Excuses: How Not to Use Your Personality Type as an Excuse
In part one of this three-part series, we look through the lens of using your personality type as an excuse and the consequences it can have on your future.
In part one of this three-part series, on the use and misuse of psychological personality types, we explore the danger of using your personality type as an excuse to avoid things that may be difficult for you. We’ll also discover how and why stepping outside your comfort zone can help you to grow and develop in the best way possible.
I Figured Myself Out!
Few feelings can rival the excitement of finding a personality type that describes you to perfection. Whether you are looking at the Myers-Briggs type indicator, the Big Five, the Color Code, or just the Jungian types of introvert, extrovert, and ambivert, there’s a deep sense of satisfaction when you discover a definition of an important aspect of yourself. As writer and philosopher, C. S. Lewis noted in his book The Four Loves,
“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one!’”
Finding out there are others in the world like us, and what’s more, that there are others out there who understand us, is a delightful sensation. However, there are helpful and not-so-helpful ways to use this knowledge.
Some mindsets, for instance, can spur you on to personal growth and fulfillment while other modes of thinking can drag you down, hold you back, and limit you in artificial ways.
One of the most common misuses of Understanding these personality types is to use them as excuses.
It’s Just How I Am
None of us like to be pushed outside our comfort zone. It’s tempting when presented with information that defines much of what is natural for us, to take what we’ve learned about our self and use it as a reason not to venture outside the boundaries of what’s “easier.”
For example, if you are an introvert, it’s not much of a leap to say, “Well, I’m just not good in social situations. So I should avoid them and just stay home or go to familiar places with one or two people. After all, that is just how I am.”
Alternatively, let’s say you are a “blue” on the Color Code Personality Profile. Blues, as explained on the Color Code website, are motivated by intimacy, and can be loyal but also very controlling. When these tendencies arise, it’s easy to say, “I’m just a controlling person. That is just how I am.”
At first glance, this seems like a freeing position to take. After all, it gives you a reason for your difficulties, even a defendable one. Simply because it is how you are. How can anyone argue with that? Shouldn’t you just accept yourself and keep within the confines of your strengths (or weaknesses)?
Initially, it seems like a good idea, but further digging reveals to be careful, as it may not be so liberating after all.
I Can’t Help It
In essence, by claiming “It is just how I am,” you’re saying, “I can’t help it.” This attitude and limiting belief puts you in the position of becoming a slave to whatever “it” is. Whether that is introversion, extroversion, blue, white, INTJ, ESFP, or any number of other temperaments out there, believing these tendencies control you holds you back from living your best life.
It’s like saying “I don’t like vegetables. It’s just how I am. I can’t help not eating vegetables.” An attitude and a belief like this would severely limit your ability to be physically healthy since vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet. The same principle applies here. As Shakespeare pointed out,
“… oftentimes excusing of a fault doth make the fault the worse by the excuse.”
You may never prefer parties over a quiet evening with a friend, and that is perfectly fine. We all have distinct differences that help make up who we are as a person. However, being able to interact well in a group setting, whether socially or professionally, is an important life skill to have.
You don’t have to be naturally good at something or enjoy it to cultivate it as a skill set. Similarly, saying “I just can’t help it,” about your tendency to be controlling will inhibit both your interpersonal relationships and your career.
It may be something you always struggle with, but for the sake of those around you–it’s something you need to curb. No one enjoys working with a controlling person. Maybe for you, it’s not introversion or control. Maybe it’s extroversion or being overly analytical or being extremely spontaneous.
These are not bad traits, but if not properly directed they can inhibit a healthy, balanced lifestyle. Think about it–would you rather be helplessly bound to your personality, or would you rather it follow your lead?
Difficult, But Not Impossible
No one is claiming that it is easy to avoid this inclination to use our natural tendencies as excuses. Just as some people have a harder time waking up in the morning or exercising than others, some people have a more difficult time empathizing, thinking through things, or planning ahead than others.
We all have aspects of ourselves that need work. Not only does this work not come naturally to us, but discipline is not exactly a universal value in today’s culture. It is much easier and more enjoyable just to go with what you feel–or so it seems.
Moreover, in the short term, this may even be true. However, long term, when this lack of effort damages your career or your relationships, it may not be so much fun anymore.
“Excuses are the nails used to build a house of failure”
As cartoonists Don Wilder and Bill Rechin once said, and, believe it or not–it is most often true.
It’s hard to put in a fair amount of time and work it takes to go against the grain of our personality types. Moreover, while there’s a time and a place to say, “This is who I am and I’m going to embrace it,” there’s also a time to say, “This is something that isn’t serving me well, and I can overcome it.”
It is a very empowering notion to realize; this ability to change and improve ourselves in the moment. Ultimately, it comes down to this:
Either you will serve your personality type, or it will serve you.
Either you will remain in a rut, obeying its dictates, or you will work with the good and discard the bad, letting it help you become whom you want to be, rather than holding you back. Difficult, yes. But impossible? No.
Do you know where you fall in any of these personality type systems? If so, what are some ways you tend to use your type as an excuse? Consider instead pushing past this difficulty and stepping outside what’s comfortable and easy. You just might be surprised at how wonderful it can be to lose the excuses and be free to grow.