Myers Briggs Typology

The Nature of Belief Systems

FIRST, some commentary on a few cognitive aversions from an INFP perspective…

imageAfter completing a series of posts on the INFP personality type, I’d like to provide some thoughts on the nature of belief systems.  It’s a subject matter which illustrates a cognitive aversion I attribute to my temperament-based preferences.  As I mentioned in this series, the MBTI is a “mental food log” which describes what the mind is drawn to.   It describes how you take in information, and what you do with it.  As it applies to my own life, I’m naturally drawn to “outside-the-box thinking”, authenticity, and my imagination.  I also have natural cognitive aversions.  As an INFP I’m easily bored by the inane details of life and I need “alone time” to recharge after a long day.   These preferences are in opposition to my husband’s who is an ESTP.  His “puppy temperament” is a stark contrast to my cat-like independence.   Right now as I type this on the living room sofa lost in my thoughts, my husband prepares dinner.  Its worth noting that these natural cognitive aversions also produce strong feelings of annoyance and aggravation.  Understanding this, has been very useful in working through areas of miscommunication in relationships….

INFP rebellion vs. ISFJ conformity – when cognitive aversions conflict…

GULL TALKAs an ISFJ, my sister naturally gravitates toward conventionality.  She desires to follow the rules and was always the “good girl”.  In retrospect,  this reflects a set of natural temperament-based preferences in her ISFJ personality.  Until I understood this, we had trouble seeing eye-to-eye.   What follows are quotes from a resource that summarizes key aspects of my sister’s temperament that can rub me the wrong way at times:

“ISFJs have a very clear idea of the way things should be, which they strive to attain…They tend to believe that existing systems are there because they work. Therefore, they’re not likely to buy into doing things in a new way, unless they’re shown in a concrete way why its better… (personalitypage.com, n.d.a.)”  

“ISFJs are usually stable, certain, reliable…But if unbalanced, they are likely to treat any point of view other than their own with a kind of cold dismay, and if pressed hard will tend to shut out the existence of problems caused by others differing attitudes…(personalitypage.com, n.d.b)”  

Growing up, I found these characteristics infuriating.  We’re doing much better today, and I consider our relationship healed.  However, in our youth, I was often greatly hurt by our her refusal to listen to my perspective on matters.  This was especially painful in a familial culture that made me a “definitive minority”.  With my mother’s temperament in opposition to my own as an ESTJ, I consistently displayed a natural inclination toward rebellion.  This wasn’t intentional.  In fact, I constantly doubted myself and what was eager to please her.   “Why couldn’t I just fall into line?  What was wrong with me?”…

…Against this personal backdrop, I have many thoughts on the shortcomings of belief systems, that I feel are worth discussion here….

Characteristics of Belief Systems

Belief systems are socially constructed

bSocieties and cultures are a byproduct of belief systems, which provide a means of constructing the “stories we tell ourselves to define our personal sense of reality” (Usó, 2015, p. 1).  In this sense, they are meaning paradigms that define the nature of our lived experience.  Societies benefit because belief systems create a mutually agreed-upon reference point for all its members.  When everybody complies, belief systems carry social consequences that allow it to develop a surface appearance which mirrors “objective truth”.  In this respect, their existence is not dependent upon a believer, but society as a whole.  It remains an integral component of our culture, woven throughout our history until we as a society begin to question it.  Only then can systems of belief loosen their definitive hold upon our daily lives.

Belief systems are comprised of mutually supportive tenants…

puzzle-1152794_640Systems of belief contain a mutually supportive “set of tenets or convictions that support each other, such that the whole system governs individual beliefs.” (closertotruth.org, 2016).    Essentially, the components of a belief system become woven together into a network of supporting “truths” for believers that allow the experience of internal consistency (closertotruth.org, 2016).  As a consequence, believers think they have an answer or inside understanding on “truth”, when in reality they’re taking the entire system on faith (Usó, 2015).

Belief systems require personal commitment & blind faith from its followers….

monkey-557586_640Belief systems require personal commitment from believers in order to provide “strong social consequences” (Usó, 2015).  Without these social consequences, belief systems would not be able to provide followers with a perception that they hold  “truth or understanding”.  This is due to the fact that belief systems are constructed out of a set of complex components that together become internally consistent and “logical” (((as long as you stay within system))).

Belief systems provide a means of explanation & evaluation for followers….

Human beings are meaning makers.  Our experiences become what they are, in part, due to how we choose to define them.  In this respect, systems of belief are woven throughout our thought processes, perceptions, and experiences.  “Reason cannot prove the beliefs [they] are based upon.  Beliefs arise through experience.  Experiences needs previous beliefs and reason to be assimilated, and reason needs experience to be formed, as beliefs need reason as well” (Usó, 2015, p. 1).  If you think about it, this explains why people vigorously defend systems of belief. Once removed, it can feel as if the rug has been pulled out from under you.

Nonconsensual, ever-changing, & varying in certitude…

Finally, regarding the specific nature of belief systems, there are a few more characteristics worth mentioning. Uso, (2015), notes that they are “nonconsensual” (p. 1), in the sense that not all followers agree 100% with all aspects of it.  For example, while my mother is devoutly Catholic, she disagree’s with the church’s view on abortion and birth control.   My sister, who considers herself a “bible-banging” evangelical, often butts heads with my mother’s Catholicism on assorted religious matters.  As the agnostic, my perspective holds “no value whatsoever”, since I’m going to hell.  Religious debates in my family often result in hurt feelings.

