I had a bit of a breakthrough moment last week.
It feels a bit silly that it took so long, but I am grateful for it nonetheless.
Let me give a little setup here. Hubby and I were having a passionate conversation, as we sometimes do (read: we were fighting). After about an hour of heated discussion, tears flowing, I tried to explain the way I was feeling to my darling hubby, and the lightbulb turned on.
See, being the philosophers that Bobby and I are, we often discuss, and (less often but often enough) argue about ideas (is that weird?). Part of that, I realize, is that we both are very passionate and analytical people (we both would say this was part of stirring “all the feels” for each other when we met). But what I realized in the midst of this particular argument, was that a large reason these discussions often turn to arguments is because of our personalities.
Are you thinking “duh, Meg?”
Honestly I am thinking that a little bit too. Of course we disagree because we are different people with different minds and different processing and different ideas.
Not only that, but even understanding some of the specifics about our personalities is not new to us. We used personality typing in youth group, in college, in pre-marital counseling. Hubby is all about personality types, loves taking tests and thinking about them. Over meals with friends or family it is not a rare occurrence that we discuss the movie characters, the Harry Potter house, or celebrities, our personalities types are like.
So I guess the fact that this is not new information is the “duh” part, but what is not “duh” is another reminder of how valuable these things can be. That’s the goal of telling this story, you see.
Understanding personality types, preferences, and tendencies can be such helpful tools for knowing yourself and those around you better, and can even help you take a step back and put out a fire that may have started between you and your passionate people.
In that moment with Bobby, the “a-ha” came when I realized that Bobby is a thinker, and I am a feeler. (This is particular way of phrasing is often seen in the Myers-Briggs typing, but I will talk about more specifics later.) See, Bobby is prone to see the world and make decisions primarily with logic, emphasizing truth and the cold hard facts. I, on the other hand, focus on feelings and how people are affected by ideas. You see, in their weak moments, feelers look at thinkers and believe they are heartless or cold, and thinkers look at feelers and believe they are wishy-washy or emotional.
That hits the nail on the head for us. We were getting heated because I felt like Bobby was not considering people, and he felt like I was not concerned enough about truth. But the beauty in that moment was, once we realized that, we took a step back and saw that neither one of us was wrong. We could breathe and try to see from the others perspective. I could see that Bobby was frustrated that I was not validating his truth, and he could see that I was frustrated because he was not validating my emotion. Woah.
I can’t tell you that cleared up our disagreement completely, but it certainly set us up to discuss ideas like this differently and with much more grace for each other in the future.
I always want to be cautious with this stuff though, because it can easily become an excuse for our struggles or shortcomings. You know the idea, “I may be a little harsh, but it’s’ just my personality, I can’t help it” or “my personality is prone to worry, there is just nothing I can do about it.” But, on the opposite end, what is amazing is when we use this awareness of our pitfalls to try our best to step back and recognize when they are taking over. So instead of “I can’t help it” we can say “I know I have a tendency to be harsh, let me slow down and be aware of how I am communicating” or rather than “there is nothing I can do about it” we can recognize “the worry-er in me is coming out, let me step back and calm down before it takes over.”
This post has grown mighty long, so I am going to leave you with a cliffhanger and tell you to tune in next week for some specific personality assessments Bobby and I love!
Do you find self awareness tools like this to be as helpful as I do? What are some personality or tendency typing tools you have used? Let me know and I will feature them next week!