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Springtime in the Garden of the Soul

Kyle 1 year ago 5 comments

Every spring, many of us think about getting off our butts to do some yard work. Ugh. But we can help you procrastinate a little longer: turn your gaze away from your overgrown garden or messy lawn and look within. Why not consider a little personal “spring cleaning” before grabbing the rake and shovel?

What Are You Ready to Weed Out?

Spring brings renewal and growth in nature, so there’s no better time to think about attitudes or habits you’d like to yank out – and let something beautiful sprout in their place. Every personality type has a few less-than-ideal tendencies. Taking an honest look at how you behave in certain areas might reveal things you’re ready to grow beyond.

But just as a dirty windowpane can obscure a winter-wilted garden, we all have a hard time seeing ourselves objectively. Luckily, our research shows some likely areas for “spring cleanup” based on personality type. What to trim is up to you, but we’ll help you start that mower and offer the seedlings of some positive ideas to plant.

So, put on some honesty-reinforced gloves lined with self-love, and break out the pruning shears. It’s time for a fresh, springtime you to bud – and nothing feels better than letting go of an unhelpful behavior. As you head down the garden path of life, you can keep an eye out for some common tripping spots. Let’s begin.

Analyst Personality Types

If you’re an Architect (INTJ), Logician (INTP), Commander (ENTJ), or Debater (ENTP) personality type, you may have a sharp way of shaping life. But like overzealous pruning, an overly cutting mind-set can stunt your growth. This spring, consider whether you:

Value Correctness Instead of Cooperation

In a social world, being right can only get you so far. Analyst personalities take great joy in upholding knowledge, often without much consideration for sharing it in an appealing way. The richest, most nourishing potting mix won’t be attractive in a manure bag. When you’re right, you’re right, but without mutually enjoyable communication, no one will know.

There’s no better use of truth and facts than to uplift people and inspire progress. But acting superior, pushy, or argumentative isn’t the most productive way to do this. Effectively sharing ideas or insights – especially new or uncommon ones – requires the cultivation of good humor and respectful patience. When you nurture and display these qualities in yourself, your truths will be welcomed.

Marginalize Emotion

Strict rationality can be an effective way to live – and is virtually an Analyst credo. It’s easy to take this approach too far by minimizing perfectly normal, healthy, and intrinsic emotions. That isn’t control – it’s often a symptom of lack of control. By ignoring our or others’ feelings, we give up one of the strongest sources of human ability: our humanity.

Too much emotion makes Analyst personalities wither, just like too much fertilizer burns plants, so personal limits are good. But feelings are powerful, and it’s understanding, not avoidance, that unlocks their usefulness. Be authentic. It’s okay to feel cool as a cucumber. But when feelings bloom in or around you, share them. Feelings fuel thought, which is the basis of everything you respect. The energy underlying emotion merits equal respect – and exploration.

Diplomat Personality Types

If you’re an Advocate (INFJ), Mediator (INFP), Protagonist (ENFJ), or Campaigner (ENFP) personality type, you tend to thrive on truth and love like a flower thrives on water. But sharing such nourishment with others can be tricky. This spring, consider whether your growth has been affected by:

Trying to Give Too Much

Excessive caretaking of others can deplete you, even if you don’t realize it. It’s wonderful to offer support and love to people and the world around you. But there are limits to how much you can give, and to how well your care is received. Pushing these limits doesn’t usually bring happiness.

It’s helpful to pay close attention to your and others’ responses to your care. If it creates mutual joyful progress, keep at it. But if you feel drained or irritated, or if your efforts don’t seem appreciated or wanted, it’s okay to put your energy elsewhere – and into yourself. Being mindful of everyone’s limits will help you get the balance right.

Making Decisions with Too Much Trust and Hope

Optimistic ideals shape Diplomat personalities in wonderful ways. But when carried too far, they can leave you vulnerable to wishful thinking or less sincere people who manipulate your feelings. Whether it’s a salesperson or a new lover, letting rosy lenses blind you to thorny facts can get you pricked.

But rocky reality doesn’t mean that trust and hope can’t flourish – you can cultivate more than one variety of thought. Intuition and emotional logic are great ways to evaluate people and decisions. But they’re only parts of the whole truth. Stepping back to objectively consider facts – especially when they seem to contradict your feelings – will help you make a more complete decision.

