Posts Tagged ‘personality type’

Who Do You Think You Are?

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

Click here for my English Usage blogs.

Do you have a trait, an addiction, or a disorder that causes you suffering? If you were offered an instant, painless way to stop the OCD, ADD, depression, panic attacks, addiction, angry outbursts, impatience, or shyness, would you want it? What if this treatment could wipe out a particularly traumatic memory for you?

This isn’t science fiction. Many of the disorders that were once considered to be in the domain of psychology and psychiatry are now treated as neurological problems or chemical imbalances. MRIs are giving us a window into the mind/brain that is creating a proliferation of treatment options never before imagined.

In a recent article, researchers described implanting a pacemaker deep into the brain of a severely depressed woman. Minutes later, a smile lit up her face. By her own description, it had been twelve years since she had smiled. Other people suffering from depression were also implanted with the device and the results look promising, not only for depression, but for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

If a small electrical device sending out intermittent pulses can, within minutes, literally put a smile on the face of someone who has felt emotionally dead for years, what does this have to say about our personalities? How much of how we identify ourselves is really our Self?

As children, we are often compared to others who share our genes. “She has her mother’s eyes.” “That pout is just like his uncle’s.” “She’s stubborn, just like…” We learn to identify our Self by our traits, which we usually feel at least somewhat stuck with. By the time we are working adults, many of us have further identified ourselves (or our employers have) through personality profiles such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. We know whether we are ESTJs (Extraversion, Sensing, Thinking, Judging) or INFPs (Introversion, iNtuition, Feeling, Perceiving). Discovering our personality style can help us understand our motivations and quirks as well as help us get along with others. However, is it possible to over-identify with our labels?

Perhaps you have researched the Sufi-derived Enneagram. If so, you know “your number.” For example, a Four on the Enneagram is the Romantic, Aesthete, Individualist. According to the Enneagram, as quoted by Wikipedia, “Fours embrace individualism and are often profoundly creative and intuitive and at best they are very humane. However, they have a habit of withdrawing to internalize, searching desperately inside themselves for something they never find and creating a spiral of depression.” This may be very helpful information for a Four. But might a Four (or any other “Number”) take this data and invalidate other aspects of him/her Self?

If a little electronic device could be implanted in a Four and the depression circumvented, is the person no longer a Four? Was the depression part of this person’s personality or was it a byproduct of a “misfiring” of the brain that required only some high-tech tweaking to correct it? Would the Four miss aspects of the depression? Did it fuel his/her creativity or intuition? Is the Four’s capacity for empathy/humanity a result of a deep understanding of what it means to suffer? Would others miss something in the Four? Would some of life’s lessons be lost along with the depression? Does growth require suffering?

If you are waiting for me to answer these questions, you will have to wait longer because I’m still finding more questions to ask! If a shock from a tiny electrode can instantly lift years of depression or alleviate the symptoms of OCD, it becomes compelling to question what “free will” means. Is our Self simply the sum total of our brain’s synapses? If these synapses are altered, how does this impact our sense of Self? What do you want to change about yourself? Are you willing to risk letting go of your former sense of Self to make the changes?

If depression or rage or shyness can be “zapped,” might this information encourage us to let go of our prior judgments about others’ behaviors or even our own? Maybe for all our best efforts, some of us are simply more prone to being quick to anger or too shy to make eye contact or too lacking in self-esteem to give ourselves a pep talk or feel inspired by affirmations. Maybe laziness or self-centeredness is built in.

What if you were just one quick fix away from being “cured” of any of these “flaws”? If flipping a switch eliminated the need for therapy, reading self-help books, meditating, taking anti-depressants and/or anti-anxiety meds, or having to risk your health, relationships, job, and freedom because you self-medicate with drugs and alcohol; that is, if a zap could eliminate your suffering and, most importantly, make you happy, would you utilize it?

Brain pacemaker research doesn’t lead me to answers to these questions but it does lead me to realizing the value of paying attention to my thoughts. Every day, we consciously or unconsciously choose our thoughts, which then trigger our emotions, which either change or reinforce our beliefs, all contributing to what we call our personality.

The Buddhists teach us that no enemy can harm us as much as our own worst thoughts. The opposite is perhaps also true: No one can help us as much as our own best thoughts. Our thoughts, whether stimulated by a machine or by a sunset, by biofeedback or by listening to music, influence our perceptions, our identification with our personality, and our sense of happiness. Implant or no implant, instant fix or years of meditation, therapy or medication, exercise endorphins or affirmations, if we pay closer attention to our thoughts, allow compassion for our own and others’ feelings, and question the authority of our beliefs, hopefully, we will find both meaning and delight in discovering our truer Self.

