Speaking of the ego…

Speaking of expanding the ego, part – if not most – of what has offered me so much insight is a couple of personality frameworks, namely the Myers-Briggs and Enneagram. One thing that I’ve come to understand better through the Myers-Briggs, though I’m certainly no expert, is the complexities of the introversion/extraversion spectrum.

First of all, I got really tired a while ago reading all of these things about introverts being super sensitive, as opposed to their flamboyant, overbearing extraverted counterparts. Supposedly, introverts are exhausted by social environments and need time alone to recharge while extraverts are enlivened by social situations, gaining energy rather than losing it. In relating this to myself, I began to doubt that I was an extravert, as I’ve always believed. I recall a moment a few months ago: One evening, Leo and I had to walk across Times Square for one reason or another. I commented on how overwhelmed I felt being in that crowd (Times Square is literally the busiest place on the face of the planet). Leo, who exhibits a lot more of the classic qualities of an introvert than I do, barely batted an eye at the throngs of people. I realized that because of my extraverted tendencies, my energy wants to move outward. I want to connect and give my energy to the people around me, like a host tending to the needs of her guests. Eventually, I become too stimulated and my energy is sapped. Indeed, an ENFP (my Myers-Briggs type) tends to be the most introverted of the extraverts. As an introvert, Leo is more comfortable in his solitary world, less personally affected by the presence of many. I’m not pointing out that introverts aren’t sensitive; I’m just saying that extraverts can be and are as well.

To further complexify (for some reason, this word seems to fit better than “complicate”) the Myers-Briggs system, all of us have four ways of processing the world, and we all process each of those four ways either primarily extrovertedly or introvertedly. (Ok, I know I’m making up words left and right!) For example, as an ENFP, I function primarily in these ways, in this order: extraverted intuition, introverted feeling, extroverted thinking, and introverted sensing. Take a gander at the diagram below. As you can see, no one is wholly introverted or extraverted.

mbti-b10

Looking at this framework has helped illuminate the ways in which I process the world and navigate life as well as give me greater understanding into the way others experience their inner and outer worlds. Some of those ways don’t make much sense to me, but that’s what is so fascinating about learning how other people function.

Of course, as with any system of personality types, including astrology, it’s important to not get caught up in these definitions. The labels of “ENFP” or “8” or a “Leo Rising” or whatever aren’t to be used as excuses for my behavior, nor do those labels relegate me to a certain way of being in the world. These are all simply tools for me to continue improving myself. My consciousness is expanding.

It seems that the more I study these definitions, the more I actually begin to feel bigger than them.

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