How to More Easily Expand Your Creativity and Spot Limited Thinking
Tuesday January 11, 2022
Back when I was studying my personal energy levels, one of my earliest experiences taught me an important lesson about low energy:
As we lose energy, we tend to experience a lot of pressure to redirect our focus to one thing.
That one thing could be: One conclusion, one main idea, one person, one solution, one outcome that is near-certain.
We can also say that introversion in general is like this: Where extroversion focuses on “the many,” introversion focuses on “the one”.
Here are some additional, specific singularities of this sort, which I’ve also mapped onto the introverted cognitive functions:
- A single narrative or account that led to this point. “This all started when…” (Si)
- A single relational perspective that describes the characteristics of this point. “This is unfair because…” (Fi)
- A single logical structure or logical conclusion that must be reached about this point. “Conclusion X is a logical certainty because…” (Ti)
- A single metaphor, example, or analogy that maps to this situation exactly. “Let’s compare this situation to a…” (Ni)
For INTJs, I would say that we tend to believe more of 1 & 3 when expressed by others, and create more of 2 & 4 on our own.
(Looking at other types, for example the INTP or ISFJ, I’d say that the opposite is more likely.)
When used to make important arguments and reach important conclusions, these points should almost certainly be given additional time for examination. Why? Because they typically represent a discarding of multiple perspectives and a redirect of total energy into one perspective. This is an important moment of energy exchange, and there may be no turning back, depending on the various structures that apply to the situation.
These actions will tend to work against creativity, in the sense that creativity represents the ability to express oneself “outside the box,” against the approved narrative, counter to the dominant impression, reformative to the known logic, and counter-intuitive to existing analogy.
So: Watching out for “the one” should by definition help one to be aware of limited thinking, and spot new opportunities for creativity.
We can say, “OK, that’s a good example,” or “Fine, that’s very logical,” with the follow-up:
“…and also, I want to make sure we have a reasonable amount of time to consider the various perspectives here before dedicating all of our attention to one conclusion.”
And at this point, there are a lot of really helpful steps that can be employed to celebrate “one-ness” of conclusions, while also bringing in new ideas. The result is often something like “a new, different expression which is still satisfactory or even surprising in its one-ness”, rather than a “separatedness” or a disintegration, which I suppose a really introverted person would tend to fear.
A Set of INTJ Development Moves for Early Adulthood?
Monday January 10, 2022
I was thinking about some early-stage adult INTJ development moves today. Here’s one idea of three basic moves, or migrations, to start early on:
First, learn to separate rumination from intuition. A key difference is that ruminations are like intuitions or imaginings that over-emphasize fearful or stressful contents. This change will help you move your focus from “the problems I can imagine” to “the actual problems that are literally in front of me, right now,” and this will make you a more efficient, productive, nimble person on a day-to-day basis. Your INTJ intuition can otherwise start to weigh you down.
Second, learn to offer, and listen for, gentle communication. This change will help you move from “giving” to “expressing” in relationships, which is really important because a huge segment of the population, including people you will meet and wish to befriend, mostly cares about how you express yourself, not what you’re giving. Keep an eye on the way people word things. Your typical INTJ focus on “goodness” can quickly be subverted by phrasing that is too direct or blunt.
Third, learn to be so forward-thinking and open-minded that even the worst ideas and outcomes, sitting in front of you right now, don’t cause you to waver from your confidence in yourself and others. This change will help you move out of the critic role, which can only take you so far in life, and into more of an exploratory creative role, which tends to get INTJs really excited to take on new projects in the future. Otherwise your INTJ focus on critique can quickly lead to unnecessary social and professional alienation.
It was fun to try to narrow these down. I think they would be my big three for early-adulthood INTJs. What do you think?
(P.S. I also just noticed that these moves each generally focus in the direction of extroversion: Toward a direct appraisal of circumstances as they are, toward proactive relations with other people, and toward new, future-facing ideas.)
Some Laws, Implications, a Meta-Corollary, and an Asterisk
Monday January 10, 2022
- Daryl’s First Law: There’s a workaround for the issue.
- Daryl’s Second Law: Always use the workaround.
- Daryl’s Third Law: If you’re in a hurry, don’t try to think of a workaround if one doesn’t come to mind. Instead, think about how not to be in a hurry.
