Why is that we expend so much energy trying shape people into the mold in which we think they should fit? In fact for that matter, why do we periodically put forth similar amounts of energy trying to become someone other than ourselves? We are not going to change another human being’s basic personality, so we might as well give up trying to shape him into our image! It is equally foolish for us to try to be someone we are not. Reinhold Niebuhr’s well-known quote is meaningful in this regard. He says: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” That principle holds true in the senseless ventures we undertake to change the basic personality makeup of ourselves or those whom we love.
When Jan conducts seminars on personality differences, she stresses such facts. She points out that a person’s basic personality makeup is not going to change. That is not an excuse for irresponsible behavior, but instead it is a reminder to value people for their uniqueness. When we get frustrated with our loved ones, because of their…uniqueness…here are some good thoughts to encourage us.
If I do not want what you want, please try not to tell me that my want is wrong. Or if I think differently than you, at least pause before you correct my view. Or if my emotion is less than yours, or more, given the same circumstances, try not to ask me to feel more strongly or weakly. Or yet if I act, or fail to act, in the manner of your design for action, let me be.
I do not, for the moment at least, ask you to understand me. That will come only when you are willing to give up changing me into a copy of you.
I may be your spouse, your parent, your child, your co-worker, or your friend. If you will allow me any of my own wants, or emotions, or thoughts, or actions, then you open yourself, so that some day these ways of mine might not seem so wrong, and might finally appear to you as right — for me. To put up with me is the first step to understanding me, not that you embrace my ways as right for you, but that you are no longer irritated or disappointed with me for my seeming waywardness. And in understanding me, you might come to prize my differences from you, and, far from seeking to change me, preserve and even nurture those differences.
(Adapted from Please Understand Me, by David Keirsey and Marilyn Bates)