Communication, Emotional Intelligence, MBTI, Personality, Self-Awareness, Striving Styles

Your Personality and the Pandemic

“We all have an unsuspected reserve of strength inside that emerges when life puts us to the test.” ~ Isabel Allende

This current pandemic has no doubt turned all of our worlds upside down. While “we’re all in this together”, each of us is facing different circumstances and challenges. Some may be worrying about money and job security, the health and safety of themselves or others, or coping with social isolation, homeschooling, working from home, or working in essential services. Each of us will deal with the anxiety associated with our current situation differently. These are truly difficult and uncertain times and they’ve forced us to change how we interact with others in our daily lives, bringing with that a whole other level of challenges. The more we understand ourselves, our triggers, and our personality preferences, the better equipped we’ll be to make healthy choices and respond to what life throws at us more productively.

A good place to start is with understanding how different personalities behave during turbulent times. Carl Jung theorized that we’re born with our personality type preferences and it remains relatively stable throughout one’s life. While I believe that our personality doesn’t change, we are constantly changing and evolving, or devolving into survival mode. This is one of those times that our personalities will be put to the test and can trigger us into survival mode, or into our self-protective system.

Fundamentally, we’re all adaptable and resilient enough, and, as far as the Striving Styles Personality System (SSPS) or Myers-Briggs Personality Types (MBTI) are concerned, I don’t believe there is one personality type that is better equipped to handle the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re all willing and able to cooperate with others and abide by the executive orders that have been put in place. While I think that emotional intelligence is a far better predictor of one’s ability to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic (refer to SSPS for a deeper dive into your self-protective behaviours), the MBTI can offer some valuable insight into the strengths and weaknesses of certain personality traits that might manifest during times like these.

There are four MBTI dichotomies and everyone has a natural preference for one of the two opposites on each of the four dichotomies. They describe our preferences but we use all eight of them. Here are a few general things about the Myers-Briggs personality types and how they may describe how you or others respond to what is happening in our world now.  

Introversion vs Extraversion: This is where we get our energy and where we prefer to focus our attention. It may be more difficult for extraverted types to practice social distancing or harder for them to get that social interaction needed to feeds their brains. However, Extraverts might have an edge in this time of social distancing because Extraverts may be more likely to pick up the phone, Facetime people, or organize Zoom parties when they need interaction. While introverted types tend to have or need fewer social interactions than extraverted types, this doesn’t mean that Introverts don’t need social interaction as well. We’re all wired to need other human beings to one extent or another. During periods of stress, it’s important to reach out to others whether you are an Introvert or an Extravert.

Sensing vs Intuition: This describes the way we prefer to take in, gather, and prioritize information. Sensing types are drawn to the details first and are attune to tangible data and facts. Intuitive types are drawn to the big picture and pay attention to general concepts and theories and tend to be future-focused. During the pandemic, a Sensing type might receive information as follows: “we’re in the middle of a pandemic, there’s a stay home order, I have to stay at home, the last time I stayed at home for a long time was when I was sick, my house isn’t clean, etc”. For a Sensing type, it’s just what it is, and there isn’t a hidden meaning in any of this. It’s all about the process of sensation and the mind doesn’t attribute any meaning to any of these sensations.

For an Intuitive type, they receive it as “we’re in the middle of a pandemic, and there’s a stay at home order and I’m going to go stir crazy. I need to find ways to occupy myself at home, I always get like that when I’m at home for too long, why is that? I wonder when we’re going to go back to work, there are so many people getting sick, we have to be careful if we go outside. How is this going to change the world? The difference here is the intuitive response is a web of complex information and a lot of it is intangible and may or may not happen. While sensing types focus on clarity, intuitive types associate ideas with one another. In terms of this Covid-19 pandemic, one potential issue I can see in the Sensing/Intuitive dichotomy is communication. Sensors communicate in a sequential detailed way, so it’s best to use concrete language and facts and be straightforward when speaking to them. Intuitives are more likely to skip over the details and be attuned to impressions or ideas, so focus on the big picture instead of concrete data, and try to speak to their curiosity with ideas or theories.

Thinking vs Feeling: This is the way we evaluate and make decisions. Thinking types tend to make decisions based on objective logic while Feeling types tend to focus on the impact on people and use a values-based approach when deciding. With these two types, there is a fundamental difference in how they experience and express emotions. It’s not about being emotional or moody or anxious and in fact, being a feeler doesn’t mean you are overly emotional, and being a thinker doesn’t mean you’re not emotional at all. It’s about what you prioritize when you’re making a decision. If you’re a thinker, you prioritize impersonal logic, pros and cons, and cause and effect. If you’re a feeler, you prioritize values, morals, and personal principles. 

