The INTJ as part of a Triggering Loop
Wednesday June 2, 2021
In the endless reorganization and re-conceptualization of various concepts within Jungian type, there are some fascinating topics that I keep returning to.
Below you’ll find one of the group-loops that I find pretty consistent. In this group-loop, a person is interacting with another and arrives at an uncomfortable, and typically less-than-fully-conscious, conclusion:
“Oh, so you want to consistently violate everything that I think would be amazing and hopeful in life? You basically deserve what’s coming next, and I’m going to give it to you.”
Few would consciously choose to take this attitude. My hope is that by making this phenomenon more conscious to us all, we can gain more control over our outcomes.
The pain is real
Unfortunately I’ve seen this group-loop cause a LOT of interpersonal problems. This is one of the toughest aspects of learning about the human personality—discovering new viewpoints on automatic triggers for pain and suffering. You see it printed on the page, or you theorize about it…but then you see it in real life, and you start to wonder what you got yourself into.
It’s hard to watch this kind of behavior happen around you, especially when you aren’t 100% sure what we can all do about it.
Which is probably why this post is equal parts processing and presenting. Maybe.
This trigger-loop seems to come from the sudden exposure of an individual to a surprisingly brazen (to them) letdown of their big-picture ideals.
You start with an ideal—we all have them—usually less spoken and more closely treasured within, and before you realize what is happening, one of the biggest outcomes you work toward in life is violated right before your eyes!
And the person doing this seems oddly satisfied with the job they’ve done!
The INFP-INTJ-ISTP-ISFJ Group Loop
Here’s how the loop works. I’m starting with INFP to quickly get at the INTJ dynamic here, but you could start with any type in the loop.
[Note: The type-ordering below is very similar to one of the rings of benefit in Socionics. However I am letting this grow as its own thing for now. I am not pinning it to any cognitive functions or function-slots until the time when that makes its own sense.]
- INFP: I am responsible to my own feelings in life. I will validate others’ feelings mainly if I truly feel I can relate, but I may go silent otherwise, if I don’t feel like I have anything to say… IDEAL: People ought to allow others personal freedom to follow their dreams in life, and accept others for what they are. This will help end pain and suffering. (Triggered by INTJ’s violation of this ideal)
- INTJ: Huh? I will tell people very directly why and how they need to change in order to improve themselves and their circumstances, and… IDEAL: People ought to be good, and conform to a basic set of high-quality morals that will bring about greater outcomes for us all. Be perfectly honest; don’t lie, cheat, or take what isn’t yours. This will help end pain and suffering. (Triggered by ISTP’s violation of this ideal)
- ISTP: Huh? Well I say finders keepers! I am good at puzzling out creative ways to bend a code or structure. Also, I don’t think it’s a good idea to be directly honest if it will hurt someone’s feelings, and… IDEAL: People should give each other the space they need to be free to do whatever they want. This will help end pain and suffering. (Triggered by ISFJ’s violation of this ideal)
- ISFJ: Huh? What a person ought to do, and the way they should do it, is already provided. It’s consistent, structured, and important to remember, and… IDEAL: People should empathize with others and support & validate others’ feelings. This will help end pain and suffering.
- (Back to INFP again, where the ISFJ ideal is seemingly violated)
In more depth:
When the INFP sees or feels an INTJ criticizing others and telling them what they should do to “fix” themselves or give up on silly dreams, a core INFP ideal is violated.
Shocked by the pride or high sense of self-regard with which this is done, and in a moment of regrettable hypocrisy, the INFP may find themselves automatically acting toward the INTJ in hurtful ways that even more deeply violate their own core ideals and preferred ways of interacting.
When an INTJ sees or feels an ISTP take something that isn’t theirs, or act creatively within a rule system or moral code in a way that could be seen to undermine the purpose of the code for personal benefit, or give lip service instead of true feelings, a core INTJ ideal is violated.
Shocked by the pride or high sense of self-regard with which this is done, and in a moment of regrettable hypocrisy, the INTJ may find themselves automatically acting toward the ISTP in hurtful ways that even more deeply violate their own core ideals and preferred ways of interacting.
When an ISTP sees or feels an ISFJ straightening someone out and explaining the “correct ways” of consistency and structure, a core ideal is violated.
Shocked by the pride or high sense of self-regard with which this is done, and in a moment of regrettable hypocrisy, the ISTP may find themselves automatically acting toward the ISFJ in hurtful ways that even more deeply violate their own core ideals and preferred ways of interacting.
When an ISFJ sees or feels an INFP failing to give another person validation and emotional support, possibly due to a greater amount of focus on the INFP’s own feelings, a core ideal is violated.
Shocked by the pride or high sense of self-regard with which this is done, and in a moment of regrettable hypocrisy, the ISFJ may find themselves automatically acting toward the INFP in hurtful ways that even more deeply violate their own core ideals and preferred ways of interacting.
Summary & Ideas
Here are some ideas for dealing with the loop:
- Make your ideals conscious to both partners. Talk about them.
- One of the worst parts of this loop is that it puts the partners on uncomfortable footing very fast.
- For this reason, try to be even-paced, thoughtful, but persistent and try to avoid an overreaction.
- DO NOT stay silent, no matter what your position (idealist or ideal-breaker) because it may lead to an even worse explosion.
- Don’t protect your ideals too much, but do work on them. Internal ideals can be dangerous to a relationship if protected too much.
- If an ideal is really good, it can withstand some scrutiny and questioning, which will in turn help it grow and become more effective.
- If you are exploded upon by someone who thinks you validated their ideal, use YOUR ideal to express your viewpoint. For example, the INTJ facing a highly annoyed INFP might (humbly) say, “look, I really believe in clear and honest feedback. If you think it’s hurting people, maybe there’s a way I can work on that. But I really think I had some effective feedback and didn’t want this person to be hurt by their own blind spot.”
- Give yourself space and time to process your reactions, emotions and ideals. Plan on ways to take gentle, gradual externally-facing actions before you compromise your own boundaries and act out in ways you will regret.
- Look for, and use, examples when discussing your emotions with others, if possible.
- When you can, embrace and accept your weakness, or even the “dumb and naive” parts of your ideals.
- ALL of the functions can offer helpful tools. For example, you might keep a log of your progress (Te) with a partner with whom conflicts like this have come up.
- We are not limited to a personality-by-personality or function-by-function approach to life. New and helpful perspectives and tools can be developed as needed.
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