential for that.

sueleo said...

LOL. I am an ENTJ ... according to Myers-Briggs ... what a surprise.

However in my recent studies I have come across a perspective that poses these tests can limit who you are supposed to become (i.e. God's plan for you) ... as we may have developed some of these characteristic growing up with external pressures, family habits, and original sin, or lack of knowing about sin -- that has made us adapt and acquire these characteristic to survive "in the world"... so in reality, people may have developed a "pseudo, or false personality" from what God actually intended for them.

In my own quest for sanctification, I am taking a look at my own characteristics of how I tend to interact, or have reacted in the world -- which are clues to what sins or virtues that I should be working on in this life ... I would prefer to think that God can change me and that I am not limited to four letters of the alphabet to define who I am today, yesterday and tomorrow. And maybe the model for my life shouldn't be from psychologists who have cleverly found patterns of behavior, categorized them and put labels on them -- all to place limits on my beliefs about myself and who I can be -- These tests are like horoscopes that tell you what is going to happen in your life (which is something that God has asked us not to dabble in)

I wonder how much different are these personality tests from fortune telling? When we identify with these labels, embrace them, then aspire, or justify our ways by them ... are we putting ourselves into some level of bondage from being our true selves? I wonder. Maybe there is another model to aspire to ... a Christian one ... just some rambling thoughts ... I have an entire teaching about false identities from Christian perspective ... it opened my eyes to these tests.

These tests are perhaps a snapshot in time ... we are all works in progress ... use it for assessment, but be careful to not lock yourself into it as your entire identity forever ... imo