On the basis of these observations, it is worth noting that followers are aware of the presence of alternatives.  They have heard the rhetoric of detractors.  They respond with a passionate commitment in varying “degree of certitude” (Usó, 2015, p. 1).  These variances in commitment, present with a passionate assertion of faith.  It is in this respect that knowledge appears very different from belief.  As it pertains to knowledge, we simply state facts. “One would not say that one knew facts strongly” (Ableson, 1979, 366). Beliefs are presented as matters of trust and faith that some fact or idea can be accepted or held in confidence.  Implicit in this commitment are varying degree of emotion and feeling from believers (Usó, 2015).

  Consequences for Believers

So with these characteristics in mind, what are the consequences of committing to a belief system? What follows is a list of personal observations, as an “outsider looking in”…..

A Perceptual Bubble

20150405_083325A series of interesting videos on belief can be found an www.closertotruth.org.  In one of their videos, it is noted that belief systems create a perceptual bubble around which we create our reality (closertotruth.org, 2016).  This pertains to an insight from another resource I quoted earlier which notes that beliefs are essential components of the stories we tell about our lives (Uso, 2015).  By fully committing to a belief system on faith, you’re adopting a Perceptual Bubble of sorts. This can create an internally consistent experience of life.  When a group of people all hold a belief system on faith, it carries a series of social consequences for members.  This shared experience of “understanding” and “truth” can create systemic distortion, coloring everyone’s experiences holistically.  “Seeing outside” is difficult, if not impossible.

Disabled Critical Thinking

columboClosertotruth.org, (2016) also notes that it is easy to fall into a trap of assuming a rationality in our thought processes, when in fact, they reflect beliefs, (at least to some extent).  Technically, it is impossible to step outside ourselves and see how we see.  We are all inevitably bound by the subjectivity of our day-to-day experiences.  However, taking time to practice critical thinking is essential in order to: (1)  understand reality based on factual evidence, (2) observe it in manner not colored by emotions, and (3) make decisions in a manner that includes elements of logic and reason.   Mind you, I’m certainly no “guru” on the matter of thinking critically 🙂 .  However,  my attempts have provided me much to reflect upon.  As I’ve stated before, life’s problems are often simply d/t how we’re look at a situation.  The solution, often involves considering an alternate perspective we may have previously ignored.  The problem with systems of belief, is that they “short-circuit” thought processes. Becoming a believer is an “all or nothing” deal.  Acceptance requires an act of faith, wherein you unquestioningly adopt a set of propositions without examining the facts.  This logical jump requires adopting the entire system, since it is built to maintain an internally consistent life perspective in favor of “greater truth”.  For some, this is convenient, since it allows us to create an experience of “objective truth” without the effort of thinking for ourselves.  In reality this “objective truth” is a mutually shared self-deception.

Commitment-Based “Objective” Truth

Finally, many things we accept as “objective truth” are actually matters of faith.   From within the system, contradictory evidence is concealed and often goes by unnoticed.  Until something anomalous comes along to rock one’s boat all seems “okay”.  For many, letting go of a system of belief is scary, because it means letting go “everything you know” for something else – as yet undetermined…..

References

Ableson, R.P. (1979). Differences between belief and knowledge systems. Cognitive science, 3(4) 355-366).
closertotruth.com  (2016).  How Belief Systems Work.  Retrieved from: http://www.closertotruth.com/series/how-belief-systems-work
personalitypage.com (n.d.a.) Portrait of an ISFJ – Introverted Sensing Feeling Judging  Retrieved from: http://www.personalitypage.com/ISFJ.html
personalitypage.com (n.d.b). ISFJ Personal Growth. Retrieved from:  http://www.personalitypage.com/html/ISFJ_per.html
Usó, J. L. (2015). What are Belief Systems?. Retrieved from: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Josue_Antonio_Nescolarde_Selva/publication/270569207_What_are_Belief_Systems/links/55e8497808ae21d099c17009.pdf

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Understanding Extroverted Intuition…

Since this post is part of a series, read these posts first…

As an INFP, my dominant function is introverted feeling and my auxiliary function is extroverted intuition.  Together these two cognitive functions depict fairly accurately how my mind works.  Introverted feeling is a judging function which acts as an internal compass.  It has allowed me live a life on my own terms by listening to my “inner voice”.  My auxiliary function, is extroverted intuition (Ne) according to the MBTI.  As a perceiving function it describes how we become aware of people, things, events and/or ideas (Myers, 1962).  A person’s perceiving function falls on a continuum between two sssextremes: intuition or sensing (Myers, 1962).  Sensors utilize the senses to take in information in concrete and literal terms.  Intuition, in contrast, is much more difficult to pin down.  Isabel Myers (1962), states it is “[an] indirect perception by way of the unconscious…much too interested in…possibilities…to notice actualities” (p. 51)”.  This reflects fairly accurately my own personal experiences.  My mind is naturally drawn to big-picture, far-reaching possibilities.  I seek awareness of systems of meaning underlying the veneer of appearances.  Regarding extroverted intuition, Jung states the following:

