Extroverted Intuition (Ne) and image management (INTP/ INFP)

clarkExamining my inner terrain through personality models creates a sense of psychological control. On episode 0227- (Developing Intuition as a Co-Pilot) of the Personality Hacker Podcast, Antonia mentioned that while developing Extroverted Intuition (Ne), image-management should be seen as the enemy. Attempting to maintain an image is going to derail the growth of this function.

For psychological equilibrium, Joel and Antonia posit that the auxiliary or secondary process should be utilized in conjunction with the dominant function. However, because this process has the opposite orientation of the dominant function, it’s common for people to avoid spending much time within it and instead moving into the tertiary process, which has the same introverted/extroverted orientation as the dominant function. In my case, if the enemy to Ne is image management, could this be because its opposing function, Si, is concerned with sustaining an already established identity?

As an INTP or INFP, use of Ne can be scary because as we’re trying new things, we’re also examining our interpretive frameworks, and therefore adding or subtracting to/from an established identity, since our concept of self will shift along with the self-knowledge a new experience generates. A personal example: even though I have a lot of ideas and interests, I have trouble fully committing to one sustained project. If I never fully commit, I will never have to confront information that contradicts the self image I have already created. For instance, I’ve been attracted to theoretical, argument driven writing for the past three years, but with every essay I’ve written, I’ve experienced some level of resistance. This usually manifests as a long period of envisioning a project, meticulously planning something in my head while refraining from actually getting to work until I’m too close to the deadline to truly create something excellent. This is a form of self-sabotage used to avoid finding out things about myself that I don’t want to know. If I fully commit to a project and it fails, it is harder to defend myself because I know I put in as much effort as possible, yet still came up short. When considering my tendency towards image management, I also think of my resistance towards fully participating in social contexts that might actually make my life easier.  I can see the utility in creating a LinkedIn profile and attempting to get myself into an income-generating situation that accommodates my natural inclinations, but making myself available for public viewing makes me feel like I’m breaking down, rather than building, an identity. By putting my skills and experiences out for public viewing, I am burning through versions of myself instead of enjoying them as potential.  I’m thinking that Si is a comfortable zone of potential that we as INTPs or INFPs, want to lean into to avoid confronting the information the outer world might deliver. Full participation is threatening to the identity, and we are more conscious of our identities than any other types because we’re using introverted judging functions, bent on evaluative criteria (as opposed to the other introverted functions, Ni and Si, which are perceiving, information-gathering, rather than opinion-generating functions).

After moving from Rochester to Philadelphia, I believe that I’ve gotten a clearer sense for what it means to engage Ne. For a few months, my process of developing my auxiliary function was stunted by influence from my inferior function, which has a way of unconsciously squeezing itself into my motivations in distorted ways. When I thought about developing Ne, I often thought using it entailed approaching strangers and introducing myself with no context. This seemed possible, but not natural, and as a Ti dominant, it felt difficult to justify most of the time. I’m now thinking cold conversations with strangers could be a way of building skill in a function that is accessible but is not especially strong for me, (Fe) compared to engaging Ne, which seems to be more readily available for conscious access. Since August, I’ve been exploring new territory, and thinking that Ne is more of an objective information/theory generating function based around grappling and engaging with information presented by the outside world (particularly when paired with Ti). So this entails finding various ways of getting from one way to another using pattern recognition, and then developing a more thorough picture of the outside world as a consequence. In conversation this function manifests as a willingness to not only share my ideas, but to update them in the immediate context by asking questions and committing to understanding what is being said by another. Also, being willing to update my assumptions without clinging onto opinions I’ve already formed, and updating my concepts and ideas as a result. Ne seems less about always feeling great about encounters and more about being willing to get concepts about reality (Ti) on speaking terms with reality as it presents itself after sustained examination (Ne).

I am using the idea of image management as the enemy as a kind of litmus test for whether I’m stranded in the TI-Si loop and seeking to maintain old ideas and self-concepts, or utilizing my strongest function pair, Ti-Ne, to take the risk of updating my self-concept by engaging with novel and occasionally paradigm-threatening situations. Thoroughly honest conversation, new means of getting from one place or idea to another, and in short, gathering information about an environment through any means necessary.

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