- Bascombe’s Meta-Corollary: The problematic system itself was probably started as a workaround. It thus encourages workarounds by the philosophy of its design.
- (Scott) Newton’s First Implication: The universe is likely a workaround event.
- Newton’s Second Implication: The universe happened because the original method for accomplishing the same ends totally sucked.
- Bascombe’s Meta-Riposte: More perspectives will generate more workarounds.
- Newton’s Third Implication: If you want your system to think about, and possibly improve itself, ensure that it does so from a variety of perspectives, so that the workarounds will be good ones.
- Newton’s Basic People Principle: Different people generate different perspectives.
- Daryl’s Fourth Law: If you’re in a hurry, it’s better to be in a hurry with a group of people who are in the same hurry as you are. You’ll be able to work around problems faster, and you can thus keep your general sense of being in a hurry, insofar as it serves your needs.
- Bascombe’s Final Observation: Being alone and in a hurry makes systems appear more perfectly inscrutable, insofar as the state itself tends to obscure workarounds.
- Bascombe’s Final Observation, Second Part: As you slow things down, the world should start to look more terribly flawed and open to change and input.
- Daryl’s Final Comfort: Nobody who talks fast, moves fast, and thinks fast is aware of the opportunities for creativity that they pass by with every new millisecond. Slow down and you’ll be able to observe giant opportunities, and even make changes that fix the universe.
- Daryl’s Asterisk: Most of those changes will probably start as workarounds.
Should you work to change yourself, or just be who you are?
Friday January 7, 2022
One of the earliest questions that comes up during times of growth, change, and challenge, is “should you change yourself, or just be yourself?”
The biggest problem with this question is the question itself!
It’s really a bad question. It’s also a false dichotomy. You can be yourself, while also changing yourself.
And here are three questions that I think are much more helpful:
- Everyone can learn to change in order to become more effective. How will you manage that change while continuing to reconnect with the aspects of yourself, and your past, that you really like?
- What will you do when you change key aspects of your life, and then seem to lose friends as a result?
- How can you learn to take better care of yourself while also discarding aspects of your life that you don’t like?
But really quick, let’s go back to one huge question:
Should you change yourself?
Given the choice, you should always work to change yourself, and by extension, your psychology. Why? Here are some very good reasons:
- You’ll be able to solve more problems. For every new annoyance in life, it will become more obvious that a variety of solutions exist. This alone is a huge, huge reason why you should always work toward growth-oriented change.
- You’ll enjoy life more because you’ll be able to interpret experiences through a wider variety of lenses. For every new annoyance in life, it will become more obvious that fun workarounds and solutions exist.
- If you don’t gradually work on yourself in this way, you will probably be forced to change later. And this may come at an inopportune time.
- You may already love to help other people change. However, if you want to be really good at this (coaching, training, or other fields), it’s important to understand how hard it is to really “fix” yourself. It takes patience, a nurturing mindset, and a focus on observable accomplishment.
- If you keep helping others, without changing yourself, eventually they will probably notice and they may call you out on this inequity. It can cost you important relationships.
- You may not like this aspect, but a lot of others around you are changing themselves, too. Self-change is an enormously popular topic. Those other people out there want to have access to the best tools and perspectives. (Try not to compare yourself to them at a shallow level, but do keep this fact in mind in case you feel lonely during times of self-change)
- Finally, your past is really stale and boring in a lot of ways, and this will gradually become more of a problem as you run lower and lower on energy. That stale, boring aspect can be completely turned around by growth and change.
Still, there’s a cost to all of these changes. One of them I frequently hear about is loneliness.
Why is it that when you change yourself, you feel lonely?
Some possible answers:
- First, you are playing to your weaknesses when you change yourself. Focusing on change will always highlight your weakest areas. You will sometimes feel like a tragically weak person surrounded by superheroes.
- You may meet with people who themselves decided not to change, reinforcing your idea of giving up and going back to “who you were”.
- Those people, or others, will tell you “just be yourself, you don’t need to do all of this extra work.” (They don’t usually realize that people who say this are actually criticizing your decisions—I think it’s important to reflect on that fact.)
What can you do about it?
All of this will result in a feeling of isolation. So, what is needed? What can help?
Here are some suggestions. Write down the answers to the questions below, and keep them where you can find them later.
