As Socrates advised, “Know yourself.” To have harmonious
relationships and happiness, we need to understand our inner
workings, unconscious patterns, and personality types. Take time
to map your psyche; you’ll be surprised to discover new parts and
deeper understanding. Think of the massive submerged and unseen
part of the iceberg moving it along. It can take you to rough waters
if you don’t discover what’s buried beneath the surface. question.
Students often ask about how to know if an answer to a question
is accurate. Does it arise from a body-based addiction (give me
sugar/alcohol etc), subpersonality (inner critic, child, parent, etc.),
habitual thought form (I’m not as good as my brother), entity, high
guide, voice of clear reasoning, and so on? Going through the
process of centering, grounding, and defining one’s energy bubble
helps us to get in a quiet neutral place where we can listen to and
be aware of the truth.
Keeping a dream journal is the most direct way to learn
about the unconscious voices and a counselor may provide interesting
feedback on the symbols. A therapist can also point out
blind spots we don’t see or self-defeating patterns that seem normal
to us because we’re accustomed to them. Writing down
intense feelings can help balance them. A study of arthritis and
asthma patients found that those who wrote about their stressful
experiences improved, in comparison to a control group who did-
n’t journal. A useful book, Who Are You?, provides 101 “ways of
seeing yourself,” with self-quizzes and information about physical
and emotional types.
Your astrological birth chart reveals tendencies you brought
in with you. It’s much more than the sun sign discussed in newspaper
columns, because the sun, moon and planets interact with each
other and the 12 houses in the chart. For example, in my chart,
Mars (energy) is in the constellation Aries (the ram), at the top of
the chart (a strong influence) in the 10th house (occupation.), indicating
I focus on my work. A chart can be updated to learn about
current influences as the planets move through the constellations.
Internet sites will calculate your chart, if you provide your birth
Who Are You?
*The most widely used questionnaire was developed by Myers
Briggs, widely used with work groups and couple counseling, as
well as individuals. It indicates whether you’re an extrovert or
introvert, intuitive or sensing, thinking or feeling, and like open
options or structure. The four categories are introvert or extrovert, intuitive or sensing, thinking or feeling, judging or perceiving.
It’s a useful tool for realizing that we have different approaches that can be irritating when not understood, as when one partner sees the other as flaky and is seen as rigid by the other. Reading the book reveals, for example, that one person requires open options (P) and the other requires structure (J), and that neither style is better than the other.
The Kiersey and Bates version, explained in their book Please Understand Me, is widely read. Take the Myers Briggs personality inventory (www.myersbriggs.org/my-mbti-personality-type/mbti-basics/sensing-or-intuition.asp). I’m an E/I, NFJ.
*The Enneagram is another widely used inventory; take it on
the web (http://www.enneagraminstitute.com/Tests_Battery.asp#RHETISampler) and see if you’re a perfectionist, helper, achiever, romantic,
observer, questioner, adventurer, asserter or peacemaker.
(Different terms are used by various authors.)
*The Pathwork approach assists you in identifying your mask,
lower self, and higher self.
*The color test describes your personality in terms of your color
*In terms of occupational types, John Holland’s is the most
popular instrument.The work types are: realistic, conventional,
enterprising, social, artistic, or investigative. Which are you? Taking
personality inventories casts new light on facets of the personality.
*Eric Braverman, MD, describes a typology based on dominance
or deficiency of brain neuropeptides in The Edge Effect.
Dopamine dominant: rational, intense, driven, likes power and
control. GABA: calm, traditional, stable, organized, reserved, and
loyal. Serotonin: impulsive, playful, likes challenges, non-conformist.
Acetylcholine: quick thinker, creative, impulsive, communicators.
Physical problems are caused by deficits of these neuropeptides,
such as overweight and dopamine deficiency.
This is a questionnaire to identify missing neurotransmitters. The Mood Cure book spells out amino acids to take to build the serotonin or what ever is missing.
*An ancient topology system (over 3,000 years old) is Indian
Ayurveda which describes three body and personality types, vata,
pitta and kapha, useful in thinking about one’s health and relationships.
Vatas tend to be slender and quick; pittas tend to be fiery;
and kaphas tend to be grounded and solid—not as fast moving as
vatas. We’re often a combination of these traits. I have a vata
body and a pitta temperament, for example.
The Chinese system of the Five Elements/Rhythms
It also provides insight into core issues. They represent the qualities of the
season and its element, moving from winter (water) to autumn
(metal), as described in Beinfield’s Between Heaven and Earth and in
Eden’s “The Five Rhythms” videos. Each is associated with several
meridians, mentioned last in the list below.
Wood: pioneers, their underlying emotion is anger and irritation.
