Understanding that each of us has unique personalities is key to interpersonal relations. Have you ever had a relationship in which you really wanted to get along with someone, but you just couldn’t make it work? What about someone who you have to deal with but just can’t stand. You probably have a different personality type than these people. Incompatibility is a real thing. There are many theories on how to measure or judge personality types. Astrology, Ayurvedic doshas, the Rubin Character Index, and Myers-Briggs personality types are just a few familiar ones that pop into my mind. Have you taken any of the many personality quizzes found in women’s magazines or online? It’s fun and interesting to look into why you are the way you are. While most of the quizzes we take about what our rock star type is or finding our secret superpower are merely for fun (or to snag your email address), there are some personality tests that really are helpful in understanding why you are the way you are. The key to these is keeping an open mind and finding the positive in your results.
I’m going to skip over the astrology and how this study relates to personality. Not because I discredit the science, but because it’s more in-depth than I want to go in this particular blog post. Plus, I admit that I don’t really understand it. I know that placement of planets and other astrological bodies have an impact on us. I just don’t know what that impact is or what it means. There are so many variables that I don’t pretend to think my horoscope in the newspaper is an authority on what personality tendencies I have. There are many actual experts that can study your charts and make recommendations based on more than just your “sign.” Try http://lauraplumb.com/jyotish/ for more information than I could ever hope to give!
In Ayurveda, an ancient eastern philosophy and medical practice, doshas are more than personality types. They govern all biological energies within the body. Your dosha type may affect your digestion, whether you tend to be cold or hot, and even the composition of your blood. For the purposes of this article, I will focus on the outward personality aspects of doshas, but keep in mind that they are much farther reaching than that. The three doshas are Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Each derives their properties from the five elements, earth, water, fire, air, and ether or space (1). Vata contains elements of air and ether, Pitta of fire and water, and Kapha of water and earth (1). Everyone has elements of all three doshas present within them all of the time. Ideally, all would be balanced, but most times one or two dominates (2). A person who is primarily Vata may be an innovator or philosopher, airy, quick, but may not be very practical. Do you know someone who has tons of great ideas but can’t seem to manifest them? If a person displays mainly Pitta qualities, she may be a high achiever, a leader, “Type A”, but be quick to anger (fire). A person with Kapha characteristics is of stronger, sturdier build, balanced, calm, and steady when balanced. If a person is very Kapha they are strong, but may get stuck in a rut easily (2). Can you see how balancing these three could be to your advantage? There are several tests you can take online to discover your dominant dosha type. Google “What is my dosha type” and you will come up with several. I like this one http://lauraplumb.com/discover-your-dosha-2/ but it does require you to give her your email address.
According to the test I took this morning, I am predominantly Vata. The last Dosha quiz I took told me I was Pitta. I went back and forth on several answers today, so I agree I am both Pitta and Vata. On certain days I am innovative and in my head, on other days I get stuff done but might be quick to anger. I am out of balance with Kapha though, so I have to be aware of staying grounded.
The next personality evaluation on my list is from Gretchen Rubin’s book The Four Tendencies (find it here). Gretchen calls it the Rubin Character Index. According to her, each person has four tendencies when faced with expectations. You are either an Upholder, an Obliger, a Questioner, or a Rebel with some overlap, but really not much. For example, if you want to get in shape and are great at taking advice from a coach and setting goals for yourself to reach your goals you are an Upholder. An Upholder responds to both outside and inside expectations. Say you are an Obliger and want to get into shape. You would need to invest in a personal coach, friend, or family member to keep you accountable because an Obliger responds to outside expectations, but resists inner expectations. A Questioner is just what she sounds like. She questions all outside expectations but responds to inner expectations. So, if a Questioner wanted to get into shape, she would have to know the why behind everything, but once she made sense of it in her own mind she could live up to most expectations on her own. A rebel resists both outer and inner expectations. A rebel will do the exact opposite of what is expected of them and only do something if she wants to do it. In order for a Rebel to get into shape, she would have to convince herself that she really wants to work out.