First, Know Your Motivations. You need to be able to re-orient your current self to your past self, and remember the why while receiving this kind of feedback and criticism.
- Why did you start this change in the first place?
- Why did you decide to change instead of not changing?
- Why do you think that a changed you will be better off?
Second, Know Your Plan. You need to be able to specify the what so you can re-orient yourself if you get off track.
- What specific changes do you want in your life?
- What measuring tools will you use to verify that you are getting what you want? A journal, a spreadsheet, check-ins with a partner, or something else?
- If you are changing your relations:
- What kind of friends people ARE you looking for?
- How will you know when you meet them?
- Where will you meet them?
- How can you keep others from annoying you or getting in the way, in the meantime?
Third, Support Yourself. You need to be able to keep helping yourself so you have the energy to keep changing yourself.
- Know your existing gifts. What gifts do you already have that help you get through this? Learn to look at your own gifts as if they are superpowers.
- Learn how to take rest periods. Keep track of the best methods you have for recuperating.
- Do you reward yourself with a vacation?
- Or do you have favorite interests you stay on top of all the time, no matter what?
- Do you take a nice nap every day, without fail, and eat a favorite snack after?
- Do you wear only comfortable clothes from now on?
- Do you have favorite music, TV, or movies you watch to help you step out of your troubles and recuperate for a moment?
- Practice setting boundaries with yourself and others. Stop giving away all of your energy. Know your limits and practice giving without over-giving.
- A huge part of this is asking people in relationships what they want, and helping them get exactly that, instead of getting them what you think they want.
- A huge part of this with yourself is knowing what you want, and getting it. This takes practice—sometimes it’s easy to get too much of what you thought was a good thing, for example.
Finally, Enjoy Watching Yourself Change. You should be able to see and enjoy the benefits of your life changes.
- You should be learning to solve problems that used to be in the domain of others’ strengths.
- You should be learning to find and get the energy you personally need, in any case. You should have plenty of energy, and it should be energy that you didn’t have before.
- You should be learning to rely on yourself even more—not in a bitter way, but in a recharging, fulfilling, exciting way. I wasn’t kidding when I used the word “superpowers” above.
- In relationships, you should be more resilient. You should be able to bounce back from troubling problems.
- In general, you should be learning how to decide who to help, and who to pass over for now.
- And last of all—you should in many ways be MORE of who you were before. This also fulfills the troubling part of the question—shouldn’t you just be yourself? Yes! You should bring the best parts of your past forward. And you should be even MORE of yourself, a better, improved, happier self.
It’s always worth it to work to change yourself. I hope you can see that it must be a thoughtful, planned, and self-considerate process.
And, in order to be most effective, self-change must bring you proof of results that can put that old, terrible question—“change yourself or be yourself?”—in the past, with a lot of other poorly-phrased self-help questions. Where it belongs!
A Sketch of A Sleep System, With Some Personality Observations
Friday January 7, 2022
Sometimes people ask me what I’ve learned about sleep and personality type. To me there is a huge overlap between sleep and the dynamics of human personality. So I decided to write out some notes on my observations, along with a brief writeup about the way I have learned to sleep.
Some Initial Observations
First, here is an outline which hopefully gets at the basic structural logic for my thinking:
- Poor sleep tends to exhaust an individual’s means of maintaining a subjective sense of well-being. This includes physical and mental well-being.
- Mental well-being includes the capacity to sustainably engage in long-form productive activities, and this capacity is easily compromised without proper rest. (I consider the negative effects to overlap suspiciously well with the cultural concepts of issues like ADHD, even if not as closely with the exacting medical concepts)
- A state of poor sleep tends to allow the less-wanted, less-conscious modes of the personality to erupt or intrude more frequently than usual. This outcome is easily related to personality models.
- In many personality type models, there is a “shadow” or “opposite type” sub-model of disintegration, which represents a specific, less-conscious mode of the individual’s interaction, perception, and judgment structures. These models offer additional leverage in exploring the unwanted outcomes or aspects of an individual’s subjective life experience. One term used to describe this mode in which such outcomes are more easily experienced is “disintegrative,” as opposed to a healthier “mode of integration.”
- In my experience, this disintegrative, or disintegration mode is more commonly reported or easily observed when the subject also relates that they are getting poor sleep.
- In my opinion, it is important to consider that poor sleep may at times be the more likely contributor to one’s perceived “personality issues” than a lack of personal development.