“He has a keen nose for things in the bud pregnant with future promise. He can never exist in stable, long-established conditions of generally acknowledged though limited value: because his eye is constantly ranging for new possibilities, stable conditions have an air of impending suffocation. He seizes hold of new objects and new ways with eager intensity, sometimes with extraordinary enthusiasm, only to abandon them cold- bloodedly, without regard” (Jung, 2014, p. 27-28).

definitive qualities of Ne…

What follows is my best attempt at describing extroverted intuition.  Keep in mind, as an INFP, my experience of this function, is as an auxiliary support for introverted feeling.  In other words, while introverted feeling (Fi) accurately describes my inner world, extroverted intuition (Ne) describes how I make sense of the world around me. As I’ve matured, personal growth has entailed learning to utilize this function independent of the needs of introverted feeling.  This has allowed me to see the world for what it is not simply what I feel it “should be”.

Boundless curiosity

imageMy favorite questions as a child were “Why?” And “How come?”  Rather than taking the experiences of daily life as they appeared I wanted to understand why they were that way. This desire for explanation goads me forward as I try to make sense of why things are as they are. My boundless curiosity produces a sweeping awareness of history not bound by the present.  I look to the past to understand why today is as it is.  I look forward to develop an understanding of what’s beyond the horizon.  Easily bored by the details of daily life, my mind is elsewhere.  Driven by introverted feeling, all things pertaining to humanity’s existence capture my imagination.  Asking me to focus on what’s in front of me and take the facts as they appear feels like prison.  I become constrained by a narrowed focus that prevents me from examining the possibility around me.

Big picture orientation.

imageI like fitting the pieces of life into a puzzle that provides a greater understanding of things. My mind is naturally drawn toward the endless task of seeking patterns woven throughout life, as a hidden paradigm.  In the area of communication, this means digging deeper.  Rather than taking things as the seem, I notice hidden meaning & unspoken motives.  As it pertains to society, others’ play by the rules, I ask who made them, and why it applies to me.

In this manner, I see the bigger picture and play with it as a toddler with a new toy.  In order to make sense of life from all facets, I flutter between multiple perspectives in a game of “what-if”.  The one rule of this game: a momentary suspension of disbelief that requires one to hold a perspective without prejudgment.  This illuminates a hidden truth that was previously unknown.  With this expanded awareness I’m suddenly goaded further to move ruthlessly toward other vantage points in a never-ending quest for understanding.

“The Healer/Empathist” – understanding others

imageI like Kiersey’s label for INFP’s as healers, it fits us well.  As an INFP, extroverted intuition focuses upon what best captures the interests of my empathist mindset.  Guided by Fi, I start first with an natural empathetic drive which is not ignorable.  My mind gravitates toward the grain of truth in a person’s point-of-view and tries to acknowledge the feelings which result from them.  When guided by Fi, Ne seeks to develop a bigger picture to aid in the journey.

I’m an emotive sponge. My walls are thinner than most others.  The inner world of those I encounter echo in my mind.  In my family of origin, I have to play chameleon for this reason.  I see where they are coming from.  I alter my communication to meet their needs. As a person speaking a foreign language, I translate my thoughts into something they can grasp.  The goal is getting myself heard by speaking in a way others understand.  The process is exhausting….and often a one way street.

Harmony & social justice for the underdog…

imageAs an INFP. I naturally empathize with the underdogs of the world.  Driven by a desire for harmony and cooperation in my environment, I fight for inclusion & equality.  I hate arguing and avoid it like the plague.  With introverted feeling taking the reigns, I’m hyper-aware of the social injustices of the world.  As an INFP I have an strong internal drive for independence and individuality.  I desire to live life on my own terms, remain authentic and gain acceptance for who I am.  I have a strong distaste for blind conformity and close-mindedness.

Shortcomings of Ne…

I love the metaphor of a food log since it describes so succinctly insights of the MBTI.   It provides a convenient assessment of our innate cognitive preferences.  For example, I hate cucumbers and watermelon.  I love sushi.  Nothing you can do will change these preferences, they’re kinda written in stone…Mind you, I’m not saying this gives us free reign to be as we are and forego effortful self improvement.  Instead, I believe that while we should accept these preferences as innate drives, we can also engage in self-responsibility. In light of this, what follows are a few shortcomings of this cognitive function, in my experience…

Difficulty with pragmatism

As an INFP, my imagination is my favorite plaything.  I can get lost within it.  Thats largely due to the fact that extroverted intuition is bored with the pragmatics if daily life.  Taking things as they appear without digging deeper feels like running into traffic blindfolded.  I have difficulty remembering details.  I’m an absent-minded professor who’s too lost in her thoughts to bother with the present moment.  Consequently, I suck at planning and have difficulty solving problems by working thru facts.  I lived my youth as a reformed fuck-up: making rash decisions with no basis in logic to their often ubsurdist conclusions….

Bored with everyday details

My mother is an ESTJ.  She was telling me a strange story one day of her long bus trips to school while a college student living at home.  How did she spend her time?  She would take a mental snapshot of the passing scenery and see how much she could remember.  Her other favorite was the alphabet word game using road signs.  Honestly, I’m sure there was a point to this story, but I don’t remember it.  I only recall this snippet because it seemed so odd to me.  My mind literally runs in opposition to hers.  I’m usually too preoccupied with my thoughts to even notice such details.  I can never remember where I last left my keys.  I have to keep a bullet journal to keep myself organized…. And still I manage to miss a few details here and there.