For example, if you’re a Feeling type, you might be soaking up a lot of emotions as the world is going on right now. You may “feel” what other people are going through. Thinkers may appear to respond in an overly objective and straightforward way, devoid of emotions, which just make things worse for the Feeler because the Feeler wants their feelings to be validated. This is hard for Thinkers because feelings aren’t logical. 

If you’re a Thinker, a little praise with a Feeler goes a long way. Let them know that they are doing a great job in managing their stress and cite examples if you can. If you’re a Feeler, try to practice not taking things personally and looking at the reality of the situation. It’s going to be helpful during these uncertain times whether you’re a Thinker or a Feeler to work hard to understand and appreciate differences and try to flex your style accordingly.

Judging and Perceiving: This is all about our lifestyle orientation and we orient ourselves to the external world. While Judging types tend to be structured and organized, and very mindful of time, Perceiving types tend to be adaptable and spontaneous. This dichotomy is going to play out in a very big way during these trying times, especially when it comes to working from home. Perceivers may have a harder time sticking to a 9-5 type of work schedule unless you’re already in a structured type of role. Naturally, P’s dislike routine, and let’s not even talk about micromanagement. One positive about working virtually for Perceivers thought is the ability to be more flexible with their schedules, although this could become a problem if the rest of the work team is more structured and follow more of a routine, eg. like if they’re expecting work to be done during regular business hours and they’re getting emails at all hours of the night, this could be a problem. So if you’re a Perceiving type, knowing what the preferred style is for your team is going to be very helpful. If it’s expected that you are available at certain times, set some calendar reminders so that you don’t miss appointments and factor planning into your day. Make sure that you take regular stretch breaks too. And as much as you can, allow time to complete your work when you’re at your best. For J’s it’s a different story. Judging types are very time conscious and they tend to be list-makers and planners. While J’s will likely hunker down, prepare lists and diligently work towards checking off their to-do’s, this disruption that we’re experiencing is most likely harder on them in many ways than it is for Perceivers. Judging types don’t like surprises at all. They’ve got contingency plans for most things but this pandemic has probably thrown a huge curveball to them and it make take them some time to adjust. Another potential issue because J’s are goal-oriented and they want things decided and fixed they may make snap decisions or judgments before they have the needed information to make a properly informed decision. This is very easy to do in highly charged communication situations without the benefit of non-verbal cues such as facial expressions and body language.

Lastly, if you’re like me and crave something positive, you’ll enjoy this YouTube video where Jack Canfield shares 6 reasons to be optimistic about the future. He explains the importance of remembering that for every problem we face as a society, there are many brilliant people around the world working on solutions, and that this should give us a great deal of hope for the future.

6 Reasons to be Optimistic About the Future | Jack Canfield

Finally, in the words of Dr. Bonnie Henry, “stay calm, be kind, and stay safe”.

Now, it’s your turn.

How have you been coping during this Pandemic? How do you manage your stress? How do you stay positive?

Photo by Pille Kirsi from Pexels

 

MBTI, Personality, Self-Awareness, Striving Styles, Who are you meant to be?

What makes you unique?

 “Always be yourself, retain individuality, listen to the truest part of yourself.” ~ Marilyn Monroe

Do you know what makes you unique? Each of us is born perfectly unique. We can see this unique beauty in babies and children who are happy and free within their own skin. Then over time and as we grow up, social and cultural conditioning, the need to fit in, to get along, to be liked by others slowly erodes our uniqueness and in many ways encourages us to be who we think we should be rather than who we actually are. This experience of being removed from our true self can leave us unsure of ourselves and lacking in confidence, energy, and motivation. It also robs us of the peace that comes from being ourselves and comfortable within our own skin.

“True belonging is the spiritual practice of believing in and belonging to yourself so deeply that you can share your most authentic self with the world and find sacredness in both being a part of something and standing alone in the wilderness. True belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are; it requires you to be who you are.”  ~ Brene Brown

Can you think back to a time when you tried to be someone you’re not? Maybe in a new relationship or in a new job you attempted to present yourself in a certain light that didn’t represent who you were. No doubt this left you feeling uncomfortable and unsure. It can also drain your natural energy and draw your awareness away from your grounded self. In contrast, being yourself is the most natural and fulfilling way to walk through your days. It leaves you feeling you energized, inspired, confident, and fulfilled.

