Monday, March 25, 2013

Personality analysis

I've been forcing myself to go to social events and meeting lots of kinds of people, some of which are really friendly and welcoming, which was a nice change. It's a good thing that in my new job I get to interact with a lot more people than during grad school, but at the same time, it's also a big challenge for me to work with people with very different personalities than me. I know that as a professional, one needs to set aside one's preference and dislikes for personality types and work with others' professional abilities, but I'm finding I'm horrible at it. It's a big wake up call I guess.

I have always thought I was an INTP, but recently, redoing the Myer-Briggs test and reading more into it, turns out I'm actually an INFJ, with dominant introverted intuition, extraverted feelings, introverted thinking, and extraverted sensing. I have always thought that I suck at reading people's intentions and feelings, but turns out I've been ignoring my intuition all these years. In reality, other people's energy affect me hugely, to the point that I can't hold my own state of centeredness when someone else is exhibiting different energies. For example, if I meet someone who is grumpy, it totally brings me down as well, no matter how hard I try to stay neutral and cheerful. Meeting super cheery people can bring me to a totally cheerful state as well. By this logic, I should always hang out with super cheerful people, but people like that are not super common around here. Also, I don't mean fake cheerful. I mean genuine happiness. My logical brain cannot tell the difference (and I've always relied on my rational brain without monitoring my own reaction to places and situations), but my happiness only lights up sometimes, for example at this Indian wedding I attended where I didn't know the bride and groom but my Indian friends' friends were all super excited to meet me (I was the only foreigner at the wedding... super exotic to them LOL). I think it was one of the happiest days I've experienced in a very long time. It wasn't because I was the center of attention, but because I could feel that everybody was grinning from ear to ear they could hardly contain their excitements. At work my colleagues also crack jokes  and break into loud laughters every single day at coffee breaks, but somehow it just doesn't feel like real happiness to me. I can't explain it and I could be wrong, but to me their laughters feel more like life-coping strategy than genuine contentment with life. These are definitely signs of extraverted feeling and sensing.

According to Wikipedia, only 1-3% of the US population of INFJs, the rarest personality type of all (compared to 20-28% ISTJs/ISFJs and 17-25% ESFJ/ESTJs). This means I belong to the most misunderstood loner crowd and I also think differently from most of the populations in the US and probably in the world.

INFJ weaknesses, according to the Internet, include being unaware (and sometimes uncaring) of how they come across to others, applying their judgment more often towards others, rather than towards themselves, having unrealistic and/or unreasonable expectations of others, having an intense and quick temper, can hold grudges, can have difficulty forgiving people, can be wishy-washy and unsure how to act in situations that require quick decision making, having difficulty communicating their thoughts and feelings to others, and can see so many tangents everywhere that they can't stay focused on the bottom line or the big picture.

Yikes.. how horrible it is to be born as an INFJ! I think the judgmental part of me prevents me from seeing the positive aspect of issues and focusing on working with colleagues' professional sides and take in their advice (because I've already decided that I don't like them as a person). But it doesn't matter why I am the way I am... I must come across as a difficult to deal with person as well. The website offers suggestions on personal development. Some of these I have already been attempting for years. As for the "do not express anger" advice, I usually try to suppress my anger by staying silent, but most of the time people can sense that I'm upset anyways. So then I get frustrated that the situation remains tense even though I think I haven't expressed my anger... perhaps my facial expression gives things away.. I don't know exactly.

I don't like to have a personality that only accounts for 1-3% of the world's population, and I don't like to be difficult. But being among this personality group means that I naturally think differently than most people and that it is hard for me to understand how others think and figure out most people's preferences.

I think I need to majorly relax, try really hard not to take things personality, try really hard to be less judgmental of others (the website suggests that I be as least as critical about myself as I do with others but I think I already do a lot of that), and assume the best - this one is quite important and useful for me. I think sometimes I dislike a person because they act as a mirror or even a magnifying glass of an aspect of myself that I don't like. I try so hard to eliminate that characteristic in myself, but how dare this person blatantly express this characteristic and seem to be so comfortable with it? I guess instead I should shift my thinking and be grateful to that person for demonstrating to me that one can exhibit these characteristics that I consider as "flaws" yet still live (somewhat) happily and have lots of friends.

It's a major challenge to be interacting with so many different kinds of personality types, especially ones that clash with mine. I guess it's a necessary part of life that I've managed to avoid until now. I hope I get through this and become a less judgmental, more accommodating and a more easy-going person.  If I cannot get through the challenge, I should perhaps seek out jobs with less human interactions maybe, LOL. Anyways, self-awareness is supposed to be a good thing, right? I genuinely want to be less of an asshole to the people around me. I'm also supposed to draw on my strengths, which I have trouble to  identify confidently. That'll be my task for the next little while - focus on the positives and figure out what exactly am I good at besides assimilating broad range of information obsessively but not be able to coherently organize them into useful thought systems.


  1. Oh, the joys of analyzing yourself with the Myer-Briggs! I felt a bit like you before I knew of its existence, wondering why I feel as I do. Only after my friends in psychology subjected me to it did I see a little more. Mind you, the test doesn't explain you, just general tendencies that are more pronounced. You got it right at the end there, that you know you need to take that information (for what it's worth) and dig deeper inside you with it as a guide. We're really too complex for our own good!

    1. Thanks for your comment Jethero! Sometimes I hate the complexity... I wish I were the practical sensing type rather than the intuitive type. It would make life a lot simpler I think.

  2. I think you must write little articles than huge paragraphs. 20 lines for a post is a reasonable length I suppose.

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    When parents don't give enough attention and care to their children, all sort of events happen in early adulthood and this enriches psychologues. But one must accept what happened and advance in life (Boris Cyrulink's books, especially "resilience").

    1. Hi Anonymous, I use my blogs for catharsis purposes. I seem to have a lot of things I need to get out of my head into writing in order to sort them out. I apologize that the posts are way too long and not totally reader-friendly at the moment. I am waiting for a turning point where my thoughts turn into resolving issues or creating new positive projects that are more interesting/useful for the readers rather than pointing out all my problems in life. Hopefully it won't be too far in the future.

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