This is for the perfectionists out there. Ever get frustrated because there is just some aspect of yourself that you just don’t like, or that you have struggled, and failed, to improve?
I’ve been there. I’ve been doing a lot of personality research lately. One thing that I have found interesting about this is that with different aspects of personality, there is often a trade-off.
For instance, I used to beat myself up for not paying attention to details that seemed so obvious to other people. I even earned the nickname “Spacey Stacey” in middle school. I had tried for a long time to be more detail-oriented, and had failed. This resulted in frustration not only internally, but occasionally directed towards me from other people, which embarrassed me because I was really trying my best.
But then I learned that intuitive, creative thinking, according to Meyers Briggs personality research, is juxtaposed against detail-oriented, concrete thinking. This doesn’t mean that you can’t have both to an extent, but a person usually favors one over the other to a degree. I am a highly intuitive person, and therefore favor intuition/creative thinking greatly by default. This means that I am going to struggle more with concrete things, not because I am “defective” somehow, but rather because my brain prioritizes intuition. It sounds so straight-forward in hindsight, and yet it took me a long time to realize.
The same goes for a lot of different aspects of personality; for instance, an easy-going person might struggle to have more drive, an extroverted person might struggle to be more introspective, and that’s okay, because those traits lie at opposite ends of a spectrum, and no one can be completely without favoring one end or the other. Understanding this helped me not only to be more forgiving of myself, but also to be more accepting of the strengths and weaknesses of others.
If you really want to improve upon your weaknesses though, this doesn’t mean you can’t; in fact, quite the opposite. Identifying your strengths helps you to improve your weaknesses, if you desire to do so. In my case, I was trying the wrong methods to be detail-oriented because I didn’t understand why I wasn’t; namely, I was trying to “just pay attention” in a plow-through-it kind of way (probably because that is what I thought a “concrete” person would try to do). After learning better how my mind works, I realized that better methods were meditation, mindfulness, having a more minimalist lifestyle, and having outlets for my creativity. When I can, I also try to make life choices that play to my strengths. And above all, if I slip up, I try to go easy on myself. I’m never going to have the mind of an actuary, and that’s okay, because I wouldn’t trade out my creativity to get it.
So here’s my challenge for you: if there is an aspect about yourself that you don’t like, ask yourself what corresponding strength relates to that weakness. You may just come to appreciate a part of yourself that you never noticed before!