One of the most common and useful ways to categorize your personality is to use what’s known as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator or MBTI for short.
It explores 4 essential facets of your personality and puts you at either end of a spectrum for each of these. Then, you are allocated one of 16 different personality types based on which ends you sit at for the 4 facets.
The 16 Personality Acronyms
There are 16 different acronyms, amalgamating the different facets of a given individual’s personality.
Each letter in the acronym stands for one end of the spectrum for a given facet.
The first letter is either “E” for extravert or “I” for introvert. The second letter is either “S” for sensing or “N” for intuition (so as not to confuse it with the introvert “I”).
If you don’t know your personality type yet, there are oodles of different online tests that you can take to find out.
Think of it like the Hogwarts sorting hat, only you end up with a four-letter acronym instead of a magic house and corresponding color palette association.
Each type has myriad wonderful strengths… and each type also has some pretty intense weaknesses.
From procrastination to allowing oneself to be used as a doormat, there are aspects of each type that should be addressed in order to live happier, more harmonious lives.
Below is a list of the 16 different Myers-Briggs types, along with the greatest weakness that each one needs to address.
If you know your type, you can probably recognize the one thing that you need to stop doing because it’s not doing you (or anyone else) any good.
ISFJ – “The Nurturer”
Also known as “the defender,” ISFJ people are very loving and caring, and fiercely protective of their loved ones. Selfless and altruistic, they’re sensitive, generous, and have a startling ability to connect with other people on a sincere, intimate level.
What you need to stop doing: martyring yourself
As mentioned, ISFJs are incredibly giving and nurturing. They also have a severe aversion to any kind of emotional conflict, and are terrified of letting other people down.
In fact, many of them worry that they’ll be abandoned or rejected if they stop pouring so much love and care toward others.
If you’re an ISFJ, you’ll probably take on far too many responsibilities because you have difficulty saying “no” to others.
You might repress your own emotions so as not to upset anyone, and end up being utterly overloaded – sometimes to the point of complete breakdown.
You’ll likely suffer in silence, struggling so hard to meet other people’s expectations of you (your own included), even if those expectations are unrealistic or cruel.
If you ever come across someone who has literally worked themselves to death to make someone else happy, they’re probably an ISFJ.
Note: many empaths in relationships with narcissists belong to this type. Big shocker there, huh?
ISFP – “The Composer”
Ah, the adventurer. These charming, creative types are innovative and daring – always up for trying something new. They’re curious and passionate, easily liked by others, and tend to be in creative fields: musicians, actors, artists, etc.
What you need to stop doing: flaking out on commitments and plans
ISFPs dislike anything that cramps their freedom, and tend to resent anything they feel is stifling to them.
They prefer to live in the now, indulging whatever whim they have in the moment, which can lead to a lot of turmoil in both their professional and personal lives.
If you’re an ISFP, chances are you’re commitment-phobic, and can often find romantic relationships stifling and oppressive.
You might quit jobs on a whim, and brush off serious plans you’ve agreed to if something better comes along.
Like a right prat.
ENFP – “The Champion”
These ideal communicators are the ones you want on board for humanitarian outreach. They’re enthusiastic, friendly, and tend to be popular, and their high energy is absolutely contagious.
You’ll often find them in leadership roles, and as teachers, they’re adored by all who learn from them.
What you need to stop doing: overanalyzing EVERYTHING
Despite their bubbly, extroverted natures, ENFPs tend to be excruciatingly insecure at the core. They don’t deal well with any kind of conflict or criticism, and tend to search for negative connotations in other people’s words and actions toward them.
In fact, if you’re this type, you probably lie awake all night, going over a conversation’s minutiae over and over and over again to see if there were any subtle clues you missed.
You’ll also think about all of your own actions, trying to determine whether you did something wrong to upset someone else.
Also referred to as “The Advocate,” this type is tirelessly idealistic, and will pour everything they have into a cause they believe in.
