I’ve been through a few self-help book binges in my life. Some books have actually helped as promised, while others have been strategically forgotten on the coffee table for the kids to rip up at their leisure. By far – by FAR – the most helpful have been the countless books and articles I’ve read about the Myers-Briggs personality type theory. No advice I have ever received from a best friend, great-aunt, therapist, or a bottle of pills has been as helpful as learning about this theory.
The MBTI (short for Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) is used a ton by career counselors helping people figure out what they want to be when they grow up and by organizations that are trying to figure out how to make the most of their employees. But I think the typology has value in so many ways beyond that.
If you are not familiar with this theory yet or if you have only superficial knowledge of it, here are five reasons why I think you should run out right this second and learn everything you can about this theory:
1. IT ENABLES YOU TO GET ADVICE FROM PEOPLE WHO ARE SIMILAR TO YOU
This is particularly crucial if you are one of the less common personality types and if you have mostly been surrounded by people who are different from you. Lots of people will give you advice throughout your life and most of them probably mean well. But following the path of someone who is totally different from you will just make you miserable.
Once you are clear on who you are and what your really want, and once you have a way of easily identifying people who are similar to you in some very important ways, you can look for advice from people who truly get you.
2. IT HELPS YOU FIGURE OUT WHAT YOUR BRAIN NEEDS TO KEEP IT HAPPY
The Myers-Briggs theory is based on the idea that there are 16 broad personality types. You have some inborn preferences (nature) that account for a large share of why your personality is what it is, although your childhood experiences and environment (nurture) matter too. In other words, you were born with certain personality traits:
- introvert versus extravert
- intuitive versus sensor
- feeler versus thinker
- judging versus perceiving
Depending on your combination of personality traits, you are one of 16 personality types.
The theory also states that there are eight cognitive functions or ways in which people collect and process information in their brains. All of us can use all the functions to at least some extent, but certain personality types tend to favor some functions over others. And each of the 16 personality types has a favorite. When you are using your favorite function, it puts your brain in flow. It makes you feel good. If you are rarely able to use your favorite function, you are at risk for becoming depressed.
Related: How To Make Your Brain Happy
3. IT HELPS YOU FIGURE OUT WHAT YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP
If you are unhappy with your current career, learning about your personality type will help you narrow down reasons why and help you choose a better alternative.
4. IT HELPS YOU FIGURE OUT FAMILY DYNAMICS
It’s pretty exciting to figure out your own personality type and feel like someone has just read your mind and to find out that there are other people just like you. Or maybe not? Maybe you were already ok with who you are and where you are in life and you don’t get what the big deal is? If that’s the case, don’t let me lose you just yet.
Because the real excitement will kick in when you start figuring out OTHER people’s personality types. That’s when the heavens will open and Michael Jackson’s back-up choir will emerge in flowy church dresses singing Hallelujah.
Here’s the gem: Different personality types clash in predictable ways. Figuring out your own personality type as well as that of your spouse and kids and any other extended family members will help you figure out why you have conflicts and how to go about resolving them.
To give you examples of how this works, I have written articles about intuitive-sensor marriages, introvert-extravert marriages, and introvert parents with extravert kids. And more articles like this are in the works!
5. IT HELPS YOU UNDERSTAND AND DEAL WITH PEOPLE IN GENERAL
All this relationship-loveliness goes beyond your own family. Understanding what makes different personalities tick will help you have more compassion for the grouchy car mechanic, the nerdy accountant who lights up like a Christmas tree when talking about the new tax laws, and your totally scatter-brained neighbor.
Your expectations of yourself and other people become more realistic. You accept that we all have strengths and weaknesses. You no longer expect one person to deliver everything you need.
And while some people will continue to be as annoying as ever, you will at least understand why it’s happening. 🙂
Have I convinced you yet? Are you ready to achieve brain-bliss, change your sucky job situation, and fix all your relationships? 😉 If yes, click here.