Using Personality Tests for Your Best Self-Care Routine

By Janie McGlasson

Humans have been seeking to categorize personality types for thousands of years. From zodiac signs and the Shakespearean “four humors”—which, by the way, were based on a “personality test” of sorts created by Hippocrates where he would read your personality according to what color your bile was— (Insert green-face emoji here) to a more contemporary Myers-Briggs, enneagram-type. And then we’ve come full circle in the digital age with pesonality tests attempting to determine which “Sex and the City” character you are.” We are on a neverending hunt for the ever-elusive definition of our “self.”  

As a therapist, I’ve witnessed hundreds of individuals and couples benefit from the process of self-discovery. While I’ve watched many people define themselves by their zodiac symbol/enneagram number/etc., the ultimate goal of personality tests is not to find a new, rigid definition of self, but it’s used in order to open up space for personal growth through knowing more about who you are, what you need out of relationships, and—most importantly imo—how to take better care of yourself. 

Why it matters.

Living in the time of bath bombs and adding collagen to everything, there are a lot of ideas on what we should all be doing for “self-care.” And while I love turmeric lattes as much as the next basic… LA lady, I also believe that this does not check off the self-care box for everyone, nor should it. Taking care of yourself—the true definition of self-care—must start with knowing who that “self” is. 

So, knowing that you’re a “2” on the enneagram or an “I” on the Myers-Briggs is only truly helpful if that information leads you to knowing that self-care for you might look like solo time to reconnect with yourself; and, therefore, that article that baths are the best form of self-care might actually be true for you. This bath-boasting article for a “7” on the enneagram, however, would be less helpful as a “7” would find more rest if they scheduled a day at the park with friends, whereas a “Charlotte” would be more relaxed attending a gallery opening with a close friend. Self-care guides can be helpful because it’s effective for us to expand our understanding of all the different ways that we can offer time and comfort to our self, or our loved ones. But ultimately, the only true self-care must come from first knowing who your self is and what that self needs from you.