Stephen Crippen Therapy

A blog about you (and me) by Stephen Crippen.

Archive for the ‘Tools and Techniques’ Category

When did I become one of those people?

Wednesday, October 14th, 2015

I know when: a little over a year ago.

11924971_10207292115371907_831566320216197107_nI confess, I’m firmly identified now on social media as one of those people who checks in at the gym. And I’m a pretty serious repeat offender: I go on average about four times a week, and I check in every. time. And I have a running app too, and it’s linked up to let the whole world know I just ran a few miles. I am one of those people.

I could just write myself off (and sometimes do) as a garden variety, tedious narcissist. But there’s more to this practice than vanity. There’s something therapeutic about it, something related to life goals and identity, something connected to my work as a therapist, something worth exploring.

In the summer of 2014, I bought a few personal training sessions at my gym. For the first month or so, I met with the trainer but didn’t do much else, coming in only once or twice to half-heartedly do a portion of his suggested workout. Finally I said this to him: “This isn’t working. I’m not getting anywhere, but now I have a professional on board, so it’s actually more depressing than before I hired you.” “What do you want to do about it?” he asked, and I admired his skillful yet friendly return of the ball to where it belongs—in my hands. And I knew, instantly, what I needed: “I want to email you every time I come to the gym, and (I might have blushed a little here) have you respond back with encouragement. Pat me on the head. Tell me I’m awesome.” He said, “Sure, be happy to!”

So I started doing that, knowing that if I didn’t work out, I couldn’t email him, and if I didn’t email him (I reasoned to myself) he would be disappointed in me. (Therapist alert! Isn’t this unhealthy??) Yes and no: I learn socially, and I motivate socially. I’m an extravert. I’m also not above giving others a little power to validate me. Some of the self-help books would scold me for having a “reflected sense of self,” for allowing my neighbor to determine how I feel about myself. And yes, I can see the danger there. But I also think that life should include some of this: we should build each other up. Encouragement from others is okay. It can’t replace a solid sense of self, but it can be a healthy motivator. Bottom line, I knew that my trainer’s opinion of me really didn’t matter, not even to me, because in the end my fitness work is mine alone, and only I will know truly whether I have accomplished something real, something valuable. And yet … yeah, he’s a professional, he’s helping me out, sure, I care what he thinks.

But the trainer emails, as useful as they were, turned out not to be the whole solution. I simultaneously started checking in on Facebook whenever I went to the gym. I’d try to keep it funny, to make it less irritating, less of an unattractive brag, by posting photos like this in the check-in, of another therapist who was famous for her workout routines (and her love of chocolate sundaes):


And I then chose a close friend to consult every once in a while to get feedback about my social-media presence. “Are the gym check-ins annoying?” I’d ask her (once again seeking validation from another person—yes, I know). “Um, well yeah,” she’d say, “but remember that that’s information about me, not you.” She knows that anyone’s emotional response to another person’s behavior is really just information about themselves. And sure enough, for every person who rolled his eyes at my gym check-ins, another person would message me saying that my fitness work motivated them, encouraged them to go to the gym more often, or walk more, or work on their knee pain so they could be more flexible and active.

And that, naturally, was all I needed to hear. I love to motivate others with my own achievements—yep, I’m a Three on the Enneagram—and the reverse is true too: your achievements motivate me. Sometimes I get small and anxiously competitive, but at my best I engage friendships as a way to motivate both of us to make the changes we want in our lives. I like it when we build each other up.

Don’t even get me started on the joys of Fitbit.

Now that I’m more than a year into my new life of fitness, having finished a half marathon and nearly finished a couple of 12-week courses of weight training, I feel like I’m ready to settle into a new—now not so new—lifestyle of general fitness and strength, an integrated rhythm that comes naturally, a habit that becomes an integral part of a new way or Rule of life. Injuries or illness may throw me off course, but that’s already happened a couple of times, and I feel fairly prepared to handle that, with the help and encouragement of others.

I keep trying to notice the shadow, the dark side, of all this, which is just base vanity and self-centeredness. I won’t pretend I don’t indulge in that. And I may at some point let go of the check-in routine, but not the gym routine. But I’ll probably do so only when I’ve found a better way to share motivation with my neighbor to work for the health and strength of our best selves.


Another person who likes to motivate others by sharing her own story. 😉

Person of the week

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

One time, long ago, I found a certain person in my personal life difficult. I found it hard to like this person. I found him/her to be provocative, and I noticed that I felt irritable whenever this person was around. (Don’t worry, it wasn’t you!)

