Personality tests aren’t about labeling ourselves or closing ourselves into little behavioral boxes. Personality tests are about figuring out what makes you tick and what your natural instincts are so that you can live your best life. Yes, I just said “live your best life”, but really isn’t that what we want to do? Of course we can’t ignore that our core identity is who we are in Christ, but that’s a whole other discussion for another time. This is going a little further up from our core into what I’ll lovingly call the “mantle” of personality where all of our complex emotions, feelings, desires, and needs mesh together. And just like the mantle was often misunderstood for years, many people often feel lost or confused about themselves and wrestle with questions like: what’s wrong with me or why am I like this or why can’t I just be normal? (pro tip – normal is overrated)
I think most of us struggle with some kind of identity issue, though it seems to be a bigger issue for some more than others. Those who have struggled with depression and anxiety for instance most likely have a lot more struggles with who they are than those who don’t. Knowing and acknowledging the strengths & weaknesses of who you are can often help those who feel lost in finding their way. So if you’re someone who feels like they know themselves really well and a test isn’t going to really change anything, then by all means don’t use them. But if you are someone who feels like no one understands you or there’s something about yourself you don’t quite understand (or if you’re just plain curious), then either or both of these tools might be helpful to you.
First there’s the Myers-Briggs, which was created in 1944 by a mother-daughter duo with the names (you guessed it) Katherine Briggs and Isabel Myers. Their test indicates how people perceive the world around them and make decisions. The questions they designed seek to answer four main questions:
- Where do we get our energy?
- How do we take in information?
- How do we make decisions?
- How do we prefer to live?
Within each of these four questions are two possible end members, with each person falling on a spectrum between the two for each respective category. The end members are as follows:
- E vs. I
- Learn best by talking and interacting with others; recharge by socializing
- Introvert/ Reserved
- Learn best through reflection and privacy; recharge by being alone
- N vs. S
- Take in information through patterns, impressions, and possibilities
- Prefer abstract things and ideas
- Take in information through the five senses
- Prefer concrete/tangible ideas
- T vs. F
- Make decisions based off of logic
- Desire objective truth and use deductive reasoning
- Make decisions based off of feelings
- Tend to consider people’s motives
- J vs P
- Prefer to have control and have plans
- Prefer to let things play out
You’ll also sometimes see a fifth indicator added to the end which usually has the letters T and A, standing for turbulent and assertive; this is an indicator of how confident we tend to be in our own abilities and decisions. And keep in mind all of these are how we are instinctively, this doesn’t mean that you are pinned into your exact 4 to 5 letter type for all eternity. However your first letter will likely never change as that’s pretty inherent to how you are hard wired.
My type, for example, is INFJ-T meaning I am a turbulent, intuitive, feeling, judging introvert. So this means that I am stimulated/recharged by being alone and prefer small groups of people, tend to make emotional decisions, often focus on the future or spend time daydreaming, prefer to have a plan for my day/life, and I’m not usually the most confident (though I can often outwardly mask it). Knowing this about myself helps me to recognize when I’m reaching my limits or becoming overwhelmed, which in turn helps me to be a more pleasant person to be around because I’m doing my best to put myself in a situation to succeed. Now I do recognize that sometimes we get things thrown at us in life and it won’t always be the ideal situation, but knowing how you approach the world can help you navigate the curveballs a little bit easier.
Here’s a link to a great (free) one if you want to take the test: https://www.16personalities.com/free-personality-test
As for the Enneagram, this is something I am much less familiar with but am continuing to learn about due to a lot of my best friends being obsessed with it (aka Abigail, Halle, and Julia). So I’ll give you the basics that I know along with my own number and then let you explore from there.
So in this system there is a series of nine numbers, one through nine (though I kinda wished they did like 15-24 lol) which represent different psyche compositions, if you will. The number that you most relate to is your basic/dominant personality type and your wing number is an added complexity to your personality. Also, no number is greater than an another: it just happens to be a number system.
- The Reformer
- Principled, purposeful, self controlled, perfectionistic
- The Helper
- Generous, demonstrative, people-pleasing, possessive
- The Achiever
- Adaptable, excelling, driven, image-conscious
- The Individualist
- Expressive, dramatic, self-absorbed, temperamental
- The Investigator
- Perceptive, innovative, secretive, isolated
- The Loyalist
- Engaging, responsible, anxious, suspicious
- The Enthusiast
- Spontaneous, versatile, acquisitive, scattered
- The Challenger
- Self confident, decisive, willful, confrontational
- The Peacemaker
- Receptive, reassuring, complacent, resigned
These aren’t all the details that go into each type obviously but these are the basics. I’ve also included some diagrams below that shows the personality layout and the centers within the layout.
My Enneagram number is a 6: “ The Committed Security Oriented Type”*
- Generally, Sixes are reliable, hard-working, organizing, vigilant, dutiful, evaluating, persevering, cautious, anxious, believing and doubting, conservative and liberal.
- Sixes get into conflicts by being pessimistic, defensive, evasive, negative, worrying, doubtful, negativistic, reactive, suspicious, and blaming.
- At their best, Sixes are courageous, cooperative, disciplined, grounded, secure, faithful, self-expressive, funny, and affectionate.
I’m not gonna lie, when I was reading about Sixes, I felt a little called out but as I’ve always heard with personality tests, if you feel called out by your result then it’s probably true. And most of my friends seemed to be a bit opposed to their number at first as well but the more all of us looked into it the more we realized that no, it was right…
So anywho… use all of this personality knowledge at your discretion and remember that these aren’t designed to put you in a box but rather there to help you understand how you tick so that you can be the best version of yourself
*I took a paid test from the Enneagram Institute, so much of my information comes from them; they send you a whole packet of information on your personality, but there’s no need for that kind of information avalanche here
** also jury is still out on my wing number because home girl hasn’t learned to fly yet