August 16, 2011

So Who Are We Really?

Photo by Annesen Kjartan, Denmark
I have the kind of mind that enjoys taking personality tests. I'm not sure why. Most of the tests seem like useless information that I tend to forget soon after I take them but it was not the case when I took David Keirsey’s temperament test from his book Please Understand Me II. Similar to the Myer’s Brigg’s test, Kerisey divides human temperaments into sixteen categories. My sister-in-law gave our extended family Keirsey’s test one summer weekend when we were all together several years ago in Maine. It was an eye opener for all of us. I have since given it to my side of the family and several friends.  It has given me a much better understanding of myself and why I like to hang with certain people more than others and what makes every one, including myself, tick.

As a parent, and someone who has been with the same partner for almost 30 years, the test connected a lot of dots. My kids took the test just as they were entering their teenage years-  well beyond the time when I started to wonder how one of them could be so comfortable always wearing mismatched socks, or being in the limelight- when neither of her parents are platform people themselves.

And what about our other child who has been giving me sound advice since she was four years old?  She is almost always right but why is she compelled to zero in on what needs adjustment? Just what is going on inside her little noggin?

And how about Mr. Fix It  Tom, my husband? The guy whose personality over the years has shall I say… grown larger, as I’m sure mine has as well. Seeing his test result really helps me to not take things that he sometimes comments on personally. Like for instance- how I load the dishwasher or how I organize the pantry.  Now that I know his temperament type I can usually just say to myself  "There goes Inspector Watson again." It’s not about me, it’s about him. And likewise, when I ask him as we’re leaving for a weekend away if he has his bathing suit and his glasses- he is more apt to remember now that I ask this not because I don’t trust him to do a good job, but simply because I am just trying to take care of him. It's not about him, it's about me.

It turns out that our little nest over here contains not one but two Inspectors, a Performer, and a Provider and I think if you asked any one of us, we would all say that Keirsey’s test has helped us to better understand ourselves, and each other, and why we say or do the things we do. It has also helped us to appreciate each other more, love each other more fully, and to not take things so personally- and life so damn seriously.  Taking Keirsey’s test was a bit like family therapy but lightening fast with just 70 quick questions and a bit of follow-up reading. Ta Da!

70 test questions here:

Please Understand Me II book review here.

Also in this week’s Boston Globe is an interesting article called Why Do We Get So Annoyed?