Personality type vs. traits

Personality type vs trait

When I was a kid, I had a very unsophisticated toy "robot." This robot amounted to an inflatable doll on top of a remote-controlled platform. I pretended that this robot could talk and play with me. I imagined that it was my friend, so of course I assigned it many admirable character traits in my mind. The reality was that it was programmed to move forward when I pushed the button on the remote up, and it would move back when I pushed the button down. That's it. Due to its programming, its behavior was limited and never unexpected.

You're obviously nothing like this simple robot. One of the dangers of obsessing over personality type is a tendency to believe that we're programmed to behave a certain way because our type. This belief surfaces any time we feel limited by some aspect of our type.

You're not programmed to behave a certain way because of your personality type. In fact, your personality type is not the same thing as your personality. Your whole personality is made up of all of your character traits—the way you think, feel, behave, and act. 

Type and traits are not the same thing.

Looking at the way someone behaves is not a good way to determine their personality type, especially within the Myers-Briggs® personality types. See, the MBTI® assessment does not indicate traits but it does indicate your preferences along four dichotomies. Those dichotomies include introversion or extraversionsensing or intuitionthinking or feeling, and judging or perceiving. It also helps you see the kind of information your brain is wired to take in and the kind of information you use to make decisions. These are your mental, or cognitive, functions.

This misunderstanding of personality type assessments like the Myers Briggs Type Indicator® results in declarations that people can't be ___ type because they behave in a certain way. Any time you see a bold statement such as "INFJs don't ___," recognize that they're talking about a trait, not type. For example, I once read that INFJs don't lie. Umm...we're human. We may not make a habit of lying, but our ability to lie is the same as any other human. 

There can be similarities in traits, or how people act, in people of the same type.

Much of what I share in my weekly email, The INFJ Life , is based on these commonalities. But if you start to question your MBTI® type based on traits, always go back to your preferences and your mental functions. It's completely normal to question your personality type, even if you're fairly certain that you've identified the right type. If you're unsure, I can help you with an MBTI® assessment and comprehensive report and debrief. I'd love to help you discover your own unique variations within your personality type. 

Once you identify your type, what's next?

Whether you identified your type 20 years ago or two days ago (or somewhere between), what have you done with that information? Personality type systems are most beneficial when they're applied to personal growth and moving forward. If you want to become the best version of yourself by using personality type as a starting point, taking action is the next step. To help you put the information of your INFJ type to use, here are a few questions you can journal about to get started. 

What excites you most about your personality type?

➡️Where in your life can this part of you have the most impact? At work? At home? In a hobby?

➡️What would it look like, practically speaking, to apply more of this part of you in the area you just identified?

➡️How can you advocate for this part of you in your life? At work? At home? In relationships?

What are you likely to miss or forget based on your type?

➡️How do you show yourself kindness and compassion when this happens?

➡️How can you show kindness and compassion to others when this happens to them?

Where might you need support based on your personality type?

➡️In which areas of your life are you struggling? Which areas do you feel like you keep hitting a wall? What kind of support can you give yourself in these areas?

➡️How and when will you gain this support?

Discovering and learning about your personality type is fun and interesting, but don't stop there. With this knowledge of how you're wired, you have an even greater power to move forward to the life you want to live. The question is, how will you use this knowledge?