On Personality Types and Accepting Each Other

When you divide people into types, it is important to remember that nobody fits 100% into the description of a particular type. Every human being is far more than his or her type, and every human being is capable of developing over the course of a lifetime.

With that said, it can be helpful to find and come to know your own type and understand yourself and other people better. When you read about other types that are different from you, you realize how many different ways there are to exist in the world. You become aware that, when other people react differently than you would have, it need not be because there is something wrong with that person or yourself. Both of you are okay as you are, but you belong to different types.

Ilse Sand in On Being An Introvert or Highly Sensitive Person

My first thought on reading the above paragraphs, which come at the beginning of the first chapter of Sand’s book, is that only a highly sensitive person could have written it.

Much of my life, I have been surrounded by people who are not highly sensitive, to say the least …

And their approach to life has often been “My way or the highway.”

As such, it has been difficult for me to navigate life, to figure out who I am, and to realize that there really isn’t something foundationally wrong with me for being both introverted and highly sensitive.

For much of my life, my shyness and introversion were seen by some of those closest to me as standoffishness, arrogance, and a lack of affection and concern toward people.

My sensitivity was seen as … well, sensitivity, but that was considered a very negative thing and I had to try as much as possible to suppress it or hide it or ignore it.

I often had to push past it and show myself as a “stronger” and less sensitive person.

This is why learning that there was such a thing as introversion (and even more, a type of people considered highly sensitive) has been so important to me.

That’s why I created this website …

So that I could continue to explore as well as help to normalize what it means to be highly sensitive, especially in the aggressive and insensitive world we live in.

But I do also recognize and wholeheartedly agree with Sand’s comment in her book, On Being an Introvert or Highly Sensitive Person, that “every human being is far more than his or her type” and that each individual is also “capable of developing over the course of a lifetime.”

There was a time in my mid-twenties when I was more of an ambivert than the introvert I am today; I enjoyed meeting new people and even going to the occasional party far more than I do today.

While part of it might have been because these kinds of interests were expected of me as a “normal” young adult, part of it was me … the person I was at that point in time.

(It could have been due to the fact that I had two small children and just needed to get out of the house, so I didn’t mind going out even if it meant meeting new people and doing things I was not familiar with.)

But today, I am a different person.

Or … I am the same person but I appreciate different things than I did at that time.

Today, the idea of going out dancing would be at the very bottom of the list of things I would like to do. And while I’ve enjoyed a few concerts in the past decade, I think I would just end up with a really bad headache.

I’d prefer to listen to some music on my headphones while doing a project at home.

I also so much appreciate the paragraphs above by Sand, because learning about other types of people and realizing how many different ways there are to exist in the world is something that I think we all need more of.

I recently wrote a short post about politics and people being expected to fall into the polar opposites of Republican or Democrat.

This is another place where there are so many more different ways to exist in the world than a single political party.

The fact that so many people are aligning so deeply with one party or the other to the neglect of every other interest and way of being is dangerous and disconcerting to me.

In closing, there are so many different ways of being in the world and I think we could all use a little more understanding of each other and our different ways of thinking, processing, learning, and doing.

When I interact with people, especially new people in new settings, I need time to process that.

Even when I go about just my normal daily routine, I need time in the middle of the day to rest in order to let my mind go blank for a few minutes, to recalibrate so that I can then be refreshed for the second half of the day.

That is just one way my high sensitivity manifests itself and I appreciate those who understand this about me and do not expect me to go full steam ahead all day long.

At the same time, I understand that there are people who operate and do life differently. They might go full steam ahead all week long, pulling 10 or 12 or 14-hour days, but at the end of the week, they need the whole weekend to recover and do nothing.

Other people might have entire seasons of busyness because they process information and work differently.

I admit, those kinds of people are people stronger — physically and probably even mentally and emotionally — than me.

If my being a highly sensitive person makes me a “weaker vessel,” I will accept that and live with it.

But I do have different strengths, emotionally, spiritually, and sensitively.

We all need each other, and the way our strengths and weaknesses can be used to uphold and accept one another can truly be a beautiful thing if we learn how to make it happen.

This is what it means to understand different types and accept them and love them.