So here’s what I did. I held this person in my mind and on my heart for about 30 seconds each day. I thought about their name, and sometimes said it aloud. I allowed this person to occupy my consciousness in an intentional way. After a while (longer than I want to admit), I began to understand this person a little better, react with less irritation, and even like this person.

And so I present this technique to help you appreciate bothersome people in your life, so that you can let go of the negative effect they have on you, and even grow a little bit yourself: Person of the Week.

Each week, select someone in your life who “brings stuff up” for you, riles you, bothers you, angers you. Or maybe they make you sad, or anxious, or worried. Maybe it’s a co-worker and you can’t do anything to change your working relationship with them, so you just want to make your day-to-day contact more tolerable. Maybe it’s a family member, or a friend of a friend. Maybe it’s your beloved spouse, or your child. Anyone!

For the week, adopt a practice in which you keep this person on your mind or heart for some short amount of time each day. If you’re a creative-arts type, you could doodle their name and sketch something from the letters of their name (it can be something upsetting or unkind: be yourself!). But your goal is to move from lacking kindness for the person to tolerating them, and then to acceptance of their presence in your life.

Use humor, and apply it to yourself in liberal amounts. Remind yourself that you can sometimes find practically anybody irritating if you’re in the wrong mood. Be gentle but also goad yourself a bit: okay okay! you might tell yourself. Time to hold this person for 30 seconds! Take a deep breath, center yourself, and breathe your way through the 30 seconds of mental time you’re sharing with them.

There’s a saying that crazy thoughts (or ‘crazy’ people) sometimes occupy our mental real estate “rent-free,” and our job is (I suppose) to evict them. In this exercise, you’re inviting them into your mind as a guest. An irritating, bothersome, challenging guest—but a guest.

It’s okay if it takes longer than a week. You could adopt a “Person of the Month” practice. Take all the time you need.

But above all, remember this: the person you hold in your mind or on your heart is not you yourself. This practice takes you out of yourself. And if you’re anything like me, you will feel relief when you do so!

Here’s a basic tool

Friday, August 2nd, 2013

“Give us tools.”

Lots of clients say that when they come in, and I can relate. Keep it simple. Give us something that helps us communicate better. Here’s a classic, which you can find in various forms, by various clinicians/authors:

When you’re upset with your spouse or partner, say these things, in this order:

1. “When you ____________” (Here you describe exactly what the other person did or did not do: pretend you’re a videocamera! Keep it concrete and behavioral, such as “When you walked past me and didn’t say anything…”)

2. “I felt ____________” (Here you use a true feeling word, such as worried, frustrated, mad, sad, confused, irritated, etc. If you have to say “like” or “that,” for example, “I feel like you were disrespecting me,” that’s not a feeling. You do that kind of comment in the third step.)

3. “Because I thought ____________” (Here you ‘tell your story,’ such as “I thought you were disrespecting me.” It’s the meaning you’re making of the other person’s behavior.

4. “I’d like you to ____________” (Here you make a request, such as asking the person to tell you what s/he was really thinking, or doing.

Here’s an example:

When you said “Can you get it yourself? I’m busy right now,” I felt scared and frustrated, because I thought you were being impatient with me and were sick of me. I need to know what you were actually feeling when you said that.”

This takes practice. It can feel awkward or stilted at first. Take it easy; be patient with yourself as you get used to it. But it’s a great way to approach another person in a way that sets you both up for a good outcome.

How do you deal with conflict? Part II

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

Yesterday I started a little series on conflict, and how you can look at conflict through the lens of personality preferences. Let’s take a look at the other two MBTI conflict pairs, and then some final thoughts.

