If I grew up in a family that went to a doctor for every little thing (like seems so common today), I probably would have been diagnosed with ADHD at the very least. That would have added a label to my future that read: “something’s wrong with me.” But I wasn’t brought up that way thankfully and got to figure out what was going on in my head and heart as I went along, finding my own simple ways to stay mentally healthy – and I found some very good ones.
Never feeling I fit in was a big and painful challenge and that disconnected feeling started as a child and continued into my adult life. Whether I truly did fit in or not wasn’t the issue, it was my perception that I didn’t that felt so scary. Then surviving rape and domestic violence in my 20’s told me there had to be something more I needed to know, some knowledge that would change the trajectory of my life.
I didn’t take the therapy route, which never really made sense to me. I knew from experience that talking about my problems made me feel worse, not better. Instead, I worked with an American Indian shaman to release the trauma and stigma of rape and domestic violence. That literally took one hour. I realized what worked best for me was simple, quick and effective.
The reason I hadn’t fit in and why I chose unhealthy people in my life was beginning to make more sense and had less to do with my mental health and more to do with my personality style and its different characteristics. The concept made sense but time-consuming assessments were too complicated, and the information didn’t stick with me. Again, I felt like I didn’t fit in if everyone else was “getting it.” Little did I know, they weren’t. Complicated systems won’t work as daily, doable solutions and I wanted to understand myself and gain the confidence to take charge of my life.
Then, I found a simple method to determine personality styles that fit perfectly. It made sense and it was easy and quick to figure out what style I was as well as other people in my life without a cumbersome assessment. (The others are good and more in-depth, but I needed something quick and easy.) I instantly zoomed back to fifth grade and understood exactly why that mean girl said hurtful things, bullied and shunned other kids – including me. It didn’t make her behavior acceptable, just gave me understanding and that made all the difference. I had no idea I’d carried that hurt for four decades. The crack in my self-esteem began to heal as I realized it never was my fault to begin with.
Seeing the traits of my personality style and how they differed or were the same as other people in my life was eye-opening!
Just because I didn’t look at things the same way or fit in didn’t mean there was anything wrong, it just meant we were different. One of my favorite things to do is speak to large audiences and most people have a greater fear of that than death. And while some of my closest friends need time to think and all the details to decide, I decide quickly and jump in with both feet. If I made a mistake, I’ll make a different decision next time. They, on the other hand, hate making mistakes. It’s obvious why not knowing these characteristics can easily cause personal conflicts at home, at work and in relationships. And decision making tactics are just one of the many differences that create stress.
Using what I ultimately fit on a single page, my personality styles tool is what my clients learn first. It easily explains why a 30-year Army veteran, felt like she was going crazy after leaving the military box she’d been pressed into for three decades. She’d been told what to do, when to do it and how it needed to be done and now her personality style that had been suppressed by that formal structure felt chaotic.
It was freedom. Literally something she’d fought for as a career and suddenly she had her own and her true self was coming out to play. She felt a huge mental health sigh of relief knowing this was completely normal. And still the texts arrived, “I have 20 conversations going on in my head at the same time. Personality style?” “Yes.” I’d answer, “Same as mine. Are we talented, or what?”. And we’d laugh, embracing our traits instead of feeling they were bad or wrong or needed to be changed or toned down with medication or therapy. And if we do want to change the way we do things, we can, because we understand what’s going on.
Most mental health professionals come from one specific personality style and if they expect their patients to behave the way they would, or the way someone wrote in a book or taught in a class, they could be far less effective than they want to be. Learning the basics of this powerful tool takes just 5-10 minutes.
Consider this. The way I do something may not be the way you are comfortable doing it and vice-versa. And although stepping out of our comfort zone is one way we grow; it can be so scary that it keeps us from growing at all and we stay stuck. So why not get familiar with your natural tendencies and grow in the way that works best for you. Then we can feel empowered and strong instead of feeling there’s something wrong.
Of all my favorite confidence-building mental wellness strategies, personality styles is the quickest and easiest to learn and use daily. It’s also a great way to increase your self-love so you can love fully and freely with no strings attached.