- Helping families make the most of personality differences.

Helping families make the most of personality differences. article

TAGS: Communication, Self-Management, Stress

Coping with COVID-19

Yvonne Nelson-Reid, BEd, MA, MA, PhD
YVONNE NELSON-REID, BEd, MA, MA, PhD, is a mother of 5, writer, teacher, depth psychologist, and career coach. Teaching in a classroom, in her home, or on the ice as a figure skating coach has taught her a great deal about relationships and the importance of communication. As a certified MBTI and MMTIC professional, she uses typology as a tool for helping others understand differences and communicate more effectively. As a career coach she assists others in discovering careers that suit their personality.
View full author bio | Close

Coronavirus COVID-19, the pandemic that continues to wreak havoc upon the world, has thrown each of us into a new way of being. Isolation and social distancing, our new normal, catapults each of us into a surreal reality. Who would have thought that toilet paper would be a hot commodity?! Stressful times indeed! From empty grocery shelves, to lost income and jobs, families isolated at home, and sheer panic at the sound of a cough or sneeze, we are living lives that we have only read about in the history books.

Our lives are rapidly changing. Education has turned to online learning. For those fortunate people who still have jobs, many are now working from home. Curbside or home delivery are encouraged by restaurants and stores. Essential businesses such as grocery stores and pharmacies strive to enforce social distancing and keep shelves stocked. Healthcare workers are putting their lives on the line day in and day out (thank you for your dedication and sacrifice). Fear for our health (getting sick or losing loved ones to this pandemic), emotional, and economic well-being, takes stress to a whole new level.

With many families living, learning, and working, under one roof, as you can imagine, tension and anxiety are at a pinnacle. Using personality type language, we call a reaction to extreme stress, being "in the grip." In the grip refers to those moments where we act, feel, and think out of character for ourselves. During these times people often see us as irrational or out-of-control. Extreme stress can trigger a grip experience.

In this Covid-19 experience, families are stressed, isolated, and forced into new ways of conducting business and education. Mandated to stay home, a variety of personality types in tight quarters and under stress may be like a powder keg ready to explode! All personality types are deeply affected by stress. During times of extreme stress, we are often the worst versions of ourselves. We tend to act childish and out of character.

People who take in information through Sensing in the outer world (ESTP/ESFP) like to experience life using their senses in the here and now. When under extreme stress, they catastrophize the future by becoming confused and seemingly out of touch with reality.  Sensing used in the inner world (ISTJ/ISFJ) emphasizes reflection and remembering experiences, especially remembering details. Under extreme stress, they too catastrophize. This leads to the inability to manage facts which leads to confusion and fear of the future, imagining all kinds of negative outcomes.

People who take in information through Intuition in the outer world (ENTP/ENFP) enjoy new ideas and possibilities and are enthusiastic about them. Under extreme stress, they may obsess over unimportant details and become withdrawn and depressed. Intuition used in the inner world (INTJ/INFJ) also focuses on possibilities, however these are often long-term possibilities and are often complex and visionary. When under extreme stress, they may obsess over details in their outer world and attempt to control these, along with over-indulgence in sensual pleasures such as over-eating.

People who make decisions using Thinking in the outer world (ESTJ/ENTJ), value competence and control through organizing their environment. Under extreme stress, they become over emotional but pride themselves on control, and they do everything they can to keep it hidden. Thinking used in the inner world (ISTP/INTP) focuses on analyzing pros and cons. Under extreme stress, they also become emotional, but on the outside. We see them drowning in emotion, often using excessive logic.

People who make decisions using Feeling in the outer world (ESFJ/ENFJ) enjoy helping people and creating harmony. When under extreme stress, they may turn inward, becoming overly critical towards themselves and rigid with "all or nothing" thinking. Those with a Feeling preference used in the inner world (ISFP/INFP) makes decisions based on their personal values. Under extreme stress, these sensitive types become outwardly aggressive and critical.

Research shows that all types benefit from exercise and getting out in nature to help bring them back into balance. More information on how to cope with grip experiences can be found in Naomi Quenk's (2000) book, In the Grip: Understanding Type, Stress, and the Inferior Function.

The bottom line for us is to recognize that we all may be acting out of character during these difficult times, so be patient. How do you react when someone says, "get over it" or "get a grip?" I suspect not very well. If we could, we would! For introverted types, having alone time to reflect often helps, and for extraverted types, it is often beneficial to talk with a trusted friend or loved one. If you find yourself unable to move beyond the grip, do seek professional help. We are all in this together, and you are not alone.  

