I have taken Meyers-Briggs type personality tests for some 30-odd years (see Jung test lists at this link for examples). I consistently come out INFP or INFJ. In the more distant past, I would review the characteristics of my type, and think “I like this” or “I need to work on that” and so forth.
Less than 10 years ago, I was in a job that just was not working – I was pretty miserable. I loathed going to work every day. In a gesture akin to grasping at straws, I took an online Meyers Briggs test again, and once again came out as INFP and reviewed the characteristics of my type. But this time, I also saw there was a listing of suitable and unsuitable careers for my personality type. The unsuitable career list contained everything that I was doing on my job at that time. The suitable list contained job types that I had done in the past with great satisfaction or performed then as a hobby or in an avocational capacity.
I immediately saw the resolution to my dilemma – I was trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Within six months I applied for and was hired at the position I hold to this day – with great satisfaction.
What I find particularly interesting about this story is that I am certain that when I took the Meyers-Briggs test in the previous 20 years, the favored/disfavored career listing was also available, however, I did not notice that information until about 10 years ago. The saying that When the student is ready the teacher will appear seems relevant here.
As well, though seemingly intuitive, why did I take the tests for 20 before I considered accepting my true self? If the test has any validity, I should not read the results as “I like this” but “I don’t like that” and instead see the type as “This is who I am.”
I also think about how this being true to one’s self is truly a process and not a single event. I am grateful that being in recovery allows me the opportunity to travel along that road.
I had this fixation a long time ago that to be a published author would be a measure of my life worth in some way. And then I published a bunch of stuff, and that fixation went away. I now turn down publishing opportunities unless I really believe in the project. So it is not publish or perish, but publish what and where I believe – one of the reasons for this blog.
I have been thinking of this more too of as I move toward my “retirement” which is actually only a transition to another kind of career. I think of this idea in terms of Twelfth Step work. I am incredibly grateful that sobriety has given me the opportunity to live a life in recovery and meaning. Professionally, I value most and feel the best about my ability to empower others in their process toward finding meaning in their own lives. This comes back to the Wounded Healer I blogged about last week.
This thing is a three-sided coin. On one side I am able to be of service to others in sharing my experience, strength, and hope. On the second side, this sharing and being in community with others is also a learning and growing experience for me. On the third side, I know that I must give it away to keep it. Working with others provides me that opportunity.
That old line of publish or perish means little to me. Perhaps more fitting is “serve or starve” or “give it away or give it up” or . . .
By their wounds, we are healed. We often speak of the ‘wounded healer’, the person who is able to be an instrument of healing because of her own wounded and the way in which those wounds have been used. In my experience, many of those who have endured great pain and have transcended its damaging effects have a remarkable power to draw others to them when they are in need of strength and consolation. – Kenneth Leech, We Preach Christ Crucified, p. 25.
The Twelfth Step of AA goes “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and practice these principles in all our affairs.” I realize discussing this very simple statement could consume many, many blog posts. A quick rewrite for me goes – “Through the process of recovery, I live in a world of gratitude, solutions and possibilities. I want to share this message of experience, strength, and hope with others who came from the same place as I. As well, in claiming my place in this world, I also want to live this message in everything that I do.”
I recollect saying in a recovery meeting once that I really enjoyed that folks in recovery were highly qualified to be a part of recovery solutions of others. A trained counselor shot back about the need for their professional expertise and training. To me, this is where the wounded healer concept comes in. Professional services, counseling, and so forth are great – I have used them a bunch – but I also know that having lived through addiction and into the process of recovery provides one with a sense that cannot be obtained except through the experience.
This understanding is one reason I am attracted to the idea put forward in messages like the Anonymous People film. If the significance of the wounded healer is true, then those in recovery have an obligation to live into the Twelfth Step. It’s not a matter of ego, it’s a matter of doing the next right thing.
Have carried this card for 30 years now!
Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us – sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them. – AA Promises
I play this game of sorts with students I advise these days. I ask them to list the 10 ideal jobs they would like to have today. We then discuss how to morph the attributes of those 10 jobs into a single position. The discussion focus now shifts from a job to a career. Next we consider both the formal and informal education needed to develop the skill set and experience to start on that career path. I note that the process may take a lifetime with many shifts and complete changes along the road. That is a career is a process, not an event.
Naysayers to this approach might argue that I am setting students up for failure – that there are economic and market limitations that prevent such unlimited possibilities. I consider those nattering nabobs of negativism to be dream stealers or dream killers. This cynical view, if replaced by a plan of action, will demonstrate that we certainly can move toward that ideal career.
I find that recovery is much the same. The AA Promises might seem completely unattainable to the person fresh into abstinence from their addiction. But there are a myriad of recovery programs, including of the 12-step variety that work well for me, that offer a plan to reach those goals. I am convinced that if I do the work, based on my experience, strength, and hope, living into an ideal recovery is not only possible but the very likely result. That too is truly a process and not an event.
Yesterday my wife and I drove a couple of hours south of where we live to what was billed as a nature festival of sorts. The event was quite crowded and the nature part was rather minimal. Rather the 15.00 per head admission and abundance of vendors suggested instead that fundraising was a primary motivation for the event.
We decided instead to head to a nearby small town for a visit. The town contained a couple of museums, both of which were closed despite being advertised as open.
We found a place for lunch, checked out a cemetery, drove around a bit and then headed for home.
We both commented on the drive back how this had been a good day. We reflected how we just have not been getting out of town enough and having “fun” driving on back roads like we have done during most of our lives together. Our expectations for the day were completely unmet. However the results were better than our plans had led us to expect.
You can make plans but don’t plan the results is a saying I hear a lot in recovery. The message seems to be that things don’t always work out the way we plan – get ready for disappointment Yesterday showed that results can exceed or expectations. Upon reflection, I find that is consistently the case over time in my recovery. As a totality, I could never have predicted the fantastic life I have lived since starting on a road to recovery.