Lost in a world of imagination

When you take the world as it is, based on surface appearance, you’re missing so much.   There’s a deeper truth to be found by simply asking “why”.  More importantly, I firmly believe the solution to many problems in life can be solved by looking at things differently.  Oftentimes we are so intertwined within the problem, we can’t see a solution – until we step back and look at the bigger picture.

Big on ideas without the follow-thru

Yup.  This is a big shortcoming of Ne.  This very blog is a superb example.  I’ve wanted to create a blog for over five years.  I have a big plastic bin in my hallway closet filled with ideas.  Creating this blog is a big step in a new direction.  I’m setting aside plans and pulling the trigger.  Nobody may ever read this, but that’s really “not the point”.

How do you “unsee”???

In defense of my shortcomings, as an INFP, I simply ask this question: how do you “unsee” something?   If you notice something that is plain & clear, but nobody else is paying attention, should you ignore it?  Does that mean it doesn’t exist?  Is reality a majority rules concept? What if you try to point out what you see, but nobody listens? Are they ignoring you in favor of blissful ignorance over bitter truth?  What do you do?

Your options are limited.  You could ignore your own first-hand experience, and blindly appease others.  This would yield approval from others but result in hypocrisy and inauthenticity.  The other alternative is to play that role as the kid in that fable “The Emperor’s New Clothes”. Daring to live your own Truth may not yield approval. However this isn’t a reflection that you are wrong.  They may just not understand where you’re coming from…. And maybe in the end this doesn’t matter….

References…

Myers, I. B. (1962). The myers-briggs type indicator: Manual. Consulting Psychologists Press.
Jung, C.G..(2014) Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Volume 6 : Psychological Types. Princeton, NJ, USA: Princeton University Press.

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Understanding introverted feeling

Click here to read part one…

As I mentioned in part one of this series, I am an INFP according to the MBTI:  “Myers-Briggs Type Indicator”.  Based on insights from Carl Jung’s work, it measures an individual’s preferences along four temperament-based dichotomies.  To review, I am an INFP:

I am an introvert who is drawn towards my rich inner world to “recharge my batteries”…

I use intuition, a big-picture, future-oriented perceiving function tp seek out meaning & possibility…

I use the feeling function to make decisions on the basis of my personal values…

I am a perceiver who has a flexible and spontaneous approach to life…

imageIt is worth noting that these four cognitive functions, exist in a hierarchical order in terms of preference.  In other words, some of them have a stronger influence on our thought processes than others. For example, the dominant function exists as the ship’s captain, “with undisputed authority to set her course and bring her safe to the desired port” (Myers, 1962, p. 59).  According to myersbriggs.org, (n.d.) we tend to trust this function the most & are energized when utilizing it, since it comes naturally to us.  As an INFP, my dominant function is introverted feeling.  Additionally, since this dominant function doesn’t work in isolation, it is worth noting how the others functions support it.  For example, as a feeler, I am driven by personal values without reference to others, as an introvert.  In contrast, my sister is an ISFJ who extroverts her feeling function .  I would describe her as “miss manners on crack”: concerned with conventionality and not coloring outside the lines.    This link provides an excellent discussion of how introverted feeling compares with extroverted feeling.   In this section, I’d like to review my own personal experiences with this cognitive function and how it affects my view of the world….

Definitive Qualities of Fi…

mysterious & difficult to define…

“Introverted feeling is determined by the sub­jective factor…is ex­tremely difficult to give an intellectual account of…or even an approximate description of it…The depth of this feeling can only be guessed at…It makes people silent and difficult to access.” (Jung, 2014, p. 638).

mask-875534_1920The biggest complaint I’ve heard about INFPs are that they are very difficult to know.  I find the above quote from Carl Jung quite humorous. It’s certainly an accomplishment that we make so little sense for someone such as Jung – who is known for his intuitive understanding of the human mind 🙂 🙂 .  As I experience this difficult-to-understand nature, there are two perspectives from you could discuss it.  The fizzy pop can metaphor might be useful in this discussion. Let’s say there are several pop cans sitting on the counter.  Somebody grabs one of them and shakes it up a bit to create extra pressure inside, then places it next to the other cans.  I call this the INFP pop can. From the outsider’s perspective, it sits like there, as any normal pop can would, and basically takes up space until someone opens it up and takes a drink.  As the INFP, its important to remember that surface impressions don’t scratch the surface of one’s internal reality.  In other words, a view from within the pop can is very different than surface impressions might lead one to believe.  This is usually a surprise to the unknowing observer who picks up the INFP pop can and opens it up to take a drink….

It’s important to note, I’m not trying to be difficult and evasive when others try to understand me.  In my experience it seems instead as if introverted feeling (Fi) and extraverted intuition (Ne) combine to create a contrarian view of the world.  As a biracial individual and bullied child, I believe that this “against the grain” mindset was magnified highly.  When I think of introverted feeling, my own personal theory of life comes to mind. I believe that reality is a subjective interpretation and not objective fact.  As a result, I believe it is important to think for yourself, “by keeping your eyes on your own paper”.  Convenient examples of the inherent subjectivity of life can be discovered within your favorite book, movie, or television series.  It is through the character’s eyes that the story becomes what it is.  What you get is more than a plot line unfolding before you.  Instead you get a chance to “wear” a set of eyeballs other than our own, and witness life from a unique perspective….

