One of life's challenges with which personality typology can help us is the constant conflict between adapting in order to get along in society and remaining true to the essence of who we are. Sometimes, our strengths and weaknesses fit just fine in what is expected of us and what is considered the norm. However, at other times, maybe it’s not so much the case.
This is particularly true if you are in one of the statistically less represented personality types (Introverted and Intuitive, for example). We all have adapted in our lives to fit in to some degree. We’ve done things that we didn’t want to do in order to keep from making waves. We’ve done it all of our lives to keep parents, teachers, or bosses off our backs. We’ve all adapted, at least a little, at some point in our lives, to fit into a social circle that we desire to be a part of. (Remember that unfortunate haircut in high school?)
Adaptation is a survival mechanism and may be useful when it comes to our jobs and other situations where we have to get along with others. As an example, let’s place a Sentinel (_S_J) guy in an office administrative position in a music studio that primarily caters to Explorer (_S_P) musicians.
There is a tendency to overcompensate when something we value is missing. Let's say in this scenario, the thing missing is organization in the company - art can be a messy business. A Sentinel may become extremely rigid in response to what he sees as a lack of regard for the rules. A lot of "coloring outside of the lines" would not be unusual among Explorers. The Sentinel's rigidity would be overcompensation by the Sentinel in an attempt to get control over the "lawless" environment he finds himself in.
However, we know from experience that dictators are rarely welcomed among free-spirits. It may be necessary for our Sentinel to be adaptive and to adopt a less rigid attitude if he really needs the job. Adapting, in this case, might mean survival. The question then becomes: Can the Sentinel take their extreme organization back a notch so as to function better among the free-wheeling artists? Can he stay true to his core self and the traits where he functions best while adapting to the quirks of a certain workplace? If he can stay true to himself while squelching his rigidity, it might save him a job. What is the cost of not being more adaptive?
Or, on the other hand, it might also indicate it's time to find a new place to work that doesn't feel quite so much like a madhouse. Either way, the situation requires a decision by the Sentinel about how he approaches this particular environment and how he'll adapt (or not adapt) to it.
So, adaptation is one way in which we might get along better with the world around us. We need to remind that we are always adapting and that some adaptation is healthy. It's part of what happens in a society made up of differing personalities and beliefs. We end up compromising by necessity. It's inescapable. How else we will get along with others if we demand only our own way? Sometimes we just have to suck it up and change our behavior to make things work.
However, while adapting is often necessary, we should always be vigilant for fear that we might over-adapt at the expense of our happiness. When we give up our strengths to adapt, then we've gone too far. There is nothing more miserable than being in a place where we don't fundamentally fit. Sometimes, one can feel a bit lost and drowning among all the adaptations that the world around us demands we make. Learning our personality traits can help us get back in touch with our genuine selves. In some cases, it might even give us permission again to be who we are.
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