Related Content

Lesson in Self-Management
Read More - Lesson in Self-Management

A Bike, a Trash Can, and a Lesson in Self-Management

A father was taking his young daughter on a ride using her brand-new bike with training wheels. I watched the little girl riding on the sidewalk. The father was running ahead moving any trashcan that was in the way or little twigs that might be a bump for her. Basically, he was doing his best to make it a perfectly fine path for the child to ride. article
Read More - article

The Challenge to Win Fairly and Lose Friendly

All children in elementary schools have to learn how to “win fairly and lose friendly.” The task is harder for some children than it is for others. To learn the lesson, beginning in preschool, there should be moments for winning and moments for losing. When teachers try to create an environment where “everyone wins,” children lose the opportunity to learn this skill. article
Read More - article

School Morning Routines… or Not

As a parent, I am sure you will relate well to this one! School mornings … chaos! Everyone has somewhere they need to be, each with their own schedule and arrival times. Our society does not function on going at your own pace or getting there when you get there.

You would think that those who typically get up late and run out at the last minute would be the most stressed, but not in our house! Those are the kids who seem most chill about throwing on their clothes, probably yesterday’s clothes, popping a mint, and putting their hair up in a messy ponytail. article
Read More - article

Monday Selfies: Telling Children They are Wonderful without Teaching Them How to Become Wonderful is Unfair

We tell children so often that they are wonderful just being who they are but they don?t always feel wonderful. Many worry greatly about how others perceive them and do not have a sense of what others see.

Some children focus only on their flaws. Others notice only their strengths. Development means we all have moments when our way is a perfect match for the situation. Then there are the times when our way does not work well for the task at hand and we must accommodate.

Framing Your Brainstorming:
Type Tip #6

You know the scenario - you are coming up with ideas fast and furious. If you want others to follow your way of expressing your thoughts, put a frame around them that explains how others should listen. For example, if you are brainstorming ideas you may say, "I am playing with possible ideas but have not selected any one." Now the listener knows these are not final choices but possible choices. This allows the young listener to better sort the information being shared.


Read More - Choices

Using Choices to Increase Individuality

Teachers and parents often agree that individuality should be encouraged in the home and in the classroom, but sometimes we hear comments from teachers that sound like this: "How am I supposed to do that when there are more than 30 students in the class?" article
Read More - article

“My Teacher Hates Me! I Hate My Teacher!” – The Joys of a New School Year

Learning Styles
Read More - Learning Styles

Learning Styles – Meeting the Needs of the Student

Compliance and development
Read More - Compliance and development

The Delicate Balance Between Compliance and Development article
Read More - article

How was Your School Day? From No Response to an Overabundance of Details

Kids spend a great deal of time away from us during the day, either through day care or school, depending upon age and parents' schedules. So, what goes on during this time? If you are like me, one of the first things I ask the kids when they come home is, "How was your day?" article
Read More - article

What’s Your POS (Parent Operating System)? And Where Does it Come From?

A major challenge for some parents is learning how to support your children without forgetting about yourself. I developed habits and policies – my Parent Operating System – through experience and reflection. A foundational piece came after one “my project is due tomorrow” event. article
Read More - article

Help or Hire?

Children love when we wait on them hand and foot. Who doesn't? Sometimes, without meaning to, we inadvertently encourage children to feign helplessness because we rush to help too soon. Here is a suggested strategy that works well for those occasions. article
Read More - article

Over Scheduled – Knowing When Enough is Enough

For Me: Type Tip #7

If you are adamant about an opinion or a procedure, add the phrase "for me" at the end so the child knows other opinions may also have value. Instead of saying, "pineapple pizza is disgusting," say "pineapple pizza is disgusting for me." That was undoubtedly your intent but the explicit phrase opens the door for the young listener to have a different opinion.


Family Meeting
Read More - Family Meeting

Family Meetings – Creating a Safe Environment Where Everyone has a Voice

Read More - Problem-solving

Toss That Time-Out Chair: Use the Z-Model

Read More - Introversion-Extraversion

Two Worlds: Extraversion and Introversion

Anything you can do...
Read More - Anything you can do...

Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better

The View From Here
Read More - The View From Here

The View from Here article
Read More - article

Helicopters and Snowplows

College Search Adventure
Read More - College Search Adventure

The College Search Adventure article
Read More - article

What do Game of Thrones and Type Have in Common? article
Read More - article

Meet, Greet, Repeat – Sweet!

Preparing for the 21st Century
Read More - Preparing for the 21st Century

Preparing for the 21st Century article
Read More - article

Motivation Matters: Give a Moose a Muffin

Daydreaming the Future
Read More - Daydreaming the Future

The “What If?” Game: Daydreaming the Future article
Read More - article

Calling All Members to a Family Meeting!

Learning at Home
Read More - Learning at Home

Pandemic - Online Learning Gone Viral

The Z Problem Solving Model
Read More - The Z Problem Solving Model

Family Holidays in the Time of COVID: Will We Celebrate Together?

Still Coping with Covid
Read More - Still Coping with Covid

Still Coping with Covid-19