Trying to understand yourself is difficult because you aren’t easy to describe. If you look in the mirror, there’s a lot inside of you. The characteristics that make you up are innumerable. It’s often impossible to put yourself in words and usually there isn’t enough brain power to organize it. It just takes too much work to simplify yourself in a way that is easy to digest.
The Myers Briggs was a test developed to classify the population’s personality types. Myers and Briggs (Mother/Daughter) teamed up to follow social engineer Carl Jung’s vision. He believed that everyone could be organized into certain categories like introverts and extroverts. The test simplifies the large number of personalities into 16 different types of people.
While the history of the Myers Briggs is incredible, the point of today’s post is to look at how I use the Myers Briggs. As mentioned before, people are too complex to describe. Using this test is a way to digest a large volume of information and still keep the usefulness of it. By looking at this test, I can focus into the mirror and see common patterns about who I am.
The Myers Briggs breaks down into 16 types: ISTJ, ISFJ, INFJ, INTJ, ESTP, ESFP, ENFP, ENTP, ISTP, ISFP, INFP, INTP, ESTJ, ESFJ, ENFJ, ENTJ. Each letter means something different:
Introvert or Extrovert
Sensing or iNtuitive
Feeling or Thinking
Judging or Perceiving
An introvert is someone who takes the world in internally while an extrovert primarily takes the world in externally. Sensing generally indicates a person who pays attention to their environment. They notice when the walls are painted a different color. Intuitive people focus on interpretation of information. They would see the ship is sinking and try to find the hole. It doesn’t matter that the ship is sinking, they want to understand why the ship is sinking.
If there was a court case, a feeling person would sympathize with the more emotional testimony. On the other hand, a thinking person would agree with the argument that was most logical. Judging individuals believe in more absolutes. They believe the world is made of indisputable facts. There is no grey area on the subject of truth. Perceiving is a trait where you believe facts are relative. The world is different for each person, so truth is different for everyone.
That’s a simplification of those traits. It’s easier to understand them your first time if they’re put into a single sentence. The Myers Briggs is a complex test that establishes deeper meanings behind those traits. To make it more complex, there are eight functions. Instead of going through each unique function, I’ll write about my four functions and how I understand them.
1. Extroverted Intuition
Take a deep breath in then imagine every possible path you could take in your life. You could be a baker, a painter, an astronaut, a neuroscientist, an entrepreneur, and everything else. Imagine what it would feel like to fly or to swim to the bottom of the ocean. Extroverted Intuition creates an obsession with information and experience. It’s as if the purpose of our life is to experience everything.
Unfortunately we cannot experience the entire world in our short lifespan, so we dig into other people’s lives. If we can’t be an astronaut, we read all of our local library’s books on the subject. We don’t worry about becoming psychologists because we know that we can find that information in books. We want to travel to faraway places and experience the many cultures of the world. If we can’t do that ourselves we’ll find somebody who has.
This obsession with information is intoxicating. Every new thing we learn (or experience) fuels a fire within us. We’re constantly prying for a deep conversation and will gladly contemplate the meaning of the universe at any given moment. Deep down, all we want is to understand.
In short, Extroverted Intuition generates curiosity and wonder for the world. We’re entrenched in a world of possibility and information. We can’t settle for the unknown because we could always go out to explore it ourselves.
(This is my first function, which means that it’s the trait that I express the highest. If you know/met me, this trait would be the most obvious)
2. Introverted Feeling
Inside, people with this trait are full of intense emotional experiences. Many days when I feel like I have 10,000 thoughts flowing through my head and only one brain to process them. If you took a gallon of water and pricked the corner with a needle, you would understand how our emotions flow. We have an ocean of feelings and a great inability to express them.
This intensity creates a problem because we don’t necessarily want to express the emotion. We deal with our emotions internally and alone. We are capable of talking with others about how we feel but usually we don’t have the ability to communicate how we feel. Again, we have an ocean of emotion and only a spout to pour it out. If we can’t communicate it properly to you, is there a reason to even attempt to?
When you make a person with Introvert Feeling upset, often they will run away. We don’t have the capacity to organize our emotions on the spot and we want to figure it out by ourselves. If you insult us or make us uncomfortable, we’ll be the ones who take a long walk. Our emotions are intense and very personal.
Introverted Feeling can make a person lonely if they don’t master it. You can’t always hold emotions in or solve them completely yourself.
