July 6, 2012

The "Flavors" of Introversion

I have been known to look right at a person and never see them. Though my eyes were pointed in the right direction, I just plain wasn't using them. I was looking inside my head instead. I can't even begin to tell you how upsetting this is for people who feel like I'm deliberately ignoring them. And the fact that I'm so absorbed in whatever's going on in my brain means that I don't even realize that I've done anything wrong because I literally didn't see them there. I've had people approach me on it later and all I can say is, "Really? I did that?!" As horrible as this is for the poor folks around me, it's a great example of introverting. I was thoroughly wrapped up in my inner world.

Everyone introverts. Yup, even extraverts are introverting some of the time. A good friend of mine who is extraverted to the point that when I spend time with her I need recovery time afterwards tells me that when she's really maxed out or under a tremendous amount of stress, she retreats to her room for alone time. I know, all you introverts are shaking your heads saying, "It can't be true." Since most extraverts don't seem to "get" me, how in the world could they behave in a way that they obviously don't get? I suspect that though extraverts do introvert at times, they consciously introvert fairly rarely. It's not their standard mode of operation. So it's difficult for them to understand that for an introvert, it really is our regular way of being. 

But not everyone introverts in the same way. Just as there are "flavors" of extraversion (extraverted sensing, intuition, feeling and thinking) there are also "flavors" of introversion. As you've probably already guessed that means introverted sensing, intuition, feeling and thinking. 

***   Perceiving Functions: How do we take in information?   ***

Ni: Introverted Intuition
I'm an Ni, so I feel like I can reasonably describe what this function is all about. I feel like I'm a collector of connections - not just any old connections, but ones that fit with topics that I find to be really important. In other words, whereas an Ne is so into ideas and connections that they're easily distracted from one idea by the next idea or topic that comes along, I tend to exclude possible connections that aren't relevant to my obsessions, but I have find connections in places you never might have thought a connection could be found. The connections pop out at me in "a ha!" moments, clear as day. This "connection finder" is always turned on. This ability helps me to see patterns in where things have been, where they are now and where they could be going. 

Here's some quotes from other folks on Ni's:

"Intuitive introverts tend to be highly creative, both in the sciences and the arts.  They are the most creative of all the personality types and are capable of adding great works to the collective wisdom of humanity." -- Clear Reflection Coaching

"Ni’s constantly wonder and guess in their head - they do this so often that they often don’t even realize that they are doing it.  It more or less becomes a part of them. Ni’s easily get lost in the mind and are thus very introspective, and often pull out ingenious ideas and insights.  They view life more globally than any other type, striving to never let themselves forget about the big picture.  Ni’s constantly shift their perspectives, and view and understand things from different angles and in different ways. Under extreme stress Ni’s become paranoid and overly withdrawn." -- FamousType.com
Si: Introverted Sensing
I'm the mother of an introverted sensing son and feel like I have a pretty good handle on this function as well. Introverted sensors are data people. Most Si's I know like lists of information. My son can spend hours pouring over websites that list when Lego sets were made, how many pieces were in each set, how successful each set was in the market, etc. My son's friend who doesn't like legos at all, instead focuses on Dungeon and Dragon rules. He spends hours pouring over the rule book, soaking up every detail of every rule. Si's tend to be traditionalists, in large part because they like data to remain constant. If something has always been done such and such way in an Si's life, then they want it to stay the same over time so that all of the data points (when you sit and when you stand, for example) to stay exactly the same. I know one Si who is also very tied to his own past. He seems unable to extract events that happen to him today from events that happened 10, 20 or 30 years ago with different people in different places. Si's are commonly found in the military and in traditional churches because both places value tradition, rules and conformity. 

Here's some quotes from other folks on Si's:

"Introverted Sensing often involves storing data and information, then comparing and contrasting the current situation with similar ones." -- cognitiveprocesses.com

"Introverted Sensation gives us the will to accumulate information--names, dates, numbers, statistics, references, guidelines, and so forth--related to the things that matter to us. ... Such facts are highly selective. ... They're part of our self-experience. They define the specific nature of our passions and interests. They become our basis for taking in new data." -- Lenore Tomson

***   Judging Functions: How do we make decisions?   ***

Ti: Introverted Thinking

Introverted thinkers like to be precise. In my experience, they'll use a million dollar word, not because they want to show off or act wiser than thou, but because they believe that word conveys their meaning more exactly than the more common terminology. They search for inconsistencies in an argument. 

Here's some quotes from other folks regarding introverted thinkers:

"The Introverted thinking function allows a person to categorize and analyze data. It is the ability to identify inconsistencies, know how things work and problem-solve." -- personality.info

"As a right-brain function, Introverted Thinking is not conceptual and linear [contra Extraverted Thinking]. It's body-based and wholistic. It operates by way of visual, tactile, or spatial cues, inclining us to reason experientially rather than analytically." -- Lenore Thomson

Fi: Introverted Feeling

While an introverted thinker looks for inconsistencies in ideas, an introverted feeler is more likely to look for inconsistencies in behavior. If someone is being fake or insincere, introverted feelers will be quick to pick up on that. Introverted feelers are very sensitive to their own feelings and to the feelings of those in their close circle of friends. 

Here are a few quotes from other's regarding Fi's:

"The Introverted Feeling function allows a person to know what they value. It is the ability to see through others and know what they are really like as if they had an internal radar. When it identifies a person with similar values there is a desire to connect." -- personality.info

"The introvert of feeling-type finds support and guidance by shaping his own  feeling-attitudes in accordance with an inner ideal. Here the activities of  feeling are hidden, and from the outside there is, as a rule, little to tell us that we are dealing with a person of  feeling-type." -- Dr. J. H. van der Hoop

"Jung continues to discuss the introverted feeling type (IF) by stating that this type is often silent, inaccessible, hard to understand, hides behind a childish or banal mask, and is inclined to melancholy. In fact, as many as 65-85% of people diagnosed with major depressive episode are introverted feelers. Introverted Feelers value peace and harmony above almost anything else; strong emotions are struck down “with murderous coldness” or nearly paralyze the IF. In women, especially, introverted feeling tends to come off as cold because the strong feeling component is introjected rather than sent outward by projection onto others." -- The Third Eve

(This is a repost from my old Multiply.com blog and is back dated accordingly.)