Psychology Isn’t Enough, but It Sure Helps: The Need for Personal, Spiritual Growth in Christianity

Someone once asked me if there are any aspects of Myers-Briggs® theory that I disagree with. I told them that my main issues have to do with ways it can be misused rather than with the actual theory. But as much as I like this type theory, I also acknowledge that it’s not a complete system for personal growth or even personality. Myers-Briggs® theory just describes how your mind works by talking about the psychological functions that you use most comfortably.

You can use type theory to help you develop those psychological functions, but they’re still not the whole story of your personality. There are other things we layer on top of that like personality traits, lived experiences, and personal beliefs. The functions are like a canvas we paint on; a foundation for building. They’re not the only things that make us who we are.

One of the dimensions that a system of psychological type does not cover is spirituality. That’s not to say that psychologists like Jung (whose work Myers-Briggs® theory is based on) would have denied there’s an essential spiritual component to humans. Far from it! It’s just that type psychology wasn’t designed to be a path in and of itself for spiritual growth. For that, we need something else.

A Connection Between Psychology and Spirituality

I had the idea to write this post last week, when I was listening to a podcast from Joel Mark Witt and Antonia Dodge of Personality Hacker. They’d recently attended an Enneagram workshop where one of the hosts, Uranio Pae, made the statement, “Spiritual work without psychological work is dangerous. Psychological work without spiritual work is incomplete.”

Read more

Personality Type Myth-Busting: Does Personality Type Change Over Time?

Whether or not your personality type can change is quite a point of debate in the Myers-Briggs® community. Officially, Myers-Briggs® theory holds that your personality type is inborn and does not change. In other words, you cannot start out as an ISFP and then transform into an ESFJ (or any other types) over the course of your life.

Practically, though, we know that people take personality tests all the time and get different results. It’s one of the big arguments leveled against Myers-Briggs® theory — that the tests don’t deliver consistent results and are therefore not valid, repeatable, or scientific. On top of all that, you might have seen articles about new research over the last few years that indicates your personality can change over your lifetime. How do we make sense of all that in relation to type theory?

Personality Traits vs. Personality Type

On the surface, it seems that Myers-Briggs® disagrees with psychology studies that say personality can and does change. But when you take a closer look, you’ll see there’s not really a disconnect. There’s a big difference between personality traits and personality type. The personality model that most psychologists favor today is called Big Five. It includes five key traits — extroversion, agreeableness, neuroticism, contentiousness, and openness.

Where you fall on these traits can change, though they’re considered relatively stable. When change happens it tends to do so gradually over many years (change is more likely and more rapid when something significantly life-changing occurs, such as  a traumatic experience) . We also tend to be more stable in some traits and less stable in others. You can read more about this in the following articles: Read more

Myers-Briggs Types of the Characters in Avatar: The Last Airbender — Azula, Iroh, Mai, Ty Lee, and Zuk

Since Avatar: The Last Airbender is now on Netflix, I was able to watch it for the first time. We didn’t have TV growing up so it wasn’t part of my childhood, but now I understand what the hype was all about. And with people who loved the series when it first came out re-watching it as well, this seems a perfect time to take a look at the personality types of the characters in this series.

This was turning into an enormous blog post, so I decided to split it in two. In this post, I’m talking about the Fire Nation characters — Azula, Iroh, Mai, Ty Lee, and Zuko. Part One post was about the Team Avatar characters, and you can click here to read that (yes, I know Zuko could go in both posts, but I put him here so there’d be five characters for each).

You’ll notice as I talk about each type that I reference functions. In Myers-Briggs® theory, functions refer to the mental processes that each type prefers to use. If you’re not familiar with functions or want a refresher,  you can check out my post “The Simplest Guide to Myers-Briggs® Functions Ever” and Susan Storm’s post “The Cognitive Functions – What Are They?” Usually when I type fictional characters I research other people’s typings as well, but for this post I chose to approach the characters with fresh eyes. I haven’t read any other articles about the Myers-Briggs® types of Avatar characters.

Myers-Briggs Types of the Characters in Avatar: The Last Airbender | LikeAnAnchor.com
Image credit: Bryan Konietzko

Azula — ENTJ

Typing insane, villainous characters might not be the best idea since at some point it tends to degenerate into stereotypes about the worst aspects of a certain type. I’m hoping, though, that there are enough clues about Azula’s type in the episodes before she looses it to come up with a pretty good guess at her personality type. I also relied heavily on Susan Storm’s article “The Evil Versions of Every Myers-Briggs® Personality Type,” which was very helpful in coming up with this typing. Read more

Myers-Briggs Types of the Characters in Avatar: The Last Airbender — Aang, Katara, Sokka, Suki, and Toph

Many of my friends my age and a bit younger watched Avatar: The Last Airbender when they were kids. We didn’t have TV growing up so I missed that, but now Netflix has made it possible for me to find out what the hype was all about. And with people who loved the series when it first came out re-watching it as well, this seems a perfect time to take a look at the personality types of the characters in this series.