We talked yesterday about the two ways people prefer to make decisions—beginning with logic and analysis (T) or beginning with values and the impact on people (F). And we paired these preferences up with the Judging (J) preference of organizing the world around you and moving toward closure. Now let’s look at T and F when they’re paired up with the Perceiving preference (P), which is a preference to be adaptable with the world around you and keep options open (rather than seeking closure). When T and F are paired with P, here’s what we see in a conflictual situation:*

People with a preference for TP:
Likely cause of conflict: challenges to/of trust
Desired outcome: defined process or progression
Deal with emotions by: excluding them
Others’ impression: catalyst or contributor to conflict
Satisfied when: they can subsequently analyze the outcome

People with a preference for FP:
Likely cause of conflict: challenges to/of values
Desired outcome: respectful listening
Deal with emotions by: accepting them
Others’ impression: someone who includes others’ values and concerns
Satisfied when: there is open exploration

TP’s are…feisty! Trust and personal credibility are important to them, and they’ll address all kinds of issues when they’re in conflict with others. They’ll play devil’s advocate, question assumptions, poke at accepted truths. They may acknowledge their feelings along the way, but in the end they take the conflict into the neocortex for extended analysis and debate, sometimes just with themselves. FP’s can be feisty too, but they’re a differently-colored unicorn: they move into action when their values are threatened, and they accept that emotions belong in the room when the conflict is being resolved. Instead of analysis, they want conflict to lead to open exploration of ideas and possibilities, with everyone being respectfully heard.

Both TP and FP can learn from TJ and FJ that closure is important, and TJ and FJ can learn from TP and FP to create enough openness, enough space, for complicated issues to be thoroughly considered. TJ and TP can learn from FJ and FP the importance of feelings and relationships when resolving a conflict, and FJ and FP can learn from TJ and TP the importance of sound analysis and frank appraisal of data.

In the many relationships of your life, no doubt you get into conflict with people who share some of your preferences, but not all. Sometimes you’re battling with your direct opposite. Having a perfect match doesn’t guarantee that the conflict will go well, because that means you share certain blind spots, so neither of you has easy access to something (a preference to seek closure, for example) that might help you resolve the conflict. But fighting with someone with opposite preferences is tricky too: you might fail to understand each other, or respect each other.

Having said all this, it’s essential to keep in mind that we all do everything described in the MBTI. Yeah, I prefer ENFJ. But I can introvert my feelings, I can take a clear-eyed look at the facts, I can make hard decisions based on impersonal data, and I can remain open-minded and not jump to a resolution before the group is ready. So as you look through these different preferences for handling conflict, you’ll likely recognize yourself. That’s good! Use self-understanding to improve your skillfulness and self-awareness in conflictual situations. But look at the other preferences too. They have much to teach you.

*The differing lists of conflict behaviors for TP and FP preferences are quoted (with light edits for clarity) from Introduction to Type and Conflict, by Damian Killen and Danica Murphy. All other commentary in this post is written by Stephen Crippen. Here’s Killen and Murphy’s booklet:

How do you deal with conflict? Part I

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

Conflict—that ever-present, ever-scary experience we all share. We’ve all been in conflict with friends, partners, siblings, parents, ourselves. There are various ways to approach the topic, but one of my favorites is through the lens of the Myers-Briggs Typology Indicator (MBTI), a personality-typology tool that sheds light on our preferred ways of taking in information and solving problems. For more on MBTI, go here.

Researchers Damian Killen and Danica Murphy studied different conflict styles and discovered that people tend to deal with conflict in keeping with their third and fourth MBTI preferences, that is, their preferred way of making decisions and their preferred way of dealing with the outer world. For example, my MBTI preferences are ENFJ—Extraverting, Intuiting, Feeling, and Judging—so my third and fourth preferences are F and J: I like to make decisions by listening to my values and focusing on the impact of the decisions on people (F); and I prefer to organize the world around me and reach closure sooner rather than later (J). This means that my “conflict pair” according to Killen and Murphy is FJ. In simple English, as an FJ, here’s how I like to deal with conflict:*

The likely cause of conflict: challenges to/of my beliefs
My desired outcome: intact relationships
I deal with emotions by: including them
Others’ impression of me: seeker of communication and harmony
I’m satisfied when: there is no lingering bitterness

Now, let’s contrast that with someone who has preferences for TJ, or Thinking (preferring to make decisions using logical analysis and reasoning) and Judging (like me, a preference for an organized outer world and timely closure):

The likely cause of conflict: challenges to/of authority
Their desired outcome: closure or resolution
They deal with emotions by: denying that they exist
Others’ impression of them: detached OR aggressive adversary
They’re satisfied when: the conflict is over

Maybe you can already guess how an FJ and a TJ might talk past each other or misunderstand each other in a conflictual situation. They have something in common: they both want to move toward a resolution of the conflict as soon as possible. (That’s the J preference they share.) But they have very different goals, and very different ways of behaving, when they’re upset with each other. As an FJ, the relationship is of paramount importance to me, so I might have a blind spot around justice issues: I might “give away the store” if it means mending fences and restoring the relationship. But a TJ might have a blind spot around the importance of relationship: so eager to resolve the specific issue at hand, or so passionate about clarifying who’s in charge and how to fix the problem, a TJ might ignore serious damages she inflicted on her relationship with the other person.