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Empowering vs. Enabling

Tuesday, February 12th, 2008

Click here to read my English usage blogs.

Dear Jane,
What is the difference between empowering and enabling someone?

I’ve struggled with this in my own life. I want to be compassionate, but how can I know whether I am helping or when I am supporting someone in believing they’re helpless? How do I combine a belief that we are 100% responsible for our thoughts and behaviors at the same time that I increase my awareness of our interdependence?

A few years ago a family came to live with us. They had been evicted from their apartment and because our eight-year-old daughters were friends, when the knock on the door came, we opened up, not just our door, but our hearts. They stayed with us for three months rent free…until at 6:30 one morning, the police banged on our door, arresting the mom for parole violation and theft. Two weeks later a credit card bill arrived totaling $3000+ on a card we had never used and that we thought was still in our desk drawer.

Some details I left out of that story: I knew something was amiss when I was shown the mom’s “ankle bracelet,” her house arrest monitor. On the first day of their stay, she admitted that she had embezzled $32,000 from her employer. She and her husband also admitted that they had defrauded their roommate, making her think that they had used her rent to pay the landlord when they had actually kept it.

So what did I do with this information? I counseled them; I fed them; I drove their daughter to school and events; I cooked for them. Clearly, I was enabling, not empowering, them. Why couldn’t I see that?

I have a habit of assuming the best in people. In other words, I’m gullible. But sometimes seeing something in someone that they don’t see in themselves can bring out the best in them. Hasn’t someone seeing something in you ever made you believe in yourself more?
I also cared very much about their little girl and couldn’t imagine throwing her out into the streets for the sins of her parents.

So, yes, I was an enabler. Yes, I was foolish and disillusioned for a while. I admit fully that I not only didn’t empower her parents; in fact, I made it possible for them to commit further crimes. I could have done more by insisting on their helping more around the house or getting a job or getting drug counseling. But I’m pretty sure that insisting would have made them feel too exposed, and they would have left looking for their next suckers. If I didn’t care about their little girl, this would have been just fine.

Empowering vs. enabling is often distinguished by how people receive our help. When people want to be empowered, not enabled, they don’t ask for pity; they ask for clarity. They don’t give excuses; they overcome obstacles. They show a willingness to change their thoughts and strategies. They take responsibility for their actions. They don’t try to get away with things; they want to get out of their ruts in order to thrive.

Because life is complicated, I still don’t always know ahead of time how my help will be received or if I’m being foolish, throwing away money or energy. I can always hope that good intentions will sow their seeds, even if I can’t know where they’ve been planted or when they will germinate. Maybe, just maybe, this little girl, basking in some unconditional love and living in a safe and secure environment for even a short time will help her not re-create her parents’ life. That little girl is now 15. She still calls us. That feels great. I’ll live with being a fool.

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More about this in next week’s e-newsletter.

Handle Stress to Boost Immunity presented by Jane at the KCBS Health Fair in San Francisco with Keynote Speaker Dr. Mehmet Oz
I was honored to be invited as a panelist, along with Melina Jampolis, M.D., host of Fit TV’s Diet Doctor and author of The No Time to Lose Diet; and Dr. Jacob Leone, Naturopathic & Integrative Medicine Practitioner, to discuss Boosting Immunity: Nutrition, Supplements, and Stress. I promise to have the contents of my presentation available for you on my Web site shortly.

About Jane Straus
Jane is a trusted life coach, dynamic keynote speaker, and the author of Enough Is Enough! Stop Enduring and Start Living Your Extraordinary Life. With humor and grace, Jane offers her clients and seminar participants insights and exercises to ensure that the next chapter of their lives is about thriving as the unique individuals they have always been and the extraordinary ones they are still becoming. She serves clients worldwide and invites you to visit her site, www.stopenduring.com. Here you will find excerpts from her book, more articles, TV and radio interviews, and clips from her presentations.

She is also the author of The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation, www.grammarbook.com, an award-winning online resource and workbook with easy-to-understand rules, real-world examples, and fun quizzes. Contact Jane at Jane@JaneStraus.com.