In attempting to understand this difficult-to-know nature, it is useful to refer again to the INFP’s primary perceiving functions.  My primary perceiving function is extraverted intuition which is most effectively illuminated in the Indian fable of the Blind Men and the Elephant.  My primary judging function is introverted feeling which inherently honors individuality and the uniqueness of everyone’s experience with an attitude of empathy.  Together these functions yield a mine field of perspectives that appears much like a hall of mirrors.  Each experiential reality is a creation of self-fulfilling prophecies, whereby we project our thoughts, feelings and beliefs upon the world.  How does one begin to communicate this reality?   There are truly no words…

marching to my own drum…

“Introverted Feeling (Fi) is the attitude that everything is manifest…in the expression of a soul or life force, in terms of which everything…makes sense. Everything…is the result of a soul expressing its unique nature….each living thing is completely unique, and has unique needs. Every living thing needs to express itself …in its unique way” (MBTI Enthusiast, 2012).

horseRegarding the idea of “marching to my own drum”, the following quote from a previous post might be useful:  “As a contrarian, I feel it is important to note that ‘objective fact’ and ‘common sense’ are terms that often do not mean what we think they do.  They also happen to be highly overrated.  What is often perceived as “common sense” is instead a requisite deference to a schema-oriented social framework.  Objective facts often constitute lying by omission, when you consider their presentation often edits out the fact that our experience of reality is a perceptual construct.  Things are never what they appear to be and we need to dig deeper…”.  It is worth noting, that the MBTI is like a mental food log.  It describes my innate preferences.  With this in mind, I have an innate distaste for blind conformity and pluralistic ignorance.  My husband has a great name for people who live this way: “SHEEPLE”.  I like that term, since it succinctly describes my thoughts on conventional thinking, if it means having to sacrifice my own personal values….

…and that brings me to the issue of personal values as it pertains to the INFP.  From my own perspective, I experience my own values-laden reality as a sort of “inner knowing” of what resonates with me based on my current beliefs and experiences.  This purely subjective value system, pertains to me alone and is something which I have no desire to impose upon others.  Instead, it is reflects my belief that the true key to empowerment is self-responsibility. As I said earlier, “keep your eyes on your own paper”.  

still waters run deep…

“Introverted feeling is judgment with an emotional slant that causes the individual to view the object on a subjective level. It is primarily a silent inaccessible function that is difficult to conceptualize….and is entirely individualistic” (MBTI Enthusiast, 2012).

sunset-1227765_1920While I may have discussed this quality earlier, it is worth mentioning here again, only because it is so definitive of the INFP’s character.  The fizzy pop can metaphor is also pertinent here…. (((and it is worth noting that underestimating the INFP is a big mistake.)))  There is much of what makes us who “we are” that is unseen and overlooked.  While appearing, empathetic, idealistic, creative, and in our “own” world, there is usually much more going on.  You see, the introverted feeling function creates a uniquely personal experience in life where our values give it a unique quality.  These values are relevant to our own life experiences and we have an innate desire to live life accordingly  As I have experienced it, violating them is a mistake that (at its worst) can cause me to get very very angry.  Things can get ugly very quickly….A convenient example of this can be found in my blog posts on “A shameful Parenting Story” or “and Cancer Trumps PTSD”

…While I’m not necessarily proud of this war-path mentality, I claim ownership of it for the sake of self-responsibility.  You see, what really infuriates me is being told the reality of my experiences are irrelevant. Utilizing the above blog post links as an example…((READ THEM NOW IF YOU HAVEN’T)))… the former-friend who tells me “I’m fucked up and am fucking up my kids” violated an important ideal.  As a bullied child I feel it is wrong to blame the victim since I experienced much of this in my childhood.  As the mother of a bullied child, I’m making decisions based on my own child’s needs, and instead am told I’m not doing it right.  When its clear she doesn’t know what she’s talking about, how could a person not be angry???    Regarding the “cancer trumps PTSD” post, it hurt me tremendously to watch my parents support my sister through cancer in way they failed to do so for me.  Mind you when I was young I was very suicidal and needed help. Imagine being committed in a psychiatric hospital for suicidal ideation, and nobody visiting you.  How is it they’re surprised I’m not angry by this??

boundlessly idealistic

An INFP lives in a constant state of becoming….happiest when..our actions move us towards that Ideal….unhappy when… people or…circumstances control our ability to become our Ideal….Our values guides us towards what feels right and away from what feels wrong.  An INFP’s subjective values often conflict with external circumstances which leads to a me-vs-them mentality…[this is] the root…of our problems” (infpblog.org, n.d.).

INFP’s feel compelled to uphold their personal values because it feels like a “survival mechanism”. Denying us this can feel like a rejection of what “makes us who we are”.  For example, in a follow-up post to the “Shameful Parenting” post, I discuss the concept of “Good Enough Parenting”.  In this post, I reflect on my experiences raising a child with a congenital heart defect who was bullied as a child.  I consider these unique experiences, and raise him as I see fit, based on his unique needs  When someone who doesn’t know what they’re talking about tells me this is wrong I get angry.  The key for me has been accepting the idea that others might not approve or validate me.  The price I must accept for following my own path, is that people may disagree with me.

subjective & empathetic…

Fi leads [one] to live a life based on empathy & harmony…and…see life as a never-ending conflict between souls that are intrinsically different…Fi naturally leads people to favor mercy or forgiveness…This use of empathy [is an]… orientation [which] leads to a resolute non-judgmentalness….(MBTI Enthusiast, 2012).