3 things you can do to discover what makes you unique

  1. Reflect on yourself as a child. Was there something that you loved or something that you did that in some way has stayed with you? This practice or habit may have changed shape as you’ve become an adult but in its essence, it is still part of who you are. Perhaps it’s a love of drawing, a deep concern for others, or a love of nature. Maybe it’s a sense of adventure, a thirst for knowledge, a love of singing, dancing, or music. Just allow an image idea or feeling to arrive in your mind and heart.
  2. Consider how loved ones describe you.  Another way to get in touch with your uniqueness is to reflect on how others see you. How have loved ones described you? Perhaps in birthday cards, during a speech, or a conversation. If you haven’t experienced this in words, just imagine what friends and family love about you.  
  3. Take a personality/strengths assessment.  They will help you to define yourself more clearly. I happen to love personality assessments of any kind and find them incredibly insightful in understanding what makes us tick, including our behaviour, how we work the best, and what motivates us. There are many available, some of the most common are Myers-Briggs, Enneagram, Strengthsfinder, Striving Styles, and many others. I work with the Striving Styles because it helps us understand our brain, our personality traits, as well as drivers of human behaviour, motivations, fears while providing a comprehensive approach to development.

We all know that life is full of ups and downs, moments of great joy and great difficulty. Throughout our life we are presented with all sorts of situations that can make it difficult to live our deepest values and share our unique self, to remain awake and aware. Family breakdown, a stressful work situation, health issues, financial troubles, or just a general sense of tiredness and overwhelm all make living our values and sharing our uniqueness hard. We can feel tempted to fall back in a daze of modern-day busyness and old behavioural patterns and habits. During these challenging times, we can draw upon our confidence and sense of self through self-awareness and being mindfully present. Through this connection, we can once again reconnect with our values, our purpose and, our uniqueness.

In this funny and insightful Ted Talk, Brian Little dissects the differences between introverts and extroverts and explains why your personality may be more malleable than you think.

Ted Talk: Who are you, really? The puzzle of personality | Brian Little

Now, it’s your turn.

What are your unique qualities? Have you completed a personality assessment? What did you learn about yourself? Share in the comments below.

Photo by Alexandru Dinca from Pexels

Brain dominance, Dreams, Goals, Striving Styles, Who are you meant to be?

What would you do with an extra 13 years?

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” ~ Mary Oliver

I recently read that the average North American watches between two to four hours of TV per day or 14-29 hours per week. If so, that would means that over the course of an average lifespan it would be equivalent to spending between 7 and 13 years in front of the TV! I also read that the average person spends nearly 2 hours per day on social media or 14 hours per week, which is equivalent to five years and 4 months over their lifetime, and this continues to increase. That’s crazy! I know I need to become way more intentional on how I’m spending my time, especially how much time I’m watching TV and spending on social media. How about you?

Just imagine what you could accomplish within 13 years! You can become a doctor in 11 years, and 13 if you specialize. You could get a PhD in whatever you’re interested in. You could go to university part-time, and complete a four year undergrad. There are endless courses available and you could become an expert in any subject you’re interested in. Or you could learn to play an instrument, become fluent in another language, learn to paint or draw. You could start a new business. Maybe get a black belt in karate, train and run marathons. Get fit, lose weight. Get a second job and pay off debts or save for that amazing vacation you’ve always dreamed of taking. You could take 13 amazing trips if you planned just one per year, in maybe 13 different countries. You could write that book you’ve been thinking about. Volunteer in your community. You could mend a relationship or nurture existing ones. The list is endless and it’s sure got me thinking about what I could do in 13 years!

“Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.” ~ Earle Nightingale

From the time I was young, I dreamed of going to university, but four years of university seemed too much of a commitment, too much time, and out of reach mainly because I suffered from debilitating self-doubt (that’s a whole other topic). In spite of this, I was ambitious and keen to work, so I got a job and completed a two year diploma program at night school instead. It took me five years, working a full time job, a part-time job, and going to school, while taking one or two courses per semester. Definitely not an easy or fast path but I was proud of myself for finishing. Of course, the dream of going to university was still there, so as soon as I finished that program, I enrolled in university. Ironically, one of the excuses I had about going to university was too much of a time commitment! So, without boring you with all the details of my life story, I did plod away for 20 years on it, with many stops and starts along the way due to competing priorities from my career, family, moving, home renos, etc., and I’m proud to say I did eventually get my degree. While I don’t recommend that particular long and winding path, the point is, time passed anyway so I’m glad I did it. I absolutely know I would’ve regretted not doing it.

Sometimes our dreams feel so big, overwhelming, or simply out of reach. Getting clear on what you want in your life is essential. Once you have a clear vision, you need to understand why you want it. Your why is your ultimate motivator when it get’s tough, because it will. The key is to break down your vision and goal into a tangible action plan with daily or weekly tasks. A little progress every day will add up over time and you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish.

