5. Understanding Yourself
thumbs-up-with-smiley-facesm  happiness-habits

Understanding Yourself
by Vicki Nunn

“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” 

Marcel Proust


I very clearly remember the night in my mid twenties, when a friend of mine asked me to complete a personality questionnaire. Once he’d tallied all of my responses, he presented me with my ‘personality type’ and as I read it, for the first time in my life I felt normal, and the strange behaviours of other people and some of the craziness of the world, finally began to make sense.

I understood at last, that the reason other people acted in ways that I didn’t comprehend, wasn’t because there was something wrong with them or with me, but simply that other people felt, thought and reacted very differently to me because of their personality type.The strangeness of other people finally made sense.

The revelation was astounding to me, and as I grasped it, it also filled me with a sense of freedom and acceptance. This began a thirst in me to understand other people and myself. It was a hugely significant event, because it was my first major step towards self-acceptance which contributed in positive ways to my growth as a Christian, both in the past and right through to today.

God wants us to learn to understand ourselves so that we can learn to love ourselves in healthy ways.Once we learn to love ourselves, it then becomes much easier to love and understand others, especially with the Holy Spirit’s insight and guidance.

Why Are People So Weird?

I’m sure you have come across people in your life that are annoying or just difficult to understand. From the moment of conception we develop in the womb with a tendency towards a particular personality type. The fact is, we all feel, think and respond differently to different circumstances, but there are consistent and logical behaviour patterns and thought processes behind people’s responses because of our personality type.

man-holding-keyssmExtroversion vs Introversion

Let’s examine one of the simplest things that we can understand about people: extroversion and introversion. Extroverted people tend to be the life of the party kind of people.Introverts can be fun-loving, but when they’re around people they don’t know, they’re often more quiet and may even seem withdrawn. The difference between the two is energy. Here’s an example:

Max: is an extrovert

Ian: is an introvert

When Max the extrovert, is with a group of people, he becomes more energised as the event goes on. On the other hand, while Ian the introvert, can be outgoing and have fun, by the end of the function, he can’t wait to get home and unwind to regain his energy.

While Ian may sometimes seem shy or quiet, it may simply be exhausting for him to socialise with other people for too long. Max may sometimes be seen as too loud and even obnoxious to someone like Ian, and by the end of the evening, extroverts like Max are often full of energy and are still keen to party.

Obviously these are very simplistic examples, and people are more complex than that, but we should understand that each person is perfectly acceptable as they are. Just as we cannot force a blue-eyed person to have brown eyes and vice-versa, we cannot force an introvert to love socialising, nor can we force an extrovert to love extended time on their own – it’s not natural for them, but both can develop in these areas.

Other Differences

There are three other areas in which people are different:

  • People see the world in two different ways:
  • through things they can understand via their senses; or
  • through the impressions, patterns and meanings they see in the world around them
  • People make decisions based in two ways:
  • on basic truths and principles; or
  • by weighing their values and other people’s points of views.
  • People live their lives outwardly in two ways:
  • decided and structured; or
  • flexible and adaptable.

When we combine these four different areas (according to Isabel Briggs Myers and Katharine Briggs), we then have sixteen different personality types.

Finding Out More

There are many different personality tests available, and the most basic ones have just four different personality types. While these simpler ones can be good, they are fairly general and don’t really get into the truly complex way that people’s minds and feelings work.One of the best tests are the Myers Briggs personality profiles which are much more in-depth. They have broken the personality types up into sixteen types, and can help us to understand ourselves and others more clearly, even providing insight into what jobs we are better at, and what partners better suit us (and which ones to avoid!)

There are many different Christian books based on the Myers Briggs personality types that can provide further insight into things like our spiritual gifts and even ways for us to interact with and pray to God, based on our personalities. While the profiles for the different personalities can never be 100% accurate (because we all have different backgrounds and experiences), they are often uncannily accurate. It can be wonderful to read more and discover that at last, someone understands us!

I urge you to find out more, but be aware that there are websites that will charge money for the full results of the testing, while there are many others where the results are free.


Some people thrive on approval and affection; others value harmony and respect; while some desire peace and quiet and kindness; and there are other people who need loyalty and appreciation to make life worth living.Each of the different personality types are important and can contribute positively to our society in different ways – no one type is better than any other. Finally, let’s not forget that God made us just the way we are for a reason. [end]

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http://www.forbes.com/sites/hannylerner/2013/03/05/understand-peoples-personalities-and-become-successful/#e641e336a8b2, Forbes/Entrepeneurs “Become Successful By Understanding Peoples Personalities” by H. Lerner
05/03/13 http://www.myersbriggs.org/my-mbti-personality-type/mbti-basics/ The Myers Brig gs Foundation “MBTI Basics”