myers-briggs debunked? | validity of the MBTI and being an INFJ

My latest video is all about the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and the controversy it has attracted over the years. Enjoy!

personality and language learning

Today’s post actually comes from an essay I put together a while ago on the impact of personality on language learning. Part of the essay focused on the impact of Introversion and Extraversion on how we learn languages; personally I found it to be an intriguing topic, I hope all of you do too!

Extrovert Language Learners: Extrovert language learners tend to engage in conversation and employ intercommunicative learning strategies when learning a new language. Group work and active environments (i.e. environments with adequate levels of stimuli to keep the extrovert engaged) tend to work best for extrovert language learners. It has also been shown that extroverts tend to use more visual learning strategies than introverts (Ehrman and Oxford, 1988). This tendency towards visual language learning strategies relates to the extrovert’s preference towards external stimuli; “visualization is a way of making connection between elements of outer-world experience and the symbols of which languge is composed” (Ehrman and Oxford, 1988 : 8). Use of interactive materials such as powerpoint presentations and picture-association may therefore be effective for extrovert language learners. Teaching methods that require much interaction and communication would also be effective; extroverts are arguably more suited to an immersive environment due to their tendency to focus on external stimuli in everyday life. Total Physical Response (or TPR) may also suit extrovert language learners due to the emphasis on external stimuli. In an academic setting, an extrovert is more likely to feel comfortable in an environment with plenty of social interaction, such as an oral language class. This isn’t always the case however, and is dependent on the confidence of the extrovert language learner in question.  If, for example, an extrovert scores highly in the Neuroticism element of the Big Five personality inventory, the thought of making mistakes when practicing language aloud may deterr them and make them feel uncomfortable in such a setting. An extrovert’s level of Openness To Experience, another factor of the Big Five personality inventory, may also have an impact on how comfortable or capable they feel in a largely interactive environment. If an extrovert has a relatively low score on the Openness To Experience scale, they will be more conservative in their language learning technique and less inclined to participate in conversations on wide-ranging topics or place themselves in situations where they are surrounded by people outside of their peer group.

Introvert Language Learners: As a result of their internal rather than external focus, introvert language learners benefit more from independent learning strategies. Working alone in a quiet, potentially isolated environment where there is little room for distraction tends to work best for introvert language learners. Introverts also learn language better when they are given a chance to absorb what is being said in relation to context and meaning rather than diving straight into conversation like an extrovert would; this ties in with an extrovert’s aforementioned tendency to be more risk-taking than their introvert counterparts. According to Ehrman and Oxford, “the introvert is defined as being concerned with the inner world of ideas” and “tends to look for meaning and context before acting” (Ehrman and Oxford, 1988 : 8). Although interaction is essential for language learning, introverts may benefit from more passive learning methods; something as simple as overhearing a conversation can enable the introvert language learner to absorb what is being said, piece together grammatical structures and learn new vocabulary. This is in contrast to the extrovert language learner who, by nature, would be more likely to join into the conversation without hesitation than passively listen to it. (Ehrman and Oxford, 1988). Teaching methods such as the Grammar-Translation method may be of benefit to the introvert language learner due to the lack of emphasis on oral language. The structural approach may also be effective given the introvert L2 learner’s tendency to find meaning and build systems in language learning rather than going straight into language practice.

Generally speaking, we all tend towards either introversion or extroversion, even if the distinction is marginal. In some cases, however, it is possible to be classified as an ‘ambivert’. An ambivert, as defined by Mercer in Psychology for Language Learning (2012) is someone who “exhibits the traits of both an introvert and an extrovert” and may value time spent alone or in solitude just as much as spending time around other people (Mercer, 2012 : 248).  An ambivert scores exactly 50:50 (or shows extremely marginal preference) between Introversion and Extraversion. They are therefore lucky in the sense that they can benefit from a wide range of language-learning strategies should they choose to make use of them. They are capable of working both with large groups of people and on their own, can focus on both internal and external stimuli to equal extents and can give equal amounts of attention to the written form of a language versus the spoken form. Depending on other subfactors such as attitudes towards language-learning or motivation for language acquisition, ambiverts can make the most effective language learners due to their capacity to be flexible in their language learning techniques. Contrasting techniques such as the Structural Approach and Total Physical Response could be equally effective for the ambivert depending on the other aforementioned subfactors of the language learner in question.”

