I was a Christian for 20 years and without it,
Who am I?
Answering that question is a bit complicated because it’s some combination of nature and nurture. I’ve studied my socialpsychobiological makeup ad nauseum (LOL) and what I find most helpful to me at this moment is studying personality theory to give me an idea about how I’m different from other people. This has been helpful in terms of accepting myself as I am.
Of particular interest is psychologist Carl Gustav Jung‘s theory on cognitive functions (the way we perceive and judge the world). Using his theory two personality indicators (Myers-Briggs/MBTI and Socionics) have stood out to me the most. Through testing I find that my personality most closely aligns with INFP type (The Dreamer/Healer/Mediator, yada yada) in the MBTI:
The theme for the INFP is advocacy and integrity.
Talents lie in helping people clarify issues, values, and identity.
Support anything that allows the unfolding of the person. Encourage growth and development with quiet enthusiasm.
Loyal advocates and champions, caring deeply about their causes and a few special people.
Interested in contemplating life’s mysteries, virtues, and vices in their search for wholeness.
Thrive on healing conflicts, within and between, and taking people to the center of themselves.
(Please no jokes about my liking to take people to the center of myself. Perverts.)
My type is also the EII-INFj (Ethical Intuitive Introvert) in Socionics (the description is too long to post so if you are interested you can find it here).
Upon deconversion my personality seemed to have changed, but I see now that my core self remained the same, however I’ve began using my cognitive functions in a different order, thus perpetuating emotional growth and making me a more balanced person.
Here are the cognitive functions I use in order of preference as an INFP (basically, what comes most to least naturally):
- Introverted Ethics (in short known as “Fi”)
Considering values, importance, beliefs and worth. This is how I make decisions. It allows me to get to the true essence of a person and to also tell if someone is being fake. It helps me to understand complex emotional states in myself and others that others often can’t sort through. It also explains why I’m always self-referencing (ha!) Other personality types often interpret this as self-absorption and devalue it because they sometimes use this function very poorly 😛
- Extroverted Intuiting (Ne)
Interpreting situations and relationships and pickup meanings and interconnections to other contexts. This is how I perceive the outside world and interact with it. It is a brainstorming function which thinks outside-the-box and sees a ton of possibilities that others often don’t see. It continually asks What if? and challenges the status quo. It allows me to see the ideal in myself and others and helps me to be inspired to continually push towards it.
- Introverted Sensing (Si)
Reviewing and recalling past experiences and seeking detailed data. This is how I energize and recharge myself and express my creativity. It is very child-like. Very Quixie like.You can see this as I sort through the massive amount of experiences I’ve had in my fairly short lifetime and allows me to playfully explore my experiences with others. It is also how I’m aware of what is going on in my body and it’s effect on me.
- Extroverted Thinking (Te)
Segmenting, organizing for efficiency, and systematizing. This is a weak function of mine, yet still remains in my conscious. I’m harsh with myself that I have not yet mastered this. A person’s “inferior” function generally develops around midlife. Te involves itself with objective truth and allows us to see holes in someone else’s logic. I aspire to be a logical planner, but I’m not quite there yet.
The next four cognitive functions are my “shadow” functions, which often have a negative unconscious affect on one’s psyche. I believe during my deconversion process I become conscious of these functions and have tried to more positively integrate them into my life.
- Extroverted Ethics (Fe)
Connecting and considering others in the group. Well, I’m not sure if that’s the best description because I have a history of slaying my own desires for the needs of the group and I’m known for being considerate, but I think the point here is that I value individuality over conformity and that while I have an extreme desire to fit in it takes quite a great deal of my energy to try to do so. I suspect most people comfortable in church are Fe users and lack of this function is why I was out of church for so long before deconverting. I’m using this function more in a positive way as I’m connecting with others through the WordPress community.
- Introverted Intuiting (Ni)
Foreseeing implications, transformations, and likely effects. This is known as my “critical parent role” and I have to admit that this is where I’m most likely to be arrogant and judgmental of others. I look down on others who don’t have enough insight into their own lives to see what is just so obvious to me about the implications of their actions. I think this is why people often come to me for advise. I get super pissed, though, when they don’t heed my advice and I end up being right about the negative outcome of their actions. I’m learning to be more patient and allow others to make their own mistakes. Additionally, I have nearly zero ability to use Ni on my own life so I have no right to judge.
- Extroverted Sensing (Se)
Experiencing and acting in the immediate context. I am in my head a lot and believe that there is always more than meets the eye, so it is very hard for me to trust my senses only. I don’t completely agree with the typical atheist’s need to see tangible evidence in order to believe in God. The fact very slow at both processing information that is not feelings-based and poor at making quick decisions shows that I’m naturally week in this function. I often get very flustered when pressed to give an immediate answer or while in a live debate. Also, because I’m often not aware of my environment this tends to my being a poor housekeeper and also makes me very clumsy (which I often laugh at myself over). I’m using this function to channel my inner athlete and am pursing using it through roller derby.
- Introverted Thinking (Ti)
Analyzing, categorizing, and evaluating according to principles. What’s involved in this is taking items apart and figuring out how they work. It’s also an analytical problem-solving function. While my individual ethics (Fi) helped me to realize religion did not align with my values, and thus started the deconversion process, I began actually using this Ti function for the first time in my life as I was deconverting. Oh, and this function is what helps a person get to the point. I’m not known for being blunt (so says she with now over 1,100 words in this post ;-)).
Regardless of the validity of personality typing I think looking at and understanding the cognitive functions can help us to understand what our natural preferences are. It has very clearly helped me to understand myself and thus helped me not give as much of a shit over trying to be something I’m not.
So, take a personality test and tell me what you think about it.
If you want to do MBTI click on at least one of these links (which should open up in a new window):
Then, if you are really interested and have the time,take a look on the cognitive functions website to see the order of cognitive functions they say you use. Do you agree? Or are they totally off (those bastards!)
If you want to take a Socionics test click here. It’s a bit different from MBTI but uses the same concept of cognitive functions and, in my case, describes me more accurately than the MBTI descriptions.
Phew. Okay, now that I’ve written about it I can stop my obsession. Oh, except I might obsess now over yours. It never ends. Sigh.
So what’s your sign? I mean type? 😉