The Difference Between Personalities and Problems
I love me a good personality theory. Recently I’ve become more acquainted with the Enneagram. It’s truly fascinating and has replaced Myers Briggs as my favorite. As I’ve thought about personality theory lately, I’ve been thinking about how many times we equate personality with a problem.
The blogging world and real life is full of opinions on pretty much everything. And so many times the arguments have more to do with personality than a problem. For instance, I’m not a baby person. As my kids have grown up, I’ve enjoyed each stage a little more and have rarely pined for the past. While there’s no guarantee this will continue, I hope it does.
See, my personality values independence a ton. So while I know many people who love how cute and snuggly and dependent a baby is, I’m all, “Yeah, they’re cute, but wait until they can actually have an intelligent conversation with you!” On the other hand, I know people who get really squirmy about having hard conversations with their kids about sex and such, and I’m all, “Bring it on! Let’s talk!” because my personality highly values being informed and honest.
And no one is wrong here. We’re just different. Now, if the fact that the baby stage isn’t my favorite kept me from taking good care of my babies, that would be a problem. Or, if the fact that talking to your kids about sex makes you want to throw up, means you lie to them about it and avoid the subject until they’re 16, that would be a problem. But problems and personalities are two different things.
Here’s another example. Some people need an orderly house to function well and have a great system down for keeping their spaces organized. Other people are perfectly comfortable with a certain level of mess and embrace the idea that “the mess can wait, I’m making memories with my kids.” To which the organized person may retort, “An organized house doesn’t mean I’m ignoring my kids and refusing them memories.” And of course there are hundreds of variations of preferred and actual levels of cleanliness and organization. As long as people’s spaces aren’t health hazards or their cleaning habits aren’t damagingly obsessive, none of this is a problem. It’s a personality thing.
Understanding personality theory can help us be less judgmental toward ourselves and others. Not in a, “I’m going to ignore this obvious problem in my life kind of way (see health hazard or a refusal to have open communication with your kids),” but in a, “this is who I am and since it’s not a problem I can be happy with how God made me without judging others for being different,” kind of way.
Now, certain personalities clash more with others and it’s totally okay if we don’t “get” someone because their personality is different from ours, but let’s be careful not to villainize them. Let’s remember that personality and problems are two very different things. Because when we get all wrapped up in how we think things are “supposed” to be, it can get very isolating very quickly. Instead, let’s be happy (without being smug) with how God made us. And glad there are plenty of people who adore the baby stage.
What does your personality highly value? What is your Myers Brigg or Enneagram type? What’s your favorite kid stage?