Love and luck,

Clodagh X

P.S. – Watch my latest video here!

learning to construct

Something I’ve hit upon of late is the benefit of construction. Of making a point to construct rather than destruct. It can be easier said than done, but bear with me.

We all go through destructive periods in life. Times where we almost want something to be torn apart for the sake of it. Personally, I have found myself almost wanting to fail my degree just so I can feel something again. Indifference is hell.

When you start to feel like this, it is essential to make a conscious effort to construct. If you feel like destroying, put your mind elsewhere and create something. It can be as simple as tidying your room, or baking a cake. Really.

Perhaps it’s just me, but I find that when I’m making an effort – albeit unintentional – to keep my life in check, I am sending a message to my brain that now is a time to construct rather than destruct. So my brain stops hitting the big red button that sends everything to pieces.

Slowly but surely things will come together again. Your autopilot will put things in order and keep you safe rather than forcing you down the horrible path of self sabotage.

This advice isn’t as simple as ‘bake a cake the next time you feel your life is falling apart’; if only it were that simple! No. Baking a cake is a baby step, perhaps even a symptom of a constructive mindset, one that can be cultivated over time should you make a point of doing so.

Lots of love and luck, and apologies for the lack of writing last week!

Clodagh X

pleasantly uninspired

Big emotions often lead to big results – for better or for worse. On the other end of the spectrum, emotional placidity may lead to tranquility, but nothing more. I use the term ‘placidity’ as I’m not referring to a lack of emotion so much as stability of emotion.

These past few weeks I’ve felt very placid. Calm, even. The kind of calm you feel within a daily routine – everything is familiar, right down to the smell of tea and toast in the morning. With this familiarity comes a sense of living in the present moment; rather than dwell upon your insatiable desire to succeed in life, you worry more about whether there’s enough milk in the fridge for tea later.

Living in the present moment may be lovely, but circumstantially speaking, it is uninspiring. This doesn’t automatically make it ‘bad’ to live in the present; on the contrary, if feeling calm coincides with feeling uninspired, then I am more than happy to make the trade-off every once in a while.

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This leads me to the thinking behind this post, or the reason why I haven’t been posting all that regularly of late. I haven’t been feeling inspired – and it’s been delightful! I’ve really enjoyed this pleasant, homey feeling. When it did occur to me that I hadn’t posted in over a week, I decided to embrace this ‘lack’ of inspiration rather than force something into my mind.

I really hope you’re all doing well and that you get to experience this placidity soon, if you haven’t felt it already this year.

Love and luck,

Clodagh X

reflections on college | university experience

Going to college was, surprisingly, not something I thought about too much when I was younger. I loved to imagine what job I would have in the future, where I would live, the people I would meet – but never what I would study at university. In retrospect, I believe this was an early sign that third level education would not be the formative experience it constitutes for so many. To say that it would have no impact on my life would be an understatement, but it was not to be a period of transformation.

As time went on I became more aware that change was imminent. Having said this, it wasn’t until I was about 15 that I had made (what I thought was) a firm decision regarding what I wanted to pursue in college. I was convinced that I wanted to study psychology, given my fascination with the human mind. My outlook shifted when I thought more pragmatically; i.e. what I excelled in at school versus what made me cry on a regular basis. The latter being anything maths and science related, I veered away from psychology and chose to do a bachelor of arts in languages. Fast forward through exams, results and college offers, I have a place on my course and I’m ready to go.

This is when things go downhill. Sort of. My experience in college has been odd in the sense that I haven’t hated it, but I definitely haven’t loved it. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so indifferent towards something. Academically speaking it’s all been fine, but to this day I feel utterly unstimulated. This combination of indifference and lack of stimulation has not been a good experience. I cannot count the number of times I’ve mentally destroyed myself with regret, agonising over what could have been if I’d chosen a course I was genuinely interested in. Normally this doesn’t last any longer than a day, and I have ploughed on through the very worst of essays and assignments.

The social element of college has also been a mixed bag. I’ve met some wonderful friends over the years, and for that I am incredibly grateful. Many of the people I have crossed paths with in college have restored my faith in humanity, in stark contrast to my experience in secondary school. Having said all of this, the way in which I view socialising has changed quite a lot. If you read my previous post on what constitutes fun, you will know that I’m not really one for parties or going out. Much of the social scene in college revolves around parties, drinking, etc etc. As you can imagine this isn’t something that sits well with me, but it’s no big deal. You can navigate your way around it quite easily.