- This has had some surprising implications. For example, it could mean that the perceived gap between “immature, unhealthy you” and “mature, healthy you” could easily be bridged by a simple afternoon nap—at least in certain scopes.
- Consider that this implication may make some complex and troubling issues seem simple to solve, but it is complicated by other issues. For example, a more agitated person who is not well rested may perceive that because life seems more grim and full of problems, they appear to have access to sharper perception. As a result, they will tend to attack problems with more emotional affect, leading to a sort of mirage of productivity—both in terms of the “perceived need for productivity” being a mirage, and in terms of the “subjectively perceived effect of productivity” being stronger than usual. These issues can easily lead to the perception that less sleep is better for the subject.
- As a corollary to the above, good patterns of sleep also seem to support a more effective, sustainable approach to other forms of personality development.
About My Sleep System
(I shared some of this on HN today, but I wanted to flesh it out a bit, so the following includes extra detail)
To give some background, I previously suffered from chronic, severe depression and anxiety in my 20s and 30s. I visited a variety of different professionals and made some progress, but didn’t seem to find lasting solutions to the problems I was experiencing.
I eventually created a measurement system for scoring my daily outcomes; analyzing the numbers helped me figure out what mindsets, activities, schedules, and other patterns worked best for me.
I eventually started to realize that sleep was more important than I had ever considered before. I also had no concept of a standard for the kind of sleep I “needed to get,” and tended to just take as “normal” whatever sleep I could get during an average night.
Pretty soon this thinking evolved into figuring out what kind of sleep worked best for me. I watched my measurements and journal pages and learned a lot of new ways of getting effective rest.
Looking back, I also realized that when sleep got really difficult for me in my 20s and 30s (for a variety of reasons), this was likely part and parcel with the chronic depression and anxiety I began to experience at that time.
How Much I Sleep Now
After figuring out my best sleep patterns, I now sleep about 8-10 hours a day if you include naps. I try to aim for at least 6 full sleep cycles at night if possible. This means I go to bed earlier than I used to.
I have had experience with oversleep as well, and 11 hours is about where that line is for me.
I also started using supplements to help me get this kind of rest at night and would not go back. They are really, really effective. Here are some examples:
- Valerian Root
- Some OTC sleep aids
Regarding stimulant use, If I get at least 8 hours of sleep I consider myself ready for a daily intake of up to 800mg caffeine for productivity and creativity. If I’m working with less sleep than that, I try not to take more than 100mg for a variety of reasons I measured over the years.
What if I Wake Up During the Night?
When I wake up in the middle of the night, which isn’t too often, I find it helps to go into a more executive mode (i.e. actively planning for, and doing things) as soon as possible, rather than laying around, or worse, waiting for the next sleep cycle.
I usually get out of bed immediately and get into what probably looks like a normal pre-bedtime routine. I use the bathroom, get a bit of water to drink, take an anti-inflammatory (I find that these work well alongside sleep supplements for me) or similar supplement and also a sleep supplement that I didn’t already take earlier.
I also eat a tiny bit of food, like a third of a granola bar or some mixed nuts, and then go back to bed and read from something I’ve already read before, like a favorite book. This is both for establishing a known feeling of comfort and also to prevent a stimulating, perhaps even dopaminergic response to new information.
This early waking by itself is almost never the same as a poor night of sleep, because the process gets it back on the rails and I let myself sleep in if I need to. I try not to use an alarm clock.
Finding One’s Own Best Meditation
I also developed a meditation system that is based on my own personality dynamics. This method almost always gets me to sleep at nap time without much trouble. It allows my mind to be active at a level that is also relaxing and interesting enough to preclude a drifting or unfocused mind.
Isn’t This All A Bit Much?
If this all seems fancy, it kind of is. And also: It works really well.
From time to time I still go in on activities that tend to rule out perfect sleep. For example, I may take off some random weekend and go out camping with the family, getting terrible sleep laying on the ground for a couple nights.
But part of the new me is knowing how to take really good care of myself overall. Setting those boundaries is not just important. It’s really proven to be crucial for the kind of health I want.
To everyone out there working on their own sleep system—Good luck and I hope you make awesome progress.
This is not medical advice—always consult a medical professional before changing your approach to caring for yourself.