(Extroverted Intuition and Introverted Feeling create a perfect storm within me. I crave information and experiences with other people but I have intense emotion that I have to resolve myself. Half of me wants to talk with others about their life but internally I want to figure everything out. This usually means that I’ll spend a lot of time alone and a lot of time with other people. I’ll need to be around people but at the same time I want to be alone. It’s as confusing as it sounds.)
3. Extroverted Thinking
Similar to Extroverted Intuition, this trait primarily focuses on information. We like to talk about intellectual subjects: topics that make you really dig deep and process information. Extroverted Thinking (Te) is different than Extroverted Intuition (Ne) because Ne is focusing on relationships. Extroverted Thinking focuses primarily on information and processes.
People who have this function usually enjoy debate or appear argumentative. While it’s mostly light-hearted, Extroverted Thinkers like to be right and have a sense of duty to make sure whatever you say is correct. If you say something incorrect, we’ll correct you. It’s nothing personal but we like to make sure information is clear. If 1+1=3, it’s difficult to convince us otherwise. We’re not pushovers when it comes to facts.
(For me, Extroverted Intuition makes me interested in everything. I’m a jack of all trades but master of none. Extroverted Thinking makes me assertive on a variety of topics. I can talk with you about almost anything and usually with great depth. If you say something that disagrees with what I’ve learned, then I’ll tell you what I know. Even if it conflicts with what you’ve just said, I just the clearest information available.
However, if another person has more information, the Extroverted Intuition makes me curious. I want to know what you know and judge it against what I think. If it lines up, we’ll have a great conversation. If I don’t think you’re proficient in a subject, all of your credibility crumbles. Instead, we’ll have a debate and hopefully I know more than you.
If I don’t know more than you, my Introverted Feeling comes out. You just proved me wrong and I don’t want to talk about it. I’ll get in a bad mood because I start having a lot of emotion. I don’t want to share my feelings with you and I just want time alone.)
4. Introverted Sensing
Internally we’re always processing our environments. Someone with Introverted Sensing notices and internally comments about our immediate surroundings. If you’ve ever met a person who is always commenting about the weather or the temperature, we’re usually doing the same thing internally. We pick up on what’s around us and take it all in.
Introverted Sensing aligns with what the Buddhist’s would call “presence”. It’s focusing on our immediate area and living life in the moment. We notice our breath and what the grass feels like when we walk across it. This is all done internally and we’ll be the ones who notice when a place has changed. We have an uncanny sense of where we our and the physical area that we occupy.
(The 4th function is also called the “shadow function”. We show this characteristic but it’s to a lesser degree than the rest. If you had a bowl of pasta, the 4th function would be the sauce while the other functions are the noodles that occupy the most space.
With that said, I do show a connection with the environments. Photography has forced me to pay attention to where I am. I’m always looking around at the world around me. Extroverted Intuition (the meat of this dish) gives me eyes wide open, while Introverted Sensing makes me take everything in.
Introverted sensing helps create a down-to-earth vibe. We’re always aware of our surrounding and we pay attention to the details. You may think that we didn’t notice that you changed the color of your hair but we did. We just don’t tend to comment on it. We take it in rather than talk about it.)
Overall the Myers Briggs has brought many of my characteristics to light. I now understand why I have a bookshelf at the foot of my bed (curiosity from Extroverted Intuition) and why I tend to correct what people say (Extroverted Thinking). When I start isolating myself from others, I remind myself about Introverted Feeling. Understanding that, I choose to let go of anger and jealousy. I may not be as good as I wish, but I’m becoming better at digesting my bad moods. Instead of ruining an entire day, I can take a walk and clear my mind in an hour or two.
The last punch comes from the Introverted Sensing. Everything ties back to this shadow function and can be cleared through it. When I can’t get enough information, I feel exhausted. By sensing my environment, I no longer crave information. When I’m feeling alone, I can go for a walk and pay attention to my surroundings. Thinking too much is washed away just by staring at the sky or feeling the sand in my feet.
While this test isn’t all encompassing, I feel like I’ve learned a lot about myself through it. When I learned about my Introverted Feeling, I noticed how I’d isolate myself when I got emotional. Sometimes my Extroverted Thinking makes me correct people at the wrong times. By reading about it, I’ve slowly caught myself unintentionally correcting people and chosen to let it go.
More than anything, the Myers Briggs has shown me a path to bettering myself. It has given me the opportunity to look inside of who I am and why I do certain things. In the end, the test has satisfied my Extroverted Intuition’s need for more information.