The world is in a high-stress moment in which we're in the midst of a difficult pandemic that is filled with uncertainty about the CoronaVirus a.k.a CoVid-19 and managing the human response to that Virus. I'm in the United State, specifically New York State, and many people are beginning to quarantine and limit human interaction via social distancing. While there are loads of jokes going around about how people don't like being with other people, the spread of the virus tells a different story. I, myself, was beginning to feel a bit helpless and hopeless amidst all of this. I, being an INTP, have been gathering all of the data and experiences that I could from all over the internet at a rapid pace. I've analyzed reactions, the flow of information and am seeing how everyone seems to be handling this crisis. With how fast the information and reactions are coming, I've been able to see some patterns that may be of help when it comes to trying to understand how everyone is making sense of their experience and doing the best they can. Before we move forward I want to offer a simple idea that optimism is the idea that suffering is not permanent. What you're experiencing right now will not last forever and that any optimism at this moment is valid. Conversely, pessimism is the assumption that suffering is permanent. We don't have much time and mental space for the latter. Any other feeling you're experiencing at this moment is also valid, however. You're allowed to feel anxious, exhausted, scared, helpless, uncertain, and afraid for I am also all of those things. What isn't valid, is any desire we have to control another human being or their behavior as a result of our fears. It's simply impossible to do, first of all, and not a good use of our mental resources. One of the best things we can do is use our natural talents to find ways to support and encourage each other through a difficult moment like this. So, for us to fully break down the coping styles of each personality type, we need to bring up an important concept that I teach in my classes, the concept of The Drama Triangle developed by Stephen Karpman. The Drama Triangle is a model used to help us understand how we get caught up in people-related games of control that keep us playing a role we have difficulty escaping from as either the villain, victim, or the hero in a given scenario. You can think of it as being tethered to someone else via these roles. This usually manifests in some sort of blame or aggression towards the behavior change of another person. The villain wants to control the victim and eliminate the hero. The hero wants to eliminate the villain and feel a sense of power over the victim. The victim remains under the control of the villain or requires saving from the hero. Each of these three is dependent on each other, which makes the triangle strong and difficult to get away from. The way out of The Drama Triangle is through a concept called The Empowerment Dynamic, developed by David Emerald. This takes the hero, villain, and victim then transforms them into the Coach, Challenger, and Creator. These new roles have two main ideas in common...personal boundaries and personal responsibility. The Creator knows that they are in control of their fate and can make something new from their situation. The Challenger may test the Creator but doesn't tie their self-worth to the imprisonment of the Victim. The Coach encourages the Creator but doesn't do the work for them. They protect their own needs and boundaries whilst providing support. The Empowerment Dynamic encourages a sense of power from within, The Drama Triangle is always about "other". How all of this relates to the global pandemic we're currently experiencing is that we see these dynamics at play all over the internet. Cynicism, blame, and helplessness are quite common in the human experience, which is amped up by this particular situation. Conversely, there are many others who are taking the empowerment route and providing support however they can to whomever they can. What I want to do was provide some insight into how these dynamics show up for each Myers-Briggs personality type. The common thread being that our tertiary function is often linked to our stress response, so our empowerment response likely comes from that source as well. Strong Note: This is all based on personal observation and my own typology expertise. This means that this isn't a specific definitive guide for what you will always see, but is a likelihood of where these behaviors stem from. The common theme is that each personality type is reacting based on the stress response of their tertiary or third function in their cognitive function stack. The point is that I want you to see that these responses are simply a matter of how each person copes with difficult reality and are simply doing the best they can. Knowledge makes everything just a little less scary and encourages empathy. The Drama Triangle coping strategy of each type: ES*Js may assume everything is going better than it is. They may continue living life, telling everyone it'll be fine and may even say that anything "negative" or difficult is all I lie. This may lend to conspiracy thinking or cynicism around people's intentions or perceptions of reality. Usually because of things "they've noticed."
EN*Js may not want to stop moving, exercising, or put extra effort into showing that everything is okay. They may have a hard time adjusting to the big picture change occurring as their plans have been disrupted. This is going to force a focus on what's in front of them. This could bring out a physical hostility in them as well as a form of resistance to what's happening.
IS*Ps may assume what's happening is not real or people are overreacting. There is a consistent denial that what they hear or see of reports or stories is all made up. They may become a bit contrarian about what the next few days or weeks are going to look like in favor of their own perception of reality and what's likely going to happen. I*FJs may be self-critical of how they weren't prepared, critical of their own sensitivity and emotional needs as it gets in the way of helping others. They push down how they feel in favor of rationalizing their emotional experience, so they can keep the focus on others. They will be particularly sensitive to how everyone is feeling about the situation and will take a lot of personal responsibility in solving the problems however they can. They may avoid some of the important details of the situation as to not have to feel or know the brunt of what's happening in reality and choose to live in a world in which they can solve the problems for everyone they love.