Another INTJ Navy Seal Spotted?
Tuesday December 21, 2021
And just to share, one thing that kills me about INTJs in the service: So many of them share these stories about how they gave a LITTLE too much without complaining.
Like having the armored top of your APC ripped off and dragged over the top of you as you sat in the cupola, obliterating your hip bones, and then being told to sit around camp and “recuperate” without any special medical attention, and then…doing that.
I haven’t heard any of that from this particular SEAL yet, but there are other really key signs of introversion in the anecdotes he relates.
Interesting stuff! I think our Fi-Se side is a natural fit for the special ops mindset, whether simpleton wargame hobbyists like moi or those who went and joined up.
Productivity Triangle Updated
Wednesday December 15, 2021
Hi everybody—I hope you’re all doing well and enjoying the holidays. Things have been keeping me pretty busy here, but I wanted to let you know:
The Productivity Triangle framework has been updated with important new additions and changes.
Relying on Your Ideals for Self-support
Tuesday November 2, 2021
As we go through life, we often find ourselves confronting challenging circumstances. During those times, self-support is really important. You will be more resilient as you use tools and systems that are designed to support who you are, and who you can be.
In order to support yourself, it’s important to be able to believe in the “big picture,” and to have a set of ideals to believe in. This may even feel more true, the more you are a natural big-picture thinker—but it’s really true for everybody.
Discovering Your Big-picture Ideals
You may not feel like an idealist, but you probably have some big-picture ideals. Here are some aspects that can help you identify an ideal:
- Ideals may be described as: Hopes, beliefs, dreams, expectations.
- Ideals are sets of conditions you want to look forward to seeing in the future.
- An ideal outcome may not seem probable, but it will at least seem possible.
- You may not be able to describe all of your ideals, but you can feel them or identify with them when they are brought up.
- A rewarding feeling is attached to planning for, or expecting, the ideal outcomes.
One way I know my ideals are being supported is when I feel positive emotion. I may also feel more freedom to be creative, or to brainstorm new ideas.
Examples of Ideals
Here are some examples of ideals:
- I know we can work out our disagreements over time in a productive way, if we can be gentle and respectful.
- If we try to set a reasonably good example, this will often influence the people around us for the better.
- We can work together as a group, team, or gathering and make big, positive changes.
- If we can reach win-win outcomes more often, we can be happier about the future of our civilization.
- We can search out, and find, people like ourselves who want to be creative, productive, and open-minded.
- If I keep learning, I’ll be able to give back to society in generous ways.
How to Put Your Ideals to Work for You
If you haven’t already, try to write down some of your own ideals. Keep them in a file, if you can.
Then, at the beginning of the next day, or even just the next time life gets tough, try this:
- Refer to your list of ideals.
- Ask yourself how you can respect those ideals, and live them, during this difficult time.
- Ask if it may help to re-phrase, or change the way you communicate or think about your ideals.
- Check in later to reflect on what you’ve learned about living those ideals, including tips for respecting them in the future.
- If you have the energy, share what you’ve learned with others.
How The Results Should Look
As a result of this activity:
- You should feel more respect for yourself.
- You should feel like you’ve learned more about your ideals.
- You should feel like you can put your own ideals into effect directly, rather than just waiting for them to show up someday!
You should also feel better about your beneficial role and position in life, and more secure in your ideals. Congratulations, you are making the world a better place.
Notes On Going the Other Way
Sometimes we can get angry or upset when we feel like our ideals are being disrespected. To a big-picture thinker, it may seem like common sense to live based on a set of high ideals. But not everyone thinks the same way.
You may have found that you reacted to such a disappointment automatically, with negative results. This could be even more true, the more you feel like your ideals are disregarded by society at large.
However, quite a lot of people haven’t been trained or raised to put their ideals first, in the way that big-picture thinkers do. Some have even been raised to equate big-picture thinking with naivete, or gullibility.
If you’re in such a situation, here it can ALSO help to refer to the steps above and put your ideals to work.
You can remain resilient and reinforce a healthy life by continuing to live your ideals, even if you do have to work to improve the way you communicate them.
If you do let your ideals fall through, and you “sink to their level,” please be very careful. This will not be a comfortable way to think for big-picture thinkers. So there may be a tendency to overdo it—to get really nasty or to take revenge for example. It may be important to buy yourself time or distance to think or plan.
