P to the J

Lately I’ve been in this self-discovery kick, where I’m really trying hard to understand how I work and why I do the things I do, and see the world the way I do. Part of that process has been to revisit where I fall on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) scale. According to the mighty Wikipedia, the MBTI is an “introspective self-report” that is “designed to indicate psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions.”

When I first took the test, in my mid-twenties, I was an ENFP. Later, after having a little one and teaching full-time, I drifted over into being an INFP — mainly because after talking all day, I really needed the time to introvert myself. But lately I’ve found myself shifting yet again, and this time it feels more seismic — now I’m an INFJ: a shift to more of a J (judging) than a P (perceiving).

Now when people hear that the “J” in the MBTI stands for “judging”, they usually equate that with being judgemental. Nope. According to the foundation behind the scale, the J or the P part of the descriptor:

[The J/P] pair describes how you like to live your outer life–what are the behaviours others tend to see? Do you prefer a more structured and decided lifestyle (Judging) or a more flexible and adaptable lifestyle (Perceiving)? This preference may also be thought of as your orientation to the outer world.

Which makes sense, when I think about it. These indicators are preferences we have, and so often they can shift and change because of the context we find ourselves in. I started thinking about when I started to notice this shift in myself — and I think it was around the time I started acknowledging the end of my relationship with Jerry. It was then that I probably became more ‘judging’ in my personality, rather than my usual ‘perceiving’ mode.

And, it makes sense this would be the case.

Toward the end of my relationship (and much earlier, if I’m honest with myself), I really had to get more organized and structured with my reality. I needed to take control of making sure Emma was taken care of (from her school to her activities to her welfare, etc), and I also had to make accommodations for Jerry to see her (working around his crazy shift-work schedule), all while trying to navigate my full-time job, my grad work, and my personal life issues.

And if I’m being extra honest, I think I lean more to judging because so much of my personal life feels like it’s in turmoil — so having some order and structure makes me feel a little more safe. I’ll interested in seeing if my J ever shifts back to a P when (if?) my life calms down again.

These days I often find myself feeling so misunderstood — so there’s also a part of myself who takes comfort in finding some commonalities with this MBTI personality, because apparently it’s one of the rarer ones out there (according to this website, it’s less than 1% of the population).

So far, the best description I’ve found of the INFJ that best resembles me is this one: Care & Feeding of the INFJ (if you’re in my life, and wanna know more about how I tick, I would probably bookmark it).

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