Psychological Type in Our Family of Origin

A seven-year-old boy stood at the plate. The pitch came. He swung, missed, and was out – just like the other three times at bat that day. Combined with his errors in the field, it had not been a good day. Fighting back tears, he walked over to his Dad and said he wanted to go home. His Father obliged him, and as they walked to the car he said, “You aren’t very coordinated, so don’t waste your time at sports. You’d be better off focusing on your school work.” That little boy was me, and those words have impacted my life in ways I could never have imagined back then.

Looking ahead to the evening workshops I will present on September 20 and 27 this year, I wanted you to know that it was partly through a desire to understand my own childhood that I came to the work I do now.

Nature versus Nurture

Our nature, our genetic code, is locked in from the moment we are conceived, and reflects our evolution over the millennia. Carl Jung, the famous Swiss psychiatrist who died in 1961, believed that our personalities, our core psychological needs, were also locked in at birth.

Our nurture, our families of origin, our teachers, our coaches, our neighborhoods, our friends, etc., acts upon our nature. Together, nature and nurture meld to produce whom we become as unique individuals.

My father’s words, etched deeply in my memory, were nurture that ignored my nature.

Several years went by before I learned that I was actually coordinated, but that was long after the opportunity to learn team sports skills had passed. The realization that I was not inherently sports-challenged coincided with my awakening to my core need for physical activity, and a love of the outdoors. As I learned to satisfy this craving with various individual, often endurance, sports, I found myself better able to focus on more sedentary mental tasks, like schoolwork.

Seeking to Understand, and be Understood

As a young adult, I resolved to understand others, and not presume that what is good for me must be good for them. However, this resolution lacked an important step: I did not fully understand myself. Much of my young adult years were driven by a desire to prove my father wrong, as his assessment of my physical prowess was not his only criticism of me.

It was not until I was nearly forty years old that my journey to self-awareness began. My wife, Ginny, and her good friend, Ellie Byers, introduced me to the work of Isabelle Myers and Katherine Briggs and their effort to make the theories of Carl Jung accessible to people like me through the development of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.

I was hooked. Understanding psychological type introduced me to the power of truly understanding myself and others. I introduced the employee-owners of the business I was privileged to lead in the 1990’s to this knowledge. I have used the power of understanding personality differences in every organization I have been involved with. Ginny and I have used this knowledge to appreciate how each member of our family has unique strengths and challenges, and how to blend these for the benefit of everyone.

I hope you will join me the last two Monday evenings in September to explore the world of personality type, and its benefits to all our social interactions. To learn more about the workshop, and to register, please click here. If you have questions, please call me at 802-734-1110 or email me.

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