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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Introvert's Paradox



I've always wondered why it is so challenging to exist as an introvert and now I have the answer. This will apply to any introverted type but the theory will be applied to the INTJ. In contrast, the extravert will be examined as they do not experience the same dilemma.

The development of the paradox began while reading The Introvert Advantage by Marti Olsen Laney, Psy.D. Within the book, there was a chapter that compared the pathway of the neurotransmitters for both introverts and extraverts. The introvert's pathway was longer and more involved by including a scenic route to the frontal lobe. The frontal lobe is responsible for reasoning and inner dialogue. Ah, yes. There is nothing quite like the hypothetical conversation before a scheduled personal conference with your employer or remembering everything stupid you've ever said while trying to sleep. Such an advantage. Actually, this is where I had my Ah-Ha moment. This difference in brain behavior must have an implication on the MBTI!

Out of the many proceeding additional books I've read, I'm Not Crazy: I'm Just Not You by Sarah Albritton Roger Pearman, holds some significant value. The concept of "Behavioral Expression" proved to be quite interesting. Every MBTI types has an Outer Image, Motivator, Inner Tension, Cognitive Core, and Teacher. These expressions can be found by applying patterns to the four letter personality temperament.

The Outer Image would look like this:

So, the Outer Image for the ENTP is EP and the INTJ's Outer Image is IJ. Unfortunately, the book was vague about what it really means other than this is how the world views our personalities. So by definition, the impression I provide the world with is IJ. Do people see me as introverted and judging? I know that my primary cognitive function is Introverted Intuition and that is actually a perceiving function. Then I looked at the ENTP and thought about the world seeing them as EP and their primary function is Extraverted Intuition. The world is going to see them by how they mainly operate. My next Ah-Ha moment is then confirmed by one of the creators of the MBTI. No, not Carl Jung. He is the father of cognitive functions but Myers and Briggs added the J and P elements which brought forth more depth to typology.

The next book that caught my interest explained the discrepancy between the visible functions of extraverts and introverts. Gifts Differing by Isabella Myers delves into the functions and just how differently introverts operate.
The INTJ does not show Introverted Intuition to the world, instead, they put forth the second best function, Extraverted Thinking. It makes sense that we apply our most developed extraverted function, externally. 

   The analogy used went something like this:

The primary function (Ni) is the General and his Aide (Te) is our auxiliary function. For introverts, the General is too busy and remains in the tent. He sends his Aide to greet the outsiders to deal with them accordingly and conserves his efforts for more important, personal business.

We (INTJs) show the world our Extraverted Thinking. Cold, calculating, and rational. We make decisions impersonally through organization and analysis. Conversely, we show the ones we are closest to our Introverted Intuition which is more free-spirited and speculative. Ni is excited and enthusiastic about ideas that appeal to us and if someone from the outside wants to get closer, they show an interest in our big-picture projects and plans.

If they want to get closer, this could be difficult. They would have to see through our Te and figure out the heart of us. This is why intuitives relate so well to other intuitives. There is an understanding of subconscious symbols and all of which is unsaid and unseen. Basically, introverts have a shell. An exterior which protects that energy we can only use so spareingly on others, especially people on the outside.

The paradox is we are not what we seem and what we seem is not our best and most accurate way of functioning. Myers suggests that introverts develop their auxiliry function. So that the outside world will be more comfortable.

My suggestion to you is show your primary function. Let your guard down and show them the best that you've got!

(also take frequent and unnecessary trips to the bathroom for some alone moments)

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