I*TJs may blame themselves for not doing important enough work. It may suddenly hit them that what they're doing right now, the skills they've developed or what they're capable of may not be suited to comfort the emotional needs of themselves or others in this moment. They simply can't do enough to fix the issues. This could lead to a deep difficult depression and a sense of hopelessness as they define their relationship to their emotional experience. E*FPs may feel like they're not doing enough to ease everyone's pain or even just their own pain. They don't see this moment as a time to slow down and feel out their values. If they haven't quite settled on those values yet, they take action a bit aimlessly and simply get in their own way or can become overwhelmed by what it would take to make meaningful change. IN*Ps may self-isolate and self-protect to an extreme. There may be this feeling of frustration around why people aren't doing what they're "supposed" to do and exhibiting a personal sense of discipline or common sense. They may close off completely or over-prepare in a way that limits their own ability to contribute to their own or others' safety effectively. E*TPs may blame mass behavior for current failings or assume "agendas" are at play when it comes to politics or media. They may spread misinformation out of anger or frustration without realizing it because outrage comes first. They'll fill in the blanks of other people's intentions with assumptions and scapegoating to call for the destruction of whatever caused this whole mess.
That's a lot and that's heavy, but I didn't want to just leave you with a diagnosis of how people may behave in a crisis. So, here are some ways in which you can take some of your personal power back and lend support to your communities and recharge yourself in these difficult times. The Empowerment Dynamic coping strategy for each type: ES*Js can provide comfort in joy and laughter in difficult times. They can instill a sense of optimism where it's needed the most. Humor can be a great coping tool for how we can get through to the other side of difficult times. EN*Js can share how they keep their own health in check and encourage others to check-in with their own health. Especially in a situation where we have to stay inside, they can encourage unique ways of getting the movement and lovely sensory experiences we all enjoy. All of this to remind us that there is plenty of reason to take good care of ourselves for a future that still exists. IS*Ps can help determine realistic possibilities for how this will all turn out. This means looking at what is happening now and knowing for sure in order to make accurate projections of how things may turn out for all of us. This could involve sharing these possibilities with great detail on how it'll be okay, which is great emotional support to someone who may be feeling a sense of uncertainty about the future. Sometimes simply knowing what to do next is enough to keep someone focused and out of fear. I*FJs can keep up with valuable information to calm theirs and others' anxieties. The details matter, and those details can help someone shine a light on the dark to offer help and support wherever possible. Knowledge is like a flashlight in the dark. When faced with your own logic running wild, making you cold and distant, focus on the information that your friends and family, as opposed to everyone in need, to feel a sense of security by providing them with their own flashlight of knowledge about the situation. I*TJs can remind people of what's important and what important work to do by checking in with themselves and encouraging others to assess their values. This is an important time to note what is or isn't working, to wonder about what innovations we can conjure up that allow for the improvements of each individual's life. This is an opportunity to become acquainted with how what you do affects how you feel and why it's important to honor the multitude of emotions that your body experiences to regain a sense of normalcy. IN*Ps can be a grounded strong support source for their inner circle and community. With knowledge being a flashlight, IN*Ps can be the sun in moments like these. We can become a dependable source of guidance when many people don't know who to trust or what to do next. We hold it down and help you figure it all out so you can take a moment to breathe.
E*FPs can connect important people and mobilize important action. They will hold space for people's varying emotional experiences and facilitate how we can build important solutions together. They don't need approval from anyone if it's important enough then let's just get it done. E*TPs can keep people active, engaged and entertained with a clever community focused thought project and creative experiments that encourage and help us deal with the difficult truth of the situation. They make the numbers interesting, show us the patterns of what's happening and will be loving and supportive to the communities they cherish the most. -------------- So, did anything surprise you? This isn't your typical assessment as we got deeper into cognitive function responses for each type. Each personality type is going to be dealing with this sort of crisis in their own way and it's especially important to listen for actual experiences as opposed to stereotypes. This means that it is in our best interest to be patient with everyone's personal experience as everyone is just doing the best that they can with what we've got. We're all human and we all want to survive. It also means that during this time, some of the people in your life that you may expect to be okay...won't be. So, take a few extra moments to check-in with someone you care about and use this article as a guide for both how you can let them be themselves, and find your way of supporting others through your personal sense of empowerment.
If you're not sure of your personality type, now is the time to find out. In the midst of this crisis, I am offering a pay-as-you-want model for profiling sessions until the end of April. That means you can work with me to know for sure what your personality type is, start calibrating to your sense of normal and take back some control where you can. The suggested value is $99, but like I said you can pay whatever you like. Molly and I are struggling to make ends meet, so we know what it's like to need to support and since we don't have financial leverage, the best we can do is provide emotional support to our supports, fans, and community.
Go ahead and sign up now. Talk to you soon!