That said, being naturally introverted, they’ll do so quietly. Mother Teresa and Nelson Mandela fall under the INFJ type: compassionate visionaries who inspire others around them.
What you need to stop doing: being so oversensitive to any criticism
The quickest way to get onto an INFJ’s sh*t list is to criticize or challenge them in any way whatsoever.
They’ll transform from a sweet, compassionate angel to a snarling Rottweiler in about 0.02 seconds flat, getting all up in arms about the fact that you dared question or criticize their motives, methods… or anything else, really.
If you’re an INFJ, you’re likely a raging perfectionist, and need a lot of praise and reassurance. This can be frustrating for friends and employers alike.
Even gentle, constructive criticism can be met with fire and fury, and it’s really difficult to walk on eggshells around someone all the time because you fear their potential wrath.
Time to get over yourself.
ESFJ – “The Provider”
These popular, social people are always eager to help those in need. They’re often the most well liked people in their school or work environment, with almost effortless charm and personable grace.
What you need to stop doing: being so freaking shallow
ESFJs are in constant need of compliments and approval, and tend to sulk if they don’t receive enough.
They’re far more concerned with their appearance and social status than… anything else out there, really, and prefer gossip and ululations of praise to subjects that require any real depth.
Think of cheerleaders, star quarterbacks, popular politicians, and mainstream musicians, and you’ll find that many (most) of them are ESFJs.
If you’re this type, you most likely need to be in the spotlight, adored and fawned over, or else you’ll get needy and start fishing for compliments, which is an off-putting trait in just about everyone.
Don’t be that person.
ENTP – “The Visionary”
These knowledgeable, quick thinkers enjoy puzzles and mental challenges, and are never happier than when they’re engaged in something that captivates their imaginations.
They’re invaluable when it comes to problem solving, and are the superheroes you’d want in your think tank dream team.
What you need to stop doing: arguing and debating literally everything
If a subject is raised, they’ll argue about it. Sometimes the debate isn’t even from the perspective of a hard stance: they like to argue solely for its own sake.
If they can ruffle other people’s feathers and cause them to get angry and flustered, all the better!
Are you and ENTP? Are you aware of this behavior?
If so, chances are you can be both arrogant and antagonistic, and enjoy destroying other people’s belief systems and political stances purely for your own amusement.
If others aren’t up to your debate challenge – or refuse to participate entirely – you’re likely to get insulting and dismissive. “If you’re not going to play by my rules, I won’t play at all”.
Ask yourself why you do it.
INTP – “The Thinker”
Also known as “The Logician,” this type is characterized by an unquenchable thirst for knowledge.
Inquisitive and analytical, they combine a sharp mind with unbridled creativity, leading to some pretty amazing inventions and breakthroughs. Think Albert Einstein, Soren Kierkegaard, Marie Curie, and Bill Gates.
What you need to stop doing: being so unbelievably insensitive
Being so caught up in their own minds, they often forget that other people have feelings that need to be taken into consideration.
They don’t deal well with purely emotional people or situations, as they don’t make much sense to an INTP.
These are not the people you go to when you want hugs and comfort. If you need a solution to a problem, they’re great… but if you show up crying, they’re more likely to just stand there awkwardly because they don’t know what to do with you.
If you’re an INTP, you need to think before you speak (or act), and take other people’s potential sensitivity into consideration. Timing is important, as are certain social expectations.
Basically, you need to take a step back and observe how other people may be feeling before blurting something that may be hurtful.
(Being an INTP myself, I’d say this is absolutely accurate. Sorry.)
ISTJ – “The Inspector”
These practical, reliable people are chock full of facts and information. If you want to know the answer to some totally random query, chances are they can help you out.
Their integrity is faultless, you can depend on them absolutely, and you know they’ll always be honest with you. Usually tactful about said honesty as well.