The gift of MBTI is the gift of insight: it helps you see how your preferences guide your perspectives and behaviors, in this case around conflict. (It’s also great for learning how you deal with change, how you lead, how you communicate, and more.) Your preferred way of handling conflict is perfectly valid, but it’s only one way. Tomorrow, we’ll look at two more conflict pairs—FP and TP. People are different. If you’re fighting with someone and feel exasperated, ask yourself, is it possible they have a completely different (and equally valid) way of handling this situation?

*The differing lists of conflict behaviors for FJ’s and TJ’s are quoted (with light edits for clarity) from “Introduction to Type and Conflict,” by Damian Killen and Danica Murphy. All other commentary in this post is written by Stephen Crippen. To purchase Killen and Murphy’s booklet, click on the image below.

Finding Someone 101

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

I feel a little trepidation posting this, because some of my dearest friends have been out there looking for love for quite a while now, and despite being terrific-looking, intelligent, funny, and emotionally mature, they’re still searching. Therefore, on their behalf and also for your benefit, dear reader, I begin with a caveat: nothing that follows will guarantee that you will find the person of your dreams. However, I have found—both in my own personal experience and when working with clients on the problem—that these are some things you can do that will significantly increase the chance that you will find that special someone. Here goes:

If you’re interested in finding the person of your dreams, consider taking these steps:

1. Believe in your own product. Most people have a negative relationship with some dimension of their life: their appearance, their level of education, their age, to name just three. Notice this and shift how you deal with it. For example, I know that when I duck when a friend pulls her camera out, that means I want to lose a few pounds…not because I’m “supposed” to lose them, as if there’s a natural law that tells me I should weigh a certain amount, but because I myself feel more comfortable at the lower weight. If that’s the case, I should do something about it, and also be accepting of myself at whatever weight I am today. “Believing in your own product” means you yourself believe that you are good-looking (enough), intelligent, etc., and that there’s a lucky person out there who will soon be seeing you, and enjoying you.

2. Question your assumptions. All people, in all circumstances, operate on assumptions, both conscious and unconscious. Here are a few that don’t serve you well in the world of dating: “Everyone on internet dating sites is a loser, and is lying.” “I can’t talk about [insert flaw or problem] in my dating profile.” “I can’t let the other person know I’m really into them, because I’ll scare them off or look desperate.” “I’m not supposed to have sex on the first date.” “I’m supposed to have sex on the first date.” “That person is not my ‘type.'” “30 is the gay dead.” “25 is too young.” These are just a very few of the many assumptions people live by when they’re looking for love. It really helps to question them. Are they really true? And, true or not, are they really helping you?

3. Try something new. If you’ve always relied on dating sites, join Crossfit instead and build community there, which often leads to love (see below). If you’ve never used dating sites, try it out. If you’re shy, work out your plan for how—and how often—you’re going to step outside your comfort zone. If you’re an extravert, work on your listening skills when dating, and try to talk a little less. Shake up your weekly routine. Try something new with a spirit of adventure: you want to have fun with yourself and your life.

4. Don’t take rejection personally. Accept the fact that most people don’t want to be with you, and you don’t want to be with most people. The overwhelming majority of the population is just not for you: wrong gender, wrong generation, wrong values, wrong personality, wrong political party, and on and on. Likewise, you’re just not right for a ton of people out there. But the small percentage of people who are right for you are also out there (they really are!), and like you, they’re being rejected by a lot of people. This is normal; don’t let it get you down.

5. Be persistent. You’re trying something new? Great! But keep at it. Internet dating can be frustrating and irritating…and discouraging. So stick with it. Get better at it. Meeting people in community (an exercise group, a church, a rowing crew) can take a long while. So keep coming back. You don’t want to be persistent about hunting in the wrong part of the forest (for example, if your ideal guy doesn’t go to the bars, don’t go there, or at least don’t go there for love), but be persistent about changing what you’re doing and staying with the new program. Embrace the fact that this is a project you’re undertaking for yourself, and you refuse to be defeated!

