How to Prevent Your Creative INTJ Self from Becoming a Drama Queen
Monday June 3, 2019
One of my current projects involves helping an organization negotiate with a “talented solo visionary” who is feeling misunderstood and under-appreciated.
This is not a very enjoyable experience for anyone involved. And since INTJs are known to over-expose themselves to this kind of situation, and even become that drama queen character under the right (wrong) circumstances, I thought I’d share some relevant thoughts.
The major problem is that the “solo visionary” is extremely protective and self-conscious. They are deeply conflicted, and their work product feels like a precious, helpless little baby to them, because it is! While their vision is strong, even dominant, they are not yet experienced enough with their own work to understand how to protect it and bring an actual project to maturity in a sustainable way.
INTJs suffer from this, in their work as creatives. One of the fastest ways to make an INTJ turn into a Feeler-kind of person is to ask them to make something for you. Doing so will sometimes make them feel extremely protective and self-conscious within seconds!
The INTJ creator—be it an artist, movie creator, etc.—is generally going to be an Auteur, a solo visionary, someone who really believes in the power of the self.
The INTJ observer—whether a writer, a podcaster, etc.—is generally going to be a Critic, someone who can see a way in which anything can be improved, someone who really believes in the power of a strongly-worded suggestion for improvement.
Do you see the psychological crazy-making problem there?
Unfortunately, even a “solo visionary” can totally suck at their work and behave in really idiotic ways due to external pressures and a lack of education or experience. At these times, their inner critic hits hard. This can really get the emotions going—often not so much outer emotion, as a strong inner feeling of “woe is me, nobody understands me, I’m not being protected, no one is looking out for me and my vision.”
So, with this in mind, a few points on how to avoid a poor outcome as an INTJ creator.
First, if somebody asks you to do something for them, you should refer to, or create, some kind of risk-assessment process. For example, have you worked with this person before? What is their reputation? What is their personality type? Have you done this kind of project before? How much pressure do you feel to equate your work with your own concept of your self-worth? These examples are just examples, but illustrate the kind of questions to ask.
Some people will tell you to trust your gut, but your gut draws on your past experience, which is why you are not yet a billionaire stock trader. So be careful with your gut!
Second, if somebody asks you to DO or MAKE something creative for them, and you agree, it’s a good idea to expect your feelings to activate and work REALLY hard in part of this process. This way, when your feelings make themselves known, you can say, “ah, I saw this coming” in complete honesty. That helps.
A lot of INTJs will say “ah, I saw this coming” no matter what, in order to protect their “visionary” self image. This can be really counter-productive and unleash torrents of self-blame, which are usually repressed and can cause really ugly outbursts.
Third, those strong “solo visionary” feelings are typically going to be of the “me, I, mine, what I want, what I’m not getting, what I feel,” variety. If you share them with others, for example in a business environment, there is a huge risk that you will come off as a selfish a-hole and this can hurt you and your client / customer both. This is due to the fact that by expressing your subjective feelings and your subjective feelings alone, you have put yourself, and your customer/client, into “relationship jail” until the “relationship logic” can be worked out.
Relationship jail is a risky place for an INTJ, because we are not known for our skill at deftly recovering from relationship issues. It takes nuance, it takes time, and it takes sensitivity. AND you can’t talk about yourself forever. You eventually have to talk about the others and their needs, and what’s fair for them. This can really feel painful after you’ve had your turn to talk about how hurt you feel.
And on top of that, many clients, customers, and business-people simply cannot tolerate this method of solving problems. It is beyond their psychological capability, it will seem completely outlandish, and they will seek other means of recourse. They may even tell you that you need a therapist!
Fourth point: Another good way around this is to learn to set boundaries and communicate well before you start the work. If you haven’t done much of this kind of work before, it’s a good idea to set milestones at which you check in.
Also, remember that you might find it difficult to under-promise and over-deliver, but this is still very important regardless of your own desire to blow people away with how great your work is. This can be really hard for INTJs, because what they see in their mind’s eye seems completely amazing and ALSO completely doable to them. However, the sensory world and the intuitive world are two different environments. To mitigate the risk of problems, always start out with something really basic, if it’s new to you.
There’s a lot to this—those are some simple suggestions and I hope they help. There are many, many situations in which INTJs can find themselves completely held hostage by their feelings, and unfortunately those feelings can lead to very unpleasant consequences. With a more nuanced, constructive view though, and a true ability to anticipate the arrival of those consequences, they can be navigated with skill and a full recovery is usually possible.