I am a Questioner. I actually thought I would get Upholder because I do respond to outside expectations. The difference is, I only respond to outside expectations after I have exhaustively researched the pros and cons. I tend to run experiments to see what works best for me and I’m always reading, listening to podcasts, or attending lectures. This is good for you because you get to reap the benefits of my questioning by reading this blog. For free no less!
The last personality evaluation on my list is the famous Myers-Briggs test. Developed by a mother-daughter team based on Carl Jung’s work, this test is used by professionals and individuals alike to give insight into why people act the way they do. This test gives you four letters to describe your personality. You are an Introvert if you prefer your inner world to the outer world, or an Extrovert if you prefer to interact with the outside world. If you need just the facts when gathering information you are a Sensing person, but if you use gut feeling or interpretation, you are an Intuitive person. When making a decision, some people prefer to think the matter over carefully and weigh facts while others take special circumstances or people involved into account. This is Thinking vs. Feeling personality type. The last letter refers to the type of structure you prefer in your life. Do you like to get things nailed down ahead of time? This is the Judging type. Or do you like to leave things up to last-minute possibility and go with the flow? This is the Perceiving type. You can take the test by Googling Myers Briggs Test or try the free one I found here: https://my-personality-test.com/personality-type-indicator
I got INTP, so I am an Introvert, Intuitive, Thinking, and Perceiving. In other words, I would rather hang at home or with a small group of close friends than in a crowd. I delve down into what information means rather than focusing on the cold hard facts. To balance that I am a T, which seeks information that is truthful, consistent, and objective. As a P, I go with the flow and adapt well to change. I’m good with that!
Do you see how I only focused on the positive aspects of the INTP personality profile? There is always a balance between positive and negative in everything. I choose to focus on the positive but keep the negative close. For example, many people with an I and an N on their Myers-Briggs test and a Vata Dosha, like me, can be way too much in their heads and not well grounded at all. So, I know that I need to be conscious of this to keep my feet on the ground and stay sensible. By being aware of these tendencies, I can understand those aspects of my personality that may hold me back and can work on them to become an even more productive, compassionate, and beautiful human being.
Keep in mind that your personality type is not a static entity. People’s personalities change over time. Also, you can find good or bad qualities in every type. So, find ways to work with your type and embrace it. Knowing about your tendencies allows you to do this. General knowledge of personality types also gives you insight into other’s thoughts and feelings. If your friend keeps canceling or rescheduling a night out, it may not be about you. Perhaps she is just an introvert and finds nights in more enjoyable than nights out. Maybe suggest a movie night at her place with just you, or a quiet cup of coffee at her favorite place. Or possibly you have an employee who spends hours coming up with visually pleasing graphics but isn’t very good at dealing with customers or managing time. Can you think of ways this type of person could be valuable to you? How can you maximize her talents to serve you while increasing her self-worth? Maybe she could design brilliant advertising or create epic sales presentations, but she’s probably not the person you want greeting potential clients. If you were to hire this person to be your receptionist, both you and she would be disappointed in her work. Knowledge of personality types and how to use them to your advantage is a valuable tool to help others as well as yourself.
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(1) Ayurveda 101. The Three Doshas: The Keys to Your Individual Nature http://www.eattasteheal.com/ayurveda101/ETH_BodyTypes.htm
(2) Lecture by Melody J. Francis, BHS, eRYT 500, LMT, NCBTMB, CBP. Black Hills Yoga School, 300 hour Yoga Teacher Training. Rapid City, SD. June, 2016-December, 2016
Find more information about Jyotish Astrology and Doshas. Laura Plumb, Mind-Body Medicine Practitioner. http://lauraplumb.com
Gretchen Rubin. The Four Tendencies: Indispensable personality profiles that reveal how to make your life better (and other people’s lives better, too). https://www.amazon.com/Four-Tendencies-Indispensable-Personality-Profiles/dp/1524760919/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1508159447&sr=8-1&keywords=the+four+tendencies
Learn more about Myers-Briggs Personality types. http://www.myersbriggs.org/home.htm?bhcp=1