6. Have high standards, but be open to changing them. You want a great-looking, intelligent, funny, and emotionally stable person to be your lover, best friend, and (someday) spouse? Great. Don’t ratchet that down. But be open to some amount of flexibility. Sometimes it takes a while to appreciate how incredibly gorgeous a person is, not just because we don’t all dress well or look great in all settings, but because a person’s physical beauty often doesn’t become apparent until you get to see the beauty of their personality, or their passions, or their values. I’ve always been attracted to my spouse, but finding out he was also a terrific human being made him irresistible. And many people out there are introverted, so you won’t see this right away, particularly if you’re locked into a specific physical type, or a specific sense of humor. Try to be flexible, and patient.

7. Community is all. I mentioned community above, but it deserves its own bullet. In community, you’re doing something you love (making music, working out, building houses for people in need, etc.), and when you’re doing something you love, you look attractive. You also run into people like you: how many people will actually volunteer alongside you to clean up Lincoln Park? Not many. And chances are excellent that they share many broad interests with you…and that a couple of them are single and cute, all at the same time. Communities are bound together by love, so love is what you’ll find when you go there. (And yes, it might take a while, so keep working on all of the points above!)

Water 101

Monday, November 21st, 2011

I want to sing the praises of water as a useful therapy tool. More than useful: it’s an essential ingredient in any sane person’s sanity-preservation kit.

Years ago I knew someone who was prone to anxiety attacks. I had read while studying Dialectical Behavioral Therapy that holding your face in a bowl of ice-cold water for 30 seconds can be a quick and effective way to, well, literally chill out. I think DBT also taught me the ice-cube technique I used on my friend. I told him to just sit tight, I’ll be right back. I went to the fridge and filled a cereal bowl with ice cubes, came back, and said, “Here. Hold these in your hand.” He obeyed (he was too anxious to resist or push back with questions). Within one minute, his anxiety attack was over. He was looking at his freezing-cold hand, and the pain of that coldness had yanked him out of his anxiety. His brain had something else to focus on.

Is this the total solution to your anxiety problems? No. You’ll probably also have to talk about it, to work through it cognitively. But it’s a great example of how water (this time, in its frozen form) can manipulate our bodies in such a way that anxiety suddenly drops down to normal levels. This is because we experience emotions in our physical bodies. Emotions are physiological phenomena. The ice-cube technique works with anxiety, but also anger: if you’re enraged about something, go grab some ice cubes. You’ll start to calm down almost immediately, and you can then work effectively deal with what (or who) made you mad.

Hot water works too. I’m a big fan of hot baths as a way to relax, but also regroup, re-organize, and re-orient both my head and my heart so that I can look at a problem in a new way. Even simply washing your hands and face with hot water and soap can be an effective self-soothing skill that frees you to engage your problem with strength and renewed concentration.

We’re mostly made of water, and we live on a planet with 70% of its crust submerged under water. Water is everywhere. It only stands to reason that water can be a powerful tool that helps us relax, refocus, and approach our complex issues with a refreshed body and mind.

Bonus: ice cubes are way cheaper than meds…and no side effects!

Date night: there oughtta be a law

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

Often enough my couple clients will say, “We should do a date night, we know, but it’s hard with all that’s going on.” And I try to be nice when I respond, “Do a date night every week. And that’s an order.”

Think about all the things you do regularly whether you want to or not: pay the electric bill, service the car, go to work, drive your mom to the doctor, and on into infinity. These are things you do because, well, because you do them. They have to get done. But if you’re like a lot of people, your relationship is not required. Everything about it is voluntary, and, therefore, open to being blown off. And then you wind up in my office! Here’s a primer on date nights, a Date Night 101:

1. Pick one night, the same night every week. (Yeah, I can already hear you saying, “We can’t! His rotation changes by the week and I’m a bartender so I never know when I’m going to be scheduled, and it’s always at night!” Even if one regular night is impossible, there’s got to be some block of time each week—3am to 7am on Sundays??—that will work for you both.)

2. During that special time, nobody gets in your way. If you have kids, you pay for a sitter and get out of the house. Maybe it’s okay for you to share date night with friends, but wait a bit before doing that. Get into the rhythm as a couple first.

3. Repeat 52 times. Then evaluate. How’s it going? What’s different about your relationship, about you, about how you feel about each other? Anything need to change, or be adjusted? Some of my clients come to counseling and then go on their date night. I recommend this. It makes the whole thing even more intentional.

