Misusing Myers-Briggs Can Damage Your Life
MBTI is a double-edged sword. Here is how to use it the right way
Two years ago, my friends and I discovered the Myers-Briggs personality test. For a short period, it was the main topic of discussion till the interest in it decreased within my friend's group.
But it stuck longer with me.
I am an INFP-T. Often called “the hardest personality to live with”. And I kinda see why. Introverted, very imaginative, highly emotional, and sensitive to stress does not sound like a jackpot to me too.
I got into a little personality crisis because of it — which is somewhat ridiculous in retrospect. But I am surely not the only one.
I agree with many parts of my test results. While I strongly disagree with other parts of it.
This made me wonder if I am wrong about myself, or is the test? Is the test any beneficial to me and how?
After I spent a lot of time thinking and reading about it — probably way too much, I found the answer over the last two years.
The Myers-Briggs personality test is perhaps the best-known worldwide.
It contains 88 questions (European version) and assigns you to one of 16 personality groups, depending on four of these traits:
- Mind — Introverted/Extroverted
- Energy — Observant/Intuitive
- Nature — Thinking/Feeling
- Tactics — Judging/Prospecting
These four personality traits create the cryptic codes you’ll sometimes see around the internet: INFP-T, ESFJ-A, ETPJ-T …
The last part (-A / -T) is the Identity part, which underpins all other traits. Assertive individuals (-A) are even-tempered and more resistant to stress. But they don't push themself too hard to reach their goals.
Turbulent individuals (-T) you are much more self-conscious and sensitive to stress compared to assertive ones. They experience a wide range of emotions and are eager to improve and achieve goals.
It’s important to know that Myers-Briggs, which relies heavily on personality theories from Carl Jung, is not science-based. Although since its creation in the 1940s it is constantly improved and refined.
My personality type
As mentioned earlier, I am an INFP-T. Also called Mediator.
The Mediator is an open-minded, quiet, and imaginative personality. Only ~2% of the world's population possesses this personality type.
At the first sight, this result made me happy. Creative and imaginative sounds cool right?
But as I read further about INFP’s, my joy started to fade. It is often called “The hardest personality to live with” and it's said that INFP’s are often lonely and misunderstood by the world.
With time, I saw my test result with a divided opinion. I liked my creative, imaginative site and there is truly something on it.
But what should one do about the bad site? You can't just take the good and ignore the bad right?
I can relate to many struggles an INFP has but is there nothing I could change?
Does your result define you?
Yes and no.
I realized that all the test does is to provide you with information about yourself. It’s your choice how to deal with it. Myers-Briggs purpose is not to categorize you into something or tell you who you are.
Myers-Briggs definitely can be beneficial for you, if you know how to handle your test result.
When reading your test result, you learn a lot about yourself, the good and the bad. Read about your type's weaknesses and when it feels like you read about yourself — perfect, you know what to change then.
It is too easy to hide behind your weaknesses and accept them just because it’s your personality. That’s a bad excuse. You can always change with enough commitment.
Your Personality type is just a label. Sure you will behave differently than people with different personality types. But you are still an individual.
I am not your typical INFP-T either.
Yes, as an introvert I need time alone. But I also like to go out and connect with other people. I also might be the only INFP who has an obsession with cars.
Every individual is an exception to the rule.
- Carl Jung
Can your personality change?
This is a core question.
Myers-Briggs answer is this:
To conclude, your basic personality type cannot change — however, you can (and should!) change the aspects of your personality that you are unhappy with
There is definitely some critique at this point. Often, people get different results over time. It’s (almost) the same for me.
I took the test three times in my life. The first 2018, then 2019, and the last one while I was writing this article. Although I was always an INFP-T, my Introversion dropped from ~80% to 51%.
Does this mean I am almost an ENFP-T? If my introversion will drop further, will my personality change completely? An ENFP is a different personality type, not just an extroverted INFP.
This is one of Myers-Briggs' weak points.
The Myers-Briggs test has its problems and no scientific evidence. Your test result must not be totally true and always be seen with a doubtful eye (especially if you take the test on your own, it's easy to lie to yourself).
On the other side, it can be incredibly insightful if used properly.
The best way to handle your test result is to read carefully about your strengths and weaknesses. And improve yourself based on them.
If you handle the Myers-Briggs test this way. It becomes a valuable utility that enables you to learn a lot about yourself and other people.
Please don't waste too much time on it. Read your result, learn, and move on.
If you haven't taken the test yet, you can do it here for free: https://www.16personalities.com/free-personality-test