Anne has already talked about lightning bolt moments, when something becomes very clear in a moment and you’re able to move forward based on that information, and I think anyone who has been learning about their personality for any length of time has experienced those.
But there’s also a slower growth that happens as we learn more about ourselves and what makes us tick, what triggers our anger, what motivates us, etc.
For example, when I was in college and newly married, I worked as the office manager for a busy real estate team. At 20 years old, at the height of the housing bubble, I got my real estate license and began working as a buyer’s agent in the metropolitan D.C. area. I was with clients all the time—on holidays, on weekends, in the middle of snow storms (literally)—because houses were disappearing so quickly that there really was no other option.
This time in my life makes me laugh so much when I look back because I had no idea at the time that I was an introvert (or so much of an introvert), and I couldn’t figure out why I was completely worn out and exhausted every. single. day. or why I loved and hated my job all at once.
I don’t remember an exact moment that I realized I was an introvert, but I do know that it’s only been in the last 7 years or so that I’ve fully understood what that meant (no, I’m not painfully shy or unable to hold a conversation with strangers!) and been able to use that information to take care of myself, to protect my time alone, and to cope when I’m surrounded by people for many days in a row.
Now, for example, I know that on a vacation with extended family, I need to carve out early mornings before anyone else is awake and quiet afternoons to enjoy a few hours by myself. I know that after a few days of socializing, I’ll need just as many to stay home and recover.
I’ve realized that the reason I get frustrated with my kids 90% of the time is simply because I’m trying to live inside my own head while they’re demanding my attention in the real world (and moving my attention to them and saving my thinking for another time eliminates it almost every time).
I had no idea that this was such an important part of my personality or something I’d really need to understand and address to live my best life, but it has made all of the difference in the world for me.
And that’s why self-reflection and studying the personality types described by other people is so helpful—it offers us insight into ourselves that we don’t even know we need!
ACTIVITIES & QUESTIONS
1. What is something you didn’t know you didn’t know about yourself until you started to learn more about it?
2. How has understanding more about yourself helped you better react to other people or unpleasant situations?