Using Your Personality Style as a Spiritual Practice

Saturday, August 11th, 2007
 
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Dear Jane,
I’m naturally high strung and picky. This can cause problems for me with people who are more easygoing. How do I not get caught up with judging them or even myself? Sometimes I want to avoid people with personalities that are so different from mine. But then I tell myself that this isn’t very spiritual of me.

Your personality includes your innate, unique characteristics as well as your coping strategies developed in childhood. Many people on a spiritual path believe that it is helpful to shed the trappings of the personality. I believe that this is like cutting off your right hand so that you will become more ambidextrous with your left hand. You don’t have to cut off parts of yourself to develop another part. You don’t need to lose our personality in order to become more spiritual. In fact, the more you understand about your personality style—what makes you tick—the less judgmental you will be and the more you can use this information to enhance your own and others’ lives.

For example, are you a person who seeks consistency or do you like frequent change? Do you enjoy one-on-one connection or group interaction? Are there certain types of people who grate on your nerves? When we discover what our particular personality style seeks and learn how others are different, we can become less reactive and find it easier to create Win-Win dynamics.

In my personal coaching work, I offer a Personality Style Assessment for my clients where they discover which of the four styles best describes them: Director, Promoter, Analyzer, or Supporter. For example, if you have a Promoter Personality Style, you will find yourself drawn to high-intensity relationships and environments, frequent change, opportunities for a lot of interpersonal dynamics, and situations where you can shine in the spotlight. You like to make quick decisions based on your gut feelings (often called “intuition” by Promoters). If you have a job that offers you none of these conditions, you may feel bored and restless or even think there’s something wrong with you for not being content. And if you are in a romantic relationship with someone who is different, someone who seeks consistency and quiet, you may find yourself impatient for them to up their “excitement quotient.”

On the other hand, if you have an Analyzer Personality Style, you like quieter environments where you can count on having enough time to problem solve well and thoroughly, sometimes to the point of procrastination. You probably shun the spotlight, preferring not to “strut your stuff.” Your idea of a “just shoot me” job is one that requires a lot of backslapping and high-pressure sales. You may distrust those who thrive in the interpersonal realm, judging them as phony.

So how does knowing this information help you to become a wiser, more spiritual being? Well, what if the Analyzer is the Promoter’s boss? Or the other way around? What if the two are in a romantic relationship? Is the answer that we should congregate only “with our own kind”? Obviously, that’s impossible and, besides, we’d be missing out on what the other styles have to offer.

When you understand the four styles, you will be able to get out of right/wrong mode and appreciate your “opposite’s” qualities (which is what you may initially have been drawn to) as well as your own. The more wisdom we have about Personality Styles, the more we can
maximize each other’s potential for success and happiness.

Exploring your personality style, individually, as a couple, or with your work group, will answer many profound questions, including:

• What is my personality style?
• What are the other three styles?
• Which styles get along?
• Which styles conflict and why?
• Which styles do I resist and why? What does teach me about myself?
• What are each style’s traits?
• How can I assess others’ styles quickly and accurately?
• What styles can help me grow?
• What kind of work tends to make me happy?
• What work environment—physical and emotional—do I need to thrive?
• What kinds of situations are most difficult for me to handle?
• What do I naturally tend to excel in?
• What conflicts does my style tend to create in personal relationships?
• How do others perceive me?
• How does my style tend to manage others or parent?
• How will this knowledge impact my relationships with others?
• How can this information free me from being run by my personality?

Learning about the Personality Styles is a way to see inside the unique treasure chest you are. This knowledge and wisdom will increase your own happiness and help you offer more compassion, intimacy, and harmony to everyone in your life. These meet at least some of the intentions of being on a spiritual path, don’t they?

Jane’s Coaching and Training

For over 20 years, Jane Straus has coached individuals and groups, facilitated organizational retreats, conducted training programs, and presented keynotes for corporations and nonprofits nationwide.

To get exceptional results from coaching and training, you need someone who knows how to assess blind spots as well as enhance strengths. Jane’s coaching helps individuals and groups maximize their potential and improve their productivity and work relationships. Jane works to ensure that each client receives the wisdom, skills, and support he/she needs to succeed and often co-facilitates with industry-specific leaders who have chosen to mentor the next generation.

Contact Jane directly at Jane@janestraus.com to discuss your coaching or training needs or visit StopEnduring.com for more information and testimonials.

Jane Straus is also the author of the popular self-help book, Enough Is Enough! See her TV interviews, read her articles, and order the book by visiting StopEnduring.com.