Strike Two on Personality!

As I mentioned in my last post, I recently learned that INTJs (Introverted INtuitive Thinker Judgers), under times of stress are more likely to seek out full body experiences, which include, among other things (like sex and exercise), eating!

Given that I have struggled with stress eating (some would call it bingeing) and – to a lesser degree – overexercise my whole life, this made a lot of sense to me.

We then moved on to the Enneagram Personality Model. Well, as it turns out I am a 5 Personality Type (also known as the Stinge). Stinge’s hoard. They always think that they need more of whatever it is. I could give you a thousand examples of how this plays out in my daily life now that I am aware of it (including how I routinely hide protein bars in my bag so that Michael J won’t eat the one’s that I want and how I routinely hog all of the flat surfaces in the house with of the stuff that I’ve been hoarding for God only knows how long), but I won’t. Just trust me: it’s there!

Interestingly, the Enneagram Personality Model tells you what your basic preferences or behavior patterns are at three points: where you are normally (which for me is a 5) and where you go under times of stress and intimacy. Without going into too much gory detail, where I go under intimacy explains a lot about my history with men (and with friends). And where I go under stress is – you guessed it – Gluttony!

Interestingly, the Myer’s-Brigg and the Enneagram are not perfectly correlated with one another. You can think of one as supplementing the other.

So, just my luck – what didn’t get covered by stress eating gets “covered” by my propensity to choose gluttony!

Now, one approach to this information might be just say, that’s the way I am, so I have permission to act that way…so I should just pull my chair up to the fridge and be done with it. However, personality can also be thought of as a decision that you made as a child in response to an arbitrary event that you had confirmed over and over again during the course of your life as opposed to something that’s biologically hardwired. If you take this second approach, then I can view my propensity to stress eat simply as a learned pattern of behavior that can be unlearned.

The key is remembering to observe it (and acknowledge it) not as something that can’t be changed, but as just something I do because it’s comfortable. It’s a choice. It’s not set in stone. It’s not just the way I am. And, perhaps even more importantly, it’s not me.

So the next time I catch myself stress eating, I will just observe the behavior and acknowledge that that’s the choice I made.

And, who knows? Perhaps, in time, I’ll learn to choose a different choice.

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