We become the stories we tell ourselves. I have seen assessment tools such as the MBTI and Enneagram used to justify believing faulty tales we tell ourselves about who we are.

In case I have just lost you completely let me get more concrete.

Imagine an INTJ who in the course of their day to day work is accustomed to getting the “big picture” swiftly and getting into action perhaps without a lot of engagement with fellow staff because why bother when the outcome required is so obvious and required. The INTJ simply sees things so clearly that they can’t imagine others don’t as well.

On the other hand in this specific circumstance the powers that interpreted this independent and individualistic approach as something exclusionary, perhaps cool and labeled it not “collegial” and grounds for dismissal in a work culture that values being a team player.

Here’s where the storytelling part kicks in.

Does this become the truth… that this person is not collegial and is somehow defective in this area? Or is this an event to learn from and to use to build next steps? What a shame to let it become part of a story that reinforces something that keeps one stuck and in fear of trying again.

We are always trying to make sense of reality. Something happens. We bring what we know from our senses and then we interpret that data through all the filters of our past experiences and our belief systems. It is an easy leap to latch onto a tool such as the MBTI to explain or even justify what occurred. “Because I am INTJ or INFP or name your type, I can’t…I don’t….I won’t…they always…this happens…”

My advice is to see each event for what it is or what it was. Something happened. Perhaps based on MBTI preferences how someone responded contributed to the way people reacted BUT it is not a direct automatic result that will happen every time. Each one of us gets to be at choice. We can become aware of our impact on others. Armed with that knowledge we can become transparent about how we interact. Yes it may take courage to say something like “I get focused on the end result and may need your help to remember to seek your input or lighten up or…”

In decision after decision day after day we get to decide what we want to happen or at least how we want to react to what happens and not let past experiences become a verdict of a doomed future.

If a past experience cannot be forgiven or forgotten get help from a coach or therapist to reframe the event and get the learning. Then let go of the story especially if it impacts negatively on your identity and decide what is the next step that lines up with your heart, your gut and your head.

(Note: This post was sparked by an email from a reader. Unfortunately the return email was not deliverable so I wanted to address the aspect of storytelling that leaped off the screen at me by responding in a post – not my first choice but perhaps it will resonate with someone else as well)

Category: Decision making / Perspectives
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