When I was a kid my parents took me to my first movie.  Since my sister wasn’t born yet, I’m guessing I about five years old.  This was the mid-70’s, and I was seeing a Peanut’s movie.  According to my parents I was enjoying the movie until the scene where Lucy is fighting with Snoopy in a boxing match.  Everybody in the audience is laughing, but I’m crying uncontrollably.  In fact, it gets so bad that that my parents have to leave the theater.  I remember vaguely being so angry that everybody was laughing at snoopy getting hurt.  He’s a cute puppy dog after all, why would you want to beat up a puppy dog?!?!

This quality has been with me my whole life.  I’m naturally sensitive and experience my feelings strongly – in a manner that is difficult to express.  When I reflect on how different I am from the rest of my family, it becomes clear that my “walls” are thinner.  I am an empathetic and emotive sponge who can’t help but notice the emotions of those around me.  My youngest son is 9-years-old, and displays many of these traits.  From a very young age, he has always been sensitive, and I have to be careful when I punish him, that my verbal communication isn’t too harsh.  I also have to be aware of any exhaustion, stress, or frustration, because he can read immediately.  He reacts with a “what’s wrong mommy?”.  He can walk into a room, and know immediately how I feel just by looking at me.  The only other person who can do this, is my hubby, (only because he knows me so well).

Click this link to read my series on the nature of emotions, as only an INFP can explain things.  
Click this link to read my discussion on the intelligence of emotions for an introverted feeler’s perspective.

Shortcomings of Fi…

A discussion of the introverted feeling would be incomplete without discussion of its inherent shortcomings.  What follows is a list of issues that perpetually plague my daily existence…

Pathological Perfectionism

perfectAs I stated earlier, INFP’s are know for their boundless idealism.  They feel compelled to live by these ideals and protect them – especially when challenged.  In some instances this can be a strength.  It provides INFP’s a strong motivational force and internal guidance system.  In other instances, boundless idealism is unhealthy and destructive – especially when it isn’t anchored onto reality. INFP’s should question the measuring stick they hold themselves to.  Are you investing in realistic expectations?  While criticism and self-responsibility are healthy – unnecessarily harshness is self-destructive.

The most judgmental type…

justice-9017_1920A blog post I found recently, makes some interesting points of INFP’s.  While we may appear fairly inert and unassuming, something very different can lurk underneath.  As INFPs, we are able to see beyond the superficialities of daily experience.  What’s frustrating, is these deeper truths underlie superficial experience yet are constantly ignored.  However much it acts as a definitive groundwork upon which we build our reality, we engage in a “suspension of disbelief” for the sake of illusory realism.  When reading books, or watching movies, Engaging in a suspension of disbelief is useful to enjoy the story as it unfolds.   While useful with works of fiction, it has no utility as a life approach.  What’s frustrating for INFP’s is a part of us desires desperately to point out that bullshit is bullshit.  However doing so can be an egregious violation to others’ feelings, so we say nothing.  Our hyper-awareness and empathy create a mental bullshit-o-meter for all that is incongruous and inauthentic.  Turning our boundless idealism onto the world when it fails to live up to our expectations can be truly ugly.  We can end up judging the world and those in it as we do ourselves.

overly sensitive….

woman-1006102_1280I grew up with an ESTJ mother and INTP father.  They are both college professors who prided themselves on their intellect.  As a neurophysiologist my father was great at reducing all thoughts and feelings to brain anatomy and function.  I remember being told as a kid “exercise your prefrontal cortex, Kathleen”, whenever I was emotional.  There is honestly a part of me that hates being an INFP.  In my next life I will be a callous bitch, just to see what that feels like.  Living in this life with such a think skin between myself and the world leaves me exposed.   Brene Brown’s concept of vulnerability is a terrifying for this reason.   However, over the years, I’ve learned how to put the insights of the MBTI into perspective and gain sone self-acceptance.  On the one hand, it is worth noting that this personality assessment describes our innate preferences.  Trying to change an innate preference is akin to “praying the gay away”.  On the other hand, it is wrong to use this as an excuse for our shortcomings.  For example, if the MBTI is a food log, I am I sweet tooth.  If I were to fully indulge this desire, I would gain 20 pounds in no time flat.  Just because I enjoy sweets, that doesn’t mean its okay to treat my body like a trash can.

A horse of a different color…

As I stated earlier, INFP’s can march to the beat of their own drum.  In some respects this can be a good thing, if it means an authentic existence based on self-awareness and personal responsibility.  However, marching to the beat of your own drum, doesn’t come without a price.  Going against the grain means accepting the consequences of “differentness”.   For me, in early childhood, I didn’t understand the underlying reasons for my oddball ways.  I was insightful enough to realize that “normalcy” was not possible, but still incapable of understanding why.  I was highly sensitive and very lonely as a bullied child. All I wanted to do was fit in, but never could.  It wasn’t until I grew older that I came to understand I was fighting my basic nature.

