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You are So Crazy, Histrionic, Untruthful, Wild, Carefree, Improvisational, Performance-oriented, Performant, Responding, Composed, Considerate, Quiet, Hermit-like, Creepy, and then Back to Crazy Again

Sunday June 7, 2020

Wes writes,

I hate to admit it but my family accuses me of being two-faced. I worry that they may be right. I think this carries over into the stress I feel when I’m in public situations. It’s like I’m a walking pair of opposites, and one of them is really, really scary.

Wes brings up a really terrifying scale, or dichotomy, for many INTJs. Hell, even just for many people. But we INTJs do tend to have this inferior-Se, tertiary Fi, posterior-fascinated “actor” role that tempts us and taunts us until we reconcile things.

The extreme end of that role is up there on the left of the post title, with the opposite at the right.

I chose and positioned the word “Performant” because I think a lot of INTJs would draw the “yeah I’m definitely that kinda person” line right about there. (Thinking of yourself as a Performant person feels good, right? Because you’re a walking wad of technology. You’re basically Performant Wetware, INTJ. Kidding!)

Here’s something relevant which I’ve mentioned in a couple of my publications: Jung’s notion was that personality type kind of sucks. Type explains a lot of things, sure. But what if it also effectively anchors us in our own type, leading us to fail at the integration of opposites?

What if we never transcend opposites like “good vs. evil”, “political group A vs. political group B”, “INTJ vs. ESFP”, or heck, INTJ vs. any other type?

Well, in Jung’s view this would not be a good outcome at all. It would mean eternal war. And eternal lies, eternal projection onto others, all this stuff that makes a person or a body of people behave as if they hate themselves. All good points.

Wes brings up the word “scary.” I don’t know exactly why he used that word, but here are some typical reasons:

  • This side of me was very loud and inconsiderate
  • This side of me pushed me to lie to others
  • This side of me just couldn’t get enough of itself
  • This side of me is a showoff
  • This side of me tries to do the impossible, even without any preparation

Man, I’ve got some absolutely embarrassing memories of that stuff myself. I remember one time I acted my way through a high school AP history class. For the first two weeks the teacher thought my name was Marconi, and that I was from Spain. Then other hijinks ensued. My ESFP classmate friend LOVED this. And it felt really good, in a way! But it was also really, really uncomfortable. I wasn’t in control—something else was. I later found that this had a lot to do with a level of personal discomfort with the teacher’s perspectives, not on history, but on life itself. Discomfort with what you could call his psychology. Shrinking from that. And at the same time, there was a corresponding pull toward ESFP-friend’s psychology.

I’ve also heard some fascinating experiences shared by INTJs who explored this dichotomy themselves. People who for the most part appear ultra-composed. These individuals were making tremendous life sacrifices just to keep the “Crazy, Histrionic” parts at bay. And then one night just a couple of environmental, circumstantial triggers were enough to show them that those parts were very much alive.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

  • Leaving this topic alone is a really bad move. That’s how you get the bad outcomes in the first place: Lack of attention to painful spots. Lack of exposure to this field of study, lack of analysis, lack of learned skill, lack of refinement over time, etc.
  • As an INTJ I’m good at looking into stuff in that methodical way, so I am carrying this skill into the exploration of this dichotomy, or I’m probably screwed. I’m not going to let this slide—my researcher / analyst role is on the case and that feels good.
  • So I research and analyze it. I research the psychology, but I also watch actors, politicians, and leaders, and try to see what I can discover about them, or from them. I listen to podcasts with ESFPs or other personalities who ended up in acting or very outward-facing roles. I listen for exact answers to the questions I ask myself. Sometimes there are big surprises in there.
  • I’m also open to reviewing my past. Rather than just “something embarrassing happened, cringe, move on, hurry,” I try to find an angle from which to explore that awkward experience or past memory. I do that on the blog here sometimes.
  • If you get a weird, stinging performance assessment, about 200% of the time it’s from someone who is uncomfortable with that part of themselves (well, I don’t know what percent, but maybe 50-75%).
  • It’s normal to write one way and act another way in person. For example, if you put me in a public meeting setting right now, chances are I’m not going to come off as terribly charismatic. But writing here on the blog, I try to enjoy things, be a bit more imaginative and fun, and generally explore a different side of my life. While it may not seem like everyone else does this, other people have their own devil’s-dichotomies. The less-explored, the worse off they may be, for all we know.
  • It’s also OK to leverage your introversion. To use it as a tool to help yourself stay calm and to fight pressure. Keep in mind that this can boil over. You can sometimes prevent the boil-over by being a little bit extroverted in advance of the boil over.
  • If you’re being the outgoing one in a relationship, and it doesn’t “feel fair” to you, ask yourself if that’s a covert contract with your partner. Do they know about your perceptions? Have you both identified ways to reconcile? This can be difficult if your partner is really de-energized by relational processes. But a good relationship also requires some amount of work toward flexibility and a shared perception of positive outcomes.

Well, that’s a lot of bullet points. Hang in there, Wes and everybody else. I know it’s not easy but it’s also a whole flippin’ world that’s full of fascinating information and tools, and if it’s also personally relevant…why not go there, push on it a little and learn some new stuff.

Filed in: /87/ | /32/ | /75/ | /110/ | /54/ | /45/

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