Our biggest blind spot pops up when we mindlessly munch chips while reading, or ignore our bodies.
Don’t you love learning? I’m in a flow state when I get to spend the entire day studying something that fascinates me. As a child, I hated school because it got in the way of my reading. I used to sneak books into church and hide them in my songbook. The stuff I wanted to feed my mind was way more interesting than anything the adult world prioritized.
I’m sure a lot of INFJs and INTJs — two of the introverted Myers-Briggs personality types — can relate. Our dominant cognitive function, or main way we process information, is called Introverted Intuition, which is a learning function. So, our natural default is to learn… and learn, and learn… you get the picture.
(What’s your personality type? We recommend this free personality assessment.)
We can stuff a massive amount of information into our heads. If information had calories, we would be in trouble.
Actually, information can have calories. If our dominant cognitive function is Introverted Intuition, our inferior function — the mental process we use the least often — is Extroverted Sensing. Most of the greatest athletes and performers are SP personality types like the ESTP or ISFP because Extroverted Sensing knows how to engage with the body with such precision that it becomes a finely tuned machine.
For example, those GoPro videos of skateboarders plummeting down mountain roads past cars and trucks are most likely SPs. As an INFJ, I watch those videos in paralyzed horror until I can’t take it anymore. Extroverted Sensing teaches us to be present in our bodies and engage with the outer world in real-time.
Extroverted Sensing is also the INFJ’s and INTJ’s biggest weak spot.
The Blind Spot of the INFJ and INTJ
As INTJs and INFJs, we have Extroverted Sensing as our blind spot. It pops up for us as we mindlessly munch chips while reading. So, in this case, information does have calories. It is not uncommon for INTJs and INFJs to carry a little extra weight because we tend to ignore our bodies.
Another example of the INFJ’s and INTJ’s blind spot is a love/hate relationship to exercise. Exercise feels great as it grounds us in our bodies, but we tend to struggle with sticking to an exercise regimen. There’s always something more interesting we could be doing.
Other than a little extra weight and a resistance to exercise, what’s the problem with being addicted to learning?
Well, all the learning in the world won’t do you any good unless you apply it.
This brings me to another interesting aspect of INTJs and INFJs: There is always more to learn, and since we are introverts, we prefer learning to action. I know from personal experience there is a limit to the amount of information we can stuff into our heads. Have you ever dived into a new subject as a starving person dives into a buffet? The rabbit hole gets deeper and deeper until something interesting happens. At some point, I notice my reading comprehension becomes exhausted. I read and re-read the same paragraph, and nothing sinks in. Even when I close the book and go to bed, I struggle to get my mind to re-engage the next day.
Information should be used, not just stored. Mastery comes when we apply what we’ve learned in the outer world and move the data from the realm of theoretical knowledge to the world of experience. Learning is useless without some application because the external world doesn’t mirror our inner world. So, we aren’t getting the full picture if we don’t expose the data to some outer world refinements. Once we find a way to implement the information and maybe even create some muscle memory, then we can revisit the rabbit hole.
Using Your Extroverted Functions to Build Mastery
Do you sometimes feel like you have forgotten half of what you’ve learned? Have you ever questioned your intelligence or memory? I believe you are intelligent and have a good memory, but you need to “extrovert” the information to embed it in long-term memory banks. That doesn’t come naturally to INFJs and INTJs, because we may feel vulnerable when we share our inner worlds with the outer world. Any sort of feedback that is less than stellar can feel like rejection. Any rejection of our inner world can feel like a rejection of who we are. So, it feels safer to keep our inner gardens pristine and untouched.
To “extrovert” your learning, you must use both of your extroverted functions — your extroverted judging function and your extroverted inferior function.
For INTJs, your extroverted judging function is Extroverted Thinking. Begin by asking yourself what systems in your life can use the information you have learned. People and relationships are a system, too. Can you share the information with someone or teach it? How does the info align with the real world? How can you add it to the structures you’ve already created? The more you share what you’ve learned and figure out what does and does not work, the more finely tuned the information will become, and the more likely you will remember it and gain confidence in its application.
For INFJs, try to use the data you’ve gathered to help you engage with your judging function, Extroverted Feeling. Find ways to share it with others and gain calibration on the information. Are you interpreting it accurately? Are there people who will benefit from what you’ve learned? How can the information be used to help people learn more about themselves? The more personal something is, the more universal it is. If you have learned something powerful, someone else will likely benefit. Expressing new ideas out loud helps you order the information logically and store it for later use.
How do INTJs and INFJs use Extroverted Sensing to process data? Getting into the body can help the info in our heads to coalesce. Our brains need a break. We can’t keep stuffing them with facts and figures and expect them to keep performing at the same level. By getting into your body through exercise, you give your mind a much-needed break. But that doesn’t mean your mind is shut off. The brain is formulating the information into useful tidbits and seeing how it relates to the information you’ve already evaluated.
One reason we may forget information is we don’t physically engage with it. After you study something, try going for a walk or run. Do some yoga or rake leaves on your lawn. Start to notice the new connections you make while engaging with your body. As a life coach who works with clients seeking healing and transformation, I notice after a session, if I do something physical, I will gain some insight that I didn’t previously have.
This is not a time to stuff more information into your noggin, either. So, please don’t put on your headphones and listen to podcasts or lectures while you exercise (I’m looking at you, INTJs!). Listen to some music or engage with your environment. Your Extroverted Sensing loves engaging with the senses!
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You Will Never Gain Mastery if You Keep Information Inside
Like anyone else, INTJs and INFJs tend to get depressed if they don’t get out of the house and engage with the outer world — even though our comfort zone is at home! The more depressed we get, the more we tend to hide from social engagement. But just like we need to get into our bodies at times, we also need to engage with the outer world (on our terms) in order to be healthy and happy introverts.
And if you see social interaction as society’s way of humiliating you, it may be time to re-evaluate that perspective. Everything takes practice. The more you learn to communicate your ideas, the better you will get at it. I would wager a bet that no one is as critical of you as you are.
So, to summarize, if you are an INTJ or INFJ and you want to be a master of your chosen field, put it into action. You will never gain mastery as long as you keep the information inside yourself. It needs to see the light of day and be exposed to other people and frameworks to determine its validity. But first, you need to get out of your head and engage with your body so the pertinent details can blend with the data you’ve already absorbed.
And exercise has another benefit. It makes you happy and gives you the energy and confidence you need to become the world-changer I know you want to be.
If you’d like to learn more about how you can leverage your strengths to gain control of your life, visit charisbranson.com to learn more about my unique style of coaching.