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When the Stuff You Naturally Ignore is Crucial

Monday November 9, 2020

Via Laura London / Speaking of Jung:

“I always think of the #shadow as, certainly the pieces that are repressed, but also have been ignored.” ~Susan Schwartz, Ph.D., Jungian analyst, Speaking of Jung, Ep. 40

“The #shadow is not just a darkness in the sense of negative but a darkness in the sense of not used—qualities that want to be paid attention to but have gotten submerged, lost. And they need a certain strength to be able to come forward.” ~Susan Schwartz, Ph.D., Jungian analyst

This is really worth knowing, and I wanted to share one way in which this is relevant to INTJs.

In my experience this “unused-ignored shadow” effect is really common with extraverted intuition (Ne) in INTJs. It’s not that we hate(s) it. It’s not that we dislike its use. It’s just that it’s not as interesting as our favorite function, Ni. Not by a long shot!

As a result, Ne is displaced and really not developed much, creating a blind spot.

Here are the typical results of that blind spot:

  • We may over-feed or over-stoke a proprietary, introverted perception system even if it’s already “full” (especially during times of distress). For example: “Things are going downhill for me. I just know I’m screwed. Things are going to get worse from here. I’m stuck.”
  • Evaluating otherwise good ideas through the lens of subjectively-estimated probability (“that won’t work because…”)
  • Unwanted difficulty in working with others on creative projects

Here are some less-typical, but really bad results of ignoring Ne:

  • We can end up communicating with what amounts to problem-oriented thinking, pushing others to call us out, take us down a notch, or work to prove us wrong
  • We may raise the stakes in communication with others, based only on a trust in our subjective perceptions, leading to potentially disastrous results
  • We may waste hundreds or thousands of hours, and/or lots of money, preparing for outcomes which never come, rather than considering and preparing for multiple possible outcomes
  • Thinking pretty much everything has been done or thought of before (if you squint hard enough, or zoom out far enough)

Some potentially huge opportunities from paying attention to Ne:

  • More opportunities for solution-oriented thinking
  • Building skills in invention & creation
  • Bringing life to new technologies, systems, philosophies that don’t exist yet
  • Enjoying more fun & positivity in life
  • Thought leadership opportunities
  • Less procrastination, more productivity

Some risks of giving way too much attention to Ne:

  • Naivete
  • Lack of stability (being spread too thin)
  • Ignorance of probability (less-likely bets may be taken first)

I don’t think I’ve ever met an INTJ who really struggled with those issues though, because we love our introverted functions so much.

Methods that I like for stimulating the extraverted intuition:

  • Supplements, for example caffeine is really good at stimulating Ne for me (YMMV)
  • Dice
  • Randomization software
  • Change of environment
  • Change of information intake

After I started working on the development of Ne in my life, I did notice some new-to-me pushback effects like these:

  • A bit of stress due to the massively increased amount of new information coming in (you have to set boundaries around it and consciously decide to discard much of it, and you may find that you fill way more notebooks and create much more data than you did before)
  • I had to reassure people more often—“look, you know me, I am good at planning out things that don’t exist yet. Trust me, I know this is really creative and it’s never been done before. But we have a plan, and a contingency plan, and things will work fine.”
  • Other INTJs who aren’t comfortable with so much attention given to Ne started to push back in various ways. I got some more condescending emails. The new & untested idea is good fodder for the critic.
  • I felt a bit of annoyance with the stock-INTJ personality type. For example, an INTJ I worked with on a financial deal ignored Ne, became problem-focused, and pronounced failure too easily rather than focusing on ways to pivot. This lead to near-disastrous results for me. His peer professionals later apologized to me and told me to find someone else to work with ASAP.
  • Various other projections and displacements I hadn’t anticipated, from friends and family. In fact, some of this was just hilarious. If you give more attention to a function it is the same, to many others, as changing your personality. The relationship dynamic will change as a result. And other people will start to push back in funny ways, defending their ego from a perceived weakness, or some other fragile thing. But hold onto that new ground! Don’t give up.
  • A close friend called me “grandiose” in a pronounced, diagnostic, paternalistic way. This stung a bit! (In this case they were projecting, as this was someone with a secret Ne-shadow-temptation that was pretty obvious after a while. But the projection didn’t help our friendship…)

This is just small stuff, though. the trade-off has been worth it.

Anyway! All this from reading a quote this morning…I love that effect. The shadow is a fascinating topic.

Filed in: Therapeutic Practice /144/ | Control /110/ | Openness /49/ | Randomness /26/ | ENTP /9/ | Ni /42/ | Productivity /119/ | Ne /17/

Own your procrastination with Whole Productivity, a new system → Get my free INTJ COVID-19 Guide → Explore your gifts with my INTJ Workbook → Other Publications → ...and the fake word of the hour: "Neonern." Which I believe is a term used when speaking about feats of stupidity.