Q: Doesn’t personality type limit a person by putting everyone in a box?
A: That is a common misconception held by those who haven’t thoroughly investigated personality type. In fact, the results are just the opposite. It is a very freeing experience. Understanding how you are wired up and designed to be gives you permission to fully express all the nuances that make you YOU. Many of us have a Myers-Briggs type that is one of the minorities. Some people are in a group that is only one percent of the population. This will cause a person to have a worldview counter to the culture at large. Understanding your type explains why you feel so different but, more importantly, that you can develop and celebrate those differences instead of labeling them as character flaws in need of attention.
Q: How can knowing personality type possibly help me with my being unhappy in my job?
A: We each have a Core or True Self that is profiled by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Each MBTI personality type has unique gifts, abilities and talents. If we choose a career that allows us full expression of these gifts, we will have a high degree of job satisfaction. However, we also have another part of personality, our defense system, profiled by the Enneagram. The Enneagram defense is located in the subconscious, a non-rational part of the psyche. Its main purpose is to protect us from emotional pain. The Enneagram defense is not only up and running but at its peak between the ages of 20-30 years, just when we are making some extremely important life decisions. We unfortunately often choose a career, a spouse and/or to have children just at a time in our lives when we are most controlled by the subconscious, non-rational Enneagram defense rather than the rational MBTI Core Self. If we can get a full understanding of who we truly are, we have an opportunity to correct some bad career choices and select a career path more in line with the gifts of the True Self.
Q: My marriage seems to be failing. We’ve tried couple counseling and it didn’t help. Is there anything more we can do?
A: Yes, a lot. Before you can consider another option, please understand that rational thinking and language are located on the same side of the brain. In short, talk therapy, the type used in couple counseling, can only reach the rational part of both of you. Most likely you are aware that when things are tense between you and your spouse, rational thinking is often not involved. What happens during these situations is that an old program has been activated. That program is stored in the part of your brain where there is no rational thinking and language can’t reach. So, in effect, the talk therapist is often telling you what you already know or bringing to awareness some of the dynamics in your relationship but helping to change very little. Talk therapy can reach the rational part of you but the part that takes over under stress with your spouse is non-rational and can’t be reached through talking. If you each work with a therapist who can help you bring subconscious material into consciousness, and thus under rational control, you have a good chance of improving your relationship.
Q: I have steered away from “inner child” therapy because everything I’ve read about it makes it sound like parent-bashing. I love my parents and they did the best they could. Can I do this kind of therapy without blaming them for everything that went wrong in my life?
A: Inner Child work is not about the parents that you have; it is about the parents you are carrying around in your head. When you were young, you internalized some programs around your parents using all the intellectual and perceptive abilities of a very small child. The “parents” that we address in this kind of therapy are symbols of the conclusions you drew all those many years ago. That information is stored in your subconscious where there is no sense of time. That part of you does not know that things have changed over time. Generally, relationships with parents improve after doing this work because we dispel the old, outdated programs and replace them with new, updated information. Wherever your parents may be today, we wish them well.
Q: I like much of what I’ve read about the Three Keys approach, but isn’t Inner Child work kind of silly?
A: Due to a lot of misunderstanding and joking in pop culture, inner child work has taken on a frivolous connotation. Nothing could be further from the truth. This is the hardest thing you will ever do. Perhaps a better term to describe the work is “affective therapy” because it addresses information stored on the right side of the brain where emotions and the doorway to the subconscious are located. If you opt for inner child work, come prepared to face and conquer serious issues you have not been able to address with talk therapy.
Q: I just don’t understand how looking at the past and rehashing old stuff can possibly help with my life today. Isn’t it time to close the door on all of that and grow up?
A: It is a great concept if only it worked. Ninety percent of who we are is located in the subconscious. It is there that we store early programs and the conclusions we drew as very small children about ourselves, others and how the world works. The subconscious also holds our defense system, so it, too, is out of our conscious control. If there is a war between rational thinking and the contents of the subconscious, including the defense system, the subconscious wins 100 percent of the time until we can bring that information into consciousness and give you control over it. Closing the door on the past may keep it out of consciousness, but it still controls you.
Q: Can this approach help me deal with my 13 year old daughter who seems to be from another planet? She is living in some kind of fantasy land. How will she ever survive in this world without practical skills?
A: It certainly can help you to understand her, yourself and the differences between you. Your daughter most likely has a personality type that is decidedly different from you and, possibly, from the rest of your family. “Different” does not mean “defective”. She may see the world from a much different perspective than you do. As long as she is trying to model herself after who you think she should be, she has gifts that are going unrecognized and unexplored. Understanding and encouraging her personality type will increase her self-confidence and help you to recognize her strengths rather than see her differences as defects.
Q: I’ve gone to therapy before and it helps for a while but nothing seems to really change much. Why is this so different?
A: Cognitive, or “talk” therapy, can help by giving you some coping techniques and perhaps help you to see things a bit differently about yourself. However, 90% of who you are is controlled by subconscious material that talk cannot reach. Because language does not reside in the subconscious, no amount of talking can change the subconscious programs which are the cause of most problems people go to talk therapy to address. This approach is different because it equips you with tools and techniques to access and take control of the subconscious programs.
Q: I’ve tried other therapists and talked about issues from my childhood, I’ve ended up just as depressed as I’ve always been. Why should I risk feeling all that pain again?
A: It would not be a case of feeling the pain again. The pain is still there. You have found some methods of numbing it out or pushing it down when it makes its presence known. In truth, the pain is not your enemy. The whole purpose of emotional distress is to give you a warning that something is very wrong. You are, in effect, trying to silence your own personal Paul Revere. By following where the pain leads, and dealing with the events or themes of childhood stored in the subconscious which caused it to be present originally, you can remove the need for the pain once and for all.