 Trying to be something I wasn’t for approval has caused me many problems over the years.  
Learning to provide validation for myself in the ways other’s failed to has been critical.  

Illogical & Unrealistic

“[introverted] feeling progressively emancipates itself from the object and creates or itself a freedom of action & conscience that is purely subjective and may even renounce all traditional values.  But so much the more does unconscious thinking fall a victim to the power of reality.” (Jung, 2014, p. 638).

UntitledAnother thing I hate about myself is my inability to be logical and pragmatic, especially since this causes me to stand out like a sore thumb in my family.  You see, this path of illogical unrealism goes way back, to my earliest memories.  It appears I prefer to take my current path to its most absurdist conclusion, until I find myself in a world of shit.  Here are a few examples, that I beat myself up over as a “REFORMED FUCK UP”…

  1. I was a bullied child, because others could tell I was the perfect target.  It took years before it truly sank in that their opinions don’t matter.  I allowed these unresolved hurts to exist as self-fulfilling prophecies well into adulthood….
  2. I was in a “very dysfunctional relationship” for four years in college.  I put up with all his bullshit simply because I took to heart everything my bullies said about me.  The reality of my true worth and what I have to offer in a relationship existed within me as fact.  Just like The Wizard of Oz story, I had the ruby slippers all along.  I just needed to believe in myself.  
  3. I made a series of stupid educational career choices in a desire to prove myself as “good enough” and successful in the conventional sense of the word, only to create failure after failure.  It wasn’t until I understood that success meant accepting my basic nature, that I was able to create forward progress

Click here to learn about Extroverted Intuition from an INFP perspective.  

References

beinginfp.org (n.d.)  INFP Description.  Retrieved from:  http://www.infpblog.com/infp/infp-description
Jung, C.G..(2014) Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Volume 6 : Psychological Types. Princeton, NJ, USA: Princeton University Press.
MBTI Enthusiast. (2012, July, 11,).  Introverted Feeling as Described by Lenore Thomson. Message posted to: http://personalitycafe.com/articles/106583-introverted-feeling-described-lenore-thomson.html 
Myers, I. B. (1962).  The myers-briggs type indicator: Manual. Consulting Psychologists Press.
myersbriggs.org (n.d.) The Dominant Function.  Retrieved from: http://www.myersbriggs.org/my-mbti-personality-type/understanding-mbti-type-dynamics/the-dominant-function.htm
Steele, B.D. (2009, December, 11) INFP: The Most Judgmental Type: Retrieved from: https://benjamindavidsteele.wordpress.com/tag/john-beebe/ 

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INFP: “a food log for the mind…”

imageMBTI stands for “Myers-Briggs Type Indicator”.  Based on Carl Jung’s work “Psychological Types”, published in 1921, it was first developed by Isabel Myers (1897-1980) and her mother, Katharine Cook Briggs (1875-1968) in 1943.   Utilizing Jung’s insights as a jumping off point, Myers & Briggs wanted to design an instrument that would allow individuals to develop an understanding of critical aspects of their temperament.   I’ve taken this test several times in my life, and find the results quite fascinating.  It has been quite useful for me in my academic pursuits, career aspirations, and personal relationships. As I understand it, the MBTI much like a mental food log.  It describes how we interact with our world, recharge our batteries after a long day, how we intake information, and what we do with it.  I’ve taken these results two times in my life, once in college and a second time when seeing a therapist.  I am an INFP, my sister is ISFJ, my father is INTP, my mother is ESTJ and my hubby is ESTP. When reading my own description I find it does function in describing well how I feed my mind and what I do with that information.  Additionally, studying temperament-based differences within my family has been helpful in understanding our relationship more fully.  In this post I provide an overview of the INFP personality type, based on my own personal experiences….

Temperament-Based Dichotomies

Introversion or Extroversion??? (recharging my batteries)

Untitled

In the MBTI Typology system,extraverts are naturally drawn of people and things whereas introverts are naturally drawn to their own inner world of thoughts and ideas (Myers, 1962).  In other words, as an Introvert, I recharge my batteries after a long day, by reading, blogging, or drawing.  At the same time, I can become quickly drained after an extended holiday visit with the extended family (where I have little time to myself).  Its important to note that this doesn’t mean I’m shy, antisocial, or unfriendly.  It just means that I need time to myself after a long day.   My mother in contrast, is an extravert.  She draws energy from the world around her and participates in an array of social groups and activities.  In her art, my mother analyzes the outer world in acute detail and tries to represent this as accurately as possible  I, on the other hand, utilize it is a form of self-expression.  My goal isn’t to strictly adhere to my senses.  Instead I hope to depict my unique way of viewing the world.

  1. Extraverts appear outgoing. Introverts appear quiet and reserved.
  2. Extraverts are comfortable working in groups, introverts work well alone.
  3. Extroverts have a wide range of friendships and know lots of people.  Introverts prefer to take time to know people well.
  4. Extroverts can jump into an activity with little reflection on underlying motives.  Introverts can spend too much time reflecting on motives and are delayed in moving to action.

