Introverted Intuition: Learning From Its Mystery
Introverted Intuition is my dominant function as an INTJ personality type. I’ve been learning more about it through my personal journey and as a practitioner in personality type. I share my insights to guide your own journey whatever your personality type.
Introverted Intuition and your type
If you identify as an INTJ or INFJ (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) personality type, Introverted Intuition is typically your dominant function; if you identify as an ENTJ or ENFJ, it’s your auxiliary function; for ISFP and ISTP types, it’s the tertiary function and for ESFP and ESTP types, it’s the inferior function. It plays out in a lesser way for other types. You can read more here. And if you don’t know your type, it’s not a huge issue; if the words ‘Introverted Intuition’ speak to you, chances are they are natural preferences for you or areas on your radar for development.
Introversion and Intuition
There’s been increased focus on introversion and working its strengths in recent times especially as a result of Susan Cain’s book, ‘Quiet’: The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking’. This has been powerful, helping introverts feel more understood and aware of their gifts; however, understanding how introversion and intuition play out together has had less attention. True to type, much of my learning about Introverted Intuition has been based on intuitive, personal experiences. I’ve also found valuable insights through reading and research on the function to help make sense of how its mystery works.
Good Read: INTJ Struggles
What Carl Jung says
Firstly though, I went back to Dr. Carl Jung for insights as the source, given he conceptualized the eight functions based on his work with patients. Jung’s wise thoughts have helped me to understand my experience of Introverted Intuition.
In a video interview, Jung describes the life of the Introverted Intuitive (Ni) type as “a very difficult life…although one of the most interesting.” This was strangely comforting. He says the key challenge is that there is “something funny” about intuition as we don’t normally know how it works.
In this interview, Jung defines Introverted Intuition as “a perception by ways or means of the unconscious.” Being linked with introversion and the inner world, these perceptions are unique to the individual and not common to all. This makes it hard to explain these insights in a comprehensible way and creates a sense of mystery. He explains that Introverted Intuitive types tend to keep their insights to themselves because no one would understand.
So what is Introverted Intuition?
So how does this play out in a practical sense? Introverted Intuition works primarily via symbols and images. It involves being aware of abstract ideas and tuning into the language of dreams and the unconscious. It functions especially through an ability to see connections and associations. Through the filter of your inner world, you attach your own meaning to these symbols or images. You can’t always see how you got from A to B; you only know the end result of the sequence.
Dario Nardi has applied neuroscience to see how the neocortex of the brain works for different personality type preferences. In his book, ‘Neuroscience of Personality’, he describes how people with Introverted Intuition as a dominant function enter a whole brain, zen-like state when asked to envision the future and when focusing on a single question without distraction. The Introverted Intuitive particularly accesses this state when working on a new problem.
The Introverted Intuitive function has been described as ‘Visionary Insight’, by Mary McGuiness in ‘You’ve Got Personality’ and as ‘The Seer’, in Gary Hartzler and Margaret Hartzler’s ‘Functions of Type: Activities to develop the eight Jungian functions’.
Ways Introverted Intuition manifests – my learnings
Here are some of my practical learnings about Introverted Intuition and how it can manifest:
Poetry and other intuitive writing
As an INTJ, Introverted Intuition appeared early in my life via poetry. This is the perfect vehicle for it to play out its magic given it is based on symbol and imagery created in quiet space and time. Any stream of consciousness writing is a valuable way of tapping into what’s going on at a deep level and to resolve contrasting positions. You can work with poetry and other creative writing to perform magic not possible in real life – like bringing people back into your life, if for a moment, or resolving hurt or disappointment. And this can help move you through difficult times and into a new stage of life.
Envisioning in the workplace
Working on the big picture and creating the long-term vision of what might be is something I enjoy. My auxiliary function, Extraverted Thinking, ably supports me in this. Day to day in my work role, I can read the strategic landscape pretty well to know what might come up as an issue. I don’t always know why, but I often intuitively know the next thing to concentrate on as an action or project. It helps me bring together the larger vision process with identifying the next steps. It’s valuable to find the quiet time to coalesce these aspects and I’ve learned to rely on this and listen to it as a leader.
The challenges and balancing of Introverted Intuition
There are challenges in being introverted and intuitive. You can get drawn into your own world too much. You keep things to yourself. The ideas you come up with are often hard to communicate to others.
To balance the extremes, it’s useful to bring in some of its opposite functions, especially Extraverted Sensing (Se) and Extraverted Intuition (Ne), including:
- accepting that some things just are what they appear to be;
- spending time outside in nature to ground all that inner work in reality;
- focusing on timeframes and what is practical; and
- shaping visionary thoughts into a structure or framework
Ways to work with Introverted Intuition
Whatever your type and dominant function, you can learn to integrate introverted intuitive approaches into your life to help with creativity, visionary insight, connecting associations and seeing the whole.
Here are some practices for developing and applying Introverted Intuition in your life based on my own experiences fleshed out with concepts from the book, ‘Functions of Type: Activities to develop the eight Jungian functions’ Gary Hartzler and Margaret Hartzler. This book has excellent practical examples of activities to develop all the eight Jungian functions.
Ideas for developing Introverted Intuition include:
Work with symbols and the connection between ideas:
- Notice the symbols that recur for you and work through their connections and meaning.
- Write about the connections, tapping into stream of consciousness writing as a way of accessing the unconscious meanings for you.
- Work with tools and media that have symbolism and imagery as their focus e.g. poetry, art.
Envision how things could be:
- Take time to journal and envision how things you desire could be – your dreams, your plan, your work life.
- Flesh the vision out in your imagination so you can see what it looks and feels like.
- In business contexts, step out of the every day for a higher level view of the future.
- Let images of how it all could look like in 1 year, 2 years, 10 years come to you.
Work on viewing things from a range of perspectives:
- In a meeting or online group, see things from the perspectives of others and hold those perspectives simultaneously to see a more holistic view.
- See how these multiple versions or viewpoints can come together into something new and different.
- See how you can bring together diverse products and services into something new.
Look behind the obvious to the more hidden meaning:
- In a coaching or mentoring situation, listen to see the hidden meaning behind words and behaviors.
- Reflect back what you are seeing in a sensitive way as a platform for further insight.
- Practice identifying what is not being said in situations such as television interviews and meetings.
- Try to get a more holistic perspective and practice your skills of reading what is not spoken.
Introversion and intuition working together can result in vision, positive solutions, and innovative insights. It’s valuable to learn how to work with its mysteries whether it’s a strong preference or a less natural one. I hope these insights are valuable for flexing your introverted intuitive muscle for more holistic perspective and inspired creativity.
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