I'm always a bit surprised that, in an individualistic society like ours, few people really understand themselves, their personality, and why that matters. All humans are self-centered, and I don't mean selfish, I mean oriented towards our own lives. There's nothing wrong with that, of course, because it's not like we can live lives for or through other people. (Though, ahem, some hockey dads seem intent enough on doing that)
Understanding who we are, why we think the way we do, why we like certain movies or books and why others don't, is extremely helpful. (As a writer, its absolutely imperative to understand what makes us tick. If we can't figure out ourselves, how do we expect to understand our characters?) It helps us not only relate to ourselves, but to those around us. It helps us understand why we respond to certain things within our family. It helps us better explain things in our romantic relationships, and in turn, helps us relate to one another in a more positive manner. If we can answer the question, "Who Am I?", with some degree of success, everything else becomes a bit easier.
I'm not simply talking about dealing with mental health issues, although that's certainly part of it. I'm talking about understanding your personality type. What makes you tick. What you need to recharge your batteries. What your strengths and weaknesses are. What job would suit you. Etc...
I took a leadership course in grad school, and every student in the class was asked to take a number of different tests, all designed to help us gauge our abilities in different areas. The most helpful one, by far, was the Myers-Briggs personality test, based on Carl Jung and Isabel Briggs Myers typological approach to personality.
(If you want to skip the explanation, you can find the test here.)
The test asks you basic questions, all answered with a yes or no. It breaks down four categories and groups your answers into sixteen possibilities:
Introvert(I) vs. Extrovert(E)
Sensing(S) vs. Intuition(N)
Thinking(T) vs. Feeling(F)
Judging(J) vs. Perceiving(P)
The result will be a combination of four letters. (For example, I am an ENFP.) I was skeptical when I first took the test, because I questioned how we could break down so many human personalities into sixteen categories. (And some people do fall between two categories.) However, when I looked up the results, I was shocked. I felt like I'd just printed out a paper stating who I was. And just to verify, the test is not based on astrological readings or any kind of mysticism. It's based on your actions.
Sample question: 1) You are almost never late for your appointments. YES or NO
When you take the test as done by professionals, it posits about 120 questions costs anywhere from $80 to $150. However, I found a spot online where you can take a similar test (and yes, I referenced this site in my Top 7 Sports Movies post) It is 72 questions (about ten minutes) and it is as accurate, or nearly so, as ones done professionally.
On the site, you can find summaries to your personality type. And if you Google your personality type, you can find all kinds of information, everything from ideal jobs to ideal partner types. It's a lot of fun, and I know a few people to whom I recommended this site who called it a life-changer. (Yes. Self-knowledge can be that liberating.) I should mention here, since I have two friends who are therapists, that the idea of this is FUN. The idea is not to mock someone (and really, if you mock someone because of their personality type, you're a classless moron who doesn't get it anyway. Self-knowledge means squat without self-awareness) but simply to understand one another. Why not do this with your spouse when the kids are in bed? Or with your boyfriend/girlfriend?
You can find the test HERE.
Have fun with it, and if you have any questions, drop them in the comments and I'll address them. (If you want to better Jung's typology, you can find the basis of his work here.)