Identity Exercise

"Fighting all the devils will take time, but the angels will burn inside for us" — Dishwalla lyrics, paraphrased

Hey friends,

One of the ways we can apply personality theory to our lives is to recognise our Angels and Devils. Here I’ll be a sharing an exercise based on two tangential 'open source' models of personality that we can use to identify these.

This exercise is designed for people who are wanting to raise their self-awareness; the goals are broadly the same as therapy but the approach is different. I studied a fair chunk of personality theory to distill this down to a quick & easy self-assessment tool that should take 30 minutes to complete.

My personality exercises are in the development phase and I would be thrilled to hear from you if you wish to share your findings. In exchange you'll receive some informal 'coaching' in the form of heart-warming conversation.

Ready to get started?

"Angels and Devils"

Since this exercise was named after the naughties hit song by rock band Dishwalla, you're welcome to put their album Opaline (2002) on in the background.

Cards Key

This will be simple and fun if we approach it as a sorting game; there are eight cards and two rules. Your goal is to identify which card goes in your Angels and Devils piles. Below are the cards and the names for you to get acquainted with.

Group 1: How do you primarily take in new information?

CO = I prefer to focus on Organising existing Concepts
CG = I prefer to focus on Gathering more Concepts
FO = I prefer to focus on Organising existing Facts
FG = I prefer to focus on Gathering more Facts

Group 2: How do you primarily make decisions?

RP = I prefer to prioritise my Personal Reasons
RT = I prefer to prioritise the Tribes Reasons
VP = I prefer to prioritise my Personal Values
VT = I prefer to prioritise the Tribes Values

Rules

  1. The cards you put in the Angels pile must be frequently occurring, and the cards you put in the Devils pile must infrequently occur.
  2. Only one letter may uniquely appear in each pile i.e. from Group 1, the CO and FO cards cannot both go in the Angels pile, as one must be in the Devils pile, and therefore CG can not go in the Angels pile with CO.

Hopefully these rules are pretty straight forward—basically it's just one letter per pile—I'll take you through this step-by-step and we can cross-check it at the end.

Sorting Procedure

Now let’s sort out your cards. Start by comparing two of the same first letters i.e FO vs FG. Observing Rule 2 place one card in either pile by asking yourself:

  • Which one occurs frequently? → place card in Angels pile → complete a card statement from below
  • Which one occurs infrequently? → place card in Devils pile → complete a card statement from below

For the card statements you will need to take your time to think about a specific (and reliable) experience from your life; in order to compare the cards fairly.

Card Statements

Your Angels... who turn up frequently for you:

  • I feel responsible… [example] (card)
  • I feel confident… [example] (card)
  • It feels obvious… [example] (card)

Your Devils... who make infrequent appearances for you:

  • I avoid responsibility… [example] (card)
  • I feel fear… [example] (card)
  • I feel pain… [example] (card)
  • I want to be good at… [example] (card)

Repeat this process for all the cards with the same first letter i.e. three more times.

Once complete, as per Rule 3 double check that there are no repeating letters in a single pile. If there are then you will need to re-order your cards by re-examining your examples and your comparisons.

Re-prioritising the cards is probably the hardest part and you will want to see it as a necessary forcing function. Don't give up, you got this! You may just need to come up with better examples and make more comparisons. If this feels hard then take a short break and remind yourself that this is ultimately a good thing to do.

Try not to get hung up on your examples. They are supposed to represent general tendencies that are broadly representative of 'you'. Contrary to what you might think or feel here, this activity is designed to celebrate your uniqueness and complexity as a human being.

If you genuinely feel that this exercise really isn't doing it for you then please don't force yourself either. There will be a better activity out there, keep the faith! You can also reach out and tell me what you're stuck on—you'd be doing me a favour and I'm keen to assist.

An Example

To help you get started here is an example of my cards with the one-time letter placements in each pile and their corresponding statements:

My Angels... happens often:

  • CG: I prefer to focus on Gathering more Concepts → I often feel responsible when we run out of ideas at work
  • VP: I prefer to prioritise my Personal Values → I often feel confident that I can uphold my morals under peer pressure
  • RT: I prefer to prioritise the Tribes Reasons → I often feel confident leveraging thoughts in group discussions
  • FO: I prefer to focus on Organising existing Facts → It is obvious that I often put time in to re-arranging information

My Devils... happens, but less often:

  • CO: I (do not) prefer to focus on Organising existing Concepts → I sometimes fear that I don’t know where my life is going with my choices
  • VT: I (do not) prefer to prioritise the Tribes Values → I sometimes feel pain when I can’t make sense of my friends actions
  • RP: I (do not) prefer to prioritise my Personal Reasons → I sometimes avoid responsibility when it comes to making difficult life choices
  • FG: I (do not) prefer to focus on Gathering more Facts → At times I want to be good at figuring out how to navigate organisational politics

Optional

Proceed with this exercise if you want to spin up some personal development actions. Once complete it will become clearer what areas are worth focusing on.

Look at your cards and revisit the Card Key above. Complete the statements following the same format as shown in my example below.

Group 1 (Observations): "The way I tend to learn is through..."

  1. Gather: The way I tend to learn is through Gathering Concepts (Angel) over Gathering Facts (Devil)
  2. Organise: The way I tend to learn is through Organising Facts (Angel) over Organising Concepts (Devil)

Group 2 (Decisions): "My decision tends to favour..."

  1. Values: My decision tends to favour Personal Values (Angel) over Group Values (Devil)
  2. Reasons: My decision tends to favour Group Reasons (Angel) over Personal Reasons (Devil)

Conclusions

I designed this exercise to help people like myself understand recurring life patterns. You should notice how you spend a lot of time with your Angels and not enough time with your Devils.

Please note: this exercise was not about what you like or hate, are good at or bad at. It is just about observing what you fear (Devils) and accept (Angels) about yourself. There’s a difference!

If this exercise was helpful, then you will have gained more clarity about your primary or default way of operating, and perhaps even started to wonder how it may differ from others. Pay attention to how this raises your self-awareness.

Most people are afraid to take responsibility for understanding their personality and would rather argue why their way of making decisions and gathering information is right. It is a natural human tendency to have unconscious biases.

Congratulations! An activity like this is mentally and emotionally intense and you might not like what you have found out about yourself. Yet the simple truth is that we need to ask ourselves difficult questions like these in personal development so as to come to a place of self-acceptance and ego transcendence.

Next steps is to come and delve deeper with me on your identity/personality—Simply visit my Calendly page and find a time that suits you best 😉

Until we meet again,

Beccy xx

Ps. If you enjoyed this exercise please spread the love and share it with a friend!


Multicultureland is a weekly newsletter written by Beccy Lee about modern identities, dedicated to helping you become who you are. Beccy is a Third Culture Kid and Occupational Psychologist specialising in culture & personality.

“Who Am I?” is a deeply introspective question that we all ask at some point in our lives. This newsletter is for people like me who are keen to figure it out. I believe we all have hidden stories to uncover that have the power to transform us and our relationships.

Multicultureland aims to educate and entertain readers—Beccy writes personal stories, shares lessons and exercises that she has found helpful for self-discovery and personal development. Where social science meets wisdom, Beccy is a 'psychologist on a mission' to raise the collective unconscious in the modern world.