In recent years, there has been an increase in the prevalence of personality tests in almost every area of life. Corporations use them to help coworkers work together, leadership teams use them to learn who possesses which innate skill, and churches use them to figure out how to best use volunteers. Sometimes people dive into personality tests on their own for self-discovery or for career choices, and sometimes therapists use them to help a client learn more about who they are and how they can be a healthier version of themselves.
Myers Briggs (sometimes called 16 Personalities) and the Enneagram are two of the most popular personality tests, but Strengths Finder and the Disc Assessment are also popular. These personality tests can be amazing ways to learn more about yourself and find ways to use your strengths and explore your weaknesses. Sometimes this clarity can help you feel understood, validated, and seen in a way that you haven’t before. Instead of feeling labeled as a “Type A” you may find that you are a One on the Enneagram, which gives insight into your desire to do what is right and validates your integrity.
However, the potential downside of a personality test is the tendency to put ourselves in a box. You may be an ENFP on Myers Briggs or a Type 3 on the Enneagram, and that is how you continue to see yourself for years into the future. These tools can unfortunately give us the ability to put ourselves in a box because we forget that we are ever changing and evolving as we move through life. It can also lead us to switch from a learning perspective to a justification perspective, where the answer to our test become our reason for why we do what we do in life instead of a way to learn and grow.
However, this doesn’t happen in every situation and many people use personality tests in a very healthy and growing way. To keep the right perspective, remember that a test may tell you good or bad things about your type, but a test cannot define who you are. We are all so deeply unique; we have different DNA, life experiences, and relationships that shape us as individuals. A test may shed light on an area you didn’t understand, but it cannot inherently define you. Remember that as you go through life, your personality test inventories may change so don’t be afraid to take them again at a different stage and see how you’ve adapted over time.