Sentinel Personality Types

If you’re a Logistician (ISTJ), Defender (ISFJ), Executive (ESTJ), or Consul (ESFJ) personality type, perfecting your life can be a powerful focus. But sometimes putting great energy into having things a certain way can hinder your options for growth. This spring, consider if you might have:

Limited Yourself

Sticking to a prudent path can make life fruitful, but it’s all too easy to settle for the belief that one path is ideal. Sentinels value consistency and stability for good reason, but those things aren’t worth the cost of compromising your personal progress. Growth and advancement are impossible without at least some change, and sometimes growing what’s “great” requires tilling under what’s merely “good.”

Sentinel personalities excel at deciding how things should be, and that doesn’t mean keeping everything as it is. For example, a muddy yard calls for building a solid path – improvement is practicality at its best. But if your beautiful roses grew over that walkway one day, why cut down the roses? Even stones can be moved, and some changes are worthwhile, if not always easy. You can welcome bounty by shifting your path now and then.

Put Too Much on Others

Part of Sentinels’ sensible take on life is often the expectation that others will see and do things a certain way. When that isn’t so, you may question their sense. You might even judge them, reject them, or, if they’re close to you, push them to conform. But even subtle disapproval can be felt sharply – it doesn’t take much pressure to crush a flower.

Even if it springs from good intentions, too much judgment or expectation can be harmful, like overwatering a plant. Whatever you think about someone’s choices or beliefs, people need to be who they are. Kindly offer them help and honest feedback, but don’t pour on more than they can handle. A gardener can nurture, but every flower blooms of its own accord – and in its own time and way.

Explorer Personality Types

If you’re a Virtuoso (ISTP), Adventurer (ISFP), Entrepreneur (ESTP), or Entertainer (ESFP) personality type, you thrive when new things spring up in your life. But mastering enough patience and discipline to wait for them to take root and bear fruit can be a challenge. This spring, you might ask yourself whether you:

Jump In Too Suddenly

Explorer personalities are spontaneous souls, often leaping into things quickly – or at the last moment. Open-minded enthusiasm is a wonderful quality, but if carried too far, too fast, it can result in chaos. Hasty decisions and commitments can make life as prickly as a briar patch, and without some due consideration to keep things in check, brambles can take over.

But avoiding getting scratched up doesn’t mean living without excitement. A basic “look before you grab” can help you pluck life’s sweetest fruit while avoiding the thorns. Remembering to ask yourself, “What am I getting into?” can bring your actions into focus for a very useful moment. See if your head, heart – and reality – agree with your whim.

Detach Too Quickly

As readily as Explorer personalities can be attracted to something new, so might they drop it in favor of the next appealing thing. This can make for an exciting and engaged life, but it doesn’t usually help in two areas: long-term goals and personal relationships. Life goals (like education) demand commitment, and like fruits and vegetables, people bruise when dropped.

Sticking with something can be hard even if you care about it. It’s very wise to seek external, structured help with your goals. Get as much oversight and support as possible by asking capable people you respect to be a part of your plan. Whether teachers, friends, or family, it’s natural to value and stay close with those who help you achieve the outcome you want. And allowing those people to share in the fruits of that effort ensures that you’ll always have help.

Beginning Again

We’ve offered some likely areas where each personality type can look for some personal “weeds” – and pointed out fertile ground where new things can grow to fruition. You may find that you relate to the advice in more than one section, since there is some trait overlap between personality types.

For example, anyone with the Thinking personality trait may relate to the section for Analysts, and any Prospecting type might identify with the Explorer section. It’s an assortment of tools to help plant the seeds of self-examination. You decide which ones to pick up and where to dig. And, of course, you can dig even deeper into yourself – and uncover more detailed methods for self-evolution – in our Academy.

But earthy metaphors aside, it’s very important to understand that no part of your personality type makes you “dirty” or bad. Each of us can improve, but it’s often just a matter of adjusting how we express our organic personality traits. Our troublesome aspects are usually just an unbalanced side of the very same qualities that make us wonderful.

So, springtime is a chance to grow a little more toward a balanced version of who we are. Like the potential in a seed, greatness is already inside us. But growth is a process, not an act. You must sow a new approach while continually weeding out the old habits – and they will spring up now and then.

But, unlike how weeding a garden can be an unending task, growth in your heart, mind, and life becomes a part of you forever. And that harvest is worth a bit of hard work.

Further Reading

Reaching Across the Aisle

The Mirrored Microscope: Self-Examination by Personality Type

Where Your Personality and Your Health Meet

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