I hope this gives you some food for thought regarding ideals. In my opinion they are one of the least-discussed, but most powerful tools we have in supporting ourselves as we build a healthy life.
Unintentional ASMR: Do You Information Yourself for Relaxation
Wednesday October 20, 2021
This is pretty funny. I always loved the Shipping Forecast for relaxation purposes.
And somebody let me know that there’s a Retro Weather Channel on Twitch now.
But Unintentional ASMR is a just a terrific idea for a channel.
A few favorites follow.
And this pure gem…(a pleasant little Jungian projection there at 9:48)
Surprising Moments in Coaching
Tuesday October 19, 2021
Can you share some surprising moments in coaching? [Paraphrased]
Here are a few:
Coaching for the Inebriated
There are some people who only realize they need a coach when they are drunk. In waking life they would rather ignore the idea. It’s new, weird, or scary to them.
These cases are more obvious in part because after they get in touch during their drunken times, the very first thing the next day, they usually write an email saying they are no longer interested, or communicating a retraction of some sort…
This surprised me at first, because I never got drunk web development clients before. I guess people don’t think “I need a website” when drunk, so much as they think, “things in general need to improve.”
And the sad part is—coaching or no, these people still need some kind of help that’s apparently out of reach to their normal, waking mind. :-(
Tip: If you reached out for coaching while drunk, let it play out. Joke about it if you have to, but hang in there and see how it goes. You never know.
Coaching for the Lost
Some others get in touch because they need a therapist, and they want me to be their therapist.
Sometimes it’s difficult to set boundaries with these kind of people because they are unfortunately treating life as if all boundaries are blurred in the first place. If you clarify something, like “I’m a coach and not a therapist,” it can feel very hurtful to them.
After all, they usually realize this and are still more than willing to give it a shot, and they’d probably describe themselves as someone who bends over backwards for other people.
However—I just can’t do that. Not only am I not interested in being in the therapist role (some of my mentors were therapists, and we discussed the possibility), but I think there are some basics that everybody needs to pay attention to when they suffer from poor mental health, no matter their personality dynamics. Therapists are trained to cover those areas very well, for one.
Tip: Get and retain a good therapist AND a good coach if you need to. Try to avoid putting all that pressure on a coach who’s trying to focus on a different type of career entirely.
Coaching for the Socially-Broken, paid by the Socially-Able (or Mom)
There’s also a group of people who get in touch because mom’s paying. Or sister’s paying, or somebody more socially clueful.
“What do you want to accomplish,” asks my coaching intake form.
“My mom will tell you all about that.”
Sure enough, there’s an email from mom. She wants her son to be…hmmm…just like her? Loving, confident, quick-witted, but above all, socially-appropriate and socially-skilled.
“God, to mix his brains with my relating skills, what an absolute hunk…err…model of a son he would be,” I think she thinks.
(Poor Dad is NEVERRRR spoken of in these situations, either. lol)
I can’t believe how patient some of these people are with their moms. But it’s a tricky situation, because moms hold the keys to a lot of things in life.
I was uncomfortable with this kind of coaching from the very start.
Tip: If someone else pays for coaching and you’re not 100% into it, at least make it authentic. Help your coach steer the conversation by bringing up things you are legitimately interested in, and see if they can help you make it enjoyable.
Coaching for the Mega-mind
Imagine you somehow dwell in a world of rabbits, and you’re the only non-rabbit, higher intellect you can find.
And then you realize that you NEED a rabbit as a coach. There don’t seem to exist any coaches with intellects greater than a humble rabbit, anyway. And an AI would really be ideal, but there’s a problem! The AI needs to approach your own ginormous intelligence…
…which, “we all know” this kind of AI isn’t ready for prime time yet.
“So in the meantime, you’ll have to do…”
“…by the way coach, if you need to schedule me, kindly use my convenient online scheduling system!”
(If I need to schedule YOU?)
Tip: If you are highly intelligent and proud of it, probably play it DOWN when getting coaching. At least at a start. Put some feelers out if you need to. But be careful being really direct about this. Otherwise any given session can quickly turn into some variant of a social-clues-and-hints session, despite the coach’s best intentions.
These are just a few that came to mind. Some others were even weirder…
Coaches often have to set really firm boundaries, but at least that makes for good exercise for the coach, too.