They can be impatient, push limits, and like performing
under pressure to be first. Their movement is choppy, blunt, staccato,
directed, and they can blow up. They like power, assertion,
can be a decisive bull dog, intolerant, impatient, intense, have causes,
and feel they’re right. They’re warriors, directive, and tell the
truth. Liver and gall bladder.
Fire: wizards, they like excitement, sensation, and intimacy.
They’re intuitive, charismatic, bright and vibrant. They can suffer
from anxiety, panic, insomnia, hypoglycemia, and may burn out.
Their walk is bouncy up and down. Their main feelings are joy,
laughter, excitement, positive loving, but their energy can scatter
like fire. Their purpose is to transform and get people excited and
into the fire. Heart and small intestine.
Water: philosophers, introspective and self-sufficient, they
value knowledge and understanding, but can be unforgiving and
isolated. Water walks with flowing movement, takes her time, and
can get depleted. Feelings are deep, internal, fearful, cautious; yet
water types can be playful and fun. They may have boundary issues
and become like ice, rigid, and inaccessible. People may baby them.
Their purpose is deep thinking, to generate ideas, and they can be
philosophers and poets. Kidney and bladder.
Earth: peacemakers, they like to be involved with other
people, to be needed, in charge but not in the limelight. They value
harmony, togetherness, predictability and can have unrealistic
expectations of others. Earth walks with a lyrical, easy sway and
doesn’t like to wear shoes. Their main emotion are sympathy, compassion,
worry, and they get caught in the middle of people trying
to help. An earth person can be over-protective, a busybody, a
doormat, and can collapse. Their purpose is peace making, to harmonize,
and to nurture. Spleen and stomach.
Metal: Alchemists like definition, structure, discipline,
virtue, authority, reason, and principles. They can be inhibited,
strict, distant, self-righteous and can have stiff joints and muscles.
They walk upright. Their emotions are grief, courage, and detachment.
Metal can be inspirational. Using the left brain, their purpose
is to look for the gold in life, like alchemists, sorting through the
gross to get to the valuable. Lungs and large intestine.
The Enneagram is widely used, along with the Myers Briggs. Read Discovering Your Personality Type by Riso and Hudson.
Here’s an introduction the types, which have a variety of titles.
Under each type are three sub-types: self-preservation, sexual, and
1. Reformer, perfectionist, needs to be right, principled, Puritan,
rigid, strong superego, inner judge, can have a Jekel and
Hyde flip side. Examples: Switzerland, George Washington,
John Lennon, Emma Thompson, Kevin Kline, Dianne Feinstein,
John Luke Picard, Dr. Jack Kevorkian, Ida Rolf.
2. Helper, giver, caring, generous, people pleasing, possessive,
sweet, can be codependent and expect a return on their generosity.
Examples: Bali, Thailand, Madonna, Mother Theresa,
Nancy Reagan, Dolly Parton, Liberache, John Travolta, Gena
Davis, Elizabeth Shou.
3. Achiever, efficient, success-oriented, pragmatic, driven,
image conscious, production machine at the expense of emotions.
Hong Kong, Shirley Temple, and Tom Cruise in “Jerry
McQuire,” Paul Newman, and the Rolling Stones.
4. Tragic romantic, feels wounded, envy, withdrawn, dramatic,
self-absorbed, temperamental, can be masochistic. Traditional
Japan, Judy Garland, Robert Downing Jr., and Val Kilmer.
5. Investigator, observer, detached, intense, cerebral, innovative,
secretive, isolated, hermit, can be Scrooge. Bill Gates,
Dustin Hoffman, William Hurt, and J. Paul Getty.
6. Loyalist, anxious, fearful, suspicious, engaging, responsible,
don’t express anger, can be brittle like Jane Fonda.
7. Enthusiast, adventurous, loves to travel, fun-loving, spontaneous,
versatile, scattered, busy, glutton for variety, has trouble
with commitment. Tim Leary, New Age, Robin Williams, and
8. The boss, challenger, aggressive protector, powerful, self-
confident, decisive, willful, confrontational, blamers, get high on
anger and shouting. View the world as a battleground. Israel
9. Peacemaker, mediator, avoids conflict, calm, optimistic,
easygoing, self-effacing, agreeable, can be lazy and sleep a lot.
*Barbara Brennan teaches her students to use a body topology
developed by Wilhelm Reich, which focuses on our main
defense to protect developmental wounds. They develop one after
the other as a baby to puberty, in the following order. Schizoids
tend to be “spacey,” and fearful. Orals suck from others to feel
whole; you can feel drained by this type. Psychopaths try to control
others; you can feel their energy arcing over from the top of
their heads. Masochists are very sensitive to energy, may protect
with extra fat or muscle. Rigids try to do things right and appear
very together, but may not be in touch with emotions (my type).
Read more about these types in Brennan’s Hands of Light.
As you learn more about your own personality dynamics,
you’ll understand others as well, at home and at work, and see possible
filters getting in the way of objectivity in personal interactions.