I’m One of The Dreamers

I have mentioned this a few times already, but my MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) type is INFP (Introverted-iNtuitive-Feeling-Perceiver/Processor). The common archetypes for this personality are the Dreamer and the Idealist. Sometimes if you look into web pages all about the functions you'll find other unique archetypes for the INFP, but I won't go into those archetypes. However, I will go into the functions.

For a long time I thought the four letter system was the end all, be all of the MBTI, but I was wrong. The four traits are only the beginning. The real fun starts when you look into the functions, and I learned so much about my personality type when I did so.

As an INFP my functions are as follows, in order: Fi, Ne, Si, and Te. The order is important, because it indicates how much I use each function. Fi (Introverted Feeling) is my dominant function, and oh boy does it make decision making hard! In the context of the MBTI, feeling is not only indicative of emotion (although feelers are usually very emotional), but of principles. Meaning. Morals. Everybody has morals, of course, but for the introverted feeler morals are EVERYTHING. Every single decision I make revolves around my inner moral compass. Every. Single. One. I kid you not, when I was a teenager, I once spent hours contemplating whether or not it was morally ambiguous for me to leave a lady bug that I had found half stuck in a slowly melting sheet of ice. HOURS.

That's where Ne (Extraverted Intuition) comes in. It's as if people with a dominant Fi function and an auxiliary Ne function have an innate belief in the butterfly effect, and we see it as our moral obligation to always be aware of how even our most small, insignificant, every day actions could effect the world around us. It's exhausting. I think this may be one of the reasons why an INFP will often struggle with procrastination. Sometimes we really are just lazy, but sometimes we are paralyzed by the many possible moral implications of our actions.

As far as I understand it, Ne is about how we engage with the world and process stimuli. As previously mentioned, Ne is my auxiliary function, so although it is a very strong part of my personality, it's really more of a servant to my dominant function. My Ne function allows me to consider endless possibilities for all sorts of topics, and find patterns and connections with ease. It's great for brainstorming, but awful for decision making. Seriously, it's a miracle that an INFP can make any decisions at all! (This is why I married an INTJ. He not only likes making decisions for himself, but he rather enjoys making decisions for others, too.)

My tertiary function is Si (introverted sensing), and I think this may be the function which I personally value the least in my day to day life. It basically has to do with information input and output, and how that information is stored. In a way it seems to serve my Ne just as my Ne serves my Fi (and to a lesser extent my Si directly serves my Fi as well). It strengthens my intuitive nature in connecting past experiences with present experiences, and from what I have read it can even cause the body to respond as if it is reliving the passed experience. I think this sort of causes us to teach ourselves based on those experiences, and I imagine this would have a profound influence on my Fi.

My inferior function is Te. This has to do with efficient organization of information, which then leads to greater systemization and quantification of that information. It's no surprise that this is my inferior function. Anybody who has seen any of my personal work spaces should know from how I "organize" my physical surroundings, just how little the organization of my inner world matters to me. This is my most frustrating function. As I had recently talked about in another post, my intellect matters a lot to me, and I don't want to neglect it, but it is clearly not my strength. I'm not empirically minded, nor do I easily look at data through an ordered lens. However, I know that I am intelligent, and I never want to make the mistake of placing greater objective value on my subjective feelings than is warranted. So, this would seem to be the source of my eternal struggle. I wish I could write a satisfying conclusion to this paragraph, but I can't. This is the burden of my particular set and measure of cognitive functions.

Well, I think I've rambled on enough about my thoughts on my personality, and the frustrations therein. Maybe one day it will all be worked out. I know that God isn't done with me yet, and sense loving God is not complete if we do not also love him with our minds, I'm sure he will eventually work out all the contradictions of my mind.

Thank you for reading my blog! God bless you!

(P.S. I'm no psychologist, only an enthusiast, so be sure to take everything I've said with a grain of salt.)

The Sacred Gift and The Faithful Servant

"The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." – Albert Einstein

I often see intuitive personality types (particularly INFPs such as myself, and INFJs) using this quote to praise the intuitive trait. I certainly have no problem with that, and I myself am proud of my intuitive mind, but I find myself praising the intuitive mind less and less when I think of this quote. Don't get me wrong, I love the rush I get when a seemingly brilliant theory just clicks into place in my head, but a problem arises with that process.

The intuitive mind is important, because it gives people the ability to come up with new ideas when there are few outside resources which could lead them to those ideas. However, it is dangerous as well. The intuitive mind reasons in the sub-conscience, and then reveals the conclusions in the conscience without immediately disclosing the process which lead to the conclusion. This is certainly beautiful, and I love it, but it is also frustrating. Those of us who think this way struggle to explain our beliefs to others because others require evidence, and that is good. It is good that proof for the validity of our claims is required.

The reason why that makes the intuitive mind dangerous, is because it often makes us feel pressured to prove ourselves, so we backward engineer our reasoning. It is usually a bad idea to do that. It is better to start from the bottom of whatever we are trying to prove, and work from there, but the intuitive mind does not like to do that. We don't like to set our conclusion aside and take an objective look at the subject in question, because we risk finding a conclusion that contradicts our own. That's a hard thing to do.

I don't think the gift has been forgotten. People love intuition! People love when an idea seems to just slide effortlessly into place, like the last piece of a jigsaw puzzle, without having to drudge through all the other pieces first. I would argue that the faithful servant has been forgotten. The rational mind which looks at the conclusion, and immediately says, "Let's analyze this. Let's see if this is correct." The rationality which looks at the jigsaw puzzle and says, "Wait, I want to take this apart and see if I can put it together again myself."

Few people want to analyze their own conclusions, and that is the very thing which the rational mind, the faithful servant, excels at. I will always love my intuitive mind, but I hope that I never forget the vital need of the rational mind. The intuitive mind only remains a sacred gift if the rational mind is there to apply rigorous discipline. Otherwise, the intuitive mind becomes like a false prophet, and an unquestioned false prophet is anything but a gift.

Thank you for reading my blog.