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You Already Knew this Post was Coming

Wednesday February 20, 2019

INTJs as a type are really talented at what Dario Nardi calls “meta-perspectivizing,” or thinking about whatever’s going on, from the outside-in. What emerges from that capacity is a sort of pattern-based predictive sense. Suddenly we get an intuitive burst: “I know what this is and where it’s going.”

For example, someone is talking to you, giving you a compliment, and suddenly you reach an intuitive conclusion: “They are buttering me up, about to ask me to help them.” (In many cases that’s OK and you should do the favor cheerfully, by the way—I’m not here to help you fall into disfavor with well-meaning friends who need help!)

While often beneficial, this intuitive talent can be really dangerous to our growth and happiness. For this reason it’s also very risky that it’s pretty much automatic for INTJs.

So let’s discuss. First: Beneficial cases. Contingency planning scenarios are great for INTJs!

For example, your spouse says, “hey let’s go to the beach,” and you drop everything and say “great, let’s go, I’m ready to hop in the car whenever you are,” and she’s VERY happy about this, because you already anticipated your spouse saying that at some point this week, so you took 30 minutes and put a plan together, and you even packed a small contingency-bag for the trip. Low risk, high mental reward, fun exercise. And boom! You were right. Have some happy brain chemicals. Good INTJ.

In that case, the anticipation was really nice—it helped you flex a bit, and instead of becoming the grumpy, plans-interrupted INTJ control freak, you were able to go with the flow and spend some healthy, happy time with your spouse.

Now let’s discuss the really risky and potentially negative side of this. That is: A constant pressure to know, to anticipate. (See also item #4 in this article )

Here are some phrases, examples of the way this feels, or manifests within the INTJ brain:

  • I already know what you’re thinking
  • I already know what you’re about to say
  • I already know that won’t work
  • I already know it will be problematic

…and this is important—it’s usually followed by “And therefore, I won’t try it, because then I might be wrong.”

So: We can learn to protect ourselves against any chance of being wrong.

See any problem with that? In effect, this thinking closes us off to new experiences. It’s like we’re saying “no thanks” to all the good things that life can bring, because there are also a lot of bad things in there.

If you’re thinking, “hmm, it would probably be better to arm myself with a superior set of problem-solving skills so that I can deal with the bad stuff and also move forward, taking advantage of all of the great things life has to offer,” this is what I’ve discovered, too.

Overcoming the Weakness

The first step is awareness: This kind of intuitive-predictive thinking has its pros and cons. INTJ intuition is subjective, that is, it’s only as good as our past experience. We don’t really know the future, do we? We just like to talk like we do, based on whatever lies in our past. That’s the risky part—we can easily overstep what we actually know, and depending on the situation, that can cause us loads of trouble.

Some INTJs wonder why they have reached age 30 or 40 and they haven’t picked up on stuff that other people already figured out. “I already know” often turns out to be a key contributor to this problem.

A second important step is leaving room for not-knowing. When is it helpful not to know? Here are some examples from my own life:

  • I read a bunch of negative reviews about a product that I needed to buy, then remembered that reviews are not me using the product, but rather someone else using the product. My subjective experience might be different. So I ordered the product, and it was actually just fine for its purpose! No complaints.
  • I didn’t want to look like I didn’t know how to run a business, so I avoided asking my business coach all kinds of “dumb” questions. I even avoided saying, “this isn’t even fun!” For this reason, I delayed my business progress until I could figure that out for myself.
  • After losing a quarter of my body weight, I thought I knew how to lose weight. So when I started to gain weight again, I felt I had lost control and was afraid to admit: I didn’t know the “master key” to losing weight in every circumstance. And as soon as I admitted that, I was able to resume my weight loss.

I hope you can see how the benefit here really, really makes some focus on this issue worth your time.

And one final step to consider: Re-explore things that are buried in your past. In many cases, we have buried important lessons and experiences in our past, and are hesitant to re-explore. Some of my greatest breakthroughs with INTJs have revolved around this lesson: We may not already know what we can learn from our own past. Look in the past for lessons that you never got around to extracting from previous experiences. When you tackle the same problems again in different form, you’ll have a new sense of perspective and probably some new tools at your disposal.

So: Good luck, and remember: Unless you really knew everything I wrote here, there was probably something new here for you to learn. :-)

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