The IKEA catalog came today. I love looking at it (and many other catalogs as well) and imagining the furniture in my house (or, in most cases, in another house which I do not own but might like to in my mind). Similarly, I like looking at real estate ads and floor plans and imagining living in different spaces.

I am a Myers-Briggs ENFP, and one of the things we do is endlessly imagine possibilities. We see situations not only as they are and how they got to be the way they are but also how they might be. We like to play out scenarios and ideas and can get very enthusiastic about them, without anyone else having been part of the conversation or gotten much consideration. If you live with an ENFP you learn that this is just what we do and you don't have to gear up for every possibility along with us. But we get bored, we want some adventure, we like mixing things up and changing things up; sometimes imagining is all we get to do, given life's particular circumstances and if we're reasonably mature. Maybe we can rearrange the furniture or repaint a room in new colors - this is "safe adventure." (Unfortunately, the way our house is laid out, we really can't rearrange the furniture in most of the rooms. This is a problem for me.) If we are not mature, we go off half-cocked to get new experiences, to do new things, just to mix things up, and sometimes we find ourselves in places we didn't mean to be. Life doesn't always play out the way we imagined it....

I am finding life to be challenging now - all these family transitions we're having in the midst of underemployment and questions about health issues and all that. It's helpful for me to go back and remember how I deal with things, how I look at life, what aspects of my personality add to the difficulties of this time, what strengths I can draw upon, where the pitfalls may be.

If you know your Myers-Briggs type, I have found this site to have good and fairly detailed information about various aspects of personality. If you don't know your type, there are various "informal" personality tests available through Facebook applications or other online resources. These are not actual Myers-Briggs tests - one can only take those through official channels - but many come from the Keirsey Temperament Sorter materials, which are very similar and tend to use the same labels.

It is of course always helpful not only to understand our own personalities but also the personalities of those who live with us. Some personality types are more interested in learning about their loved ones' and friends' types. Some personality types tend to go into MEGO (my eyes glaze over) when forced to endure reading about someone other than themselves. (This is like Milo, the cat in the movie "The Adventures of Milo and Otis," who, upon meeting Otis the dog, remarked that Otis was a strange looking cat. Otis replied that he was not a cat but a dog. Milo thought for a second and then said, all right, a dog, I understand - but deep down inside we're all cats right?)

But give it a try.


Toni McLean said…
Hello Penelope,
I'm a psychotherapist and an accredited MBTI consultant in Australia (INFP). You have provided an excellent insight into the usefulness of the MBTI. I haven't seen Milo and Otis, but I love the quote. I will be using that in my work with clients from now on. I didn't know about the MBTI until after my children had grown, but I sure wish I had known about it when raising my ENFP son ... how much difference one letter can make!
Thanks for stopping by, Toni, and thanks for your comment. I am glad what I wrote passes MBTI consultant muster! We were just talking with our son tonight about finding out his type.

You really must see Milo and Otis. It is a wonderful movie about two very different friends and how they each live out their adventure. It's very funny, too.