The 5 Personality Types and What They Can Mean in Recovery
Author: Justin Mckibben
Personality is everything. F. Scott Fitzgerald once said,
“Personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures.”
What I would take from this is that who you are as an individual; your unique self and the personality you have adopted, is determined by traits that you cultivate throughout your life. Through consistency we form habits in our way of speaking, relating to others and feeling. And when these “gestures” get us the results we want- be it love and connection or otherwise- we rely on them until they become part of us.
According to modern psychologists there are 5 major personality types, often referred to as the “five-factor model” that every person fits into to some degree.
For people in recovery, we often have to learn to be a new person, because the old ‘us’ wasn’t working out so well. We may need to mature a lot, or let go a little, but more often than not we will all most likely struggle with some degree of rediscovering who we are. So let us look at the 5 personality types, and what they can mean for your recovery.
Now let’s get this one right out of the way, because the impact this can have on your recovery should be pretty obvious. In a lot of ways us addicts and alcoholics have probably experienced a lot of these traits.
Neurotic people experience a high degree of emotional instability. They are prone to being excitable in situations, and are typically highly reactive. These are people who experience a lot of stress and anxiety, while others often view them as insecure and unstable.
In case you needed a breakdown, all this sounds like it will make for an incredibly difficult recovery. Being emotionally off balance isn’t too out of the norm for many people who have struggled with addiction. Anxiety and stress often fuel the emotional turmoil, and addicts are often reactive with their response- which is typically drug use or other risk behaviors.
In recovery this can be like walking the razors edge. This is where a lot of us start off, but then we have the solution and opportunity once separated from drugs and alcohol to adopt a new personality.
People who’s personality traits put them in the conscientious category are well-organized, self-sufficient and dependable people. These are the people who set goals and stick to a plan to achieve them. They can come off stubborn or obsessive to others, but they are extremely goal-oriented.
As someone in recovery, being conscientious could help you in a lot of ways. If you are dependable and efficient, it is likely you will develop a logical recovery plan and follow suggestions to get to the goal. At the same time, if you are too rigid you may have difficulty taking criticism.
The agreeable personality is one with many aspects that people in recovery strive to cultivate in their lives. These people are typically trustworthy, kind and affectionate. Agreeable people are often characterized by their commitment to altruistic activity and their willingness to volunteer and support others.
The big drawbacks of being highly agreeable is that many other people may find them to be naïve and overly passive. They an people please and become submissive in an unhealthy way, which can do very real damage to your recovery. While selfless action is important, kindness and humility does not demand you be stepped on or influenced by others.
An extrovert is someone who feeds off the energy of social interaction. Extroverts are often talkative, outgoing and don’t mind the attention, but sometimes this backfires and people see them as overbearing attention-seekers.
In recovery being an extrovert can mean you are a star at making friends in the fellowship and doing service for others. You have no problem sharing yourself which will make it easier to relate to your struggles. At the same time, it could also lead you to making the wrong kind of friends, or forgetting to be still and take care of the inside instead of stimulating the outside with social activity.
- Open Experience
Those with very open personalities are the curious and creative type. They usually have a broad range of interests and extremely intense imaginations. The open personality tends to avoid rigid routines, like the conscientious love, and go for more variety. They often look for intense and euphoric experiences, like living in exotic places and various spiritual practices.
Some would say the open personality is too unpredictable and unfocused. In recovery this could translate into lack of consistency in a program of action, or it could mean someone spreads themselves too thin without maintaining a stable foundation. Then, if these people are constantly seeking intensity and euphoria, they could become discontent or even emotionally volatile when they sobriety does not provide them with such thrilling experiences.
However, being open is also a very good way to seek a powerful spiritual experience and develop a practice that will support the “higher power” concept stressed in many fellowships. Being open in recovery can help you with acceptance of what the world has in store, and an active imagination can help you seek new ways to grow.
Who Are YOU
Experts would say an individual’s personality type remains relatively steady over time, so any traits you exhibited at age seven are likely to predict much of your personality traits as an adult. But of course, researchers agree that hard work and effort can help create real lasting changes in your personality.
That is the whole point of recovery though, right? To find a solution for the dependence we used to place on drugs or alcohol that could fulfill us emotionally, mentally and spiritually. We want to change our perspective and thus change our relationship with the world and our own emotions.
Regardless of what personality type is dominant, we are all so unique we can experience several signs from each type. So in recovery, we should strive to highlight the useful and positive parts of our personalities. Take this time to rediscover who you are and what your intentions are. What kind of life do you want, and who do you have to be to realize your purpose?
To be that person and find that purpose, for the addict or alcoholic, it means letting go of the substances and mindsets that hold you back. This starts with making the decision to get help that could change your life.
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