This was turning into an enormous blog post, so I decided to split it in two. In today’s post, I’m talking about the “Team Avatar” characters — Aang, Katara, Sokka, Suki, and Toph. In the next post, I’ll be talking about the Fire Nation characters (yes, I know Zuko could go on both posts, but if I put him in part two there’ll be five characters for each post so that’s why he’s in the Fire Nation group).

You’ll notice as I talk about each type that I reference functions. In Myers-Briggs® theory, functions refer to the mental processes that each type prefers to use. If you’re not familiar with functions or want a refresher,  you can check out my post “The Simplest Guide to Myers-Briggs® Functions Ever” and Susan Storm’s post “The Cognitive Functions – What Are They?

One more note: usually when I type fictional characters I research other people’s typings as well, but for this post I chose to approach the characters with fresh eyes. I haven’t read any other articles about the Myers-Briggs® types of Avatar characters. This is all just my perspective on the characters after binge-watching the series on Netflix for the first time.

Myers-Briggs Types of the Characters in Avatar: The Last Airbender | LikeAnAnchor.com
Image credit: Bryan Konietzko

Aang — ENFP

Aang is a character who loves life and sees endless possibilities in the world. He thrives when at peace with people, but also believes in staying true to his personal convictions even when that puts him at odds with those he cares about or with every Avatar who has come before him. He’s not tied to just one way of seeing the world and can see possibility for change even in the most unlikely people. Read more

How Do I Know If I’m an INTP or an INFP?

One question you might have after learning about Myers-Briggs® types and taking a few tests is how to tell two similar types apart. Maybe the online tests you took gave you a couple different results. Or maybe you started reading about the types and discovered more than one sounds a lot like you.

If you’re trying to decide whether you’re more of an INTP or an INFP type, I hope this article will help. Just looking at the letters in these personality types, we might think the only difference between them is that one is a thinking type and one a feeling type. This is only party true. When we dive deeper into the cognitive functions that describe the mental processes each Myers-Briggs® type uses, it become easier to see the differences and similarities between these two types more clearly.

If you’re not familiar with cognitive functions, you can check out my post “The Simplest Guide to Myers-Briggs® Functions Ever” and Susan Storm’s post “The Cognitive Functions – What Are They?” for a good overview of how that works. INFJs and INFPs might look similar at first, but they use completely different functions, as shown in this graphic:How Do I Know If I'm an INTP or an INFP?

The way these cognitive functions work together makes INFPs and INTPs similar in some ways and very different in others. They might seem near-identical in some ways, but they lead with very different functions and that makes them much less similar than you might think. Read more

Personality Type Myth-Busting: Are Judging Types More Judgmental?

Thinking that the Judging/Perceiving preference has to do with how judgmental or perceptive an individual is is a common misconception, especially when people are first learning about Myers-Briggs® types. It’s easy to see where this idea comes from. Judging and Perceiving are right there in the names, after all.

In reality, the Judging-Perceiving distinction is more about describing how we make decisions and learn new information, as well as which side of our personality we prefer to use in the outer world. Before we can answer the question of, “Are Judging types more judgmental?” or a related question such as, “Are Perceiving types more perceptive?” we need to take a closer look at exactly what these terms mean in Myers-Briggs® theory.

Judging and Perceiving Traits

Sensing and Intuition are both Perceiving functions.  You can click here to read an article that provides an overview of the whole concept of functions in Myers-Briggs®. For more on the traits of Judging and Perceiving types, you can see Personality Hacker by Joel Mark Witt and Antonia Dodge and Personality Types by Lenore Thomas. I referenced both books when writing this post.

If you’re a Perceiving-type, then you use either Sensing or Intuition as your preferred way of learning (i.e. perceiving) new information. The P in your type tells us that for you, this function is outer-world oriented (Extroverted Sensing or Extroverted Intuition). Perceiving traits include flexibility, information seeking and gathering, resistance to structure, improvisation skills, impulsiveness, and a present-moment focus (Personality Hacker, p. 29; Personality Types, p. 48-49).

Feeling and Thinking are both Judging functions. If your’e a Judging-type, then you use either Feeling or Thinking as your preferred way of making decisions (i.e. judging). Having a J in your type tells us that for you, this function is outer-world oriented (Extroverted Feeling or Extroverted Thinking). Judging traits include understanding and valuing structure, a tendency to make and follow plans, long-term focus, organizational skills, comfort with familiar environments, and responsibleness. Read more