No Technicians Here…
Someone contacted me recently to sign up for a workshop, saying he’d studied many systems of personality analysis and was looking forward to adding another tool to his tool belt. I envisioned him arriving at the workshop with a clipboard and measuring tape, ready to get all his charts and forms to fill out!
If you come to one of my workshops, one of the first things I’ll tell you is that I don’t train people to be technicians. I believe there are already plenty of systems out there that keep you firmly in your head and out of your heart. They give you questionnaires full of boxes to check, have you analyzing a thousand details, until you have the appropriate label to stamp someone with. Often you’re then directed to decide what’s wrong with them and how they can be fixed.
It’s not a surprise that most ways of understanding people do this because this is how our culture looks at everything in the world – we’re taught to judge – everyone and everything, in terms of good/bad, right/wrong, or at least look for some little box to put someone in and neatly tie it up with a string!
We even judge ourselves all the time; most of us have our own personal negative talk radio station blaring in our heads about what’s wrong with us nonstop throughout the day. We judge others, which often results in separating us further from them rather than bringing us closer. We see someone’s behavior as wrong, and this allows us to blame them rather than really understand why they acted as they did, or take responsibility for our part in the event. All this judgment serves to keep us locked in to our worldview, perpetuating the story we’re telling ourselves, over and over every day, about who we are, and who the other people in our lives are too.
For me, what’s important is to break out of this limited belief system, and to instead work on expanding our capacity to love. You can’t be truly present with someone if you’re stuck in your head, busy judging and labeling them. But you also can’t help them or have a healthy relationship with them if you’re being swept away by your feelings and reacting only from your emotional self. What’s necessary is to combine both heart and mind, to come to a compassionate understanding of who someone truly is, and to soften toward them in way that respects and supports their authentic nature.
So this is what I strive to do with my own work and what I’d look for in other systems of understanding human beings! Here are a few examples of statements that can alert you to a training or consultation to avoid:
- If someone promises they can teach you how to tell if someone is a bad or dishonest person. (No one is by nature bad or dishonest. Everyone has the capacity to do unkind things or to be dishonest if they’re out of balance in their lives.)
- If they use any judgmental, negative words to describe a personality type, words that have a charge to them or are not respectful, such as: sneaky, mean, stupid, unlucky, angry, domineering, smothering, uptight, etc. (No one is inherently any of these kinds of qualities, and this reveals a very limited understanding of human nature.)
- If they say they can predict when an event will happen or exactly what will happen. (The only thing we know for sure is that everything changes. Choices you make, lessons you learn, experiences you have day by day change the future course of your life, so no one can know exactly what’s to come.)
- If they give comical definitions of personality types, or offer cookie cutter or stereotypical characteristics. (These are not honoring of the human spirit, and don’t understand they myriad of ways a characteristic can manifest in someone’s personality.)
- If there is no identifiable foundation to the work. In other words, if this is a system that someone designed on their own, it will most likely be overly affected by their own personality! (This is why I love Chinese face reading so much, as it has a history of 3,000 years of research and development!)
- If the system seems overly complex or you can’t seem to get a grasp of the logic behind it. (I believe the more sophisticated a knowledge is, the more it has been developed, the simpler and more elegant it becomes.)
Don’t get me wrong – I’m an information junkie, and am always interested in learning new ways to understand myself, others, and life on this planet! But I think any knowledge that’s worthwhile will be obviously affirming and empowering, and will expand your capacity to love yourself and other people.