Intuition or Sensing??? (perceiving the world)

ddThe MBTI Typology system, describes perceiving as a “process of becoming aware of things or people or occurrences or ideas” (Myers, 1962, p. 51) in our world.  We have unique preferences regarding how we prefer to take in information from the world around us.  This determines how we gather information from the world around us, and what tends first grabs our attention.  Sensors prefer to intake information through the five senses.  For example my hubby is an ESTP personality type.  As an ESTP, his primary function (more on this later) use extraverted sensing.   This means he lives fully in the present and is acutely aware of the physical reality of the world around him.  When talking with him, you get are acutely aware of how the world looks through his eyes.  He is concerned with what is actual, present, and readily discernible from the world, with the use if his senses.  At his best, this makes him grounded in reality and fully present in the “now”.  This is makes him the idea partner-in-crime as a key stabilizing force in my life.  At its worst, this function can tend to be short-sighted.  Only seeing readily observable factors from the senses, the less tangible aspects of experience do not exist until it smacks them in the face.  This has been a key source of frustration in the relationship with my sister and mother.

In contrast, I prefer intuition which Isabel Briggs Myers (1962), describes as an “indirect perception by way of the unconscious, accompanied by ideas or associations which [can be discerned from] the perceptions from the outside” (p. 51).  My father and I use our intuition, a perceiving function that is interested in attending to the underlying meanings and patterns that can be observed. As a future-oriented perceiving function, it is focused on possibilities.  In this respect, rather than observing sensory details from one’s immediate environment, it is big-picture oriented.

  1. Intuitives remember events more as an impression of what happened in terms of the underlying meaning that was most significant.  In contrast, sensors remember in excruciating detail a snapshot of the events as they unfolded based on what the senses told them.
  2. Intuitives solve problems by leap between possibilities while utilize underlying meanings and patterns, to determine on the most ideal alternative.  Sensors work through the facts and pragmatic details until they understand the problem
  3. Sensors focus on the present moment trust first hand experience.  Intuitives trust their impressions and underlying systems of meaning as a true reflection of what is going on.
  4. Sensors focus so much on the facts that they fail to understand future possibilities until the reality of their inevitability smack them in the face.  Intuitives focus so much on possibilities that the pragmatics of everyday life escape 

Thinking or Feeling??? (making decisions)

aaaIn MBTI typology, judging refers to a process of “coming-to-conclusions about what has been perceived” (Myers, 1962, p. 51).  Thinkers utilize a logical thought process to come at an impersonal and rational decision.  Feelers utilize values to bestow value on various options in order to produce a decision that is highly personal.   As a result, the decisions thinkers produce are derived on principles that can be thought of universal or basic truths.  They are impersonal, yet consistent and logical.  In contrast, a feeler’s decisions are based on points-of-view involved in the situation at hand.  In this respect, they are much more concerned with values and subjective points of interest.  My parents, for example are thinkers, and can be described as logical, objective, rational, critical, firm, rational, pragmatic, and impersonal in their decision making.  While their decisions have a universal level of understanding that can be understood by all involved, something critical is missing.  There is a failure to understand and respect personal values, or the emotions of those involved.  For all their wisdom as intellectuals with advanced degrees, they are unable to grasp a human intelligence that allows them to relate to others and appreciate perspectives outside their own.

  1. Thinkers enjoy the sciences, where logic prevails.  In contrast, feelers have a people oriented communicative perspective.
  2. Thinkers notice inconsistencies and seek a rational perspective.  In contrast, feelers are concerned with systems of value and are concerned with well-being and harmony.
  3. Thinkers make decisions with the head and believe the truth is more important than tact.  In contrast, feelers believe there is something to be said for how you communicate something and act on the basis of compassion.
  4. Thinkers fail to consider the feelings of others, and are sometimes perceived as indifferent or uncaring. Feelers are perceived as idealistic and struggle with logic.  

Judging or Perceiving??? (interacting w/ the world)

bbbPeople have two basic attitudinal orientations in their daily interactions with the world.  Judgers tend to utilize judgment as the MBTI typology defines it, in their daily lives (Myers, 1962).  As a result, judgers prefer to live in a predictable and logical world and are decided and judgmental in their interactions with the world.  In contrast, perceivers reserve their judgment for themselves and do not hold the world to the same standard.  They are open-minded and tend to take things as they come.  As a result, perceivers tend to be curious and exploratory in their daily interactions with the world.  It is also worth noting here, that according to this personality typology system our preferred judging and/or perceiving preferences guide this attitudinal orientation.  For example, I am an intuitive and perceiver, therefore, I utilize intuition in my interactions with the world, and tend to reserve my feeling function as a deciding function for my own life situation.  In contrast, my mother is an ESTJ.  As a result, she leads with the thinking function and utilizes this in her interactions with the world….

  1. Judgers are task-oriented and have a preference for control and pragmatism.  Perceivers are open-minded and take things as they happen, as a result they keep plans to a minimum. 
  2. Perceivers approach work as a form of play and are creative in their plans when moving forward.  Judgers are slow to make changes in life and create careful lists and detailed plans before taking action.
  3. Perceivers can tend to leave things for the last minute, while judgers opt for slow and steady progress.  

Click here for to learn more about an INFP’S dominant function = introverted feeling (Fi)…

Click here to learn about an INFP’s auxillary function = extroverted intuition (Ne)…

References

Myers, I. B. (1962). Theory on which the indicator is based. The myers-briggs type indicator: Manual (1962). (pp. 51-64) Consulting Psychologists Press. doi:http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy.bellevue.edu/10.1037/14404-006

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