It will feel slow and tedious, especially if you’re impatient like me, but by continuously and consistently working, practicing, and staying the course, you’ll be amazed at what you can get done. The rap singer Macklemore wrote a song where he says that “the greats weren’t great because at birth they could paint, the greats were great because they paint a lot”. This is a great reminder that there are very few overnight successes. Most success stories we hear about are the result of getting clear about what you want and a commitment to working hard.

For some people, envisioning their future self and figuring out what they really want can be challenging, while for others, it’s the easy part. Those that find it easy to visualize and dream may struggle with putting a plan together or taking action. All of this depends on what part of your brain dominates your personality. To learn how your unique brain is organized, and about your predominant style, complete the Striving Styles Personality Assessment. Helping people discover their dreams, and define a plan of action to achieve it, is what I love to do. Contact me if you want to learn more.

So what dream or dreams aren’t you pursuing because you’re sitting in front of the TV or glued to your phone. Just image what you could do in 13 years!

I think you might enjoy this inspiring and insightful Tedx Talk on the philosophy of time management.

The Philosophy of Time Management | Brad Aeon | TEDxConcord

My book recommendation

Now, it’s your turn.

What ambitions do you have right now that you are not pursuing? What dreams did you have when you were younger but have since given up on? What do you most wish for in your life? What do you want the most for your life? Share in the comments.

Photo source: Susan Wheeler (artist in Honfleur, France)

Personality, Self Actualized System, Self Protective System, Self-Awareness, Self-Confidence, Striving Styles, Who are you meant to be?

How do you shine?

“Maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything. Maybe it’s about un-becoming everything that isn’t really you, so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place.” ~ Paulo Coelho

Do you know who you are? What your unique gifts are? Each of us are born perfectly unique. We can see this unique beauty in babies and children who are happy and free within their own skin. Then, over time and as we grow up, social and cultural conditioning, the need to fit in, to get along, and to be liked by others, slowly erodes our uniqueness, and in many ways, encourages us to be who we think we should be rather than who we actually are. This experience of being removed from our true self can leave us unsure of ourselves and lacking in confidence, energy and motivation. It can also rob us of the peace that comes from being ourselves and being comfortable in our own skin.

Knowing who you are meant to be starts with knowing what you are born as. Too often people try to figure out what they are meant to do without having any idea about who they really are. This disconnect causes them to look outside of themselves for answers to questions that can only be answered from within. It also causes us to strive to be what others expect of us and to give up on ourselves and instead try to live up to an ideal, to be the person that we think we should be, rather than based on who we authentically are.

We’re are all driven by powerful, instinctual needs that we’ve had since birth – our predominant style or Striving Style (SSPS). These needs are the source of our motivation for our behaviour, social interaction, and influence how we behave and how we feel about ourselves. When our predominant need is met, we are poised for growth and development.

However, when our predominant needs are not being met, we will feel threatened, frightened or anxious, leading to self-protective or survival behaviours. Fear and anxiety override rational thought which will profoundly influence our behaviour, often without our awareness, thus undermining our success and effectiveness.

Have you ever got to the end of the day and felt like somehow your day was hijacked? Or maybe you’ve spent to much time reacting, caught up in some drama or just consumed with a sense of busyness. Do you ever feel uneasy, or have a quiet of rumbling deep inside that something isn’t right. This means you are living out of your self-protective systems. When I have a day (or week) like this I’ll reflect on the predominant needs of my striving style and make a plan on how I need to shift out of my self-protective system. If you’re unaware of your predominant needs you will be at the mercy of your unconscious impulses, emotions and negative habits of mind, leading to reactive, non-productive behaviour, increased emotionality, and an inability to focus on your goals.

The SSPS gets to the heart of the human experience and helps you identify what you need to feel secure and psychologically stable so you can grow and develop. As well, it provides you with insight into the consequences when you don’t get your predominant needs met. The SSPS doesn’t provide a laundry list of strengths and weaknesses but rather, it takes into account the complexity of your brain’s functioning and its impact on your personality.

Coming to understand yourself, recognizing and expressing your uniqueness and who you really are will make you feel more creative, confident, energized and inspired. Your personality, your unique history and story is like no one else’s. Living a life with authenticity, meaning and purpose is ultimately what a happy and fulfilled life looks like.

I love this beautiful (and fitting) song that I have currently playing on repeat. Enjoy!

Astral Plane by Valerie June

Now, it’s your turn.

Think about a time recently that you felt really happy and content, like in that moment you had everything you needed. Who was there? What were you doing? How did you feel when you were in this moment of happiness?

How about a time that you felt inspired motivated or purposeful. When you felt you were focused, in the zone. How did it feel to be inspired in this way?

What about a time when you felt moved by something more- a beautiful sunset, a night sky, the ocean an overwhelming experience of love or compassion.

Share your thoughts in the comments.

Photo by James Wheeler from Pexels