Whatever you plan, set it in stone. It’s the Law. That way, your relationship is not completely vulnerable to the tyranny of your schedules, whims, emotions, and issues. At least this one block of time each week is immune from all of that.

Note to singles: this works for those of us currently not in relationships. No matter what your relationship status is, if you set aside one block of time each week just for yourself, what do you imagine might change in your life? Have you ever really done this? (I know it’s hard for me!) I’d hazard a guess that your blood pressure would be lower, you’d feel healthier, and you’d feel a lot less frazzled and crazy. And you could kick it off with a nice individual therapy session!

Learn more about you!

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

I am now a certified practitioner of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which is a well-researched and versatile tool that helps you understand your innate preferences, and how you use those preferences (or not) in your daily life and work.

You can take the MBTI assessment online by yourself and come in for a 1.5-hour session with me to interpret it, or you could come in as a couple for a 2-hour session. (For couples, both of you would take the online assessment separately.) I’m also available to work with larger groups such as your work team. The online assessment will generate a detailed report personalized for you, based on your answers to 144 short questions about your personality preferences.

MBTI focuses on two basic human activities: the way we take in information (and the kind of information we tend to trust), and the way we make decisions. The first activity—taking in information—is about whether 1) you prefer to pay attention to the many here-and-now details and facts that you get from your five senses, or 2) whether you like to see broad patterns and tend to trust your ideas and hunches.

The second activity—the way we make decisions—is about whether 1) you prefer to make decisions using logic and a critical, principled method; or 2) you prefer to make decisions by listening to your values and your concerns about the impact of the decision on the people involved.

MBTI also helps you decide whether you put most of your energy out into the external world (extraversion) or whether you prefer to direct most of your energy inward, cultivating a rich inner life (introversion). Finally, MBTI helps you decide whether your attitude toward the external world is marked by a desire to be organized with lots of closure and certainty or a desire to be open-ended with lots of room for discussion and uncertainty.

All of this is intended to be useful in practical ways. You can use MBTI to understand how you behave in conflict, how you communicate with others, how you manage change, how your preferences affect your marriage/partnership, and more.

Again, you can take the assessment by yourself and come in for a 1.5-hour session with me to interpret it, or you could come in as a couple for a 2-hour session. I’m also available to work with larger groups such as your work team. Think about it, and stay tuned for more information about this useful tool.

It’s about clarity, not degree

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

(Warning: what follows is a somewhat wonky discussion of MBTI. For more on the MBTI, click here.)

I’m doing some light blogging during a week of training for certification as a MBTI practitioner, and I’ll have a lot more to say (and do) when this is over and I can actually use the instrument with clients. But for those who are interested in personality type and how it operates in their lives and relationships, I’ll share a few of the things I’m learning along the way.

Have you ever heard someone say, “Oh, he’s a P off the scale, so no wonder he’s so disorganized!” or “Yeah, well she’s a huge J, so of course she has to control everything!” Comments like that are problematic for two reasons.

I knew the first reason before I took this training: one’s preference for a certain attitude (perceiving vs. judging, or extraversion vs. introversion) or function (sensing vs. intuition, or thinking vs. feeling) does not explain why someone might be disorganized or controlling. There are lots of organized P’s and flexible J’s walking around in the world!

But there’s another problem with using type in this way: according to type theory, if you prefer J, you prefer J. You can’t have an “off-the-scale” J preference. If you take the instrument (and note that it’s an instrument, not a test!) and it reveals a “slight” preference for “J”, that only means that the consistency of your “J” responses on the instrument was in the “slight” range. You have just as much of a preference for “J” as someone whose responses were fully consistent with a preference for “J,” which is the “very clear” range. In fact, if your reported type indicated a “slight” preference for “J,” you’re more like a “very clear” “J” than a “slight” “P”! It’s not about the amount or level of “J” you “have” in your personality. It’s about the clarity of your preference in the reported type, that is, the type that was reported back to you after you took the instrument.

Having said all that, you may get your instrument back and think, no, I really don’t think I prefer “J.” I think I am a perceiving type, and the instrument was not accurate. That’s just fine! You get to decide what your preferences are and verify your “best-fit” type. But if you conclude that you have a preference for one opposite over another—as in the above example, “J” over “P,” then it doesn’t matter how clear your preference appeared on the instrument: you are, through and through, someone who prefers a “judging” attitude.

More soon, for those who are still reading this!

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Stephen Crippen
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