If you have been discouraged by not doing as much for others as you had hoped, it might be that you never stopped to take inventory of your own personality.
Yes, it is a blessing to choose meaningful actions. And “just do it” gets us further than doing nothing, every time.
Well done is better than well said.
— Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanack, 1737
However, if you find yourself wondering why you rarely follow through on your good plans, or why you have been disappointed with the results of your worthy intentions, it might be the case that you have forgotten that:
You also need to take into consideration who you are.
Blessings of all sorts, however small, are affected by the traits that make up who we are.
What can I say/Conversation: Does the thought of sitting together and chatting bore you to tears? Then consider offering to do something together or performing a service such as driving or pet sitting.
What can I do/Service: Does does the idea of going into someone else’s space to provide service make you feel awkward? Then maybe you are meant to listen as someone talks through their loss, perhaps setting up a weekly phone call.
What can I bring/Gifts: Are you unsatisfied with either conversation or service? You might be creative with useful or meaningful gifts on just the right occasions.
Your efforts will be most likely to succeed when you understand what is meaningful to you.
Thinking Through Who We Are
There are lots of ways to take inventory of who we are.
A: What is our personality like?
Personalities are complex. Since there are endless factors that go into who we are, I find it helpful to think in continuums: Try finding traits which appear to be polar opposites and consider which way you lean. For instance: Am I overwhelmed easily, more likely to actually take action when doing something mild and not necessarily inspiring? Or, do I get animated by an exhilarating cause?
Often it’s not a matter of either/or, but where do you land along an imaginary line? Are you a 7, rather than a 2? Or maybe you’re right in the middle at 5.
Here are some random continuums to get you started. There are countless possibilities and once you get started, you may keep thinking of more. Not every one of these will hit home, but there may be a couple you will highlight because you realize they are deal-breakers for you.
Which way do I lean?
Social… or intimate?
Casual chatting… or deep conversations?
Upbeat… or prepared for the worst?
Imaginative… or sensible?
Type up a note… or pick up the phone?
Frugal… or lavish?
Gourmet chef… or comfort foods?
Vegetarian… or carnivore?
Sporty… or sedentary?
Drive… or walk?
Spotless… or good-enuf?
Tidy… or it-must-be-here-somewhere?
Convenience… or Earth-friendly?
Time-crunched… or flexible?
Learn about it… or experience it?
Scenic route… or interstate?
World traveler… or homebody?
Handmade… or techy?
Antique… or trendy?
Decorative… or functional?
Blessing others can be more successful when we choose to do something that complements our personality traits.
B: What are our values and passions?
You have a unique set of skills, interests, and passions to bring to the table. What feels fun or meaningful or valuable to you?
The only way to do great work is to love what you do.
— Steve Jobs, commencement address, 6/12/05, @8:40
Maybe you haven’t ended up with a career you love or found a vocation you’re passionate about. Not all of us do. However,…
blessing others is one place in life where we can choose to focus on the things we value most.
One of my sisters has the most amazing heart for seniors, while I have always been drawn to children. We each can be irritable at times when trying to bless the other’s favorite age group. It’s okay if we bless different people, or if we bless the same person but one in a more close-up, personal way and the other in a more reserved, practical way.
More action will happen when we do what we’re passionate about, or tailor our actions to our skills and interests. If backing away and contributing in less intense ways seems best, then making that adjustment now may even allow a new fondness to develop later.
C: Lots of Experts Have Developed Tools
Experts are often coming out with useful tools to help us evaluate who we are. You may be familiar with several tools; you can put them to good use by looking at who you are, who you want to bless, and how you might best connect the two.
- Oldest, second-born, middle, youngest, only child, twin? There are authors who define personality differences according to birth order.
- The Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials, Generation Z? Marketing companies especially have noticed that the group experience of our generation impacts our values and motivations.
- Words, service, gifts, time, or touch? Gary Chapman of 5LoveLanguages.com encourages us to single out which “language” makes us feel most loved.
- Various personality inventories scale specific traits, such as:
- The Big Five: Openness to experience, conscientiousness, extroversion (or extraversion), agreeableness, and neuroticism.
- Jung and Myers-Briggs Types: Introversion vs. extraversion, with further sub-groups. Popularized recently as 16 internet memes, one of which, for example, is illustrated as “ISFJ The Nurturer” or “ISFJ The Protector.”
- Personality and health: Type A (high stress) vs. Type B (more relaxed) were delineated by two cardiologists.
- Ancient Greek “Elements”: Modern versions look at personalities as Earth, Fire, Air, Water.
- Other inventories rate emotional intelligence, leadership qualities, and more.
D: Your Own Expertise
You can be an expert on you, as well. To clarify traits that define who you are and what you will be passionate about doing, you might…
- list traits within yourself that you notice over a week’s time,
- test your list against your next experience blessing someone, and
- ask for further confirmation from someone who knows you.
Moving into Action
To reach out, you don’t need to find a match, someone who is just like you. I enjoyed caring for my husband even though we were polar opposites on many of these continuums. But sometimes it helps to be clear:
Because of who *I* am, this is the way that I can best bless you.
Blog #17, COMMENT BELOW: Have you found a great match between who you are and the ways you have blessed someone else?