What you need to stop doing: being governed by rules all the time
ISTJs tend to be so by the book, they can recite any situation’s rules almost verbatim. Structure and tradition are everything, and the mere thought of coloring outside the lines can all but paralyze them.
Flowing and being in the moment are anathema to this type, and their rigid adherence to rules can damage their relationships.
Guess what? You don’t have to follow every rule to the letter, all the time. There’s wiggle room just about everywhere, and you might actually have a bit more fun if you take that stick out of your backside.
Adjust your schedule, try something new, be spontaneous. Even if it’s just skipping one “meatloaf Monday” a month and getting Thai food instead.
Just TRY, will you?
ENTJ – “The Commander”
These strong-willed, imaginative leaders won’t let any barrier stand in their way. If they don’t see a clear path to success, they’ll bloody well carve one out.
Steve Jobs was a typical ENTJ type, as is former president Barack Obama. They don’t give up on their goals, and any obstacle is seen as a challenge to conquer.
What you need to stop doing: being intolerant and impatient toward others
Have you ever had a boss who was arrogant, domineering, and intolerant of any way other than the one they stipulated? They were probably an ENTJ. This type has a “my way or the highway!” attitude.
This can be great if they’ve chosen a career as a drill sergeant, but it’s less appealing in a regular employer. Or a romantic partner.
If you’re an ENTJ, you have to remember that every person is different, and just because someone else doesn’t grasp a concept or technique as quickly as you did, doesn’t mean that they’re stupid, lazy, or incompetent.
You need to learn to be more patient with people, and to appreciate what they have to offer, rather than expecting them to be just like you.
Don’t drive people away.
INTJ – “The Mastermind”
Also known as “the architect,” this type is a chess opponent’s worst nightmare. They’re whip-smart, highly analytical, and have tactical abilities that are beyond compare.
If there’s a goal to achieve or a problem to be solved, they’ll be able to see every possible angle, and develop a solid strategy to get things done.
INTJs have a tendency to dismiss anything they disagree with as wrong, stupid, or otherwise irrelevant. In fact, if they come across people whose belief systems differ from their own, they can get downright insulting toward them.
Are you an INTJ? You might want to think about the fact that just because someone thinks differently than you do, that doesn’t mean they’re wrong.
Nor are they intellectually inferior, and they sure as hell don’t deserve your condescension and scorn.
Here’s something to think about: those who point out their inferiors don’t have any.
INFP – “The Idealist”
Ah, the mediator. Just about every social group needs an INFP, as these kind, altruistic people are always eager to lend a hand to those in need.
They’re the peacemakers, finding common ground between just about everyone, and are compassionate and empathetic enough to understand things from all perspectives.
What you need to stop doing: living in your head
INTPs tend to exist in an idealized dream world. They imagine what the world COULD be like, and prefer to focus on that, than the very real, tangible aspects going on around them.
This can lead them to neglect responsibilities, and get resentful of “real world” things that require their attention. Like housework. Or paying bills.
If you’re an INTP, that’s awesome. You’re probably a very kind person who sees the good in everyone, and strives to make the world a better place.
That said, you need to come back down to earth on a regular basis. Remember to eat, sleep, and bathe regularly, and try to accept things (and people), as they are… not how you want them to be.
ESTJ – “The Supervisor”
These detail-oriented folks make excellent managers. They can create schedules and charts like no-one else, and you absolutely want them on your team if you’re organizing something important.
They’re dedicated, reliable, and can turn chaos into order with almost supernatural grace.
What you need to stop doing: being an android
ESTJs often have a great deal of difficulty feeling empathy or exhibiting emotions. Everything relates to facts, details, and schedules, which can be quite difficult for other, more human members of their social circles.
If you’re an ESTJ and you’re on a trip with someone you love, try looking out the window and appreciating the scenery, rather than obsessing about the fact that you may be running 10 minutes off schedule.
You should also consider that there is more than one way to do something, and you don’t have to correct everyone who does things differently than you do.
