Recently, I had a really tough day. I hit the end of my rope – tolerance-wise. Everything about everything was driving me up the wall and I retreated to the bedroom, got back into bed, and watched The King’s Speech, crying the entire time. My husband came in to check on me and he had barely had the chance to speak before I lit into him, complaining about how I just needed peace and quiet. Everything he was doing was irritating me.
He was being too nice. Too helpful. Too kind. Too happy. And most of all, too loud.
Stifling a smile, he told me that if I wanted a quiet husband, I had picked the wrong guy. He was right. Anyone that knows him would never use the word “quiet” to describe him. And that’s one of the things I love most about him…usually.
Right now, the differences between you and those closest to you may feel more apparent than ever. Those differences might be causing you stress. Stress contributes to inflammation in your body and inflammation in your body is the exact opposite of what you want if you're exposed to COVID-19.
The ways that we deal with these stressors have a lot to do with our unique personality types. You might be glued to the TV while your partner would rather be out in their workshop, putting around with hobbies and crafts. You’re on the phone or video conferencing with friends and colleagues all the time, while your partner doesn’t seem to need contact with the outside world at all. They’re quiet, you’re loud. They’re sweet, you’re sour.
Becoming aware of how we communicate, handle stress, make decisions, and respond to conflict will help us improve our relationship with ourselves and others. Healthier, happier relationships will reduce your mental and emotional stress level, which will improve your body's physical health.
Knowing what makes you tick – and what makes your partner tick – is key to helping your relationship survive and thrive during the coronavirus lockdown. Discovering more about your unique design and the way you communicate is a tremendous tool for growth and clarity. Personality types and love languages are two ways to do this.
The first self-discovery tool is the Enneagram. This is a great tool for understanding yourself: how you communicate, how you work with, and how you relate to other people.
In the Enneagram system, there are 9 personality types. Each type represents the strategies for how you relate to self, others, and the world that rests on a deep inner motivation or worldview. You express your worldview through distinct patterns of thinking, feeling, and acting.
Whether you are a Reformer, a Peacemaker, or somewhere in between, understanding your Enneagram personality type can help you create healthier relationships and get better at working through disagreements and tension.
As a One - the Reformer - my key motivations are to be right, to strive higher, and to improve everything. This does not make me an easy person to live with, as I can be very critical of my enthusiastic, easygoing partner. For some reason, it really helps to know this about myself and even brings a dose of humor to those moments when I get judgmental and fret about imperfections in myself, our home, or the people around me.
Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)
The second self-discovery tool is the Myers Briggs Type Indicator or MBTI. The MBTI is designed to figure out your psychological preferences in how you perceive the world and how you make decisions.
The Myers Briggs is especially useful for discovering your strengths, which is one reason it is frequently used in corporate team-building exercises. In fact, the MBTI is the most widely used psychological instrument in the world.
The Myers Briggs measures you on four different scales: extraversion versus introversion; sensing versus intuition; thinking versus feeling, and judging versus perceiving. Where you land on each of these scales combines to form a type, from the introverted, sensing, thinking, and judging Inspector to the extroverted, intuitive, feeling, and perceptive Champion.
The first scale in the MBTI is extraversion versus introversion, which relates to you respond to the world around you. Perhaps you are more thought-oriented and prefer deeper, more meaningful social interactions while your partner is always on the go, talking to people on the phone and video conferencing around the clock.
The second scale is sensing versus intuition, which relates to how you gather information from the world around you. Some people rely heavily on their five senses and what reality is presenting to them. Others may gloss over these aspects and instead look for patterns, impressions, and imagined possibilities.
The third scale is thinking versus feeling. Some people make decisions based on facts, objective data, and logic alone. Others rely more on intuition, emotions, and other people. The fourth scale is judging versus perceiving, which relates to how you deal with the outside world. Do you like structure and firm decisions or are you more flexible, open, and adaptable?
While we all fall somewhere between the two extremes of each scale, we tend to be dominated by one or the other. Discovering your Myers Briggs personality type will help you better understand how you perceive the world and make decisions.
The third self-discovery tool is the DISC profile. Discovering your DISC profile will help you better understand your behavior: how you respond to conflict, what motivates you, what causes you stress, and how you solve problems.
The D represents dominance: how you deal with problems, assert yourself, and control situations. The I is for Influence: the way you deal with people, how you communicate and relate to others. The S is for Steadiness. This is your temperament – how patient, persistent, and thoughtful you are. And the C is for Compliance. This relates to the ways you approach and organize your activities and responsibilities.
It was no surprise to my husband that my dominance aspect was - well, dominant. Rather than throwing my test results in my face, these data-verified differences have become a source of humor and connection in our relationship.
The 5 Love Languages
The fourth self-discovery tool is the 5 Love Languages. Your love language is how you communicate love to people you care about and it is also the way you most desire love to be communicated to you.
The 5 love languages are words of affirmation, physical touch, quality time, receiving gifts, and acts of service. This is a great time for you and your partner to not only figure out your unique love language but to really practice expressing love and appreciation to them using their primary love language.
But remember, we all speak all five languages in varying degrees. This is just a measure of preference, so do not use it to eliminate any of the others. Just because my primary love language is words of affirmation, I do not want my husband to stop buying me gifts or helping with chores!
Discovering your love language will help you better communicate your wants and needs and will help you gain insight into what is important to your partner.
Discovering more about your personality will help you have better interactions with people at home and with the outside world. It all boils down to the three A’s: awareness, acceptance, and intentional action.
Become aware of how you communicate best, what motivates you, how you handle stress, make decisions, and respond to conflict. Accepting responsibility for yourself and recognize that your wholeness and balance is not dependent upon people, places, situations, or things outside of you. Then, take intentional actions that will help you better work with and relate to people at home and the outside world.
These personality tests are available for free online. Take them, have your partner take them, and even your kids (if they’re older, of course). Swap results and have a laugh. Use these self-discovery tools to create space for each person to be unique and for that uniqueness to be exactly the way it is supposed to be. Maybe you will even start to look at your loved ones’ quirks with more compassion, empathy, and kindness!