The Dangers of Enneagram and Myers Briggs Assessments
Introverts. There is so much psychological information out there about introverts that’s negative. You are quiet. Reserved. You would rather spend the night with a good book than with friends at a party. Why has the psychology world—and society—made this out to be bad? We have thoughts like, “I’m just not that good around people.” Or “I like to be alone.” Why does the world say that’s bad?
Or take extroversion. Society says that the extrovert is the “life of the party”! Who doesn’t secretly want to be the life of the party? Again, psychology has applied man-made ideas and concepts and attached negative or falsely positive ideas around them.
You are not an introvert.
You are not an extrovert.
These are words and descriptions and a language that you may identify with, but it’s not who you are.
The Enneagram and Myers Briggs—and others l
ike them—are good tools to help with identifying your career path, and they can help you learn how to relate to other people who are created differently than you. But they do not define who you are. You need to make that separation now and realize that they are simply tools designed to help, not an assessment that determines who you are.
I explain in detail in my book, Identity-Driven Purpose, how these assessments can help you with purpose. But don’t use them to attempt to understand your identity. That will lead you astray, as it did me for many years.
My Story of Extroversion and the Fallacy of Myers Briggs
So many of us have taken the Myers Briggs assessment over the years. It’s estimated that since its inception in 1962, over 50 million people have taken the assessment. So let’s be honest here—it’s captivating to have words that describe my personality and even to have recommended career choices to help guide me in my career. I would argue, even though I have no evidence, that it has helped many people in life by getting them on a more productive path in life and helping them understand their behavioral tendencies in life.
The danger in the Myers Briggs testing is that people then believe that is who they are. This is what I did for many years of my life.
I was introduced to the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) assessment in 1989 as a freshman in college. I took the test as part of a psychology class. It was fascinating to me. As I read the questions, I dreamed of the person that I wanted to be and answered the questions accordingly. I didn’t have the confidence to answer the questions honestly about the way I actually thought and felt. I knew that I wanted to be liked, accepted, loved, and wanted. So the way to get those things was to be a person that everyone wanted to be around. According to MBTI, that’s an extrovert. Seriously, forget the other three elements, whether I was a feeler or a judger or whatever, I wanted to be an extrovert! I answered the questions in a way that determined that I was an extrovert.
You see, deep in our hearts, we all want to be loved and accepted. And this can manifest itself in a lot of destructive behaviors if we don’t get to the root of our identity.
For years, I took the test and remained an extrovert. I thought that was “who I was.” “I’m an extrovert. You’re an introvert.” My friends and I started even using language like, “Dude, don’t be such an introvert, get out of your comfort zone and let’s go out and party!”
As I grew and matured, my “E” score started to get lower and lower until one day my score was about 50/50 introverted and extroverted. What was happening? Psychologists would say that your MBTI score can and will change over the course of your life. But what was happening for me and what happens to many others is that we realize that we can’t be someone that we’re not. It’s tiring trying to be a person different from how I was made. And so, I started answering the questions honestly. And I finally came to terms with the fact that I have more introverted tendencies than extroverted.
It’s part of the way God made me to interact with Him and with the world around me.
But I must reiterate something here … I am not an introvert. The word introvert is simply a word to describe part of my makeup, which has been shaped by living in this world, my upbringing, my career choices, my friendships and relationships, and on and on.
But it’s not who I am.
Who am I? I am a son of the King, a brother to my Lord Jesus, and I am loved and accepted. Deeply loved and unconditionally accepted.
What is your identity? You are a son or a daughter of Daddy, the King. You are a brother to His Son, Jesus. And you have the Holy Spirit in you to empower you in this world, all to Daddy’s glory! That’s who you are!!