I would love to say that going to college has been a worthwhile experience, but I’m honestly unsure if I would stretch that far. What I will say is that I have a far healthier relationship with how I view educational institutions; secondary school was downright hellish at times, but I feel as though many of my wounds have healed and I am ready to move on. This wouldn’t have been possible without learning that I could be happy in a school-like setting – i.e. I would still feel terrible if I hadn’t chosen to go to college.

I’ve re-written the end of this piece about six times, but I can’t figure out what the most effective conclusion would be. I don’t even know if there is a conclusion to all of this. If I don’t stop writing here i’ll just end up rambling (because that isn’t what I’ve been doing for this entire piece), so here are a few things I’ve learned from my experience in university. Some ‘reflections’, if you will.

  • I hate working in groups; always have, probably always will. I tried to get involved with society work (we have clubs and societies in most Irish third level institutions), but… it’s a no from me.
  • You are your single biggest priority.
  • Education is important, but it comes in many many forms. Living in this world is an education in and of itself.
  • People can change, for better or for worse.
  • Facing fears is important, but you don’t have to like what it is you once feared. I don’t fear travelling for long periods of time anymore, but I still don’t like it.
  • Routine is essential; much and all as you may dream of days off and lie-ins on a week day while you’re at school, a lack of structure can create all sorts of practical and emotional problems.
  • Disillusionment is worse than hatred. It’s better to feel something than nothing at all. I would honestly say that my worst maths classes were better than some days I’ve spent in college feeling lifeless.
  • It may be true that quitters never win, but quitters also have a chance to move on and try news things. Giving up is not a sign of weakness. So, maybe quitters do win from time to time.
  • The whole ‘you’re only young once’ thing is true, but you can adapt it to your own wants and needs. I may not go out at night all that often, but that doesn’t mean I’m not experimenting with new things.

If you’ve reached the end of this and thought ‘why the f*ck did I read this whole thing when I could have just scrolled to that list at the end’ – you could have, but a lot of the above wouldn’t have made sense. I hope I set the scene appropriately, and that you don’t feel like I did in maths class all those years ago.

If you’re about to start college, or if you’re already wrist-deep into your degree, I wish you the very best of luck in the future. The present is not forever, realistically we’re all gonna be just fine. Or so we hope. It’s all to play for.

Love and luck,

Clodagh X

you cannot replace the present with the past | embrace the grey

Incomplete. Unfulfilled. Something is missing.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve experienced the above in my life so far. A sense that nothing is coming together as it should. It often seems to occur in the middle of something rather than at the start or end of a project or phase. You’re stuck in a grey hue of dissatisfaction, with seemingly no end in sight.

It is so easy at this point to look back on your life so far and pinpoint things that made you happy. Things that brought a sense of fulfillment and energy into your being. You may then attempt to re-introduce whatever it was that once completed you back into the present day, hoping that you will feel as alive as you know you are capable of feeling.

This is where we encounter an issue; what once completed you cannot possibly complete you again, as you are already complete in this regard. The action has served its purpose. To try and re-instate it will only bring you back to what is familiar, thus inhibiting growth of any kind.

This in and of itself may seem depressing, but it really isn’t. The fact that you feel a sense of distance from what once made you happy simply means that you are already growing, whether you realise it or not. Eventually you will grow into a new phase, one where you will feel as though you are living again. Embrace the grey hue, be aware of it, and take steps to flourish. It can seem like an impossible task when you are so deeply unsure of what life has in store for you, but you will ultimately look back on the grey parts of your life wishing you had moved forwards rather than backwards into familiar.

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I realise this post was a bit haphazard, but I’m still readjusting after my week away! I hope you’re all as healthy and happy as can be. I’ll have a longer post up later in the week.

Love and luck,

Clodagh X

‘you’re no fun’ | what is fun?

I am an introvert through and through. I much prefer quiet, secluded settings to raucous parties, and being around large groups of people can be very taxing on my energy reserves. This in and of itself isn’t a bad thing; we all have our own individual personalities, and there is nothing wrong with leaning more towards the quiet side.

It is when we consider the world as a whole that an issue comes about. Our society is undoubtedly extrovert by nature. Think about it. What springs to mind when you think of the word ‘fun’? Parties, sunshine and beaming faces? I would almost bet money that you didn’t imagine a night in, curled up on the couch with a hot drink and fluffy socks. Even as a true introvert, I associate the word ‘fun’  more with what is considered fun than with my idea of fun. I have to fastforward through bright colours and people a-plenty to reach my ‘fun’ place. My happy place. A place where I am – surprise surprise – curled up on the couch with maybe three or four close friends, chatting about life and feeling all the happy feels.