You’re not always right, okay? Sometimes other people are too.
ESTP – “The Doer”
Also known as “the entrepreneur,” an ESTP is the ultimate risk-taker. Highly energetic, charming, and intelligent, this type is known for being the center of attention, and always ahead of the curve.
They can spot trends a mile away, and also notice subtle changes… whether it’s a shift in party mood, or someone’s new hair color.
What you need to stop doing: taking risks without considering consequences
ESTPs are known for being impatient and impulsive, but they don’t always consider the long-term ramifications of their actions.
They might find school boring and constrictive, and drop out to do “better things”… not considering that this could lead to unemployment (and poverty) later in life.
Hey, ESTP? We get that you’re a thrill seeker. You want excitement in your life, and you get bored easily, but that doesn’t mean you should jump out of a plane without a parachute.
Try thinking about every outcome surrounding a situation, and look before you leap.
Okay? Good talk.
ENFJ – “The Giver”
This is the Paladin in your adventuring party. Charismatic and passionate, ENFJs beam altruism and authenticity out of every pore, making them natural born leaders.
They have strong personalities, and people tend to flock to them. Think Oprah Winfrey, Bono, and Neil deGrasse Tyson.
What you need to stop doing: being so selfless
Selflessness is usually considered to be an admirable trait, but there’s such a thing as spreading yourself too thin.
If you’re an ENFJ, chances are you leap at the chance to help other people, and then feel like a complete bastard when you have to break your promises because you’re utterly burnt out from helping everyone.
We get it. You want to help the world, and your self-confidence falls to pieces if you feel as though you’ve failed someone, but you can’t draw blood from a stone. You need to recharge now and then.
Take some much-needed time for yourself, and learn to say “no.” Remember that you can’t help anyone else if you don’t take care of yourself first.
ISTP – “The Craftsperson”
Creative, practical, and imaginative, this is the person you want with you if stranded on a desert island. McGuyver would have been an ISTP. They keep calm in a crisis and can learn how to use just about any tool the first time they lay hands on it.
ISTPs are known for getting set in their ways very quickly. They do things they way they want to do them, even if those methods aren’t the best, safest, or most reliable.
Too bad, they’ll do it their way anyway, and will shut down and even sulk if someone else dares to correct them.
If you fall into this type, pry your head out of your backside and realize that other people may have things to teach you.
Being an insufferable know-it-all can be detrimental in any situation. You don’t have to take it personally if and when someone corrects something you’re doing, nor should you keep doing it your way just for the sake of being spiteful.
ESFP – “The Performer”
Some of the most famous stars and starlets fall into this type. Marilyn Monroe, Will Smith, and Hugh Hefner are just a few ESFPs you’d be familiar with.
They love to put on a show, and never shine quite so brightly as when they’re keeping other people entertained. (And winning everyone’s admiration, of course.)
What you need to stop doing: being an overly emotional hot mess
ESFPs get bored really (REALLY) easily and often drum up drama in order to keep themselves entertained.
They like strong emotional responses, and many choose to abandon responsibility for the sake of self-indulgent, pleasurable behavior in the present moment. They’ll worry about consequences later, if at all.
Are you an ESFP? You’re likely high maintenance, and cry at the drop of a hat if anyone criticizes anything about you.
Yes, you like praise and admiration and being fussed over like a pretty princess, but that gets very tiresome, very quickly.
If someone needs to talk to you about something important, try actually listening instead of saying what you think will shut them up so you can focus on something more fun instead.
You’ll thank yourself for it later.
Which type are you? Do you recognize the need for personal growth in the descriptions listed above? Let us know in the comments section below.
Catherine Winter is a writer, art director, and herbalist-in-training based in Quebec's Outaouais region. She has been known to subsist on coffee and soup for days at a time, and when she isn't writing or tending her garden, she can be found wrestling with various knitting projects and befriending local wildlife.