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The Problem with Becoming More Grounded, More Social, and Less Weird

Thursday October 4, 2018

I occasionally hear from INTJs who are upset at themselves for “being so aloof” or for avoiding social experiences. And while it’s good to give consideration to that possibility, that’s also extremely risky territory.

If you’re really certain you’re aloof and not just giving reasonably-confident attention to your core INTJ gifts, I can see why it would be wise to work on that, to bring in some more balance. You may be able to be more effective with other people and with the outside world in general, as a result.

However, a problem I see a lot of INTJs dealing with around midlife is that we can give so much attention to our failings in social situations or in those more “grounded” contexts, that we get completely sucked into solving this problem. So sucked in that we forget who we are.

So it is risky to do this without defining a method for securing and attending to our inner world, our core INTJ gifts, as we do so. This is the same absolutely vital inner world that is constantly bringing distant signals to our attention, the inner world that speaks distant and long-sought-out truths to us, often through unclear metaphor which can take a lot of time and energy to sort out.

As a result of setting this gift aside, that richness and depth of problem-solving capability can dry up, and we lose our mooring—not with reality (or “objectively sensed experience”), but our mooring with the unseen truths and what some refer to as the cosmic side of it all. Those unattended inner truths, in a very basic and immature form, can then begin to manifest themselves through very concrete unwanted behaviors and outcomes in our lives. In our sickness, in our suffering, we then become a living metaphor of the way we have unintentionally mistreated some of our most valuable cognitive functions.

At the same time, others who cannot experience this, or who repress the subject of our INTJ gifts due to their own functional dynamics, cheer us on, telling us it’s good that we’re lightening up, or it’s good that we are more social.

We need to be able to take those outside comments for what they are—perspectives from people who are attending to a different set of gifts.

One difficult truth here is that no matter how unmoored it may seem when cast in relation to “objective” (e.g. socially-defined) reality, the INTJ’s hidden world is absolutely full of promise and treasure if the INTJ is willing to explore and develop it.

It’s deceptively easy to leave our dominant function at a basic level while we shore up other functions, without later returning to develop that dominant function to a significant degree. In my experience it is extremely rare to meet INTJs who have developed their intuition to a high level, and I think part of the problem is that the outside world, society, is not generally comfortable with the idea of encouraging that sort of growth. However, this kind of growth will only make everyone stronger and allow a more resilient and mature human society to evolve.

IMHO it is a good idea to find a way to balance out the attention to the various functions and objectives with some reasonable weighting and additional emphasis given to our most gifted cognitive processes —and to look on this as a system to be evaluated from the outside-in, periodically. We don’t need to let ourselves be blown about by winds of social criticism, but we can still take those points of view into consideration and adjust our personal system while trusting in our overall process.

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