This whole idea of reflecting on the concept of fun occurred to me quite recently, when I realised how much societal standards had impacted upon my own perceptions. Why do I associate parties with ‘fun’, when in reality I borderline hate parties? Why do I imagine hoards of people when I’d so much rather be with close friends and family? It’s almost as though we are indoctrinated from a young age as to what ‘fun’ should be. This makes it so easy to lose touch with yourself and your own needs for the sake of pleasing those around you. It also means that you are automatically ‘boring’ if you don’t go out a lot, or don’t always say a whole lot. For an introvert, this can be hellish. Cruel, even.

I think if I write anymore I’ll just be ranting, so let’s end it here. What I really want to get across with this piece is how subjective ‘fun’ is. It is ok to let off steam at home rather than at parties. It’s even more ok to be aware of how you actually feel, and to make this clear to others. You are not ‘dry’* for not wanting to go out. You’re just you. Be happy about that and let others deal with it.

Love and luck,

Clodagh X

* dry = a colloquial term used in Ireland to depict someone who’s no fun (oh, the irony) / won’t go out and drink / won’t go out to have a good time etc etc.

moulding emotion | look at a feeling, let it pass

It starts in your gut. You feel your stomach churn, and soon your mind starts spinning. These cogs turn together, forcing your mouth into action so that, before you know it, you’ve said something you’ll live to regret. All because of a feeling that spun out of control.

This is an all-too-familiar experience for the majority of the human race. Someone says something, we take it personally and bam! the insecurities tumble out at record speed. It is phenomenal how any issue we have with the person facing us can be compressed into a little package of hate within seconds of a misinterpreted remark.

The same thing can happen when we are faced with unpleasant circumstances. Combine this with a lack of control over said circumstances and you have enough fuel to keep the cogs whirring until you’re engulfed in nothing but feeling. All rationality goes out the window, leaving you at the mercy of your primal instincts.

While you can’t necessarily stop a feeling from emerging, you can stop it from developing. All you have to do is acknowledge its presence, and let it pass. Don’t act on it. If that means staying silent for a second, or pausing for breath, don’t hesitate to do so. Just be aware that you’re feeling angry or hurt, even unloved, and allow this awareness to give you a heightened level of understanding. It is with this understanding that we can grow both internally and externally; our relationships with ourselves and others improve, and we ultimately live better lives.

This is something I’ve had to learn the hard way as I’ve grown up (I use the term ‘grow up’ pretty loosely as I still have an awful lot of growing up to do!). So many arguments and bad feelings could have been prevented if I’d just held myself back for a moment. When I did eventually figure all of this out – roughly when I was about 18 –  it was as if I’d been given a new power. I sincerely hope I’ve passed on this power by writing this post!

The next time an unwanted feeling starts growing inside of you, be aware that you do not have to give in to it. Look at it, and let it pass.

Love and luck,

Clodagh X

positive thinking – when positive thoughts lead to negative results | article

The concept of “positive thinking” is rampant in the modern age. One search of “#positivity” on Instagram produces over five million results – an overwhelming number of images all with one apparently simple aim: to encourage and to uplift. This, in principle isn’t a bad thing, nor is it an attempt to find the good in a bad situation. After all, as the old saying goes, “you can never have too much of a good thing”. But is this really the case?

While thinking positively is essential for our wellbeing, it must be executed in such a way that we consider the process itself rather than the end result.

I spoke to bestselling author Dr. Ian Robertson last year on this very topic – you can read the rest of the article here  . Enjoy!

Love and luck,

Clodagh X

finding shapes in the fog is what shapes you

Everything is shrouded in fog today. My head, my surroundings, even these words I’m writing. I can’t quite remember when things started to feel like this; possibly when I was in Paris two weeks ago. Foreign travel always does strange things to me – I’ve never really clicked with it.

Disconnected days like these are when we must create solid ground for ourselves. Not only must we create solid ground, but we must believe that we are capable of doing so. Fog doesn’t linger forever.

Once we feel grounded again, we can adapt to the fog and become more capable as a result. If you can live clearly through fog you can live through anything.

After all, finding shapes in the fog is what shapes you.

I realise this was a relatively short post, but I hope it helps someone out there. You can tackle whatever is facing you today, I believe in you!

Love and luck,

Clodagh X